Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Castles in the Air and Otherwise

Who isn’t lured by castles, on a hazy hill or in the air, especially on a humdrum workday in November?  I’d much rather be rambling around Kenilworth, or even (in this off-month) the frantically touristy Warwick.

I’ve always loved John Cheever’s short story, The Golden Age, which begins
“Our ideas of castles, formed in childhood, are inflexible, and why try to reform them?  Why point out that in a real castle thistles grow in the courtyard, and the threshold of the ruined throne room is guarded by a nest of green adders?”  (see longer quote )
For me, the archaeologist manquée, it’s the thistles and the nest of adders that are half the charm.  The more ruinous, the better.  And for the heroine of my Cretan novel, too—Marcella Neely, incurable romantic—whose castles in the air take the form of Minoan palaces.

The practical is always always out to get the dreamer, so it’s good to have Eliza Cook write
“Why should we strive, with cynic frown, to knock their fairy castles down?”
 And Thoreau (safe in his woodland paradise) makes peace between the two—
“Do not worry if you have built your castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
To give the practical its own last word, though, here’s our thought for the day:
"Simply by not owning three medium-sized castles in Tuscany I have saved enough money in the last forty years on insurance premiums alone to buy a medium-sized castle in Tuscany."
—Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Warwick

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