A Gentleman revives chivalry

I recently found a website that inspired me through music to write this.

Don Quixote, A gentleman revives chivalry

Six hundred and eleven years ago, Miguel de Cervantes wrote a story about a middle-aged man who dreams up a romantic, ideal world, and believes, against all reason, that it exists. He leaves his village in La Mancha on a quest to revive chivalry, undo wrongs, and bring justice to the world, under the name Don Quixote. But the giant battles he faces are windmills, the damsel he covets is a peasant girl, and he dies disillusioned, in a real world where nothing has changed.

Cervantes was no stranger to that real world. He had been a soldier, and had fought bravely and been wounded in the Battle of Lepanto. Captured by the Turks and imprisoned for five years, he then served as a commissary for the Spanish Armada, where the corruption of others landed him in prison again. Still, this was a man who wrote: “To change the world, my friend Sancho, is not madness nor utopia. It’s justice.”

Cervantes died on the 22nd of April, 1616, not knowing that he had created the best literary work ever written, the world’s first best seller. Yet during his lifetime he was not able to support himself through his writing. Don Quixote would later be translated into almost every language, be retold in plays, operas, ballets, and movies, and inspire such greats as Gustave Flaubert, Alexander Dumas, Henry Fielding, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Felix Mendelssohn, George Balanchine, Salvador Dalí, and Pablo Picasso.

Quixotism is the impractical pursuit of ideals. It is tilting at windmills, chasing the romantically absurd.

The journey from injustice remains, and is far from over. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Sometimes it does feel like we are just tilting at windmills. But we still read Don Quixote, the story of a man who chased his ideals across the Spanish countryside. We read it hoping that this time around he actually finds them. Hoping he vanquishes those windmills. Hoping he does not give up. And that we too must never stop.

Long lost

Atlantis. Just the name evokes thoughts and feelings, a mythical lost city, perhaps the most famous city of all time.rdginwater2

On my reading list this summer is Meet Me in Atlantis by Mark Adams. I thought it might encapsulate my enjoyment of history, myth, travel, and archeology. For those who have a mystical soul as does the mistress of this blog, you won’t be surprised when assigning this post a number I found it to be 333, so it’s no coincidence that I am writing this.

I am fascinated by the Atlantis legend, and, on a personal note feel that baby-boomers, my generation has a kinship with it. And, in my opinion, the current generation under age 40 is part of the Lemurian root race, more on that at another time.

I’m aware that there is current work being done to locate the famous lost city. The author traveled around the world to meet the people advocating different theories on the locations of Atlantis, to learn about the sites that are purported to be Atlantis, and above all, to understand what Atlantis means on a personal level to both himself and the world around him.

I’m curious as to what Mark Adams discovers in his search. I’ll give you a review once I’ve read the book.

Her Work Rediscovered

I recently purchased a copy of Vivian Maier’s book on Amazon. For those of you who don’t know, she was a street photographer from the 1950’s until the 1990’s. Her work included over 100,000 negatives, thousands of prints, and 54-102undeveloped rolls of film. Her subjects were found on the streets of Chicago where she lived most of her life. All of it was discovered after her death, when a real estate agent bought a box of photographic materials at an auction. It seems that she had an ability to capture a fleeting moment and turn it into something extraordinary. A perpetual outsider, moving outside of people but never belonging to anyone or anything. Not entangled in any way. And she lived with complete freedom. But it’s her self-portraits that will help you understand how she wanted us to see her.

A film, “Finding Vivian Maier,” was made about her life, and you can read more at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vivian_Maier



I awoke this morning, and while making my bed, I glanced at the reading material on my night stand. It got me thinking about physical books, and their sales, comparing them to the popular mode of sales these days that are eBook readers.

Ebooks. Collections of electrons. Coded digital data displayed upon a screen. So ephemeral. The life can go out of computers, Kindles, iPads, Nooks.

And we humans are physical beings, existing in space and time, albeit for a brief period in the grand scheme. Reducing a book to set type on a printed page is, for me, necessary to anchor my thoughts and expressions. To give them weight and purpose.PENCIL2PENCIL














There’s something about that Copyright Notice. Something about cracking open a freshly minted book.

I touch the book I’m currently reading, it’s a good quality paperback with a nice cover in a rich shade of indigo, with a lovely lady on the front. It has a clever title and creamy acid-free pages. Though it is not a recent book, some parts of it still ring true, even with some archaic modes of speech and retrograde attitudes.

The author, Dion Fortune, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dion_Fortune) committed to that view in a specific place and time.

There is something consoling in that for me. With each book I read, it is as if the author were saying: “Here’s what the view looks like from here.” Whether it’s from Tom Sawyer’s schoolhouse, or Jane Austen’s country manor.

A book is about the physicality of committing to paper a human perspective, a there and then, and what that person made of it all.

It makes going to the library, walking up and down the aisles of books from different eras, almost surreal. The voices all chiming in from different cities and countries, the human experiences of different centuries and civilizations.

This, in my opinion, is a contribution, and has become a lone voice in the timeless cacophony.

La Seduction

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We’ve all heard it before; the differences between the Americans vs. the French. Even back in the day when writer Edith Wharton asserted that the French woman was unique in nearly all respects, as different as possible from the average American woman, she didn’t stop there—the French dress better, flirt better, cook better, etc., but those simple aspects of French life didn’t adequately describe why and how the French got to be that way.

Paris Correspondent, Elaine Sciolino’s La Seduction: How the French Play the Game of Life, is a book based on her decades of experience living as an American journalist in Paris, that explains what Wharton and others have left out.  The main thrust of Sciolino’s concepts is that the art of seduction permeates French culture, from the bedroom to the boardroom, but she takes care not to say that Americans should follow suit. Indeed, at one point, she even admits that she and her husband “will never think like the French, never shed our American-ness. Nor do we want to.” Whether this comes from a state of stubbornness, national pride, or deflated defeat, is uncertain, but the fact of the matter remains: the French simply do things differently, and it’s natural for American men and women to be fascinated by them. ReadinginBed

The book gets repetitious. And I did not find her writing style to be engaging nor humorous, I thought it lacked warmth.  I wondered why the charm and artistry of living in France has not rubbed off more on her. She may have not encountered any Baiser la main. That courtly gesture lightens the spirit.  But her intellectual theories present an interesting way to look at and perhaps uncover a mystery.

For those who are interested in the cultural disconnects to explore them more deeply, and understand the complex histories that underpin such characterizations, it’s an interesting premise. I’ve not read books in this genre, and my guess is that there are better ones out there.



Even so, in the end, she turns stereotypes into insights (using mostly high-powered people and politicians as examples for her generalizations of the French) and that kept me glued to the pages.


Live in happiness

I am not, nor have ever been a how-to reader. But the delightful small book, The Four Agreements contains a how-to message with great impact and a number of truths. It’s one of those books where you read a page and think about the text and although it could make for a fast read; I took my time savoring it. I won’t say that author Don Miguel Ruiz’s theory encompasses all of the wisdom that can be incorporated into a teaching but it certainly is a great start; and what finer place to start than with love.

I’ll begin with the author, Don Miguel Ruiz who was born into a family of healers, and raised in rural Mexico by a curandera (healer) mother and a nagual (shaman) grandfather. The family anticipated that Miguel would embrace their legacy of healing and teaching, and carry forward the esoteric Toltec knowledge. Instead, Miguel chose to attend medical school and become a surgeon. Then a car accident and near-death experience changed his life. star025[1]

Stunned by the experience, he began an intensive practice of self-inquiry. He devoted himself to the mastery of the ancient ancestral wisdom, studying earnestly with his mother, and completing an apprenticeship with a powerful shaman in the Mexican desert. His grandfather, who had since passed on, continued to teach him in his dreams.

In the tradition of the Toltec, a nagual guides an individual to personal freedom. And in the The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz, is dedicated to sharing his knowledge of the teachings of the ancient Toltec.

He reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and creates needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, the book offers a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, happiness, and love.

The Four Agreements are: Be Impeccable With Your Word, Don’t Take Anything Personally, Don’t Make Assumptions, and, Always Do Your Best.

This gem of a book is something you will want to share. It’s simple and practical and has the ability to transform a life.

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