Daniel Mendelsohn’s Three Rings

Rings. Circles. Endless ripples in time — as metaphor. structure, or ways of life. For those seeking a kind of closure, if not final justice, digression, circumnavigation, and repetition aid and abet our journey. We end up where we started, perhaps. Perhaps not. But these divine ruses can help us remember, and remember to write it all down, and compose it and ourselves in the swirl of life. The swirl that is history — theirs and our own.

Daniel Mendelsohn has written a very short, wonderful essay-memoir about those rings, and practices what he preaches by structuring his book about rings using rings. They swirl back on his own previous work and life, using digressions on Homer, François Fénelon, Proust, and W.G. Sebald, among others, to craft his image-maps and set the table for more.

Mendelsohn’s book is too short, in a sense, but almost perfectly designed for the task at hand. That task is to spin ever outward, but not too far, and not long enough to lose us in this age of short attention spans. We’re already living in a ring-culture of sorts, with hyper-linked digressions embedded in nearly everything we do. But we oftentimes lack the art to structure those rings, to call us back to where we started, and to make sure our journey has a workable, usable, redemptive shape to it. Nihilism, or a Things Fall Apart despair can result. Three Rings is a strong, well-crafted and thoughtful reminder that we have other choices.

Some recent paintings below. Now mixing the oil paint brushes with watercolors. Playing around more with opacity. You probably get the idea from these paintings that I love circles too.

(A side-note about the site: I’ve corrected a long-standing issue with the videos, hopefully. They should be playable here now, without going to Youtube)

Daniel Mendelsohn’s Three Rings
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