Philosophical pirates, intellectual outlaws

Watercolor drawing / collage
Watercolor sketch from the Moleskine 

When I was young, probably in college, I’d occasionally hear a person talking about this or that luminary, describing them as a “Rhodes Scholar.” My lack of awareness at the time meant that I’d only ever heard the phrase, not seen it spelled out. I had no idea. In my adventurous young mind, I heard it always as Rogue Scholar, and that turned itself into something I longed to be. Was it some sort of philosophical pirate? An intellectual outlaw? How did one arrive at an occupation or a moment where ‘actual’ scholars began describing one as a rogue of same? There was an implied concurrence that such a person was, indeed, learned, an expert— but somehow off the beaten path, or got to it by some unknown route. Delicious. Intriguing.

I realize it all sounds rather silly, but the idea has never disappeared from my mind; it has percolated in the recesses. In retrospect, I’m sure I knew it was my own fiction, but I was loathe to lose or destroy the whim. It’s probably still what I want to be when I grow up. Perhaps, if I ever found a grant for creatives, recipients thereof will be known as Rogue Scholars™. (The title alone will act as the first phase of weeding, of triangulating appropriates* for the honor.)


*Ha! That’s an appropriation of an inappropriate word. Maybe appropirates.


These are people observed at bars over several weeks

More from the sketchbook with the paper I’m not keen to work on. The book is finished (enough). Here are the last few that were decent enough to post (even if marginally). Some work with a brush pen here, but those things require a light touch, so I need to work on that.

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These are people riding the A, D, and F trains

I only posted photographs while I was on vacation, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been sketching. I’ve been really trying to finish up this sketchbook, which has crap paper so I can get back to a Moleskine, haha.

Anyway, some of these needed some color; some needed tightening up. I just haven’t had time to assess and scan. Here are a few done over the past few days on various trains between Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Unfortunately, I seem to have a knack for picking the people who are likely to get off the train at the next stop, leaving me very little time to observe!

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SLOW: children drinking

watercolor sketch of people
Nah, the sign says children playing, but it’s in the backyard of a bar, so kind of the same thing. I was doing two sides of the yard at once to be inconspicuous, and wound up with a giant guy floating behind the people with popcorn. Rather an odd image.

the way something shiny looks under water, viewed from the shore

A continuation from last week (unpublished); always on about words, words.

Waking up from an idea or a notion of something like it was a sleep-dream; acknowledging that your perception was distorted or not informed enough, and being okay with it, it’s fine. So you adjust your perception— we do it all the time. It’s adaptation. This kind of shifting is necessary for navigating the densely populated waking world. In dreams it happens automatically. It’s what makes dreams so fluid. In a dream, perception is all there is, no other ‘realities’ against which to check it. It’s why you never feel lost unless lost is the point of the dream. Out here, the shiftings can make you feel suddenly adrift, make you question yourself. As in the Transtromer poem Vermeer, “Passing through walls hurts human beings, they get sick from it, but we have no choice.”

It’s valuable, though, to be able to see multiple sides of things; all possible outcomes, as in chess. A skill to hone not only to cultivate diplomacy, but a diminished capacity for disappointment as well. This is something one must do for oneself; no one else can do it for you.

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At the Holiday Craft Fair

Some sketches of shoppers at the 3rd Ward Holiday Craft Fair today…