This and That: Self-Help Books, William Blake, and Landscapes

Seagulls, Sky, Bird, Flight, Flying, Escape, Clouds

Here’s a little poem by William Blake, which my father sent me in response to my piece on detachment, that says it all:

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise.

I think that’s exactly what I was groping my way towards.  Of course, it still doesn’t answer the question of what it means to bind yourself to a joy, or how exactly to kiss it as it flies!  I hope to write a few more thoughts on this later.

Speaking of that post, I feel bad using Metcalf’s painting, The White Veil, as a quick illustration.  It really deserves a post of its own.  Take a look:

File:Willard Leroy Metcalf - The White Veil (1909).jpg

I don’t know enough about art to understand how this can be so beautiful while being so realistic (isn’t that exactly the way the world looks through a veil of snow?).  I never get tired of looking at this, even in the middle of a New England winter.  I’ve always loved landscapes, even the more boring, extra-realistic ones.  I’d rather look at a landscape than a portrait any day.  I could look at this one all day:

File:Claude Monet - Branch of the Seine near Giverny.JPG

Branch of the Seine near Giverny, Claude Monet

I guess it’s the composition that’s so pleasing in both of these paintings.  Gauguin’s wonderful at this, too:

L’Aven en contre bas de la Montagne Sainte-Marguerite

Les Alyscamps

In the next week or so I hope to be posting reviews of a few books, including a fascinating new theological fantasy, some thoughtful and clever historical science fiction, and the first of a small series on self-help books that I’ve found to be truly helpful.  In the past I had a dismissive attitude toward self-help books, but I’ve come to realize that even the silliest books have a core of truth, if you’re willing to see it.  They’re like cliches; if you can get past the corniness, you’ll realize that they’ve become cliche for a reason: they’re true.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “This and That: Self-Help Books, William Blake, and Landscapes

  1. I love taking pictures of landscapes, too. I think other people must get bored looking at pictures of trips I’ve gone on, but there’s nothing like a good view of the hugeness of the world around us. With you on that, Rosie. I yes, I love pictures of trees and snow, too.

    Like

  2. “Of course, it still doesn’t answer the question of what it means to bind yourself to a joy, or how exactly to kiss it as it flies!”

    That’s easy. All you have to do is work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

    By the way, how badly did the kids damage the Metcalf? ~Abba

    Like

    • Not too bad. Pen scribbles and some small holes. I think I can get the pen off with rubbing alcohol or something, since it’s laminated, but I haven’t tried yet.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s