Saturday, March 08, 2014

Forty Days of Lent: Day Four

We are sent to school early to "grow up," to "be serious," and if we don't let go of our childhood innocence, all too often the world tries to knock it out of us.  A hundred years ago the American painter   James McNeil Whistler encountered this attitude in his engineering class at West Point Military Academy.  The students were instructed to draw a careful study of a bridge, and Whistler submitted a beautifully detailed picturesque stone arch with children fishing from its top.  The lieutenant in charge ordered, "This is a military exercise.  Get those children off the bridge."  Whistler resubmitted the drawing with the two children now fishing from the side of the river.  "I said get those children completely out of the picture," said the angry lieutenant.  So Whistler's last version had the river, the bridge, and two small tombstones along its bank.
From After the Ecstasy, the Laundry by Jack Kornfield 

James McNeil Whistler, unrepentant smartass.


Iva said...

Great story...I wonder what his mother (or, as she was affectionately known to her friends, Mrs. Grey and Black) thought?

Iva said...

You know, John, those letters that are supposed to prove you're not a robot? They are damn near impossible to read. It took me three tries to get ones I could actually read.

the hanged man said...

I have no control over the codes to prove you're not a robot. Sorry. I do know that experience, however. They use a similar system when you buy theater tickets online.