I just finished reading The Journal of Eugene Delacroix. It’s astonishingly interesting.
Delacroix (1798-1863) is famous as a painter, but I was struck by many of his observations about the nature of happiness. I couldn’t pick just one.
“I made some good resolutions today. If my memory fails, these pages may at least reproach me for forgetting them – a folly that would only serve to make me unhappy.”
“What moves men of genius, or rather, what inspires their work, is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.”
“At least admire the great virtues, even if you are not strong enough to be truly virtuous yourself!”
“When one has money one feels no joy in possessing it, but when money is lacking one misses the enjoyments it provides.”
“The Natural History Museum is open to the public on Tuesdays and Fridays. Elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus; extraordinary animals! Rubens rendered them marvelously. I had a feeling of happiness as soon as I entered the place and the further I went the stronger it grew. I felt my whole being rise above commonplaces and trivialities and the petty worries of my daily life. What an immense variety of animals and species of different shapes and functions!”
“I hope that I shall long continue to keep a record of my impressions. I shall often realize the advantage of noting down my impressions in this way; they grow deeper as one recalls them.”
“You increase your self-respect when you feel you’ve done everything you ought to have done, and if there is nothing else to enjoy, there remains that chief of pleasures, the feeling of being pleased with oneself. A man gets an immense amount of satisfaction from the knowledge of having done good work and of having made the best use of his day, and when I am in this state I find that I thoroughly enjoy my rest and even the mildest forms of recreation.”
“One always has to spoil a picture a little in order to finish it.”
“It is the same with ruins, which appear all the more impressive because of the missing portions; their details are worn away or defaced and, as with buildings under construction, you see only rudiments and vague suggestions of mouldings and ornamentation. A finished building encloses the imagination within a circle and prevents it from straying behond its limits. Perhaps the only reason why the sketch for a work gives so much pleasure is that each beholder can finish it as he chooses.”
“Can any man say with certainty that he was happy at a particular moment of time which he remembers as being delightful? Remembering it certainly makes him happy, because he realizes how happy he could have been, but at the actual moment whenthe alleged happiness was occurring, did he really feel happy? He was like a man owning a piece of ground in which, unknown to himself, a treasure lay buried. You would not call such a man rich, neither would I call happy the man who is so without realizing it…”
“How strange painting is, it delights us with representations of objects that are not pleasing in themselves!”
“A man does not work only for the sake of producing, but to set a value on his time. We feel more satisfied with ourselves and with our day if we have stirred up our minds and made a good start, or have finished a piece of work.”
There’s a HUGE amount of great information at Etavitom.com. That’s “motivate” spelled backwards, which is a clue to what you’ll find on the site.
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