Thursday, October 31, 2013


Oddly enough, while as a child I hypostasized so many abstractions, I left out the Calvinistic Devil.  He never worried me, for I could not take him seriously.  The fatal influence of Robert Burns made me regard him as a rather humorous and jovial figure;  nay more, as something of a sportsman, dashing and debonair.  I agreed with the old Scots lady who complained that “if we were a eident in the pursuit oour callings as the Deil, puir man, it would be better for us. “  I would not have been afraid if he had risen suddenly out of the cabbage-garden at Halloween.  Sin was a horrid thing, but not the Arch-Sinner.

From:  John Buchan, Memory Hold-The-Door (“Wood, Water and Hill”), London, Hodder & Stoughton,  Ltd.,  1940.

SCOTTISH Note:  "eident" -- diligent and conscientious; "puir" -- poor; "deil" -- devil.

Upper:  Glenshee near Devils Corner, Scotland

Lower:  Devil with kneeling couple, Rosslyn Chapel, Scotland

Roxy Music:  In Every Dream Home A Heartache (Link)


  1. I love this generous view of the Devil, reminding us that he may actually be a gentleman after all.

    The Devil of my Catholic childhood was never so sporting -- or so unmisgiving.

    He searched all your soiled handkerchiefs before they went into the laundry.

    1. Well, you know, I figured, people regard it as a holiday, so why be disagreeable? My own feelings about the Devil are quite a bit less lighthearted than Mr. Buchan's, but I lack both his childhood influences and adult experiences. I think the ambrotype image here is really something. When I saw your autochromes from George Eastman House today, I immediately thought of it. A few years ago I was able to purchase a good copy of an autochrome photo taken by Fritz Paneth of a girl (his daughter) doing a handstand on a beach. I first saw the image on the cover of Aurelia by Gerard de Nerval in the edition published by Exact Change. We really wanted to see whether or not we could possibly purchase or have printed a real autochrome, but that wasn't possible. It's a fantastic image and a wonderful evocative process. The Buchan autobiography was published a few months after his death in 1940 in London and went through about 16 printings before the war ended. I assume they were very small printings due to war rationing. I finally located a copy in a good "old" bookstore in Bryn Mawr called the title page when I was looking for the D.H. Lawrence book containing the bat poems. Freezing here now on Nov. 1 and pitch black outside. Yesterday, Halloween morning, looked exactly like the Glenshee photo. Curtis

  2. I've come to like the picture of Satan as God's lawyer, not really able to blatantly do you harm, but hold your feet to the fire, so to speak. This notion was definitely reinforced by a reading of Job.

    1. I love Buchan's passage but hold a more traditional view of Satan, I'm afraid, reinforced by (among other things) many viewings of The Exorcist and encounters with business associates. But I'm open for discussion, always. Curtis