Left: Cesare Guilio, “Palestra Bianca” (ca. 1940)
Right: A.K. Aster, “On Salons” (Camera Craft, 1940)
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could…
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo…
Trevor T. White, “The Alley” (ca. 1938)
Transit Of Venus
half in sun
half in shadow
the last time I saw you
“Walk On By” by Dionne Warwick
Tom Hubbard, “…Saturday Night” (1973)
on a summer night
shining after light years
the light in the window
the wind and your voice
I looked up at the sky last night
and thought of you
“I’d Really Love To See You Tonight” by England Dan & J.F. Coley
Northeastern University Course Catalog, 1984-85
I remember the night the Green–Schwarz mechanism was discovered —
It was a stormy summer night in 1984.
The lightning that flashed across the equations on the blackboard
also flashed across my curtains,
two oranges on the dining room table,
a Pat Metheny album on the blue shag carpet.
I, too, thought I had solved something.
I, too, thought I was free of anomalies.
But the next day I still couldn’t figure it out.
Wilhelm von Gloeden, Man (ca. 1900)
Unscrew the locks from the doors!
Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!
–Whitman, Song Of Myself
David De Vries, “Room 103, small classroom…” (2001)
I heard his raspy old voice talking
about a poem about a spider
and he even looked like Frost
but I was looking
out the door out the window
at the ultrablue sky
Photograph by Kimberly Richards via Unsplash
Harry Kreisler: What led you to philosophy?
Stanley Cavell: Well, I could give you a cocktail answer to that, or I could say, “I’m still asking myself the question.”
Harry Kreisler: Right.
Stanley Cavell: One serious way to answer the question is to say that leaving music was the first enormous basic radical crisis in my life. I was bewildered by who I might be if I wasn’t a musician. And philosophy is, after all, a subject you might come to in a state of crisis. That’s one thing that happened to me, in finding philosophy…
Harry Kreisler: This is a silly question, but I’ll ask it anyway. What does a philosopher do?
Stanley Cavell: Of course, the serious answer to that is, they ask themselves that. Almost everybody has his or her own answer to that. All the great philosophers have their answer to it; it winds up in their text, that what they’re looking for is a definition of why their lives have been flattened or floored…
—Conversations with History: Stanley Cavell – YouTube / Conversation with Stanley Cavell, p. 3 of 6
At Cape Cod, August, 1969
I am scattered in a thousand places
here and there —
now and then
the wind and waves wash me ashore
leaving something behind
a finding of lost time
I never left
Börje Gallén, Woman and children feeding pigeons in Copenhagen in 1946 (1946)
“One time as [Saint Francis] was passing through the Spoleto valley, he came upon a place near Bevagna, in which a great multitude of birds of various kinds had assembled. When the holy one of God saw them, because of the outstanding love of the Creator with which he loved all creatures, he ran swiftly to the place. He greeted them in his usual way, as if they shared in reason. As the birds did not take flight, he went to them, going to and fro among them, touching their heads and bodies with his tunic…”
—Thomas of Celano, The Treatise on the Miracle of Saint Francis (The Francis Trilogy of Thomas of Celano, New City Press, 2004)
Doris Ulmann, Man Working At A Pottery Wheel (ca. 1930)
His first movement after the shock had been to work in his loom; and he went on with this unremittingly, never asking himself why, now he was come to Raveloe, he worked far on into the night to finish the tale of Mrs. Osgood’s table-linen sooner than she expected—without contemplating beforehand the money she would put into his hand for the work. He seemed to weave, like the spider, from pure impulse, without reflection. Every man’s work, pursued steadily, tends in this way to become an end in itself, and so to bridge over the loveless chasms of his life…
—George Eliot, Silas Marner
“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in…”
–Henry David Thoreau, Walden
But all this excitement had exhausted me and I dropped heavily on to my sleeping plank. I must have had a longish sleep, for, when I woke, the stars were shining down on my face. Sounds of the countryside came faintly in, and the cool night air, veined with smells of earth and salt, fanned my cheeks. The marvelous peace of the sleepbound summer night flooded through me like a tide. Then, just on the edge of daybreak, I heard a steamer’s siren. People were starting on a voyage to a world which had ceased to concern me forever. Almost for the first time in many months I thought of my mother.
Albert Camus, The Stranger
Overhead, as he looked up through this rift in the wood, shone great golden stars looking unfamiliar and grouped in strange constellations. He was sure they were arranged in some order which had a secret and malign significance. The wood on either side was full of singular noises, among which—once, twice, and again—he distinctly heard whispers in an unknown tongue…Doubtless, despite his suffering, he had fallen asleep while walking, for now he sees another scene—perhaps he has merely recovered from a delirium. He stands at the gate of his own home. All is as he left it, and all bright and beautiful in the morning sunshine. He must have traveled the entire night. As he pushes open the gate and passes up the wide white walk, he sees a flutter of female garments; his wife, looking fresh and cool and sweet, steps down from the veranda to meet him. At the bottom of the steps she stands waiting, with a smile of ineffable joy, an attitude of matchless grace and dignity. Ah, how beautiful she is!
Ambrose Bierce, An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden…
—T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton from Four Quartets