Wisdom on Wednesdays—“Only the loss of wealth will restore reason”

“To stand by and observe the disintegration of society is distressing.  The affair, of course, is moral; but one can hardly accuse a society of immorality (avarice and duplicity) when the society is subjective and, worshipping itself, has thereby lost all criteria.  Men are free from moral and esthetic standards.  Only the loss of wealth will restore reason.”  (1961)

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Study for “Reading”, pastel on paper, 1936, 23 x 19 in.
A pastel sketch of the artist’s wife Gertrude (sitting) and her close friend Margaret Ryan, later executed as an oil painting for the Works Progress Administration. The present location of the painting is unknown.

Wisdom on Wednesdays—Compromise with the world is no longer possible

“The inordinate desire for wealth is destroying wealth.  The time is finally here when compromise with the world is no longer possible for decent men in the world.  When this point arrives, however, it is already too late.  That is the great tragedy of this evil.  And it is the only tragedy which meets with almost unanimous approval.”  (March 6, 1943)

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Black Bottles oil on canvas, c. 1931, 20 x 32 in.

Wisdom on Wednesdays—Thinking in terms of the family

“There is a point when wealth becomes more important than human life.  The obvious symptom of this insanity is planning in terms of the mass.  The obvious reform of this insanity is not to plan in terms of the mass.  It is to think in terms of the family.  For thinking in terms of the family is not practical like mass-planning.  On the contrary, it is sensible.  It seeks to restore the family hierarchy.  For only family life can produce people who in turn are necessary to the well-being of the mass.  For the mass is not the enemy of the family, but its complement.”  (1936)

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The artist’s wife Gertrude nursing their two-month-old son Robert.
Pen and ink drawing, December 9, 1919

Wisdom on Wednesdays—The philosophy of the future

“The philosophy of the future is based upon the person and no longer upon the mass.  The mass—the mass of anything: humans, machinery, natural resources—is bound up with and subservient to money.  The person is being, superior to mass and in control of wealth.”  (1943)

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Gertrude (the artist’s daughter), oil on hardboard, c. 1945, 18×15 in.

In memoriam—John S. Schmitt, 1927-2012

Carl Schmitt’s seventh son, my father John Stuart Schmitt, died two years ago this past Friday, August 22.  This brief poem by Carl Schmitt captures in an uncanny way the character of a man who carried on his father’s legacy in an exceptionally fruitful, yet unassuming way.

Epitaph

We felt the stable universe was in his soul
Where body joined it.  Quietly the two were one.
We saw him when we saw soil-knit, the giant bole
Of some great tree; we heard him in the benison
Of bells in villages . . . and now he’s gone.
His eyes could look on visions for his heart was clean,
And in humility he knew the sins of man
Because he knew himself.  And sometimes in the sheen
Of rivers we could see ourselves, a caravan
Winding away to the sea.  And now he’s gone.

August 25, 1927

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John, oil on canvas, c. 1945, 18 x 15 in.