Friday, January 25, 2008

Snoring as a Fine Art

The Intellectual Life by Renee Radell
Oil on Canvas 30" x 50" completed in 1968

Last Fall I highlighted this painting for my weekly Fine Art Friday post. I'd been reading a lot of Russell Kirk and he liked the artist, so I perused her work.

This week I read an article by Albert Jay Nock, Snoring as A Fine Art, and this painting seemed like a fitting illustration for my summary. Here's a link to the short explanation.

Mr. Nock is the author of one of my absolute favorite essays, Isaiah's Job. If you havent read it, I recommend you read it before the one on snoring. Both are insightful.

In Snoring as a Fine Art, Nock begins the defense by comparing and contrasting the treatment of Field Marshall Kutusov in Tolstoy's War and Peace with Caulaincourt's (Napoleon's right-hand man) detailed journaling in his Memoirs. The two dovetail nicely much to the dismay of modern historians. But the better part of the article covers two character traits which struck the author with peculiar force. Both are exemplified in Kutusov.

The first is an uncanny ability to know what is going to happen: Kutusov seems to have known Napoleon's plans. This premonition-like gift is mysterious and fascinating and Nock cites three other examples: Anthony Trollope, Edward Fitzgerald, and Madame Mertens (contralto).

Secondly, with this peculiar knack Kusutov combined a complete quiescence toward *the something which he had*. Rather than running around planning and orchestrating the millions of details which accompany a sequence of events (battles), he preferred to keep himself as nearly as possible in a state of complete selflessness.

Now this is where the author really got my attention because I recognized an immediate application to my own life. Faced with an army bearing down upon him, Kutusov attended to routine, watching everything, putting everything in its place, holding everything up to the mark; but beyond that he kept his mind as far off the actual course of the campaign as he could.

He read, corresponded, meditated, and HE SLEPT WELL ----SNORING.

If you are complete confused by my essay, let me know and I will try and better explain myself. But basically it tickled my fancy to learn about this illustrious fellow who understood life, made up his mind about how to act, and then did it....quietly unmoved by the folly of others.

Could it be that snoring is a sovereign procedure?

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