But enough with the niceties. MY name is Alan, and though I have never written a blog entry before, it is my sincerest hope that this one will be successful. That is to say, I hope to avoid offending people, and inspire them to purchase things. A meager definition of success, perhaps, but such meager definitions are crucial for keeping one’s success constant.
The Confucian aspect of my training at the divinity school is now reminding me that success is also contingent upon respect for tradition. So, without further ado, allow me to present this week’s Affordable but Interesting item:
The previous paragraph is, in fact, intended to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Just making sure.
We turn now to a man who wrote with his tongue far, far, far away from his cheek. Thomas à Kempis was a Roman Catholic monk, best known for his devotional work “The Imitation of Christ,” which is this week’s Favorite. Originally written in Latin and published anonymously, Kempis’ mystic meditation on the divine has been printed in over 2000 editions. It is filled with everything from straightforward statements about proper Christian humility, to more paradoxical statements: “At the Day of Judgement we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done.” Geez Thomas, don’t you know how that’s going to make me feel, given that I’m reading your book? In all seriousness, it is a wonderful work, and deserves a binding that does it justice:
This 1876 edition was custom-bound by Stikeman and Co., a late 19th century high-end American bookbinder. The binding actually contains the company signature, subtly worked into the intricate hand-tooled gold border that you can see lining the leather boards (this type of work is known as “doublure”). At $60 this makes a beautiful gift or addition to a collection. The book is pristine but for rubbing to the leather on the outer front hinge.
I don’t know about you, but I’m still reeling from Thomas’ statement about reading. Maybe books aren’t the way to go after all – didn’t Aquinas say that everything he had written was straw? If you’re feeling like I am, perhaps the Collector’s Item will be more up your alley. We have, in our increasingly inaccurately named “bookstore,” a number of genuine Roman glass pieces:
These are from the 1st or 2nd Century A.D., and range in price from $75-175. Some are flecked with iridescence, others boast unusual patterns and colors. They are almost guaranteed to be the oldest item you own. We recommend scrubbing them thoroughly before using them as serving vessels, however, since these Romans were somewhat boorish in their eating habits… recall Seneca’s words: Cum ad cenandum discubuimus, alius sputa deterget, alius reliquias temulentorum [toro] subditus colligit. I’ll leave you scholars out there to translate – this blog must remain a place of relative purity and good taste.
Well, that’s all for this week. Thanks to Lydia for letting me hijack her venue. Hmm… I guess I didn’t really hijack anything, since she gave me permission to wr DARN IT!! There I go again explaining metaphors. I’m outta here. Happy holidays to everyone!