Notebook

Perspective

As a young Cartusian, Dom Jean-Baptiste Porion wrote to his sister: ‘I ascertain the riches contained in a single perspective, the outline of a mountain, say, with its pine trees in the golden glory of May, in the mists of October, or whenever. We must become the mirror of this beauty and its echo. It always reveals something new, yet every time it says it all. I wonder whether travel is worth the bother.’ In a quite different cultural environment, Zhu Xiao-Mei has written of her teacher Gabriel Chodos that he taught her this: ‘In order to really learn to play the piano, to really learn music, it is as well to penetrate to the depth of a single piece as to study many different pieces. Many great researchers know this: it is by scrutinising over time a specific, circumscribed subject that one makes the most important discoveries and thereby develops a method that will allow one to work on any subject.’ How desirable to have this degree of patience, perseverance, and contemplative flair.