The Scent of Cinnamon and Chasing Down Humoral Theory

Purple bougainvillea flowers hung thick and rope-like over the sand-colored walls, their little white hearts nearly pulsating in the blazing noon heat of Rabat, Morocco. The door of The English Bookshop stood half-opened. The stern English proprietor stood behind the counter, his thin pale fingers reaching into scuffed cardboard boxes, filled with the newest shipment of books…

What it Means to See Art: The Intricacies of Duende

James Elkins’s essay, “Just Looking” (in The Object Stares Back,1996)  appears to be ambiguous, because the emotions associated with seeing are so complicated, as he says (p. 29). He seems also to have been influenced by Roland Barthes (Camera Lucida, 1981), Jacques Lacan, and Jacques Derrida (among others), all highly imitated French philosophers, popular among academics…

Pilgrymes, Passing to and Fro: Chaucer Got it Right

Springtime stirs up feelings of wanderlust in me, banishing the tiresome plague of cabin fever. I want to throw a fresh toothbrush and a fat book into my backpack and take off. I want to go on pilgrimage. To begin again: that’s the meaning of pilgrimage, which – let’s face it – is what travel…

Peregrinations and Pilgrimages: Legendary Scallops

A long time ago, I read a novel about a young woman who made the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. The story captivated me, true.  But more than that, the legend of the scallops stayed with me, with its magical aura of place, embodying the enduring desire of people to journey on pilgrimage, eternally seeking….