Je ne consomme pas, je crée. Je n’absorbe pas, je rayonner!
I do not consume, I create. I do not absorb, I radiate!
I carry my Moleskine Pocket Sketchbook with me every day, and by the time I am done filling the notebook and move on to the next, I have usually stuffed it full with clippings, curled pages, photos and other detritus of life. The binding is swollen from all that extra bulk, and the book is usually starting to come loose at the binding. I needed a way to keep my notebooks in better shape for the 6 to 8 months that they travel with me, as I fill them up. I have tried various covers and ways to protect the binding and the book itself, but so far nothing has been a perfect fix for my problem.
I have experimented with making my own covers, but this new cover from Gfeller is the best solution that I have found. I will tell you up front that they are not cheap. I debated buying mine for several years because of the price, but I finally decided to spend the $75 and buy one, and I am very happy with the slip cover. I admit, I was somewhat surprised at how thick my Moleskine became when I put the case on, it adds a certain bulk that wasn’t apparent from the photos that I looked at online before buying. The English kip leather that they use for these cases is very durable and though each layer is very thin, by the time you add up the outer casing, and the inner lining, that adds 4 layers of leather to the thickness of the notebook when closed. My Moleskines are usually quite stuffed already, and so they can get very chunky.
The construction of the cover is very detailed, I searched in vain to find where the stitching begins or ends, there are no sharp edges or rough places, it has been carefully made, and very well designed. The inner flaps extend beyond the outer edges so that there is no bump to write over, and the slot cut into the leather so that the elastic strap can still be functional is perfect.
The leather was very pale and almost cream colored when I first received it, but over the past few weeks I have noticed it turning steadily darker to a middle caramel color right now, and according to Gfeller, it will continue to darken with more exposure to UV light, which certainly won’t be a problem in Florida! I also expect the soft leather to conform to the edges of the Moleskine, and take on a distinct character.
I like objects that wear well, and take on a unique patina with use, much like how a good pair of leather boots become comfortable and well worn with use, I expect to have this cover for many many years. Who knows what adventures it will be a companion on? A Moleskine wrapped in leather like this seems like just the thing that Indiana Jones would carry with him on his journeys. Its rugged and functional -which are the attributes that I respect most in the things that I enjoy owning. EJH
The delusive idea that men merely toil and work for the sake of preserving their bodies and procuring for themselves bread, houses, and clothes is degrading, and not to be encouraged. The true origin of man’s activity and creativeness lies in his increasing impulse to embody outside of himself the divine and spiritual element within him. -Frobel
The Kaweco Brass Sport Pen, is the first of the sport line of pens that Kaweco makes, that I have been interested in. As a rule I don’t consider plastic or resin a durable enough material for a pen that I would keep bouncing around in my pocket for years and years. Brass on the other hand is a nearly perfect material, it is durable, and takes a patina over time. It is dense and heavy which helps with a pen this small. It is nearly perfect for what I wanted, which was a pen that I could put in my pocket every day and not have to think about. When I need a pen, it will be ready for me.
I have carried a wide variety of pens over the years, but the one area where they all seem to fall short is durability. They are either made of flimsy materials, or they are long and prone to get bent or otherwise messed up due to rough treatment. I am very happy with this pen, it seems to meet all of my requirements well.
I have had this pen for about a month now, and have used it several times a day, it has never failed to start up and though I will often pause with the pen uncapped for several minutes at a stretch, it has yet to dry up on me while I was pondering. I chose the EF nib with some hesitation as I have read that some of the finer Kaweco nibs have misaligned tines, but I have examined this one very closely and it is cut very straight and clean. I am not convinced that it is a true EF, I would consider it more of an F, but I am not worried about it, I am happy with the line weight.
I also bought the small bronze clip that is supposed to clip on the body of the pen, but it doesn’t seem to want to stay; it slides off very easily, so I just leave it at home. The only thing that I see as a potential issue is that this pen has a plastic insert inside the cap, this seems to be meant to quiet the sound of the threads as you screw it on, but I worry that over time those plastic threads may be pulled out by the brass ones on the body of the pen, only time will tell…
Our modern western culture has lost its connection to the past, the rapid development of technology, and the global conflict during the world wars has drawn a bright line between ‘before’ and ‘now’. Since time immemorial, individuals and cultures felt a direct connection -or a line of succession, to history and historical personalities.
The extremely rapid acceleration of knowledge during the 100 years between 1880 and 1980 caused this break. Humanity went from the infancy of technology, that was Steam and the Telegraph, to an insanity that was global computer communication, Television, Space Travel, and Nuclear War. Punctuating that century like great drum beats were the intensely destructive World Wars, which ripped apart the societies of Europe and shook the foundations of western culture to its core. While Europe was reeling from those double shocks, a country that was barely into its adolescence was pushing forward with youthful strength and vigor.
Our culture changed while no one was looking, events were too large to be understood at the time, and even now: some 30 years from the close of that century the dust is still settling, and it isn’t yet apparent just how much has really changed. Like a rubber-band that has been stretched too fast and too far, western culture has broken and the link between the ancient world and current has irrevocably snapped.
We lose more than we realize by divorcing our current ideals and motives from the words of the past. Instead of maintaining the anchor to those writers of wisdom that stretch back into dim mists of time, we choose to throw off that link as if it were a chain to useless ideas. Far from useless those ideas and ideals have been a stabilizing connection to a store of built-up concepts and philosophy that shaped the world, built up brick by brick by mortals into a foundation of wisdom and reserve.
Before the century of destruction and change, it was not uncommon for any reasonably educated person to have read Marcus Aurelius, Cicero, Solomon, Plato, Socrates and have an understanding that history was a continuum. That civilization was a line that stretched back into time, and that they were still walking on that same road of thought as had their philosophical ancestors stretching back to the beginnings of what would eventually become western culture.
This isn’t unique to western culture, other societies and cultures get their identities from their own founders and traditions, these links have also suffered from the rapid advances and the pressure to be more ‘American’ or just modern ‘Consumer’. I think of a song called ‘Amerika’ by the German band Rammstein. It depicts people from all over the world and from every culture eating pizza from a delivery box and watching the moon landings on a TV, all while wearing american t-shirts and sneakers. Are we destined to all become mindless consumers and destroyers?
We have lost our connection to a common past and have jumped the divide and abandoned historical ideas as dusty, old, and not relevant to the modern world, while we are driven to distraction by small screens and short text messages. We have forgotten who we are, and why we are here.
It’s time to realize that we are just little pups who have run away from mother into the wild woods and are unprepared and so very young.
Minerva or Athena (Depictions of Wisdom) were said to have a small pet Owl, also symbolizing wisdom. Owls can see in the night, they have large unblinking eyes and seem to stare into your soul. They are also quiet and grave looking, which makes them a perfect symbol for wisdom. I propose that we desire to be small owls, not yet ready to fly from the nest, but eager to be wise. Wisdom is its own reward, and can be equally bestowed on kings and servants alike. Be an owl and not a serpent, for both are intelligent, but the owl is wise, yet the serpent is cunning. The aged owl devours the cunning snake.
“The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk.” -Hegel
Life is always full of things to do, places to go, and people to avoid. I never seem to have a moment to stop and to think, to pause and to reflect on the passage of time. I am constantly finding myself transported forward in time, as the days and weeks slip from my fingers while I am not looking. Someone wise once said: “Life is yours to waste”.
How much more time will go by before I next realize how much I have missed? When my life is over, and my breath is nearly gone; will I then understand the whole story? Will I look back upon my past -my life that I chose to live one small insignificant decision at a time, and understand that I did something meaningful? Did I raise good kids who became wise adults? Help my fellow man? Live my life well? Did I have a goal and a purpose? As the small grains of sand that are moments slip through my fingers; I wonder if they will add up to anything of value, or merely fall onto the dust pile of the ages?
A year ago, I lost my brother in a car crash, he was younger than I, and I have had the thought many times since: as my memories of him fade, and time crawls by that life and memory and time are temporary; that the powerful play goes on, and that I may contribute a verse.
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
Answer. That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
― Walt Whitman – Leaves Of Grass
I know that no matter what happens, I too will one day die as well…
I don’t fear death, I am indifferent to life and death, I was not consulted at the beginning of life, and I won’t be at the end, so I don’t feel particularly attached to either state, but I do not want to live so that I have regrets when it comes time to die. In all estimations of average lifespan, I have about half of my life left, so I wish to life like Marcus Aurelius.
“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”
― Marcus Aurelius
I recently read the biography of Albert Einstein by Walter Isaacson for the second time, Einstein has fascinated me ever since I went through a course on physics: his ideas captivated me then, and have stayed with me ever since. Einstein was more apt to use descriptions and visual imagery to show his ideas rather than just dumping his formulas bare and cold onto the world. He was a visual thinker and an amazing mind, someone who worked hard to solve problems but confronting them from many different angles, and worrying them to death until they gave up their secrets. He once said:
“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
In the first 2/3rds of his life, he revolutionaized our concepts of time, gravity, and the very fabric of space and time. He was a simple patent examiner trying to knock Newton off his throne, and was at first ridiculed and ignored, then finally as fame and recognition came, he was lauded, and made into a reluctant public figure. He was unafraid to dabble in areas outside science where his opinions weren’t always welcomed, but over time many of his predictions and proclamations came true. Especially as WWI and WWII were brewing.
Einstein was a man of peace, he held radical pacifist views early in life, and though he was often accused of naiveté, he persisted in his desire to avoid military conflicts throughout his life. No doubt his views were heavily influenced by his experiences in Germany during the first World War, and the resignation of his professorship in the Prussian Academy as the Nazi Party took power in 1933.
When I first read the biography, I was interested most in the early part of his life, and the ideas that drove him to formulate his Special Theory Of Relativity, and the later the more broad General Theory, and his futile attempts to find a Universal Field Theory to unify the troubling randomness of Quantum Mechanics, and Relativity into one set of equations that could explain the sub-atomic level interactions of matter, all the way up to stars and whole galaxies. In the end Einstein never found his grand unifying theory, but equations found in the notebook beside his death bed show that he was still trying to figure it out right up to the end.
This time reading through the book though, I was most struck by his thoughts and ideas late in life, as the youthful fire of brilliance burned perhaps less hotly and mellowed down into great red burning coals of wisdom and pondering. Many of his more profound ideas don’t have anything specific to do with science at all, but with the condition of humanity. He was a pacifist, and yet his relationship with weaponry was complex: as he was instrumental in seeing that the US was the first to develop Atomic Weapons. This troubled him greatly in the ten years that he lived after the first atomic bomb was used against Japan in 1945. He wrote this explaining his motivations for the letter to Rosevelt, but throughout the rest of his life he was bothered by the idea that mankind now had the power to destroy itself. He said:
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
Towards the end of his life he worked with the philosopher Bertrand Russell in a futile campaign to stop the proliferation of atomic weapons, but to no avail, once that pandoras box was opened, it was impossible to put the atomic age back into the box. As he aged and retreated from the public eye his musings became more and more introspective and concerned with deeper philosophical questions.
The statistical chaos of the Quantum as postulated by Heisenberg bothered him deeply, and said in a letter to his friend and Quantum Theorist Niels Bohr: “God does not play dice with the world.” prompting Bohr to quip back: “Stop telling God what to do!” This humorous exchange illustrates how Albert always weighed what he observed or was told with his concept of how the universe ‘really worked’, how he pondered problems with his unique mix of intelligence and wit.
What is that ineffable quality of wisdom that comes out in the latter part of life? Is it just the slow simmering of time that takes all youthful vigor and brash statements, and cooks them down into something heartier and more patently honest? Life is a bellcurve of idealism, it starts out with child-like ignorance and an eager mind to learn, then as life gets faster and more full, as time picks up speed and becomes deeper and wider and more complex, we start to realize just how futile it is to know all these disjointed facts and concepts and ideas, there is no time to reflect and really understand all that you have learned. Finally the crest is reached in middle age, and the cart pauses at the crest of the hill and all around you is the countryside and vistas of life and living. You have a moment to pause and reflect, and then the cart tips down, and begins to pick up speed again, taking you deeper and farther than you ever went before.
In a letter to a friend late in life Einstein said:
“People like you and I, though mortal of course, like everyone else, do not grow old no matter how long we live. What I mean is that we never cease to stand like curious children before the Great Mystery into which we were born.”
Wisdom comes slowly.
Truly beautiful music is hard to find. I am always searching for new artists and sifting through popular media for the good stuff. One such artist that I have found is the Canadian Francophone singer Cœur De Pirate, (In English this translates to ‘Pirate Heart’) her music and poetic lyrics are amazing, I have been listening her songs nearly non-stop for about 2 months now. Not all of her music is in french, she also has english language music as well.
Some of my favorite songs are:
- Place de la République
- Comme Des Enfants
- La Petite Mort
- Tu Oublieras Mon Nom
I am in the process of learning to speak and write french, and as each new word or phrase comes into clarity, I will notice the word in one of the french artists music I have been listening to, it is like a little light comes on in my head when I recognize the word. What started out as a way to learn more french by trying to immerse myself in the music and culture, has become a new found love of French language music. I have been listening to Cœur De Pirate, Stanislas, and Jacques Brel for several months now.
The music of Coeur De Pirate is unique in its mix of heartfelt poetic expression and great piano work, this is the kind of music I love no matter what the language of choice is. This is what music should be.