Coloured lithograph, 1870, after J. Bakewell, 1771.
Circumstance, Meaning, Virtue

Turning Against the Ideal

We look up at the ideal we fall so short of, embittered. If only that target wasn’t so high, or better again, if it didn’t exist at all, we wouldn’t appear so dreadful! In doing so, we bring the heavens crashing down to join us in the slums. Now we are level.

Caspar David Friedrich, 1818, Woman in the Sunset
Meaning, Virtue

Self-Deception: Finding Harmony (3/3)

With these lies we build a fragile fantasy that is not in line with the truth. Our perception is delicate, constantly threatened by exposure. On the other hand, when we align ourselves with truth, we start working with the world, rather than against it. There is harmony.

Gustave Dore, 1855-1861, Dante’s The Divine Comedy-Inferno, Canto XXXIV
Meaning, Virtue

Self-Deception: A Trip to the Underworld (2/3)

We don’t want to venture down there and face the damage we have caused. The alternative however, is more devastation every time the truth comes knocking; and it will keep coming. So, we muster every ounce of courage we have left, open the hatch door, and delve underground.

John Singer Sargent, 1919, Synagogue, Boston Public Library
Meaning, Virtue

Self-Deception- A Fragile Fantasy (1/3)

Even though we may think the ‘reality’ we have built is solid, when it holds no truth, it is under constant danger of collapsing. One cracked brick is no big deal, but if every brick we use is cracked, we end up with a completely unstable structure.

Jean-François Millet, Potato Planters, 1861
Meaning

Start Small and Let It Be Ugly

There are many things we wish we could change to be closer to who we want to be; the difficulty comes in how to make those changes.

Carlo Crivelli, 1486, 'The Annunciation, with Saint Emidius'
Circumstance, Meaning

What Does Life Expect of Us?

The old moral philosophers called it the ‘finis ultimus’ (utmost aim) or ‘summum bonum’ (greatest good). The utmost to aim for in terms of our character, for those around us and our society.