Sunday, September 14, 2014

As is the generation of leaves

Apparently quotation collecting is genetic. In 2004 (eighteen years after I had already become obsessed with quotes), I found out that my great-grandmother Amy kept a notebook of inspirational quotations. She was born in 1896 and died before I was born. My grandmother found the book and that is how it came to me. Based on the dates of the first items, it appears to be about 100 years old. The first item that is dated is from June 1919, and the last entry with a date is from 1969. I’ve held onto it during these ten years with my old books, but now I’m going to start photographing some of the pages and adding a few of the entries to blog posts, Flickr, and Tumblr. Below is a picture of the notebook as well as one of the handwritten quotes.

My great-grandmother Amy's notebook of inspirational quotations, c.1919
John Ruskin quotation in Amy's notebook

This excerpt is from John Ruskin’s The Seven Lamps of Architecture, “The Lamp of Life,” 1849. The extended quotation is: “But, at all events, one thing we have in our power — the doing without machine ornament and cast-iron work. All the stamped metals, and artificial stones, and imitation woods and bronzes, over the invention of which we hear daily exultation — all the short, and cheap, and easy ways of doing that whose difficulty is its honour — are just so many new obstacles in our already encumbered road. They will not make one of us happier or wiser — they will extend neither the pride of judgment nor the privilege of enjoyment. They will only make us shallower in our understandings, colder in our hearts, and feebler in our wits. And most justly. For we are not sent into this world to do any thing into which we cannot put our hearts. We have certain work to do for our bread, and that is to be done strenuously; other work to do for our delight, and that is to be done heartily: neither is to be done by halves and shifts, but with a will; and what is not worth this effort is not to be done at all.”

Stay tuned for further entries and photographs from Amy’s notebook.

“It is one of natures ways that we often feel closer to distant generations than to the generation immediately preceding us. ~Igor Stravinsky

“As is the generation of leaves, so is that of humanity.
The wind scatters the leaves on the ground, but the live timber
Burgeons with leaves again in the season of spring returning.
So one generation of men will grow while another dies.”

“Fewer and fewer Americans possess objects that have a patina, old furniture, grandparents’ pots and pans, the used things, warm with generations of human touch, essential to a human landscape.  Instead, we have our paper phantoms, transistorized landscapes.  A featherweight portable museum.” ~Susan Sontag

“Some men so dislike the dust kicked up by the generation they belong to, that, being unable to pass, they lag behind it.” ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare