Wisdom just isn't what it used to be.
For millennia, scholars, writers, theologians, philosophers and kings have sung the praises of Wisdom—the ability to think and act with understanding, knowledge, experience, prudence and common sense. The Old Testament devotes a book to Wisdom. Solomon valued Wisdom above all other blessings. Jesus preached about the wise steward, the wise builder and the five wise virgins (with their lamps). Saint Thomas Aquinas called Wisdom "the father of all the virtues." Even the word philosophy means "the love of Wisdom." She (for Wisdom is always a woman) was personified: the Greek goddess Athena and the Roman goddess Minerva represented this most important virtue. And artists through the ages have painted and sculpted and written poetry and song about Wisdom and her very important role in human life, progress and civilization.
But, as I mentioned above, Wisdom just isn't what it used to be. It no longer seems to be a virtue of collective aspiration. Our leaders don't talk about it. Children aren't encouraged to pursue it. And most art, these days, seems to avoid the high-brow subject altogether. In our modern age, people seem to believe that all the important answers are to be found within themselves—and, if we could simply get in touch with our feelings and true natures, we would then understand every necessary solution. But there is (I believe) some value in seeking truth from sources outside of oneself—from literature, from theology, from art and from the best of our species who have come before us.
These bookends were made by Judd Manufacturing around 1930—not long before the time when Wisdom would be banished to her chamber. Here we see the "Lamp of Wisdom" is still burning brightly; wise owls are still standing sentry. Owls, by the way, have long been a symbol of Wisdom, associated with both the goddesses Athena and Minerva. Owls, with their big eyes, see everything. They can even see in the dark, thus perceiving what the rest of us cannot. The bookends are made of cast iron, patinated with green and bronze finishes.
Perhaps you know someone still wise enough to desire Wisdom, to seek Wisdom. It's not too late. Perhaps they would appreciate (and profit from) this handsome and useful pair of bookends? Please click on the photo above to learn more about them.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248