Macassar, Me and Emily Dickenson

Macassar, Me and Emily Dickinson.

What is it? Well you might ask George. I’d never heard of it before today either. Apparently, 
“Macassar oil was an unguent for the hair commonly used in the early 19th century. The poet Byron called it “thine incomparable oil, Macassar.” The fashion for oiled hair became so widespread in the Victorian and the Edwardian period that housewives began to cover the arms and backs of their chairs with washable cloths to preserve the fabric coverings from being soiled. Around 1850, these started to be known as antimacassars. They were also installed in theatres, from 1865.” (Sourcehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antimacassar)

An antimacassar (/ˌæntɪməˈkæsər/) is a small cloth placed over the backs or arms of chairs, or the head or cushions of a sofa, to prevent soiling of the permanent fabric. Also refers to the cloth flap on a sailor’s blouse, used to keep macassar oil off the uniform.
… ”
You know George this reminds me … And yes George this possibly is another of those peculiar connections that only I would make …

In any case, it reminds me of my personal experience as a member of Toastmasters International … Once long ago but not so far away … Before I was quite insulted by the president at the time … A man, yes .. some man George … Yes … Another story …
The man who insulted me also happened to be the district … Hmmm well I forget the exact term he used George but I recall him being quite puffed up with pride over being the district someone-or-other.

The point? The point of my story? Well yes George I am slowly making my way there. And really my connection is not all that far off. Macassars were made to keep men’s greasy hair oil off the furniture.  As to how it relates to me … Well it really has to do with my love of poetry and my very special feeling of connection with Emily Dickinson.

No George I am not subtly suggesting that all those men who rejected Dickinson’s poetry were greasers … Well maybe one or two were a bit greasy in their attitude but I very much doubt that the term “greaser” had yet become was it was to be in the 1950s or maybe even the 1960s. Remember John Travolta and Olivia Newton.  What year was that George? Hmmm I don’t remember either.

No George I am not off on a tangent … Not at all … Merely setting the table for the main dish so to speak.

So here we have these hairgrease prevention cloths called Antimacassars .
Yes George … Please be patient … As I was about to say … Somebody had to make them … The women did make them for their homes … My grandmother did George … Called them doilies … Much nicer … More feminine word … Don’t you think George?

What does all of this have to do with Emily Dickinson?

Look here George …
Have you ever heard of an American literary critic and poet named Richard Palmer Blackmur (January 21, 1904 – February 2, 1965)?
Well don’t fret George, I probably would not have heard of him either were it not for my love of poetry in general and Dickinson in particular.

” Blackmur in an attempt to focus and clarify the major claims for and against the poet’s greatness, wrote in a landmark 1937 critical essay: “… she was a private poet who wrote as indefatigably as some women cook or knit. Her gift for words and the cultural predicament of her time drove her to poetry instead of antimacassars ” ”
…”(Sourcehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Dickinson)

So what do you think about her choices George … Write poetry or make doilies … 

And how does this relate to toastmasters? And where exactly do I fit into any of this George?

Well I was a painfully shy young woman who loved to write poetry and paint and draw.  I joined Toastmasters hoping it would help me overcome my shyness and help me build the confidence and connections I needed to develop a career. 

I was also a married stay-at-home  wife-and-mother work-at-home-graphic-artist … The original attempt at being Super-Mom.
 Which brings me closer to the point … Being insulted by the Toastmaster district someone-or- other. 

No George I have absolutely nothing against Toastmasters. I would never have joined had I thought otherwise. Whether I personally received value for my money … Well … Something I’d need to really think about George … My dearly departed father used to tell me to say nothing if I had nothing good to say … Yes I must admit that my poor father despaired of ever having an obedient daughter.

Ok ok …. Here it is … What the Toasmaster said … Well … during coffee break we were having a friendly chat … He asked me about myself and when I told him I was a painter and draughtsman … As in being a graphic artist … Well George here it is … What he answered was, 
“That is nice, something to do in your spare time, when you are not busy looking after your family.”

That was possibly the point when I realized that if ever I was to have a career it would certainly not be thanks to  people like Mr. District someone-or-other and I might as well not have spent the hundred plus dollars I had scrimped together to join Toastmasters International.

Do you suppose … Would my life have taken a different turn if the group I joined had been named Toastmistresses International?

Advertisements

Forensic Oratory

Yes George, I am still researching Cicero.
What good?
Well if Cicero links to Plato and from Plato to Socrates … That is good enough for me.

I see you picked up on “torned”.

… torned out to be “forensic oratory” in the essay “Moral Goodness” by Marcus Tullius Cicero.

Yes George it did begin as a typo … An actual error on my part. Then … Another eureka moment George … Another Eureka … “Torned” really does express what it is I am trying to say here. Subtle George … Very subtle … Another story … And yes George I will tell you … Some day … Hmmm some rainy day …

” I believe, of course, that if Plato had been willing to devote himself to forensic oratory, he could have spoken with the greatest eloquence and power; and that if Demosthenes had continued the studies he pursued with Plato and had wished to expound his views, he could have done so with elegance and brilliancy. I feel the same way about Aristotle and Isocrates, each of whom, engrossed in his own profession, undervalued that of the other.”

Source:Book I. Chapter I. Page 4
DE OFFICIIS.  Marcus Tullius Cicero.  Translated by Walter Miller.
Loeb edn.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1913.

Where did I find this on the internet?
At the URL:http://www.constitution.org/rom/de_officiis.htm

So George … now I am on a mission. 

Forensic Oratory

Today I am researching Cicero.
What good  comes of such research?
Who was Cicero?
Questions and more questions … That’s the thing that makes research like a stroll in the desert. You sometimes end up facing as many questions as there are grains of sand in a shifting sand dune.  

I decided I would just stop at the first unfamiliar expression I stumbled across.  This unknown expression torned out to be “forensic oratory” in the essay “Moral Goodness” by Marcus Tullius Cicero.

” I believe, of course, that if Plato had been willing to devote himself to forensic oratory, he could have spoken with the greatest eloquence and power; and that if Demosthenes had continued the studies he pursued with Plato and had wished to expound his views, he could have done so with elegance and brilliancy. I feel the same way about Aristotle and Isocrates, each of whom, engrossed in his own profession, undervalued that of the other.”

Source:Book I. Chapter I. Page 4
DE OFFICIIS.  Marcus Tullius Cicero.  Translated by Walter Miller.
Loeb edn.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1913.

Where did I find this on the internet?
At the URL:http://www.constitution.org/rom/de_officiis.htm

So George … now I am on a mission. 

Aside

Sandblog

 

Sandblog

This is … Well … This is me … Sort of virtual me if you like … Sitting here in my virtual desert … Communing with my virtual friend … Oh that’s George … A regular Magpie.
 
So imagine me … Well why would I not want to talk about me?  Isn’t that what a blog is for?  Isn’t that what every sane soul … And others too … As I was saying … I do believe that I am entitled to talk about me.  That is all I really know about after all.
 
So … Imagine me sitting there in that desert pondering and musing and engaging in all those other belly-buttonish sort of activities that were so dearly paid for back in the sixties.
 
Well as I was telling George the other day … “George” I said to my dear friend, “Where were you back when I really needed you, when I was was young and the whole world was open to me? Where were you?”
 
Of course George never did give me an answer. He likes to think of himself as … Well back in the old days … Hmmm maybe even today … He thinks of himself as above such petty little problems like survival. 
Imagines himself as one of those lilies of the field I guess.
 
George tells me that everything that has happened is because I made certain choices and allowed such happenings.  Well … Fine for that lily-livered George to say … That way he gets to avoid any sort of uncomfortable discussion about fairness and justice.  
 
So … I decided I would just let George have his way … I would stop complaining about all the broken things I was finding in this old broken world and I would only associate with positive people and perfect situations and I would show better appreciation for all the wonderful gifts I found all around me.
 
Guess what! That is how I found myself sitting in this desert. The only really real thing I could grasp out of life were handsfull … Hmmm or would that be handfulls … Doesn’t matter I guess what you call it …
So Now what I do is reach out and no matter which direction I look … I finally have found something that is real and honest and lasting … Well yes overall it does shift and change but I am used to that.
 
As I was saying all I need to do is reach out and pick up a handful of sand … Lovely warm golden sand sifting through my fingers. And they say nothing in this world is free.