To Thine Own Self Be True

William Shakespeare’sHamlet” has been one of my favorite plays from the moment I first read it and then later watched it performed.

While I often find Shakespeare’s work to be full of wisdom, I find Act 1, scene 3, where Polonius gives advice to his son Laertes to be dear to my own life philosophy.


Accouterments of Time

It is really rather simple, all I have to do is gaze upon one, and the vivid emotion filled imagery comes flooding into my mind’s eye. One does not even need to physically hold one of these objet, although I sometimes do.

Some of these rare treasures I have found, some have found me and some have been passed down though my family as heirlooms.

They are precious time travel devices, to not only my past, but links to my elders and their life stories.

There are people who call these treasures, and those of use who curate them, by disrespectful names. (Tchotchke, bauble, Knick-knack, trinket, dust collector, and worst of all clutter or junk)

These stoics simply do not understand the power these beautiful time capsules possess for those of us who know how to connect with them.

With each one of these accouterments, I am taken back to the memory it possess’. Not only the moment acquired but the emotions and happenings of that bygone day.

For instance, when I was about 14, on a class trip one of my teachers offered to buy my group of students anything we wanted from the candy store. When I chose a porcelain figure instead of candy my teacher proclaimed I was silly to use the money to buy a dust collector. However, because of that little treasure I remember not only the purchase, I remember the who, the where, the light, the temperature and the joyous mood of a day filled with laughter.

It does not mater what they look like, or what they are made from, as they come in many different shapes sizes and materials. Some are even in the form of subsistence. (Science tells us the most powerful are the ones that contain scent. I quite agree.)

When ever I use a recipe of my grandmothers my kitchen smells like her kitchen and all the memories of that most love filled room.

No matter what the philistines and the minimalists say, I will protect them and hold them dear for as long as they are in my charge. Because when it comes to these cherished memory keeper’s “more is more”.

L’art pour l’art or for my soul

Pressed for time but determined, I made my way across to the North West section of the city using only the GPS to guide me, as I had no idea beyond time where the pabulum for my soul was located.

Winding up the road, I could see as I drove closer nature was one of the guardians to this extraordinary place.

After some anxious searching (time being finite) I found a space to park, scrambled out of the car and gazed over the water to see the first enchanting treat. A view of the Golden Gate Bridge framed perfectly by evergreen and azure.

Walking up the path I found the next two guardians. Noble and frozen as though in mid-thought, two stone lions weathered and beautiful.

Immediately adjacent and flanking either side of the path to the entrance are two magnificent bronze statues on horseback with the sun shining down, approvingly further anointing them in enduring glory. I could imagine them asking a riddle or perhaps simply keeping watch so no philistines could pass.

I walked respectfully through the gate as I entered this most sacred Palace. Soon my soul would feast on the treasure within.

Surely my body would understand that nourishment of the soul is just as important and vital to life. My body could wait for dinner, today lunch was a different type of aliment.

The air was still and hot, there were far more bodies milling about than I would have expected. I had but an hour to get my fill and I intended on taking in every delight of this banquet.

My heals clipped against the stone steps as I made my way down to the first room. There I was greeted by the first of the paintings, vases, wallpapers and andirons. My eyes ate greedily as I moved hastily through the room.

My head began to swim with fervor. I had Chronos‘ warm humid breath on my neck. I fanned myself with the program, at first fast then more slowly. I would not be spurred on too quickly.

Into the next room I slowly made my way around to each delicious morsel, my soul listening, engrossed in each of their stories.

Nearly moved to tears with each brushstroke and saturation of colour, the light of a days long since past, captured by each master. The perfect balance of form and function in the furniture, tea sets and plates.

As I moved through the gallery my soul stirred. Cobwebs of emaciation were shook off and my soul swelled so strongly with nourishment that quiet tears could not be held back. Moved by the detailed feathers of the wings of Love, as real as one could ever believe, could I hear the breeze rustling through the wings as he looked upon the sweet maiden’s face. So delicate was each petal painted, that one could have picked the flowers and placed them in a vase. What magic did John Roddam Spencer Stanhope know?

Moving through, my eyes found what they were eager to devour. Albert Moore’s Midsummer. While it is true of all works of art, I believe it may be most true for this piece, photographs do not do it justice. This painting radiates heat. It glows with a fire of something that is alive and of another world. I could have soaked in its beauty for hours. Studying each brush stroke and line until it it was forever part of me. But time would not have it and ripped me away.

I made my way through to the last of the galleries. Goosebumps and butterflies as each amazing work greeted me with its own story.

Before leaving I granted my self the gift of the hardcover book on the exhibit. Containing images of each and every treasure and their stories, as well as a plate set copied from the peacock charger designed by the great William Morris.

Over all I must say it was one of the best museum experiences I have ever had. Everyone was there for the same reason, to feed their soul. Everyone was respectful and as crowded as it was, one would believe the lot of us had laryngitis.

Unfortunately my time was too short and I left with my soul still hungry for more.

The Cult of Beauty, the Victorian Avant-Garde 1860-1900 may be viewed at The California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, California until June.

The gorgeous and well written book by the same name “Cult of Beauty ” edited by Dr. Lynn Federle Orr and Stephen Calloway, published by V&A, is available for purchase in the museum gift shop (a great way to give back), as well as via