Enjoy Life. Be Full of Vivacity, Gracefulness and Sparkle. Enjoy All Those Things that Render Life Beautiful. – by Gary S. Smolker
Posted by Gary S. Smolker
I just finished reading “The Greater Journey” by David McCullough.
I love McCullough’s description of the essence of Virginie Amelie Avegno Gautreau:
Her beauty was distinctly different, almost eccentric….Yet the total effect, and particularly given her hourglass figure and her way of moving, was striking in the extreme, her appeal unmistakably seductive, as she well knew.
“She walks as Virgil speaks of a goddess – sliding – and seemed to take no steps. Her head and neck undulated like that of a young doe, and something about her gave you the impression of infinite proportion, infinite grace, and infinite balance. Every artist wanted to make her in marble or paint.”
Yesterday, I saw a woman who works at Aroma Bakery Cafe in Encino, California who fits that description and read the above description to her.
I told her that she glides, she doesn’t walk.
I asked her if she was aware of that.
She replied: “I used to be a runway model in Tennessee.
I asked two men, contentedly indulging in a refinded kind of loafing at an outside table while talking and looking at all around them, if they agreed – (a) that she glided, (b) she didn’t walk, (c) she was poetry in motion.
I also love David McCullough vignette – about William Dean Howells, the novelist and former editor of the Atlantic Monthly:
At a gathering in James McNeill Whistler’s garden in his temporary residence on the rue du Bac that had become something of a rendezvous for visiting Americans of like mind and interest – when a younger American came over to speak to him. –
“Suddenly, Howells turned and put his hand on the young man’s shoulder and said, ‘Oh, you are young, you are young – be glad of it and live.“‘
“Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to. It doesn’t matter what you do – but live. This place makes it all come over me. I see it now. I haven’t done so – and now I’m old. It’s too late. It has gone past me – I’ve lost it. You have time. You are young. Live.!”
Some years later this young man, Jonathan Sturges, told the story to Henry James, stressing the intensity with which Howells had spoken. It became the germ of another James novel set in Paris, The Ambassadors, in which the main character, in an outburst, delivers the same message in almost exactly the same words.
I also love McCullough’s historical note that alone at a desk in Paris, John Adams [Heny Adams’ great-grandfather] had written for those at home a statement of the purpose of his life that had come down in the family as a kind of summons:
“I must study politics and war that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study paintings, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.”
I also throughly enjoyed reading McCullough’s description of Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s admiration of Henry Adams:
He had come to quite like Adams for all his prickly manner and obvious disdain for a large portion of humanity….But those who knew him knew how much heart and kindness were beneath the surface, and the brillance of mind. Later, in a caricature relief, Sanint-Gaudens would portray Adamas as a porcupine – “Porcupine Poeticus” – to illustrate the “outward gruffness and inner gentleness” of the man.
I also enjoyed McCullough’s description of Adams’s day at Amiens with Saint-Gaudens.
For Adams his day at Amiens with Saint-Gaudens would serve as part of what he would later call his “education,” but not because of the cathedral. As he was to write in his autobiographical The Education of Henry Adams:
“Not until they found themselves actually studying the scupture of the western portal, did it dawn on Adams’s mind that, for his purposes, Saint-Gaudens on the spot had more interest to him than the cathedral itself.”
As for Saint-Gauden’s two French friends, they were far too bourgeois for Adams, “conventional as death” and of no matter whatever.
I also enjoyed reading the French critic Louis de Fourcaud’s written judgment of John Sargent’s portrait of Amelie Gautreau in the Gazette des Beaus-Arts:
It is a masterpiece of characterization. It should be kept in mind he wrote, that “in a person of this type everything relates to the cult of the self and the increasing concern to captivate those around her.
“Her sole purpose in life is to demonstrate by her skills in contriving incredible outfits which shape her and exhibit her and which she can carry off with bravado….”
The point of “The Greater Journey” is we need to live life fully.
We need to be a master of the art of living.
Copyright © 2015 by Gary S. Smolker
About Gary S. SmolkerPERSONAL PHILOSOPHY: No enterprise can exist for itself alone. Every successful enterprise ministers to some great need, it performs some great service, not for itself, but for others. Otherwise, it ceases to be profitable and ceases to exist. Imagination, open mindedness and flexibility are the most important factors in unlocking potential. Those who embrace innovation, improvisation, continuous learning, time management, are action oriented, high energy, passionate, creative, purposeful and intense individuals are best equipped to succeed. We all have ideas and the ability to make progress by sharing information and our ideas and also by changing our ideas when appropriate. We should always be on the lookout for teaching and mentoring moments. We hold time like water in our hands; however tightly we clench our fingers, it drips away. But, if it falls on a seed, a seed may grow to become something that will have a positive social impact. PERSONAL INTERESTS: I have a passion to learn, to innovate, to lead, to mentor and to teach. I seek to write things worth reading and want to do things worth writing about. I enjoy (a) driving a fast car, (b) having intense conversations (c) teaching/mentoring, (d) reading and (e) being involved in productive activity. PERSONAL: I believe in cultivating and backing passionate people, innovation, and old fashioned good ideas. I love making human connections and spreading good ideas. I am strongly motivated to achieve in situations in which independence of thought and action are called for. PERSONAL GOALS: I want to live life vibrantly, to be as sharp as a tack until my last breath and to change the world by being me. My personal goal is to be fully engaged in life, to lead by example, to set high standards and to continue to amass firsthand experience and knowledge in all that interests me. PERSONALITY: I love fun and mischief. I relish absurdity. I have an irreverent, facetious and satiric disposition. I dread boredom. I have spent a lifetime reading. I have no bias against people who have lived successful and/or complicated lives. I write to release tension, to get things off my chest. SOCIAL MEDIA: I post articles on the "Gary S. Smolker Idea Exchange" blog at www.garysmolker.wordpress.com, and "Dude's Guide to Women's Shoes" at www.dudesguidetowomensshoes.com. I also post images and comments on Instagram @garyspassion. CONTACT INFORMATION: Gary Smolker, Smolker Law Firm, 16055 Ventura Blvd., Ste 525, Encino, California, 91436-2609, USA. Phone 1-818-788-7290, e-mail GSmolker@aol.com.
Posted on April 7, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged "The Greater Journey - Americans in Paris", adventure, art, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, be a master of the art of living, beauty, being an energetic presence, charisma and seduction, David McCullough, desire, gracefulness, Henry Adams, Henry James, image, interest, James McNeill Whistler, John Adams, John Sargent, life strategy, living life fully, Madame Gautreau, making life an art, mental stimulation, Paris, passion, physical stimulation, presence, seductive appeal, self-image, social strategy, sparkle, stirring interest and desire, the art of living, the art of seduction, the cult of the self, the promise of pleasure, the spectacular siren, those who create, those who create their own persona, to live life fully, Virginie Amelie Avegno Gautreau, vivacity, William Dean Howells, work. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.