horse dealer

Daily Words of the Buddha for February 19, 2017

Attā hi attano nātho,
attā hi attano gati.
Tasmā saṃyamamattānaṃ
assaṃ bhadraṃva vāṇijo.

You are your own master,
you make your future.
Therefore discipline yourself
as a horse-dealer trains a thoroughbred.

Dhammapada 25.380

Rosa Bonheur (1898). Anna Klumpke (American, 1856-1942). Oil on canvas. Met.

Klumpke spent many an hour copying paintings in the Musée du Luxembourg, including Rosa Bonheur’s Ploughing in the Nivernais. Intent on painting Bonheur’s portrait, she met with her in 1889 under the pretext of being the interpreter for a horse dealer. The two women were soon living together at Bonheur’s estate in Thomery, near Fontainebleau, and their relationship endured until Bonheur’s death in 1899.

This week, I have been mostly reading; Michael Kohlhaas by Heinrich Von Kleist

Damn that obdurate horse dealer and his insane thirst for justice and revenge! Such is the cry of the Saxon nobility as Michael Kohlhaas and his band of incendiaries rides abroad to gain justice for a wrong perpetrated by privilege and protected by patronage and nepotism. Kohlhass is a simple horse dealer with a keen sense of justice and independance, when he travels through the Junker Von Tronka’s territory on his way to Dresden he is surprised to find a new toll booth on the highway and a pass demanded of him. Not wishing to committ a crime, Kohlhaas leaves two horses as collateral with the Junker, promising to obtain a pass in Dresden. However when he reaches the city he learns, as he suspected, that there is no such ordinance, the toll and the pass being entirely arbitary. Returning to the castle Von Tronka Kohlhaas finds the groom he left to tend the horses badly beaten and his horses worked almost to death in the fields. Stone walled by the Junker’s powerful relations in every court in both Saxony and Brandenurg, Kohlhaas exhausts every avenue of legal redress but when his wife is accidentally killed trying to get his petition to the elector of Saxony; he considers himself outside of society, as he cannot find protection under its laws and takes justice into his own hands.

A revolutionary novella about the individuals position to the state and the ability of a just cause to bring the monolithic forces of order and bureaucracy to their knees.