Il Dolce Far Niente

Lughnasa                             Waxing Harvest Moon

Kate and I sat out on the deck with the dogs.   Il dolce far niente.   The sweetness of doing nothing was a theme for paintings in the mid-Victorian era.  Apparently the Italians have always been after la dolce vita.

A point where Kate and I meet, where our inner worlds and outer worlds intersect,  is our horror at these moments.  There is something in the northern European blood that suspects doing nothing, finds nothing sweet about it.  Instead it has a bitter taste, something mom may have given  you when you didn’t do your chores.

These later years may be the time to catch up with the Italians, to learn how to kick back and relax.  If they’re not, then we’ll never get it, not in this turn of the wheel.

I wrote several hours in a row yesterday and today, but it was not fun.  Usually writing pleases me, gives me a sensual satisfaction as well a creative one.  Not this time.  It was as if I had tried to stick a large ball into a glass Coke bottle.  There was too little space in the three thousand words, the maybe 15-18 minutes of spoken English, to contain what I wanted to communicate.

Too much truncating, jumping, glossing.  The whole needs more metaphor, a way to condense big ideas into small spaces.  I have two metaphors that work pretty well.  I use Rembrandt’s etching of Faust and Vermeer’s painting of the Astronomer to illustrate the difference between the ancien regime and the Enlightenment.  I also use Petrarch’s letter to posterity to underscore the Italian Renaissance’s influence on our understanding of the individual.  So far, so good.

After that, though, I lean more into short summaries of complex ideas, philosophical vignettes no bigger than fortune cookies.  All this means I’m not done.

This entry was posted in Art and Culture, Faith and Spirituality, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.