My love affair with the Dead Language, Latin.

Latin Love Affair

Knowing the meaning of latin phrases made me feel like I was privy to some ancient secret wisdom, like maybe those few simple words of truth were more potent because they had ripened with time.  Reserved only for those willing to seek after their meaning and bask in the echos of their ageless maxim.

As a quote and word junkie, I was always drawn to "the dead language."  In fact, back in the day when my husband and I were first dating, I found out he had taken Latin in college.  It impressed me more than his oversized traps and the Magna Cum Laude on his BS of Mathematics diploma.  Actually, it's possible I liked it all, but the Latin was definitely a bonus.  (We still have his Wheelock's Latin textbook on our bookshelf and it makes me smile every time I see it.)

Long before that, the iconic scene in Dead Poet's Society, where Robin Williams delivers a rousing and unforgettable speech to his young, hormone and ego driven male students, forever sealed my love affair with the phrase Carpe Diem

It did come out three decades ago, so if you need a reminder of it's cinematic magic, you can watch it here: 

Art and Words

For me, art and words have always been dancing sisters. Different hearts and hands, but a connected rhythm, sacred as it is rare.  From womb to grave, sharing their mother and their muse, holding me spellbound at the rawest edges of reality with the way each provokes and magnifies the other like the push and pull of a grand pas de deux.

When I make art it stirs up a story within me, as if the act of creating quiets the voices in my mind just enough to finally hear the whispers of wisdom masked as inspiration. As I let my reflections marinate, they seem to grow and evolve into something that is too big to keep inside me. 

When I write, the words are like little paintbrushes in my head, depositing pigment in broad strokes, making half-finished images that taunt me, like a desperate friend begging to borrow my hands for a while and turn the imagined into something tangible. 

For a long time I tried to keep my two loves apart, thinking that each distracted from the other.  I would force myself to put down the paintbrush and leave the words hanging in the air rather than give them life on the canvas.  Sometimes I would plan out entire paintings in my head, full of painted parables, only to abandon them before even a sketch was made. I often felt incomplete, like I was walking down two paths that I desparately wanted to be one. 

Stumbling Upon Undead Truth

 This year, I decided to participate in the world wide challenge Inktober.  A fun, momentum and community building activity where you ink one image everyday based on a one word prompt. I started late, didn't think I would catch up, and didn't really expect to finish all 31 prompts.  

Do you have people in your life that you can't remember actually meeting for the first time, people who feel like they have always been there?  

I do.

What happened after Day 2 of my Inktober drawing feels like that.  

I don't remember where the idea came from, just that it was there as if it was always supposed be there and I couldn't move on without it.  As I stared at the the skull sitting in a jar of ink with succulents growing from the place a brain once was, the phrase "Dead Language" tapped me on the shoulder.  As I turned to see what it wanted with me, it quickly introduced its long hidden better half, "Undead Truth". 

The phrase by Steve Jobs, whose truth ironically lived on without him, played on a loop in my head.  "Creativity is just connecting things."

That seemed to be the permission I had long been seeking to combine my two loves, words and art, once and for all.   

I searched and searched for latin phrases, writing each on a sticky note that I put on my wall.  Trying to think of an image that matched the daily prompt, that also matched a Latin phrase was a challenge.  More so near the end, when my pool of phrases was dwindling.  But I kept reminding myself of the quote by Jobs and got a certain charge out of the connections I was making. 

I later learned that drawing a concept that we are trying to learn is the best way to understand, and ultimately remember it.  I shook my head and smiled a little when I read the article, because I had been doing this without even realizing it.   

Each latin phrase I chose had something to teach me, it was the process of connecting an image to that lesson and then bringing it to life on paper that gave me a deep understanding of what that truth was.  

Sometimes it's hard for me to want to share the things I invest so much time to learn, not because they aren't important, but because I fear people will not value them the way I do.  But, I believe in the saying, "If you have, give.  If you learn, teach."  

Offering my art with commentary, poetry or prose is my humble attempt to simply convey big ideas that my hungry heart has found a feast within.  My hope is that it will start a dialogue within you, that it will make you think about an idea a little differently, and perhaps it will inspire you to create in a new way, because after all, creativity is just connecting things. :) 

Dead Language, Undead Truth 

(Click the image to purchase prints or read the description for each piece.)


Latin saying- Sui Generis
Meaning- Unique, unable to classify


Latin saying- Vita mutatur, non tollitur.
Meaning- Life is changed, not taken away.


Latin saying- Utinam Ne Illum Numquam
Meaning- If only I had never seen him.


Latin saying- Ex hoc momento pendet aeternitas
Meaning- Eternity is hinged upon this moment.


Latin saying- Exegi Monumentum were perennius
Meaning- I have made a monument more lasting than bronze.


Latin saying- nec temere nec timide
Meaning- neither reckless or timid


Latin saying- Condemnant quo non intellegunt
Meaning- They condemn that which they do not understand.


Latin saying- ignorantia sit beatitudo
Meaning- ignorance is bliss


Latin saying- vincit qui se vincit
Meaning- He conquers who conquers himself


Latin saying- A posse ad esse
Meaning- From possibility to actuality


Latin saying- Desine, coepit faceted
Meaning- Stop wishing, start doing


Latin saying- Omnium rerum principia parva sunt
Meaning- The beginning of all things are small

Latin saying- Incendite navis

Meaning- Burn the Ships


Latin saying- Beati monoculi in terra caecorum
Meaning- Blessed is the one eyed person in the land of the blind.


Latin saying- luceat lux vestra
Meaning- Let your light shine


Latin saying- Victoria concordia crescit
Meaning- Victory through harmony


Latin saying- memores acti prudentes futuri
Meaning- Mindul of things done, aware of things to come.


Latin saying- E Pluribis Unam
Meaning- Out of Many, One


Latin saying- Factum fieri infectum non potest
Meaning- The deed cannot be undone


Latin saying- Montani Semper liberi
Meaning- Mountaineers are always free


Latin saying- Carpe Diem, Carpe noctum
Meaning- seize the day, seize the night


Latin saying- Amor est vitae essentia
Meaning- Love is the essence of life


Latin saying- Dulce periculum
Meaning- Danger is sweet


Latin saying- Vires acquirit eundo
Meaning- She gathers strength as she goes


Latin saying- Natura est deus in rebus
Meaning- Nature is God in all things


Latin saying- incepto ne desistam
Meaning- May I not shrink from my purpose


Latin saying- Semper ad meliora
Meaning- Always toward better things


Latin saying- Si vales, valeo
Meaning- When you are strong, I am strong 


Latin saying- Bene diagnoscitur, bene curatur
Meaning- A disease known is half cured


Latin saying- Quod severis metes
Meaning- As you sow, so shall you reap


Latin saying- vacate et scire
Meaning- Be still and know


Latin saying- Semper ions quicumque cubit
Meaning- Whoever desires is always poor


Latin saying-Dum Spiro Spero
Meaning- While I breathe, I hope

 

 I am sure this is not the end of this collection, as creating it has only deepened my hopeless love for "undead truth" and the art that it provokes.  But, for now, I feel satisfied that I have connected enough dots to pass it off to you, where more connective tissue will be created and the golden spiral web of consciousness will continue to yoke and expand us all. 

 Sending Love and Light,

Nicole