An eclectic collection of topics, but it’s been a week since my last post, making it difficult to focus on a single subject.
Refrigerator friends…Laurel found a mention of such in an article she was reading a while back. This well describes Ron and Rita, from Seattle, whom we had the pleasure of hosting as weekend guests. A refrigerator friend is someone who unhesitatingly can walk into your house and open the refrigerator without asking, even saying, “What do you have to eat? I’m starving.” The author of the article said that everyone needs some refrigerator friends, because these are the sorts of people you can feel utterly comfortable with, since nothing (or, at least, little) is hidden behind the usual masks of faux politeness and chit chat that allow for superficial niceness, but prevent simple honesty.
Art…We took Ron and Rita to the Salem Art Fair on Saturday, an emerging annual tradition. The Art Fair is our favorite local event, which deserves the highest compliment one can offer, “This is as good as anything you could go to in Portland (or Eugene).” We Salemites have good reason to feel culturally inferior to our neighbors to the north and south, but the Salem Art Fair lets us stand tall for a few days.
Per usual, Laurel supported the arts by buying a print that cost more to frame than it did to buy, and wouldn’t be classed in the category of fine art—a humorous rendering (“Lazy Bones”) by J. Summer of a dog lounging on a couch. An empty bottle of bone brew is on the floor, tossed on a flattened hide of a cat with its tongue sticking out. A U.S. Mail cap with a bite out of it lies in one corner; dog-erotica (a Dalmatian butt and French poodle legs) paintings are on the walls. One of those works of art you can look at every time you walk by, and smile.
Laurel also bought a good share of the Fair’s stock of diachroic glass, or whatever you call those shiny earrings. She also went to the fair on Friday, to be sure that the earrings weren’t all sold out by Saturday (no worry there, mate, as our Visa statement will testify to). This made for a pleasantly personal walk around the fair, as earring artisan after earring artisan would call out, “How nice to see you again, Laurel. Come on over and take a look at our new stock.” I have a feeling that if news ever got out that Laurel couldn’t make it to the Art Fair some year, every diachroic earring maker would cancel their agreement with the Salem Art Association, figuring that now there wouldn’t be any way for them to realize their usual healthy sales.
Emerson…It’s close to the two-hundredth anniversary of Emerson’s birthday, which was marked by the publishing of “The Spiritual Emerson—Selected Writings.” I really like Emerson’s writing, and his philosophy. For a long time I’ve had a collection of his essays on my bookshelf. This title covers some of the same ground, as it includes the classic “Self-Reliance” and “Compensation,” but also has many Emerson writings that I had never encountered before. This morning I finished “Experience,” which is pure Emerson, great reading. He wrote this several years after the death of his five-year-old son. The book’s editor notes that this essay “is the record of Emerson’s coming to terms with irreparable personal loss and, in a larger sense, his philosophical reflection on a universe in which such loss is inevitable.” It draws you in with its unvarnished directness. Emerson lets you look right into his soul, a fascinating vision. Here’s a few excerpts that show Emerson’s ability both to think deeply about the big questions of life, and also turn a phrase with seemingly effortless ease:
“The only thing grief has taught me is to know how shallow it is…An innavigable sea washes with silent waves between us and the things we aim at and converse with…I grieve that grief can teach me nothing, nor carry me one step into real nature…Dream delivers us to dream, and there is no end to illusion… Temperament also enters fully into the system of illusions and shuts us in a prison of glass which we cannot see...The secret of the illusoriness is in the necessity of a succession of moods or objects. Gladly we would anchor, but the anchorage is quicksand…We live amid surfaces, and the true art of life is to skate well on them…To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom…All good conversation, manners and action come from a spontaneity which forgets usages and makes the moment great. Nature hates calculators; her methods are saltatory [proceeding by leaps] and impulsive.”
So, if you pass by a good friend’s refrigerator door, and you’re hungry, for God’s sake, open it! And he or she will do you the same favor, giving the Emersonian gift of natural spontaneity, living well in the moment. When the siren song of diachoric glass earrings lures you to an artisan’s booth, for God’s sake, buy what they have made, now!, as you will never again meet up with this earring and this artist, at this place, again. Here’s one last Emerson quote from “Self-Reliance”:
“Whenever a mind is simple and receives a divine wisdom, old things pass away—means, teachers, texts, temples fall; it lives now, and absorbs past and future into the present hour…Man is timid and apologetic; he is no longer upright; he dares not say ‘I think,’ ‘I am,’ but quotes some saint or sage [yes, just as I am doing now!] He is ashamed before the blade of grass or the blowing rose. These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God today.”