MANAGING TO BECOME A TRUE ARTIST

“Such was the inexhaustible power of art that Hokusai believed that he–and perhaps even we–could become one with an image. Every morning he drew a Chinese lion then threw it out the window to ward off disaster…Hokusai’s final image–wintry, transcendent–shows an inky-black dragon rising about the snow-capped circumflex of a tiny Mount Fuji. He gives his exact age on the page as eighty-nine. He is as we all should be when contemplating our end, our aspiration undiminished. These were his last words: ‘If heaven will afford me five more years of life, then I might manage to become a true artist!’ “

–From “Thunderclap: A Memoir of Art and Life & Sudden Death,” a wonderful book by British art critic Laura Cumming, ostensibly about the Dutch Golden Age, but as well about her love for her late father, the mysterious life and death of the painter Carel Fabritius (“The Goldfinch”), the power of art, and the human quest for meaning… 


There’s a nice First Things review, hot off the press, by Bishop Erik Varden on philosopher Zena Hitz’ book, The Religious Life. (Though not in their league by a long shot, I’ve written of Bishop Varden’s The Shattering of Loneliness and of another book by Hitz, Lost in Thought).

Zena is on sabbitical and driving cross country and, after a mutual friend introduced us, took the time to stop in to my place for a meal and coffee over the weekend. That was a lovely treat!

ADRIAEN COORTE, STILL LIFE WITH FIVE APRICOTS, 1154

Other than that, trying to keep body and soul together. After mentioning Fr. Donald Haggerty’s book, Conversion, I’ve had two reports of sightings: one reader recently attended a retreat given by Father, and another caught one of his Masses at St. Patrick’s over the weekend. Mystical Body. Together in the Eucharist. I’m continuing to move through his book slowly and will have more to say. Meanwhile, I’m very grateful to him.


Who can plumb this mystery of suffering, in the middle of which is love? It hurts. This morning, momentarily overcome, I looked up and saw the photo of Caryll Houselander that hangs to the left of my desk (the gift of another priest, and a friend).

I knew to the marrow of my bones, though I’ve hardlly glanced at the image in weeks, that Caryll has been interceding for me, praying for me.

She is a Dear Companion, and one day we will get to sit down, swill tea (we’ll have tea cause she’s British, or maybe I’ll have coffee and she can have tea), and laugh and cry our heads off!

5 Replies to “MANAGING TO BECOME A TRUE ARTIST”

  1. Cynthia Merrill says: Reply

    One of my most beloved and well read books given to me years and years ago by an old friend is The Letters of Caryll Houselander. I underlined once: “Then there are books which support us like swimming wings do in the sea, and we are carried along on the love of the writers of the books. All these things are part of our communion with one another, and friendships, affections, and books, that flow with God’s love and cause us to flow back, are real graces.” I am sure she is accompanying you as you share with all of us your thoughtful ramblings.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Cynthia, I have Caryll’s Letters, too! A dear friend from RI gave them to me several years ago, old-school version, now heavily underlined, highlit, and Post-Ited…I should do a little YouTube on Caryll who I personally believe should be canonized! Lovely quote, thank you so much.

  2. Melanie Poser says: Reply

    I would love if you did a YouTube on Caryll. I love her.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Isn’t she the best, Melanie! I’ll try to do a YT on Caryll sooner rather than later!

  3. YouTube’da sunulan abone, izlenme, beğeni ve yorum gibi hizmetler, takiple.com.tr’nin kullanıcılarına platformdaki videolarını daha popüler hale getirme ve kanallarını büyütme imkanı sağlar.

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