Monday, October 15, 2012

Charles Dickens

At any time and always, one of my most favorite of authors along with Thomas Hardy.  His evocation of all things character are matched by none then or since.

"Can I say of her face - altered as I have reason to remember it, perished as I know it is - that it is gone, when here it comes before me at this instant, as distinct as any face that I may choose to look on in a crowded street? Can I say of her innocent and girlish beauty, that it faded, and was no more, when its breath falls on my cheek now, as it fell that night? Can I say she ever changed, when my remembrance brings her back to life, thus only; and, truer to its loving youth than I have been, or man ever is, still holds fast what it cherished then?"

David Copperfield - 1850

Actually, there were many titles.  The final I believe being:

The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery (Which He Never Meant to Publish on Any Account)

Friday, October 5, 2012


"I rejoiced in the Burgundy.  It seemed a reminder that the world was an older and better place than Rex knew, that mankind in its long passion had learned another wisdom than his.  By chance I met this same wine again, lunching with my wine merchant in St James's Street, in the first autumn of the war; it had softened and faded in the intervening years, but it still spoke in the pure, authentic accent of its prime, the same words of hope."

-Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder, Evelyn Waugh


The chill is in the air.  Here in Denver the leaves have started hitting the ground and I awoke to a smattering of snow this morning.

Fall is, like any educated and sentimental chap, my favorite time of year.  It is the perfect weather for thoughtful contemplation in front of a roaring fire, book in hand, whisky to the side.  Man must reflect on himself and his place in this world as things die around him.

And with fall comes my second favorite thing, tweed.

I feel I may take up a pipe this autumn.  I quit smoking years ago, nasty habit that it is.  But I would like a pleasant aversion whilst gazing off in front of the hearth.  Plus, no birdie can resist the smell of Virginia or Burley English Cavendish and old, leather bound books in the library.


Almost ten years ago I was blessed to have lived in Paris, the Latin Quarter or 5th Arrondissement to be specific.  This experience has stayed with me like a venerable old friend; at times comforting, at times haunting, at times so painful that I would do anything to lessen the sear.  Through the years since that wonderful time in my youth I have tried, mostly in vain, to understand why the memory of it causes me such considerable grief and despondency.  The conclusion, though in no way complete, is simple: it can never exist again that way in that time.

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” 
― Ernest HemingwayA Moveable Feast

It was an early autumn that was creeping over the streets of Paris that August of 2004.  I had arrived for that glorious waste of scholarship and money known collectively as the "semester abroad."  I had been to Paris and its environs many times before, but never to live.

The details of my stay must be left for another time.  I met wonderful people, many of whom have remained, in one way or another, great friends.  I lost myself in copious bouts of bacchanalia, wandering the wet twilight streets at dawn and spent my time otherwise reveling in the platitudinous ways all others have before me.  But the most permeating of those memories, the one that continues to creep into my everyday contemporary life causing me to stop and turn away in remorse and sadness, is the absolute freedom one feels by conversely being confined to the historical enigma of that place, contrasted with the very real and present sense of fleeting youth.

I have been back since then many times, though it has never felt quite the same.  In the end I know I am doomed to a fate of longing.  I miss that place in that time like no other experience in my life.  I miss the rain and the shuffling of masses and the dreariness and the old crumbling stones.  I miss the history at every turn and the smells of food and people and I miss the churches' silent placidity.  But most of all I miss feeling tied to something bigger than myself, through no other action than by simply being there.