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Posts Tagged ‘Michel de Montaigne’

GC Myers- Standing Proud  2021



I find I am much prouder of the victory I obtain over myself, when, in the very ardor of dispute, I make myself submit to my adversary’s force of reason, than I am pleased with the victory I obtain over him through his weakness.

― Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) The Complete Essays



At the top is Standing Proud, a new painting that is included in my solo show, Between Here and There, at the Principle Gallery that opened this past Friday.

I hesitated in using the word proud in the title for this painting. The word itself has connotations of boastfulness and certainty for me. I am not a fan of either. I see both as being more on the vanity end of the pride spectrum, more about caring what other people think or how they affect others.

Like the thought above from Montaigne, the 16th century French philosopher, I see the more desirable form of pride as coming more from overcoming conflicts and barriers that exist within ourselves. Triumph that comes from being what and who we truly know we are without caring what others think. Or without trying to place ourselves above any others in any way.

For me, pride often accompanies perseverance. Staying true to yourself over time, overcoming the obstacles that arise naturally, and resisting the temptation to abandon principles and beliefs– these are some of the building blocks of authentic pride.

Of course, these are just words and thoughts. We all wish ourselves to be the best us we can be. But life provides us with great challenges and we sometimes come up short. But maybe pride can be found in recognizing that momentary shortcoming and our will to overcome it.

Pride is ultimately the triumph of our self.

Well, that’s my two cents worth of muddled Monday morning philosophy. At two cents, it might be overpriced…

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“Can anything be imagined so ridiculous, that this miserable and wretched creature [man], who is not so much as master of himself, but subject to the injuries of all things, should call himself master and emperor of the world, of which he has not power to know the least part, much less to command the whole?”

Michel de Montaigne (1532-1592), Apology for Raymond Sebond

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Dominium is the title of this new painting, a 24″ by 24″ canvas that is part of my annual solo exhibit at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA. The show opens June 2.

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time looking at this painting in the last several weeks and have found that it is an easy piece in which to withdraw. Even though there are paths coming into the picture, which normally denotes the presence of people, it is the absence of humans that is the message that I get from this piece.

We have no dominion over this world. It is the land that holds sovereignty for no matter how badly we abuse and squander the bounty that this world provides, it will no doubt persist in some living form well beyond the very short time our species will litter its surface. We are not the owners of the land or its creatures nor treat this planet as though we were. No, we should act only as caretakers and custodians of this world, for that is the only way we can extend our tenuous time in this bountiful place.

Maybe this is snapshot of a time beyond ours. Or maybe it is a hopeful example of how we should coexist with our environment.

I don’t know which. I do know that it makes me feel better to just stare at it for a while and that’s a good thing these days. It’s far too easy today to cynically believe that the hubris, stupidity and selfishness that is so prevalent in our species will prevail. All available evidence points in that direction.

But this piece gives me a bit of peace of mind and with that comes the possibility for hope. And that hope at least makes possible the opening of one’s mind which leads to the possibility of obtaining wisdom. And wisdom gives us a chance to use our limited knowledge and abilities to the greatest benefit, to possibly avert destroying our world.

Save the world. That’s a lot to ask of a simple painting. But maybe that is a major purpose of art– to save us from ourselves, to bring light to the darkness.

Okay, in that same vein, this week’s Sunday morning musical selection deals with the ecology.  It’s the classic Mercy Mercy Me from Marvin Gaye. That’s two Sundays in a row for Marvin but it just felt so right.

Give a listen, have some hope and with that, a great day.

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