Saturday, August 26, 2006

A Bit of Willa Cather that I Soaked Up

Not Easily Classified...

Yesterday evening, as I waited in the stadium parking lot for Isaac to get out of the football game, I read "Flavia and Her Artists", the first story in a book I've recently acquired: Collected Stories by Willa Cather.

The story is about taking people seriously, people who take themselves seriously, people who take themselves too seriously and genuine vs. artificial people. There are other themes too, such as artist vs. non-artist and intellectual vs. non-intellectual.

Flavia is a rich and pampered woman who is obsessed with surrounding herself with "the best" people. She has worked hard through the years of her marriage to assemble a group of well-known personalities who live as guests in her home. She appreciates them as trophies. She is a shallow thinker herself, but she attempts to soak up the intellect of her artists and project it as her own.

Finally, one of the artists cruelly exposes her superficiality, and while her guests take a malicious pleasure in it, it is soon clear that they have been exposed as well. Flavia's husband seems to perceive and yet to completely overlook her pathetic phoniness for no apparent reason except that probably he loves her.

I suppose one moral of the story is that when you get too serious about pretending to be something you're not, you're likely to be found out, and that can be hurtful to everyone who is connected to you and really can make your whole world just fall apart.

It must have been a good story because my thoughts have returned to it repeatedly today when I've had time to think. Life has been proceding at breakneck pace and while there has been the odd spare moment, I haven't been able to collect my wits enough to write anything in the blog. Now I finally have time to write but I am too sleepy to think, so all I have to offer is what I soaked up from Willa Cather.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.