Time and Self


Sometimes, despite our best intentions to be humble and matter-of-fact, art transforms our work. Take, for instance, this illustration of Ammonite fossils published in the 19th century. The subject is undeniably beautiful, but surely what matters most here is the presentation. The soft, lustrous tonality of the lithograph, the wedge-shaped presentation of the middle and lower figures, and the superb draftsmanship offer an opening to the heart that would be difficult to emulate in, say, a photograph.

But beyond this, the spiraling, controlled growth of each shell constitutes a metaphor for creation itself. Here time transmutes stone into a pattern delicate enough to adorn china plate, to serve as a template for the unfolding of the mind. Each of us makes the repetitive, hypnotic journey up this ladder to our true self.


Lithograph: Ammonite Shells; WikiCmns; Public Domain; illustrator: Friedrich August von Quenstedt.


  1. January 6, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    Stunning image. Would never have guessed its date!

  2. January 7, 2013 at 4:45 am

    SH: the image makes me think of african or polynesian art, 20th century european…definitely avant garde… RT

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