Passages

While most posts of New Year’s Eve will feature popping champagne corks, streams of colored confetti, throngs of revelers, clinking glasses, foil-fringed party horns, dropping balls and rising plumes of stars cascading across the night skies, the Errant Aesthete, in true contrarian fashion, has chosen a somewhat quieter image to pay tribute. While this night view of one of the oldest bridges in the United States, the Brooklyn Bridge, was captured within the first hours of a newly fallen snow, it is its simple and sparse loveliness that holds special appeal to me. I could not have known that it would prove to be symbolic and seminal in ways unimagined.

For one, its history tells of a dire series of events that very nearly squelched the bridge’s existence were it not for Emily Warren Roebling, the wife of the chief engineer, Washington Roebling, who spent eleven years dispensing guidance and critically essential design instructions to the on-site crews after her husband suffered a paralyzing injury. Hence, while bridges are often glorified as passageways uniting the old with the new, or the familiar to the unknown, there is something in their majesty and bearing that always softens and soothes.

Perhaps it comes from the nostalgia for the places they evoke; in this instance, the place of my birth, affectionately christened “The City of Bridges,” Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, or maybe it’s nothing more than the secret little thrill that terrifies and excites each time you cross over water, canyons, or death-defying precipices like the unfamiliar.

So this year, this bridge, at least for the Errant Aesthete, has come to mean not only the ending and beginning of things, but the continuum engendered, despite obstacles, failings, and thunderous doubt. Having crossed, I feel what can only be likened to a crush of sentimentality, fellowship, warmth and gratitude over the bonds created, the connections forged, and the ideas shared over incalculable miles with readers from places that beckon in their intrigue and humble in their enormity at what an insignificant little journal of bits and bytes can elicit.

I spoke earlier in a post entitled ‘Reflections 2009′ of EA being very small and mostly unnoticed since its inception in mid 2007. Yet, the obscurity suddenly, almost miraculously, changed through the notice and unfailing support of others, prompting flight, or what I deemed, “a small excursion … but one of significance to its creator.”

As one of my dear blogging acquaintances, Arti from Ripple Effects, noted: “Amidst the ever increasing chaos and turmoil in our world, it’s all the more essential that we carve out a niche for beauty and contemplation. Herein lies the effect of your site.”

Her eloquence goes to the heart of my intent. My thought in creating EA was to do little more than send a bit of grace into a world hell bent on doing its damnedest to diminish and blunt. The idea of establishing a sanctuary, a refuge of words and images, where friends gathered and a genuine love of aesthetics (not to mention an expertly made cocktail or two) thrived, where something as inconspicuous as a bridge, for example, could take on new meaning or, as another reader observed, “lull and lift,” leading from the lamentable misery of what surrounds us day to day to a more secluded spot untroubled by the woes of the weary. I remember reading some time ago of an idea that has stayed with me: that one is rarely, if ever, catapulted into failure, but instead, quietly and senselessly, nudged into it.

Might that idea be reversed? I can’t pretend to know, but I had a bit of time to try. EA was, and is, that effort. To any of you it has reached, whether through — a piece of whimsy, a glimpse of art, a story of redemption, a whiff of indescribable beauty, a sampling of impeccable style, a breeding long since lost, and a semblance of a class only vaguely remembered; or a quip, a photo, a sonata, a perfectly turned out phrase, or the constellation of a perfectly-ordered room along with the imperfect plan that created it; an experience shared, a memory revived, a piece well placed, a meal well served and an unnatural aching for a bridge long since traveled — it has all resonated from here and I am the richer for it.

Where the bridge leads? I know not; although it is understood that it is more in the traveling than the arrival. As to the destination? I draw inspiration from Herman Melville:

 

It is not down in any map;

true places never are.

 

Photo: Michael Magill, 1995

 

 

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~ by eaesthete on 12/31/09.

16 Responses to “Passages”

  1. Your words resonate bittersweet. Moreover, this has been a very bittersweet year. It could be just me, but I expect to hear the world let out a deep sigh of relief as the clock strikes midnight tonight.

    2010 is going to be a great year. We cannot let it be otherwise.

  2. My trunks are packed…I hope we can travel with you… A toast to 2010! May it bring fulfilment and clarity to everyone.

  3. I just found your blog yesterday. What an amazing site you have created. I have placed EA on my blog-list and can’t think of a better way to start the new year: coming to this blog daily.

  4. You have succeeded in your intention – “to send a bit of grace into a world hell bent on doing its damnedest to diminish and blunt” – and I for one am grateful for it.

  5. I can’t remember the path, but am so glad I stumbled here. Happy 2010.

  6. I’m not certain what captivated me the most: the photo or the written word. Both lovely. And it is true, the traveling is always more important than the arrival.

  7. Bridges, gateways, doorways: an opportunity to cross into a different place. Sometimes, if we are fortunate, it is a numinous sacred passage. That is what this image says to me and something that I think about from time to time when I come into your house. I love the fact that there is no separation from the profound and what some might think the profane. It is all the same: a manifestation of our very selves. I look forward to the continued journey.

  8. I love the way you usher in the new year, with quiet thoughts and memories. I’m glad too that we use the same symbol for that transition. My sincerest wish that the journey ahead will be one full of new insights and opportunities. Who knows what the future might lead. Thanks for the link and mention. It’s always my pleasure to bask in the atmosphere here at The Errant Aesthete.

  9. Happy New Year and thank you.

  10. Your bridge symbol is just right. We bloggers seem to be explorers and travellers who have met up; it’s good to walk a while with the companions we discover and choose. I’d even say we are also sometimes pilgrims searching for a destination and each has his own way of telling his tale along the way. The light touch is important. I do like the swilling savant who mingles at the cocktail party, nudging the way through passing from serious to lighthearted but always memorable exchanges…

  11. What a wonderful photo!

    Happy New Year

    A PIECE OF PASSION

  12. I have loved the Brooklyn Bridge ever since my short sojourn in New York. Its form, functionally determined by engineering principles with Gothic arches transforming it into a work of art, can be admired for hours. A bridge can also be a metaphor for the passage from this world to the next. As I spend too many hours sitting in hospitals and airports, the bridge in snow with one light extinguished evokes thoughts of the passage we must all make from this warm world to a much colder one.

    Snow falling on arches.
    Spans groaning under the years,
    the world goes silent.

  13. EA you have provided an abundance of style, grace, “a refuge and a sanctuary” for me in 2009 and I am sat with baited breath…….., thank you and warmest regards
    for 2010.

  14. “My thought in creating EA was to do little more than send a bit of grace into a world hell bent on doing its damnedest to diminish and blunt. The idea of establishing a sanctuary, a refuge of words and images, where friends gathered and a genuine love of aesthetics (not to mention an expertly made cocktail or two) thrived, where something as inconspicuous as a bridge, for example, could take on new meaning or, as another reader observed, “lull and lift,” leading from the lamentable misery of what surrounds us day to day to a more secluded spot untroubled by the woes of the weary. ”

    EA is all that and more, even greater than the sum of its parts. Your writing alone…

    Happiest wishes for 2010 as you keep the inelegance at bay for us.

    • E,

      It is so nice to have you back. I always love the breathless rush of your comments, multiple, meaningful, like two friends talking over the fence, cocktails in hand, or some variation therein. I will do my best to thwart the onslaught of the inelegant, although I’m afraid it is a daunting, if not, hopelessly, impossible, task. Let us raise our glasses in unison providing a united front in restoring, at the very least, a few simple basics.

      I look so forward to continuing our cocktail chatter in the new year. Warmest of wishes to you as well.

  15. I do so enjoy this site. I was drawn here doing a web search for Kenton Nelson. Kenton is an amazing talent and an even more amazing human being. Judy (my wife) and I had the great pleasure of visiting with him at his home in Pasadena. I am now privileged to call him my friend.
    I feel as though I know you. Kindred souls, twins separated at birth perhaps? A shared vision of what the world could be. Keep on sharing! Just like great sex, I can’t get enough…

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