Lucretius, not Locutus

Excerpt from On The Nature of Things by Lucretius, translated by Charles E. Bennett ©1946:

Not wholly, then, doth perish what may seem
To die, since from one thing doth nature build
Another, nor will suffer aught to come
To birth without the death of something else.

A lot of things that were codified into scientific laws were sort of intuitive all along.  A generation before Christ’s birth, Lucretius put the Law of Conservation of Energy into poetic form.

Of course, a thing is true whether or not you write it down.

At least one English translation of On The Nature of Things is in the public domain, and may be downloaded freely from Project Gutenberg, HERE.

For A Few Days

Excerpt from The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, ©2013:

“Wow, Mr. Neat. How come there are no pictures on the walls?”

“Because after a while I would stop noticing them. The human brain is wired to focus on differences in its environment– so it can rapidly discern a predator. If I installed pictures or other decorative objects, I would notice them for a few days and then my brain would ignore them. If I want to see art, I go to the gallery. The paintings there are of higher quality, and the total expenditure over time is less than the purchase price of cheap posters.”

True to a point, but I still like my art, posters, and decorative objects.

I could have told you, Vincent

Three things I learned about Vincent Van Gogh from reading Van Gogh by Pierre Cabanne, © 1961:

  1. When Van Gogh took up painting, late in life, he began by taking lessons, visiting museums to study the works of the masters, and inviting established artists to critique his work.  In the popular imagination he simply sat down at his canvas and let the genius flow forth– and there was an element of that– but he had carefully laid the foundation.
  2. He didn’t cut off his whole ear, just the tip of his earlobe.  That’s still disturbing and indicative of a troubled mind, but far less ghastly than if he had lopped off the whole thing.
  3. While it is true he sold only a single painting while alive, his career had a major breakthrough shortly before his suicide.  A respected art critic had published a glowing review of his work, and he was being contacted by other successful painters who were intrigued by his work and wanted to meet him and exchange paintings.  He had several public exhibitions which were widely attended and brought positive attention.  He had every objective reason to be optimistic.

A Lamp

In this excerpt from Rob Lowe’s autobiography, Stories I Only Tell My Friends ©2011, a teenage Rob Lowe finds himself alone with Francis Ford Coppola and brings up the obvious:

“Francis, I’m sure you hear this a lot, but Godfather was on in the hotel and we all watched it for the hundredth time. What an unbelievable movie.”

“You know, Rob, to me The Godfather is like that lamp,” he says, pointing. “It exists. It’s right there. People have opinions about it,” he continues mildly. “The real Godfather, for me, is the experience I had making it.”

It would be many years and many projects before I fully understood what he meant. If you are fortunate enough to be part of a hit, particularly a transcendent one, all emotional ownership is transferred to the audience. They judge it and embrace it; project their own hopes, dreams, and fears onto it; take their personal meaning from its themes, and with those investments it becomes theirs. The significance of your participation pales in comparison to the significance the project has on their imaginations. And so, you are left outside the phenomenon. Just as Paul McCartney can never experience the Beatles, Francis Ford Coppola can never experience The Godfather. It becomes a lamp.

I like this book a lot more than I expected to.  I’m not a huge Rob Lowe fan, although I did enjoy him in Parks and Recreation, but it turns out you don’t have to be to enjoy his anecdotes and stories.