The real thing

Surely refinement is the product and objective of aging. The recasting transpires both unwittingly and by design (though the latter is at times disguised by the insinuation of curmudgeonly fussiness). There is as well an accompanying simplicity. And as nose-in-the-air as it may sound, the goal is clarity and classicism.

Classicism is the following of ancient Greek or Roman principles and style in art and literature, generally associated with harmony, restraint, and adherence to recognized standards of form and craftsmanship, especially from the Renaissance to the 18th century. Often contrasted with romanticism.

Romanticism is a movement in the arts and literature that originated in the late 18th century, emphasizing inspiration, subjectivity, and the primacy of the individual. Often contrasted with classicism. Romanticism was a reaction against the order and restraint of classicism and neoclassicism, and a rejection of the rationalism which characterized the Enlightenment. In music, the period embraces much of the 19th century, with composers including Schubert, Schumann, Liszt, and Wagner. Writers exemplifying the movement include Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, and Keats; among romantic painters are such stylistically diverse artists as William Blake, J. M. W. Turner, Delacroix, and Goya.

To broaden the quality of classicism to stoicism is perhaps an inductive leap though for me it invokes the spartan element of subtlety (even if not to the extent of asceticism).

Stoicism is an ancient Greek school of philosophy founded at Athens by Zeno of Citium. The school taught that virtue, the highest good, is based on knowledge; the wise live in harmony with the divine Reason (also identified with Fate and Providence) that governs nature, and are indifferent to the vicissitudes of fortune and to pleasure and pain.

Asceticism is severe self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons.

Classicism, this stainless view of the world, is not in my opinion inconsistent with reality nor is it an obstruction of the truth. To preserve an indifference to the reversals of life is not to ignore them rather to sterilize the perception with the gauze of maturity (such as inevitability, inexorability and ineluctability). I see no disadvantage to wander the fields of daily consequence controlled by the putative disinfection which is no more unnatural than the distillation of whiskey or the cellaring of wine. Indeed I am reminded of one of the last times I enjoyed an XO Cognac. We were on my first and only visit to Puerto Vallarta.

Puerto Vallarta is a Mexican beach resort city on the Pacific Ocean’s Bahía de Banderas in the Mexican state of Jalisco.

Our evening dining expedition took us to a seductive restaurant not far from the hotel and the sea. The place was remarkable for its atmosphere of thick wood, huge stone floors and low candle-lit lighting.  After having eaten an exceedingly toothsome meal we ordered the top-shelf cognac.  It was then by chance enquiry that we learned the restaurant took only cash; that is, they didn’t accept credit cards.  We were told there was a nearby bank machine.  I excused myself from table and proceeded in an admittedly partially drunken state to navigate to the device. Once there I struggled to interpret the complicated instructions. I was after all a relic of the former banking era. Nonetheless I accomplished the task and returned to a more accommodating mooring at the old-world restaurant. It ended being a thoroughly successful evening, punctuated (if I recall correctly) by the pleasure of Winston cigarettes.  It was possibly one of the last times I smoked because I believe it was on the plane trip home that I confessed the damage smoking was causing me. Out of the ashes comes the vapour of purity!

From that day henceforth has been an ascent to further fractionation. It has oddly been a venture of incomparable delight in spite of the deprivation along the way. The progressive allure is distinctly aligned with the artistic interpretation of confinement and elimination which is perhaps just another way of exemplifying rudimentary features. Contrary to what I once heard from a corporate executive in Toronto (as he abruptly withdrew from my client’s offer of purchase), I’m now in the business of disposition not acquisition. An arid but pleasing transition.