Posts Tagged ‘Rene Descartes’

Cogito Ergo Sum

November 18, 2014
My Collage of Rene Descartes

My Collage of Rene Descartes

(Reader beware: this could be a strange blog post.)

It is not enough to have a good mind.  The main thing is to apply it well.

Rene Descartes

In my high school philosophy class, I have sincere fun, and probably take too many liberties when we discuss the contributions of Rene Descartes, whom I regard as the Father of Modern Philosophy.  Possessing a weak constitution prone to tubercular-related illnesses, he suffered from a cold snowy night in Ulm, Germany on November 10, 1619. Crawling into the stove chamber of the building where he was housed, he spent the night deep in thought, resolved not to emerge until he had gotten to the bottom of some issues troubling him.  He did, and emerged with a changed life the following morning.

Last night marked my fifth night going to bed without a working furnace in my house, and as temperatures slid downward toward 27 degrees, I huddled closer to the electric space heater, drifting into sleep around 10:00, a good two hours before I generally retire.  At about 4:00 a.m. I awoke in the frigid darkness and lay there, thinking, waiting for a 6:00 alarm to convince me that it was time to crawl out from under the quilts.  Having a good memory for dates, I realized that I was lying in the cold, thinking, 395 years and one week after Descartes’s historic night.

Like Descartes, I thought about my life, my art, my ideas, and wondered about a firm, unified foundation, an Archimedean point for leveraging my efforts.  My mind drifted over to Thoreau’s Walden and his musings about finding a point d’appui, a point of support, a solid footing.  I had spent the prior night engaged in the most meaningful conversation over coffee with another artist seeking answers about the marketing side of the artistic enterprise, and was stirred by much of what we discussed. These matters were also percolating in my mind as I lay there in the darkness.

When I finally rose at 6:00, I was elated to find an email from the other artistic spirit with whom I had conversed the night before, and immediately I felt a profound sense of connection with that artist’s mind, along with the minds of Descartes and Thoreau.  What company!  What a conversation!  As Descartes recounted the thoughts he pursued throughout that historic night in 1619, he concluded that even if his thoughts were in fact dreams, even if they were in fact fallacious, that nevertheless he was thinking, and therefore he existed (cogito ergo sum).  And as I rose from my bed, feeling much better than I did hours before, I concluded that I have ideas, artistic aspirations, and authentic goals.  Though I still seek some kind of center, some kind of foundation, I am delighted to know that I am in motion and not static.  And as long as I strive, there is still reason for hope.  And to me, the journey is just as worthy as the destination.  I recall a book title in my library: Success is the Quality of Your Journey.  Perhaps it’s time to go back and take a look at that volume as well.

At any rate, I have school responsibilities now pending, so it is time to answer that call.  But I will return to this . . .

Thanks always for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am never alone.