- There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity . . . [The Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:1.]
This model presents both work and rest as values. No one can do them both simultaneously, so which is the preferred value? The question assumes a false choice. No one can work all the time, and no one should rest all the time. Each has its time. The same is true for many of the values presented here. This model explores ethics in several planes of analysis, including the following:
- Assertive (for example, courage) and Deferential (humility)
- Developmental (learning) and Restorative (reflection)
- Four relationships: to the self, to others, to society and to the material world
- Past, present and future
- The domains of Being: thought, emotion and action
- The Tangible (emotion) and the Symbolic (soul)
- Giving and Receiving
- Worth and Value
As the body-builder cannot exercise every muscle at once, the soul-builder cannot exercise every aspect of Being at once. There are times to focus on learning, times to reflect and times to rest. There are times to focus on the self, times to focus on others who are close to us, times to focus on society at large and times to do our mundane work. There are times to focus on the past and the future, as well as the present. There are times to develop our intellects, times to develop our bodies and times to attend to our emotional well-being.
Because its pattern is cyclical, we see the solar year as a metaphor for our lives. The use of a liturgical year-calendar on these pages is not meant as a prescription for practicing particular values on particular days, any more than a body-builder would exercise his triceps only one day each year. The point of the liturgical calendar is to offer each value for consideration in its turn, in an order that best corresponds to the model’s intent. By no stretch of the imagination is this the only way one might learn about these values. In fact, they are best learned through practice.
Seasonally-themed essay collections by Karl Ove Knausgaard:
· Karl Ove Knausgaard, Autumn (Penguin Press, 2017): “‘Autumn’ is sweet and slender and very circumspect. ‘I want to show you our world as it is now,’ he writes to his daughter. ‘You will experience things for yourself and live a life of your own, so of course it is primarily for my own sake that I am doing this: Showing you the world, little one, makes my life worth living.’”
· Karl Ove Knausgaard, Winter (Penguin Press, 2018): “‘Winter,’ the second collection of essays in Karl Ove Knausgaard’s ‘four seasons’ quartet, comprises 60 short pieces, punctuated by three letters addressed to his youngest daughter.”
Russell King, Atlas of Human Migration (Firely Books, 2007).
Documentary and Educational Films
- Jean Dubuffet, Le Circulus I (1984)
- Jean Dubuffet, Le Circulus II (1984)
- Giuseppe Aricimboldo, Spring from The Four Seasons (1563)
- Giuseppe Aricimboldo, Summer from The Four Seasons (1573)
- Giuseppe Aricimboldo, Autumn from The Four Seasons (1572)
- Giuseppe Aricimboldo, Winter from The Four Seasons (1563)
- Francesco del Cossa, March from The Cycle of Months (c. 1470)
- Francesco del Cossa, April from The Cycle of Months (c. 1470)
Film and Stage
- The Lion King: generations
- Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter . . . and Spring: the stages in a man’s life, sorrow, and renewal
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Antonio Vivaldi, The Four Seasons, is a set of four violin concerti from Vivaldi’s twelve Op. 8 concerti, entitled, as translated, “The Contrast Between Harmony and Invention” (performances by Jansen, Fischer and Edinger). Of course, each of the seasons is worth hearing on its own, particularly in these spectacular performances by Fabio Biondi:
Dennis Johnson, November (1959): a groundbreaking minimalist work for solo piano
- Alessandro Scarlatti, La Gloria di Primavera (1716)
- Harbison, Symphony No. 2 (1987): the four movements invoke dawn, daylight, dusk and darkness, respectively.
- Ginastera, Estancia, Op. 8 (1941) and Estancia Suite, Op. 8a (1943): this ballet presents the sequence of dawn, morning, afternoon and night.
- Finzi, Before and After Summer, Op. 16
Music: songs and other short pieces
- The Byrds, Turn! Turn! Turn!
A book cycle by Ali Smith:
- Ali Smith, Autumn: A Novel (Pantheon Books, 2017): “When the story begins, the year is 2016, and Daniel, now 101, is quietly dying in an elder-care facility somewhere outside London. He has no family, so Elisabeth appoints herself to the position.”
- Ali Smith, Winter: A Novel (Pantheon Books, 2018): “ . . . Smith is the one doing the telling, which means the books can’t help connecting through various channels, most notably her vast supply of preoccupations.”
- Ali Smith, Spring: A Novel (Pantheon Books, 2019): “This is the most political book thus far in this earthy and humane series. Its heart is worn far out on its sleeve. It beats arrhythmically somewhere down near the knuckles.”
- Ali Smith, Summer: A Novel (Pantheon Books, 2020): “In Smith’s hands, stories slipstream in the wake of other stories; dreams are tucked up under the armpits of serious shifts in time and space. There are no directional arrows Scotch-taped to the floor.”
The same leaves over and over again!
They fall from giving shade above
To make one texture of faded brown
And fit the earth like a leather glove.
Before the leaves can mount again
To fill the trees with another shade,
They must go down past things coming up.
They must go down into the dark decayed.
They must be pierced by flowers and put
Beneath the feet of dancing flowers.
However it is in some other world
I know that this is way in ours.
[Robert Frost, “In Hardwood Groves”]
One's grand flights, one's Sunday baths,
One's tootings at the weddings of the soul
Occur as they occur. So bluish clouds
Occurred above the empty house and the leaves
Of the rhododendrons rattled their gold,
As if someone lived there. Such floods of white
Came bursting from the clouds. So the wind
Threw its contorted strength around the sky.
Could you have said the bluejay suddenly
Would swoop to earth? It is a wheel, the rays
Around the sun. The wheel survives the myths.
The fire eye in the clouds survives the gods.
To think of a dove with an eye of grenadine
And pines that are cornets, so it occurs,
And a little island full of geese and stars:
It may be the ignorant man, alone,
Has any chance to mate his life with life
That is the sensual, pearly spuse, the life
That is fluent in even the wintriest bronze.
[Wallace Stevens, “The Sense of the Sleight-of-Hand Man”]