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Mysteries & Hidden Histories: The Peculiar History of The Ornamental Hermit

Mysteries & Hidden Histories: The Peculiar History of The Ornamental Hermit

In a world so busy and chaotic as ours, many strive for a simpler existence. But if you were given the chance to spend your days in solitude, connecting with nature and reflecting on life, could you truly manage to shun the temptations of fun and frivolity? For men living in the 18th century this peaceful life was in fact an available profession... so long as you could grow an impressive beard and stay away from the local ale house. The peculiar phenomenon of ornamental, or garden hermits is one of those fantastically mad ideas that could only be executed by the ridiculously wealthy. While today’s celebrities and billionaires flaunt expensive cars and stiff, surprised expressions, the aristocratic old wealth has long been tinged with wonderful snippets of eccentricity. Out of touch with the realities of the world and a grand country pile to play with, it would of course be tempting to build secret passages, collect a menagerie of wild animals, or even have your very own human pet. (Does this offset their hoarding of wealth? No. Do we still love it? Yes. It is a conflict to ponder.) But back to the hermits. The trend first emerged during the 18th century as a curious consequence of the English Landscape Movement. Influenced by esteemed landscape architect Capability Brown (1716 - 1783), the movement saw European formality and order that had characterised country gardens for many years replaced with more painterly rolling parklands, complete with craggy rockeries, decorative bridges, verdant shrubbery and picturesque grottos in which the landowners could contemplate the burdens of life. Rugged mock-ruins called follies were a popular choice for adding a little extra mystery to the often already ancient landscapes. So named because their cost insinuated ‘folly’ in the builder, these brilliantly pointless but lovely-to-look-at structures would commonly be built of stone, sometimes mimicking classic or exotic architecture. Naturally, the next step was to hire a little man to live there, grow a beard and occasionally express nuggets of wisdom when you pass by. Obviously. The word hermit derives from the Latin ĕrēmīta meaning ‘of the desert’, and genuine hermits living religious seclusion have in fact existed for many centuries. These new-fangled hermits were largely part of the decor, and their duties more performative than pious. In exchange for room and board, the hermit would reside in the folly with basic amenities. Instructed to wear robes typical of a druid and not permitted to cut their hair, beard or nails, the hermit would either be invited to engage in entertaining visitors or simply to live a quiet existence of deep thought. Catching sight of these rustic figures ruminating in nature was considered a great spectacle for guests, while at the same time inferring at the host’s own wisdom and introspection. The identities of these peculiar fellows are largely unknown, but various accounts exist in the history books. One such story is that of 18th century MP Charles Hamilton, a great devotee of the English Landscape Movement, who hired himself a resident hermit for his country seat of Painshill Park in Surrey. Having built in his grounds a charming thatched tower raised up on a frame of gnarled tree branches, Hamilton put forward some stipulations of the job in his advertisement: “The hermit must continue on the hermitage seven years, where he shall be provided with a Bible, optical glasses, a mat for his feet, a hassock for his pillow, an hourglass for timepiece, water for his beverage and food from the house. He must wear a camlet robe, and never, under any circumstances, must he cut his hair, beard, or nails, stray beyond the limits of Mr. Hamilton’s grounds, or exchange one word with the servant.” Although a man answered the advert and was chosen to be Hamilton’s personal recluse, the employment was cut short in just three weeks when the hermit was discovered enjoying a few tipples in the local inn. (Quite frankly, we can’t help but think this is a fate that would become a lot of would-be hermits.) For those who could not find or afford an actual person serious enough to lead this solitary lifestyle, makeshift mannequins were a common substitute. Failing that, modest possessions such as pipes and cups would be scattered around the folly’s interior to give the impression the hermit had simply ‘popped out for a moment’. Extravagant, odd and entirely pointless, there is something inherently whimsical about garden hermits, but the concept of a glorified, bearded squatter isn’t for everyone for everyone, and the fashion for ornamental hermits was a fairly fleeting novelty and by the end of the 19th century the tradition for ornamental hermits had soon died out. Due to a mix of social, political and largely financial reasons, dozens of grand, crumbling country estates throughout England were demolished during the 20th century. The grounds of many have passed into public ownership, often with stone hermitages and follies still standing - their already ruinous aesthetic having saved them from the perils of disrepair. You can visit a restored replica of Hamilton’s hermitage at Painshill Park, and admire the many other fanciful features of this stunning estate. While we shall have to make do with mute and ignorant garden gnomes, there is at least one hermit existing in Europe. In 2017 a Belgian man named Stan Vanuytrecht was hired to live in a 350-year-old hermitage, built into a cliff above the town of Saalfelden in western Austria. With a history of dangerous trespassing, no running water, electricity or pay, we do hope that Vanuytrecht is doing okay up there, but with no reports found that his tenure coming to an end it seems that the hermit life is just right for some. Want to follow The Dilettante around the internet? You can find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or use #TheDilettanteSociety.

Marvellous Humans: The Wonderfully Strange Edward Gorey

Marvellous Humans: The Wonderfully Strange Edward Gorey

We at The Dilettante love to delve into the stories of creatives, eccentrics and marvellous humans. Our latest subject, Edward Gorey, makes for the perfect study of an artist who carved out a curiously singular existence and an impressively unique body of work. So do please come along with us as we explore the life of the wonderfully unusual fellow. “My mission in life is to make everybody as uneasy as possible. I think we should all be as uneasy as possible, because that's what the world is like.” If provoking ominous unease was his aim, then writer and artist Edward Gorey certainly succeeded. Conjuring a world of unsettling situations and ghoulish characters, Gorey's distinctive monochrome drawings were imbued with lashings of unwholesome humour and morbid whimsy. Gorey's droll, dark tone clearly follows in the footsteps of gothic and absurdist Victorian writers such as Edgar Allen Poe and Edward Lear, and his work has continued to delighted audiences for decades, in turn going on to influence modern masters of the macabre including Tim Burton, Neil Gaiman and Lemony Snicket. Born in Chicago on the 22nd February 1925 to a creative family, Gorey taught himself to read by the age of three, gaining him a reputation of being a particularly gifted child. At school he was known by his peers for his creativity and it is said that his yearbook contained a blank square where his photo should be, in which Gorey would draw a doodle of himself when asked. After a spate in the army during the Second World War, Gorey enrolled at Harvard to study French literature. He shared a room with poet Frank O’Hara, and the two created a salon-like atmosphere in their dorm, hosting numerous parties attended by artists, actors and other students with bohemian sensibilities. But O'Hara's dedicated to partying eventually surpassed Gorey's, and as his interests in art and design took hold, Gorey's penchant for the solitary life grew. After moving to New York in the 1950s, Gorey worked for the art department of Doubleday Anchor, illustrating book covers for titles such as Bram Stoker's Dracula, H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, and T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. Understanding that colour illustrations were more costly to print, it was here that Gorey’s signature black and white cross-hatched style began to take shape. Whilst living in the Big Apple, Gorey became ardently dedicated to the New York City Ballet, attending with such a fervent regularity that it was rumoured he saw every performance of The Nutcracker for several years. Dressed in his signature fur coat and jewellery, he would be seen loitering in the lobby at intervals engaged in humorously scathing gossip about the costumes, dancers and sets. Despite gaining regular work illustrating for commercial magazines and designing theatrical sets, Gorey's own stories certainly catered to a specific, more surreal taste. He found getting published tricky. To allow himself greater artistic freedom, in 1962 he created the Fantod Press. Publishing works from writers such as Ogdred Weary, Mrs Regera Dowdy, Raddory Gewe, Edward Pig, and Garrod Weedy (who were all of course pseudonyms for Gorey himself), over the next 35 years Fantod would publish 28 imagined memoirs, alphabet books and other Gorey stories including The Deranged Cousins, The Beastly Baby and The Abandoned Sock. In 1963, Gorey released The Vinegar Works: Three Volumes of Moral Instruction, a box set of picture books featuring The Insect God, The West Wing, and what would become Gorey’s most famous work, The Gashlycrum Tinies. This dark romp through the alphabet features an array of grim fates beheld by children, including Leo who swallowed some tacks, Zillah who drank too much gin, and Neville who died from ennui. Towards the end of his life, Gorey wound down to living what can only be described as an introvert's dream retirement. He moved into a 200 year old sea captain's house in Cape Cod (which he nicknamed ‘The Elephant House’) and increasingly began to enjoy his own company, often ignoring the telephone, doorbell and fan mail. Free at last from the confines of New York living, Gorey perused second-hand fairs and filled his home with an thousands of books and a melange of art, games, toys, and treasures. He enjoyed watching television and spent hours sewing bizarre beanbag creatures which he would give to friends. “Books. Cats. Life is good,” he is quoted as saying. We couldn’t agree more. Edward Gorey's stories were certainly too odd for some, and we admire his perseverance in carving his own path despite his unique, sombre style. He died in 2000, leaving his estate to a number of animal welfare charities. His home in Yarmouth, Cape Cod still stands as a dedicated museum The Edward Gorey House and his work published by The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust.

To finish, we highly recommend checking out this delightfully illustrated audio clip of Edward talking about the capers of his beloved cats. Don't forget to follow The Dilettante around the internet! You can find us on Facebook and Instagram or use #TheDilettanteSociety!

Introducing St Sloth's Day: A new holiday to perk up January

Introducing St Sloth's Day: A new holiday to perk up January

Short days, chilly climes, grey skies and nothing of note happening... The beginning of the year is always a rather gloomy stretch. With the merry, manic festive period behind us, fairy lights disappear from windows, the fridge is no longer stocked with a brilliant array of cheese, and spiking your morning coffee with Irish cream becomes a little more questionable. January is a sluggish, nagging month to say the least. To add to the dreariness, this year has greeted us with yet more grim world news and another lockdown. Shut in our homes and buckled in for another tedious, troublesome ride, the strain on mental health is particularly intense. We at The Dilettante have been ruminating on how to combat this and have decided it is time to invent a new holiday to perk up January... introducing St Sloth’s Day. Landing on any Saturday of your choosing in January (or whenever you have a day to spend really), St Sloth’s Day is basically a second Christmas but free of its stressful demands. A day to revel in doing nothing and to savour your home comforts, it is your free day pass to avoid obligation and worry. On the day itself, wake up whenever you fancy. Luxuriate over a long breakfast and think of all the times you have rushed to leave the house at the crack of dawn with only a boring piece of toast. The rest of the day can unfold as you wish. Today, you are basically a cat, and are allowed to nap, eat and potter at your leisure. Light that ridiculously overpriced candle that you fear using up. Watch movies that make you feel warm and happy. Curl up with a really good book. Don’t look at social media or the news. Take a bath. Stretch. Breathe. The making of the tea is an important part of the day and should be treated as a precious ceremony. A teapot is advised, to get the most tea for the least effort, and as many biscuits to dunk as you damn well like. You may want to load up a tray of fruits, chocolate and other nibbly things to enjoy as you idle in bed. If you are assuming the guise of a rich nineteenth century dandy and lolling around as if it were your job, you’re doing this right. We may have spent most of 2020 in our pyjamas watching the television, but St Sloth’s Day is a horse of a different colour. Perhaps we were hasty when we said the day held no obligations, for there is one small order: you must be mindful of the fortunes life has brought you. Marvel over your central heating. Taste your food. Thank your blankets. Spend a little time making a list about the things you are blessed with that make you happy. Enjoy the quiet, cosiness of your surroundings. Don't forget to follow The Dilettante around the internet! You can find us on Facebook and Instagram or use #TheDilettanteSociety!

10 Ways The Roaring Twenties Changed The World

10 Ways The Roaring Twenties Changed The World

The 1920s was an era like no other. With the start of the 19th century dominated by the First World War and topped off by a deadly pandemic, it was not until the '20s that society was finally able to unbuckle the shackles of the more stuffy Victorian era. So began an epoch of great change and innovation, but what was the legacy of the decade that roared?

Let us take you on a whistlestop tour of the 1920s with 10 of the era’s most definitive features... INDUSTRIAL DYNAMISM In 1920 just 6% of British homes were powered by electricity, but by the end of the decade pylons dotted the landscape. Life-changing technological advancements such as motor cars granted new freedoms, while the first transatlantic flight in 1927, the birth of radio, and the formation of the BBC in 1922 signalled an ever more connected world. THE SILVER SCREEN New forms of media such as film began to take hold on the public imagination, introducing the stars of the big screen and the influence of advertising. In cinema, focus was put on extravagant feature length artworks rather than short reels, and 1927 saw the release of the first ‘talkie’ The Jazz Singer. While studios created their empires in Hollywood, the influence of German Expressionism and Soviet cinema held sway stylistically with films such as The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920), Nosferatu (1922), Battleship Potemkin (1926), and Metropolis (1927). All of which are available on YouTube to watch for free and come highly recommended for late night vintage viewing! THE MODERN METROPOLIS A similar innovative rampancy was taking place in cities as high rates of employment drew young people into the cultural melting pot of the metropolis. Here, where the impressionable could mingle, the desire to embrace modernity was increasingly visible and widespread in architecture, fashion, and entertainment. In 1930, New York's Chrysler Building became the world’s tallest structure, symbolising the aspirations of the chic and modern city. Jazz made its way from America to Europe. Nightclubs, cocktail bars and jazz joints flourished, and new dance crazes such as foxtrot, charleston and lindy hop gave expression to the more liberal youth. ART EXPLOSION With its linear, geometric glamour, Art Deco became the dominant commercial style, influencing everything from architecture and furniture to fashion and jewellery. In painting, more avant-garde artistic movements such as Cubism and Surrealism emerged providing layered commentary on the cultural zeitgeist, while the Dada and Bauhaus movements blurred the boundaries between art and life. THE BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS After a childhood of disruption and turmoil, a new generation emerged armed with a desire for hedonism and a fierce intent to discard the stifling hangover of Victorian England. Many were too young to have fought in the Great War, but grew up acutely aware of their own mortality having lost loved ones in the battlefield and to the Spanish Flu pandemic. The Bright Young Things, an exuberant assortment of wealthy aristocrats, avant-garde artists and bon vivants dominated the tabloids. The term ‘The Lost Generation’ was coined by influential salon hostess and art collector Gertrude Stein and referred to expatriate writers such as Hemingway and Fitzgerald, but was broadened to describe the restlessness and decadence of the 1920s youth. FASHION DAHLING Fashion became looser and more comfortable, mirroring the desires of the younger, more liberal generation. Corsets were discarded and women bobbed their hair, began wearing make-up, and adopted ‘scandalous’ behaviour such as drinking, smoking and swearing in public. The fun-loving, free-living flapper became the style icon of the decade, and a boyish ‘garconne’ silhouette was coveted. WOMEN’S RIGHTS Women over 30 had won the right to vote in 1918, yet still a third of women in the UK were prohibited from voting, and it was only after continued activism through the 1920s that men and women finally achieved the same voting rights in 1928. In Britain, the first birth control clinic was opened in 1921 and by 1930 several clinics together formed the National Birth Control Council. Due to the industrial upheaval of WWI, support grew for women to gain employment in certain fields, ultimately providing the opportunity for greater independence outside of marriage. THE VERGE OF A GREAT DEPRESSION Laissez-faire economics throughout the 20s generated a boom in the number of millionaires and credit became widely available to the average person, inevitably causing the economic crash of 1929 and the Great Depression. Between this time and 1933 the stock market lost 90% of its value, over 11,000 banks closed and household incomes were reduced by a third. PSYCHOLOGICAL EXPLORATION Interest in childhood development grew rapidly. The Behaviourist Movement gradually gained popularity due to works by psychologist John Watson, who emphasised the effect of outward actions, learning, and external factors on development. In contrast, Sigmund Freud’s influential 1923 paper The Ego & The Id, delved deeper into the psychic apparatus of the mind. THE CONTINUED FIGHT Much like today, the 1920s saw a cultural climate battling with opposition and disparity. Education for children became compulsory and free, while the Education Act 1921 created schooling for disabled children. Ireland became an independent country in 1922, yet the British still ruled around a quarter of the Earth. Rising xenophobia saw the KKK reach 5 million members in the USA, while the Nazi Party gained popularity in Germany, ultimately providing a fertile ground for the nationalism that aided Second World War. Don't forget to follow The Dilettante around the internet! You can find us on Facebook and Instagram or use #TheDilettanteSociety!

83 creative ideas for winter lockdown

83 creative ideas for winter lockdown

The idea of spending winter in lockdown can easily provoke a bad case of doom, gloom and boredom. This year has been like no other, and as the seasons change we will once again have to adapt and make the best of it. With the sun gracing us with its presence less and less, being stuck indoors and turning to the TV for entertainment comes easy, but we all know how tedious this can become.

Rather than muddling through aimlessly, we have been making plans. Here we present 83 creative, cheap, productive and amusing ways to while away the winter and fend off the creeping ennui. Let us know which are your favourites or what ideas you have come up with in the comments.

Check out This Is What We Are Doing Now Part One and Part Two for more ideas! Make a fort. Bake something tasty. Spend a night watching schlocky vintage horror movies on YouTube. The Bat (1959), What's The Matter With Helen (1971), and House on the Haunted Hill (1959) are all excellent places to start. Make a scrapbook out of old gig tickets. Learn how to juggle. Write a letter to a friend far away who’d appreciate it. It is SUCH a treat to have fun post come through the letterbox, and its perfect for those who don't like to talk on the phone. Make chutney and jam. The ingredients are quite minimal and you can finally find a use for random jars you can’t help but collect. Write a quiz and once again rally your friends for a night on Zoom. Have a staring contest with your pet. Make a zine. Handwrite it, type it, or use a newspaper and start collaging. Do something nice for someone or ask someone how you can help them. Rearrange your furniture. Sew up your much loved but rather holey clothes. Give yourself a bizarre makeover and design yourself an absurd alter ego for a day. Stretch. Make up limericks about your friends and send them a surprise text. Read the dictionary and write down your favourite words. Learn a dance routine on YouTube. (Deceptacon by Le Tigre is our favourite) Listen to an album from start to finish and read all the lyrics like its 2002. Take an aimless wander (or as the French would say derive) around your neighbourhood and try to spot the things you’ve never noticed. Buy a bag of googly eyes and make faces on random objects. (Extra points if you do this on the aforementioned walk). Do that thing you’ve been putting off (but will actually only take ten minutes.) Have a kitchen disco. Pay someone a compliment. Listen to the latest albums of an artist you love, but have forgotten to keep following. Teach yourself a party trick. (There will be parties again one day!) Indulge in your guilty pleasure. Could be a song or film you can’t help but love, or eating peanut butter with a spoon, doesn't matter). Look through old photos. Stick them in an album or sketchbook or send the files off to be printed. Write about your year. There will be strange, mundane details you will one day forget. It will be a fascinating piece of social history to look back on and help when you regale the youth with the story of 2020. Make a list of the classic movies you have always meant to see and instigate a regular Classics Night with popcorn and pizza. Research your house. Find out when it was built. Imagine who lived there before you. Throw yourself into a new creative project. Start painting, embroidering, knitting, making pop-up books, learning the harmonica - whatever you like. If you're terrible to start with, IT DOESN'T MATTER. Dust off that other creative project you’ve been procrastinating on. Learn a card trick. Confuse the kids. Make an action plan of something you want to achieve. Break it down into small sections so it’s not a mountainous task. Complete the first step. Promote a friend’s business on social media or write them a glowing review. Spend an evening getting absorbed in ideas by binging TED Talks. Write a letter to yourself in the future, or make a time capsule, and hide it somewhere deep in your house. Make compilations for your friends. Extra points if you go ‘old-fashioned’ with a CD or tape and add your own artwork. Go to an international supermarket and buy mystery vegetables and ingredients, then spend some time on the internet looking up what you've got and what to do with it. Look up interviews on YouTube of someone who inspires you. Here's one of our favourites with the legend that is Tom Waits. Make a video diary of your day. (Or check out the Life in a Day, a documentary compiled with snippets of home videos from all over the world, filmed on the same day in 2010). Call an old friend and reminisce about old times and the silliest things you used to get up to. Its often amazing how many shared antics you may have forgotten about. Buy yourself some ridiculous slippers. Make a bucketlist of audacious ambitions. Pretend you’re on a cooking show and provide narration as you make dinner. Buy a jolly looking plant and give it a name. Ask your family elders questions about their life. Pretend you are a 19th century dandy. Dress up, drape yourself on the sofa, perhaps drink some gin, and lament your sorrows with dramatic gesticulations. Clean out your inbox and unsubscribe to any annoying email lists. Tell someone you love them. Give your plants a bit of TLC. Snip of the dead bits, repot them, or give them some nutrients. Get crafty and make some decorations for the festive period. Don't forget to decorate the window for passers-by. Make a list of all the things you want to do when the pandemic is over. Organise your food cupboards and treat yourself to an ingredient you’ve never used. Make some homemade cleaning products with lemon, vinegar and essential oils. Meditate. If you can’t turn off your mind, try counting breaths, downloading an app, or reflecting positively on something good. Buy a puzzle book and get deeply addicted to the crossword. Send a care package to a friend. Re-read your favourite book. Preferably whilst wrapped in a blanket. Start a journal. Subscribe to a print magazine that will fall on your doorstep and bring joy every so often. Invent a new cocktail and give it a name. Instigate Fancy Fridays. Dress up to the nines, have a tipple, make a sumptuous dinner and listen to some tunes. Learn the difference between something you’ve never got the hang of. For example, types of wine, trees, birds or art periods. See if your local art gallery or museum has any online events or walkthroughs. Read poetry aloud. Anything is acceptable, from Byron to tongue twisters! Practise your signature. Make it FANCY. Find a new comedian to make you chuckle. Actually just indulge in anything that gives you big belly laughs. Write down the things that have been on your mind, then burn the paper. Make scrabble happen. Cull anything in your wardrobe that is uncomfortable, ugly, or you never wear. Plan out the narrative for a book you want to write. They say everyone has a novel in them somewhere! Start a doodle diary - no matter what your drawing skills - and draw one thing a day. Wrap up warm, find a bench and get down to some people watching. Make notes. And of course wear some shades for extra mystery. Write a love letter to yourself. Make it as dramatically passionate as you like. Fix something that has been knocking around broken for too long. We all have something we've been meaning to fix. Practice breathing. Enjoy the calm. Make some art. Doesn't matter if its bad, just enjoy the process. Try pointillism, fingerpainting, or drawing with your eyes closed if you need somewhere to start. Make a wanderlist of places you want to visit. Try the surrealist technique of automatic writing. Enjoy the feeling of getting your thoughts out onto the page, allow yourself to be surprised, and don’t judge what comes out. Potter around the house. Do nothing, but revel in being cosy and safe. Resist any feelings of guilt. Come up with a list like this yourself. Stick it on the fridge. Whatever you get up to stay cosy, stay curious and remember this time will one day be a thing of the past. Don't forget to follow The Dilettante around the internet! You can find us on Facebook and Instagram or use #TheDilettanteSociety!

Lockdown, Creativity, and unconventional careers with Professor Elemental

Lockdown, Creativity, and unconventional careers with Professor Elemental

Bubbling with a combination of wit, whimsy and lyrical mastery, they just don’t make ‘em like Professor Elemental very often. The Dilettante sat down for a lovely chat with the chap-hop star to discover his thoughts on creativity, convention and his post-corona plans. Well, 2020 certainly threw a spanner in the works. How have you been doing? I was having a really nice time before lockdown happened, so when people started saying it’s quite nice to take a break, slow down and reflect, I didn’t really feel that. Basically I had a few months of living in the 1950s and I've been no worse for it, but I’m ready for a bit more weirdness back in my life now. Have you been able to hatch any wonderful plans during lockdown? I’ve got an album coming out called Nemesis, which will be released in the spring. We did a big competition to find a villain I could face and now we’re creating the record. I’m sadly making the assumption that corona will be around throughout 2021, so I’ll be doing less gigs, or in a more socially distanced way. But I want to get more active with protests and things like that… and hopefully cause some mischief. There’s certainly a lot of mischief in the Professor’s world. How do you find performing under an alter-ego? I find the constraints of the Professor, creatively, are really useful. I use him like a little lens to focus all the stuff I want to do. So he’s a very useful foil, but he just needs to be kept under control. If he gets out of his box too often, suddenly I’m just a mad man in a hat who’s been kicked out by his wife and is living in a caravan - which is my greatest and very real fear. What would be your advice for anyone whose creative pursuits aren’t exactly conventional? Well I found a really nice little niche and I don’t need to do anything else. I realised I could make a living by doing this, which is amazing, but I also realised that no record label will ever put out one of my records. I will never necessarily break into the mainstream. If you can find a niche and find a few people who like your stuff and will support you, you’re sorted. I like to think some of the bigger dreams don’t make you happier anyway. You’ve got to please yourself when it comes to creative stuff, and then if it fails it doesn’t matter because you had a nice time doing it. So you can’t lose I think. Do you think music has lost its showmanship in the modern day? Showmanship to me has always been people like Frank Sidebottom or Vivian Stanshall, but they were never in the mainstream, they were on the fringes. I love hip hop so, so much, but it can be so boring to watch so I think a bit of showmanship is nice actually. Perhaps it comes a lot easier to the weirder acts, because you’ve got nothing to lose really. It doesn’t matter if you make a mistake because you’re tiny anyway. I think the truest thing when doing anything on the stage, is as long as you look like you’re having a nice time, people will grant you a lot more leeway if you're messing up. The Professor's latest single 'Devil in the Desert' is out now! Head to www.professorelemental.com to order yourself a treat and keep up with the Prof's latest adventures! Want to hear more? Enjoy a most spirited and entertaining parley with Professor Elemental in the brand new Dilettante Podcast! In episode one we delve into the makings of mischief, from classic cartoon capers to the history of Mischief Night. Don't forget to follow The Dilettante around the internet! You can find us on Facebook and Instagram or use #TheDilettanteSociety!

This is what we're doing now: winter survival tips 2020 part 2

This is what we're doing now: winter survival tips 2020 part 2

As we settle into a second lockdown with the long winter looming ahead, looking after our mental health is more important than ever. We made it through the spring with sunshine and solidarity, but the chilly days and dark nights can make the isolation of lockdown seem even more daunting. Rather than muddling through aimlessly, we have come up with a plan to combat this dread. Each week we’ll be publishing What We Are Doing Now, a series of suggestions to make your winter lockdown a more satisfying, cosy and jovial experience. Click here for last week's blog! This is what we are doing now and these are your orders: We will go analogue We all know how smartphones have become a veritable dominatrix over our daily lives. Filling the breaks, quickening the pace, and bombarding us with information at all times and places - it’s truly tiring, but it’s also terribly tricky to know how to unleash ourselves from their omnipotent grip. We suggest giving your brain a breather by having an analogue day. Avoiding the old dog and bone completely is sometimes unavoidable, but leaving it in another room is a good start. The trick is to find tangible pursuits to engross your attention - the kind of lovely wholesome things we did before the internet whirlwind took hold are ideal choices. Spend a slow Sunday listening to records or cracking out your dusty CD collection. Get lost in a novel whilst wrapped in a blanket on the sofa. Repair those so-loved-but-so-holey clothes you’ve missed wearing. Or perhaps you'd like to get crafty, learn how to knit, or finally make a scrapbook of all your old gig tickets. Put the kettle on, enjoy your senses, and breathe in the space. We will be playful Remember when you reluctantly arrived at that awkward age when ‘cool’ took over? Your interests suddenly became ‘childish’; kaleidoscopes, yo-yos and She-Ra castles were carried off to the attic, you stopped collecting those once coveted gemstones, stickers, or pogs. Sunbathing replaced sandcastles, flirting took over from fancy dress, and the floor was rarely lava. Now we’re grown and much less worried about impressing our friends, is it not time to get playful again?

One of the main tenets of The Dilettante is to encourage creative dabbling. So while you might not want to crack out actual toys, allow yourself to tap into the playful creativity we had as children. Next time you try something new, abolish the idea of perfection and let yourself be a beginner. Be silly, make mistakes and let your imagination run amok. We will make fire As the days get shorter and evenings are shrouded in darkness, twinkling lights and warm fires become an absolute delight. There is something enchanting and ancient about watching a fire burn. It links us with our ancestors, reminds us of our basic survival, and provides a hypnotic calm to get lost in. We usually get our fiery fix on November 5th, but Bonfire Night events are unfortunately cancelled this year. Check out if there are any drive-in events happening in your area, or if you’re lucky enough to own a fire basket or chimenea - make the most of it! Grab some blankets, pour a brew, and spend a little time under the stars. Candles can be just as charming indoors, and the magic of sparklers will never expire. Standard reminder: be safe not stupid. We will feel rubbish sometimes And that’s okay. Life is difficult for many people at the moment and there will be days when things seem overwhelmingly gloomy. Trying to lead a relatively normal existence in the face of a global crisis will not always go smoothly. It is not your fault. You are allowed to feel like an old worn out slipper and you are still worthy even when you don’t feel strong. Let yourself lean into your feelings from time to time, but resolve to put a time cap on how long you allow yourself to wallow. Do something lovely for yourself. Do something lovely for someone else. We will get through this. We will not forget to dance Dancing is one of life’s great pleasures. When you really think about it, it is quite a rare and wonderful thing for us humans to abandon our mental faculties and go harmlessly primal for a while. Dancing scratches a special itch for many of us, and DAMN it has been too long since we were able to twist, gyrate, and shake in a room full of strangers.

We must not forget to dance. Shimmy when you get out of the shower. Hold a disco in your kitchen. Learn a hilarious routine from YouTube. Perplex your pets with your moves. Perfect your robot. Dance like there's nobody watching (because that’s probably the case) and if you feel silly all the better. Don't forget to follow The Dilettante around the internet! You can find us on Facebook and Instagram or use #TheDilettanteSociety!

This is what we're doing now: Winter survival tips 2020

This is what we're doing now: Winter survival tips 2020

We can all agree what a dreadful year it has been. As we brace for a second lockdown, with the winter ahead of us, it will no doubt be a rather different kettle of fish. The long sun-kissed days of the spring lockdown gave us avid gardening, doorstep rendezvous and neighbourly support, but being shut inside through winter, without the traditional jollity of the season, how ever can we keep our spirits up? Rather than muddling through aimlessly, we have come up with a plan to combat this looming dread. Each week we’ll be publishing What We Are Doing Now, a selection of suggestions to make your winter lockdown a more satisfying, cosy and jovial experience. This is what we are doing now and these are your orders: We Will Make Soup Pottering around the kitchen concocting a hearty, nourishing soup really is the ideal way to spend a rainy, autumnal afternoon. Tasty, warming and cheap to make, a good Hodgepodge soup can contain virtually any vegetable you like and will feed you for days. We guarantee your future self will appreciate the gesture when you’re sorted for comforting dinners for nights to come. A trip to your local greengrocer will provide everything you need (with the bonus of being cheap and plastic free) but if you’ve got dusty tins of lentils, tomatoes or beans in the cupboard this is an excellent way to bulk up the mixture. Use the biggest pan you can get your hands on and start by frying up lots of chopped onion and garlic. Add the denser vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, and parsnips, then a kettle of hot water and a stock cube. Once they’ve softened a little, you can throw in softer veg like celery, mushrooms, and leeks. For a rich pink hue, we particularly enjoy adding some beetroot!

The most fun part of making a Hodgepodge is flavouring your brew. Add chilli, ginger and turmeric for an extra vitamin boost, or go for wild garlic, mustard or basil for a more earthy flavour. When everything has been nicely cooking for a while, chuck in some spinach, the lentils, salt, pepper and tomato puree to suit your taste. It’s almost impossible to get this recipe wrong, so enjoy the process. Drink big pots of tea or a glass of red, and listen to something relaxing while you cook. Once your delicious Hodgepodge is ready, toast up some chunky bread, slather with butter and serve. Then tell us this wasn’t the most comforting, delicious and simple meal you’ve made in ages. We Will Dedicate Ourselves To Cosiness We are heading into chilly times, so being cosy and snug is of utmost importance. Perhaps you’ve got a drawer of favourite jumpers already, or a comforting blanket to crack out, but maybe you need to nip to a charity shop and treat yourself to something that will keep you glowing with toastiness. Crack out the long johns, pile pets onto your knee, light a fire or crank up the heating. The trick to this one is to acknowledge the cosiness, so make sure to pay thanks to our ancestors for their brilliantly comforting, soft and warming inventions. Pillows, upholstery, big socks and central heating - what pitiful shivering husks we’d be without them! Once you’ve suitably adorned yourself in a layer of soft, woolly protective garments, say the words ‘Bloody hell I am so cosy right now’ out loud to complete the spell. We Will Go Foraging A wander in the wilderness can do wonders for your spirits, but there’s a special kind of satisfaction that comes from venturing out on a mission to fill your basket with wild delicacies. Scour the hedgerows for rosehips to brew up a restorative, immune-boosting syrup, search for sloe berries to infuse your gin with autumnal flavour or embrace your inner squirrel on the hunt for hazelnuts and chestnuts. Whilst they’re packed with bitter tannins which make them rather unpalatable raw, the abundant acorns scattered on the forest floor can be transformed into a nutty and naturally sweet flour, which might come in rather handy if the nation once more turns its collective hand to baking and the shelves run dry of its commercially made counterparts. Foraging is a walk with purpose and a reward, a free treasure hunt where you’re never sure what you’ll come away with. If you’re not inclined to get experimental in the kitchen or you find the wilderness less bountiful than expected, set your sights on the biggest, shiniest conker and ready yourself for battle. Beware, fungi forays are best left to those with expertise in the field. We Will Salute Our Resilience Whilst we’re all feeling the fatigue that sets in after so many long months living in a world which feels increasingly like dystopian fiction, now is the time to recognise our achievements, rally our spirits, and renew our courage. The journey has been hard and we have each, to varying extents, faced loss and made sacrifices in ways we scarce could have imagined. We have adapted and adjusted, recalibrated and reimagined our lives. When worries creep in and things feel bleak take a moment to appreciate all that you’ve achieved and overcome, no matter how insignificant they may feel. Try to focus your attention away from the uncertainty and make a mental inventory of small victories and things to be grateful for. Treat yourself to that extra biscuit, congratulate your past self, and thank your blankets. We Will Be Neighbourly Again Remember back in March when we united in common endeavour, shared experience, and a sense of utter bafflement at how quickly and dramatically our lives had changed? Communities came together in unexpected ways; we decorated our windows to provide pleasing views to passersby, talked on doorsteps and over fences, sang from balconies and dropped off care packages to those in need. The narrative has soured somewhat since then. Now we’re increasingly encouraged to look for people and groups to blame for the hardships we face, to surveil our communities and spy on our neighbours. Things are Orwellian enough without us turning on each other, so let’s strive for small acts of kindness and compassion. Say an appropriately distanced hello as you pass in the street, smile at strangers, look out for those around us who need our support, not our suspicion, and remember we are, in fact, all in this together.

Whatever it is you find to distract your mind and enliven your spirit as we approach this darkest of winters, remember it’s perfectly fine to do just whatever is it you need to do to get by until ‘times’ once again become ‘precedented’. Don't forget to follow The Dilettante around the internet! You can find us on Facebook and Instagram or use #TheDilettanteSociety!

Edward Lear's Nonsense Botany

Edward Lear's Nonsense Botany

Best known for his lyrical masterpiece The Owl & The Pussycat, Edward Lear was one of the 19th century's most amusing creative dabblers. Artist, illustrator, poet, musician and author, Lear flitted between creative professions throughout his lifetime, but his true forte was a playful mastery of the English language. Introducing the art of the nonsense poem into British literature, his work would go on to influence the weirdest of wordsmiths, from Lewis Carroll and Dr Seuss to Stanley Unwin and Ogden Nash. Edward Lear was born in 1812, the penultimate child in a litter of 21 children. His eldest sister Ann, two decades older than the young Edward, acted as his guardian from early in his childhood and remained his close companion for the rest of her life. The typical 'sickly' Victorian child, Edward's life would be plagued by illness, including asthma, bronchitis and bad eyesight. But it was his epilepsy that caused Edward the most suffering, leading to his reclusive temperament and recurrent bouts of depression - an affliction he named 'The Morbids'. Yet Edward's work was characterised by humour and a sparkling imagination. Known to use an absurd pseudonym ("Mr Abebika kratoponoko Prizzikalo Kattefello Ablegorabalus Ableborinto phashyph" or "Chakonoton the Cozovex Dossi Fossi Sini Tomentilla Coronilla Polentilla Battledore & Shuttlecock Derry down Derry Dumps"), it was widely rumoured that Edward Lear was the pen name of his patron, the Earl of Derby, and Lear often had to convince those he met that he was in fact who he said he was. He played piano, accordion, flute, and small guitar, and was known for his musical accompaniments to the poems of Alfred, Lord Tennyson. His first literary collection, The Book of Nonsense (1846) popularised the limerick and established Lear as a writer of the more unusual variety. Among his fantastic selection of short stories, poems and songs, The Jumblies is a particular a riveting tale involving creatures who sail to sea in a sieve. On their travels they visit such wonders as the Torrible Zone, the hills of the Chankly Bore, and decidedly acquire 'no end of Stilton Cheese', 'a hive of silvery Bees' and 'forty bottles of Ring-Bo-Ree'. "And all night long they sailed away; And when the sun went down, They whistled and warbled a moony song To the echoing sound of a coppery gong, In the shade of the mountains brown. ‘O Timballo! How happy we are, When we live in a sieve and a crockery-jar, And all night long in the moonlight pale, We sail away with a pea-green sail, In the shade of the mountains brown!’ Far and few, far and few, Are the lands where the Jumblies live; Their heads are green, and their hands are blue And they went to sea in a Sieve." By the age of 16, Lear was already drawing to earn money. He was employed by the London Zoological Society as an ornithological draughtsman and had a unique talent for drawing from live birds rather than skins. This penchant for the natural world clearly influenced his literature, with a knack for inventing ridiculous landscapes and anthropomorphising all kind of creatures and objects. The result is a surreal Learean world of Scroobious Pips, Quangle Wangles, and Great Gromboolian Plains. This fanciful re-sculpting of the physical world is brilliantly exemplified in in Lear's Nonsense Botany. Published as a series between 1871 - 1877, the sketches and entertaining captions read as a taxonomy of incongruous plant-creatures. Lear spent much of his life travelling and painted his excursions to Italy extensively. He never married but kept close companionship with his Albanian chef, Giorgis and a cat named Foss. In the 1870s he settled in San Remo, Italy and died at home in 1888. Edward Lear is commemorated each year on his birthday, 12th May, known across the world as Owl & The Pussycat Day. If we can learn anything from Lear's work, it is that art does not have to be serious to be of worth. With enough wit, vision, and vernacular inventiveness, fanciful new worlds can be born that will stir the public's imagination for generations. Don't forget to follow The Dilettante around the internet! You can find us on Facebook and Instagram or use #TheDilettanteSociety!

Gumbo's Night In

Gumbo's Night In

Gumbo wor gerrin ready forra big night in. There wor a pie in the oven, he’d gorris TV Times an ‘is hot water bottle all ready and wor abaht to settle dahn inis armchair when suddenly ‘is mate Shonar bust through the door girrin ‘im a rite shock. ‘Bloomin heck gal, I nearly dropped me snack tray!’ ‘Sorry Gumbs! I was just excited to show off my new unitard - look!’ Gumbo grimaced at the rainbow of lycra as Shonar ripped off her coat and bent into downward dog. ‘You need to start taking better care of yourself Gumbs!’ Shonar said, eyein ‘is belleh wirra disapproving smirk. ‘I’m doing dry veganuary - except for my Activia yogurt, gin and slim, and a chippy tea on a Friday as a treat. I’ve never felt better! He won’t sure wot she wor on abhat so he busied ‘imsen wiris hankey and let Shonar carry on. ‘...I was going to do Janu-hairy but I just couldn’t face my aqua-aerobics class looking like Hagrid - anyway, what about giving this place a spruce?’ she asked, eyeing up his ode Countdown tapes. ‘Do these really spark joy Gumbs, coz if not they have to go.’ She wor startin to gerron ‘is wick and he began to slowly inch towards ‘is armchair an that plate o’ bourbons he’d left aht for ‘imsen. ‘Your problem is your too stubborn to try anything new new. Why don’t you try Tinder, Gumbs? I hear that lady you’ve got the hots for from Post Office is on it. Pauline isn’t it?’ Gumbo gave a puzzled glanced at his wood store. ‘What yer on abht? I’ve gor enough kindling to keep mesen goin till July. An what’s Pauline got ter do wir owt? She got one of them gas thingamys wirra win ont Premium Bonds.’ Shonar wor shaking her head wirra look of exasperation when the kitchen timer started ringin to tell ‘im ‘is pie wor ready. ‘Saved by the bloomin bell!’ he thought to ‘imsen as he strode towards the kitchen. He wont lerrin no lunatic inna leotard gerrin the way of ‘is night - he’d been plannin it for some time. ‘Enough of this!’ he blared, grabbing a tea towel and shooing Shonar to the front door. ‘And don’t bloody come back until you’ve ‘ad some Rosé and come te yer bloomin senses.’ Gumbo Barley is a collaboratively improvised serial, composed using the "Exquisite Corpses" method of writing a sentence, folding the paper and passing to the next person. It is written in a Nottinghamshire dialect and should be read as so. Don't forget to follow The Dilettante around the internet! You can find us on Facebook and Instagram or use #TheDilettanteSociety!

Immortality Through Art: The Marchesa Luisa Casati

Immortality Through Art: The Marchesa Luisa Casati

In the age of social media we have become more than familiar with the practice of carefully curating one's identity through public visual displays, but the concept of using art, imagery and aesthetics to mould a public image is certainly not a new one. A significant and compelling example is that of Italian aristocrat Marchesa Luisa Casati, who’s lifestyle of fantastical theatrics, decadence and eccentricity made her one of the most luminescent figures depicted in art of the 20th century. Known for her extravagant costumes and heavily kohl rimmed eyes, the Marchesa’s haunting stare can be seen in countless paintings and photographs by some of the era's most forward thinking artists. But in creating the fantastical aesthetic whirlwind of her life, it was the Marchesa herself who truly held the power of artistic invention. Born into a cocoon of privilege in 1881, Luisa was the second daughter of a rich Austian cotton merchant living in Milan, who would later be given the title of count by King Umberto I. A plain and introverted child, she quietly absorbed the delights of Milan’s museums, galleries, and libraries, which instilled in her an appreciation of the avant-garde art that was gradually becoming popular at the turn of the century. It was in these early years that Luisa became fascinated by history’s notorious eccentrics, including the ’Swan King’ Ludwig of Bavaria, who’s outlandish behaviour, construction of extravagant castles, and patronage of the arts would be a significant influence on the Marchesa's later years. By fifteen, after the death of both parents, the Marchesa and her elder sister Francesca became the richest heiresses in Italy. By nineteen, she was married to the equally wealthy Marchese Camillo Casati and soon after gave birth to a daughter, Cristina Casati. Despite this conventional start to the marriage it was not an intimate relationship, and the couple lived in different residences. Leading a separate life from her husband was a significant factor which allowed Luisa the freedom to pursue other affairs, including exploring the realms of her own self-fabricated character. With an abundance of wealth behind her, the Marchesa began to tailor her lifestyle into a plethora of flamboyant dress and unconventional behaviour. Her reputation spread throughout Europe, with stories of lavish and fantastical soirees, of servants painted in gold leaf, and of the Marchesa’s penchant for wearing live snakes as jewellery. She began to collect elaborate mansions, such as the red marble Palais Rose near Paris, which included a summer house gallery housing the hundreds of portraits she had sat for. Elsewhere she kept a large menagerie of animals, including monkeys, snakes, and two cheetahs with whom she would stroll through the streets at night. Guests reported collections of eerie mannequins that sat around her dining table as if to accompany the guests, and the Marchesa added fuel to these rumours by hinting they contained ashes of her past lovers. Luisa's raison d’etre became ‘immortality through art’ and she began to seek out progressive artists, commissioning them to take her portrait by paint or lens and sometimes funding their living costs. This exchange differed somewhat from traditional, contemptuous relationship between the artist and the bourgeoisie; she maintained friendships with many she worked with and patronised the most innovative of artists. Her lifestyle was so intricately sewn with aesthetic excess and unconventionality that it appealed greatly to bohemian artistic sensibilities. Although no artist by traditional means, the Marchesa’s appearance was her canvas and she cultivated an enchanting personal style which captivated the aesthetes and bon vivants she consorted with. With her long, lean, pearl white body draped in outlandish finery, chaotic mess of fiery red hair, slash of scarlet lipstick, and striking kohl rimmed eyes, the Marchesa had the glamorous allure of a vampire, hungrily sucking up beauty, excess, and other visual delights. She dressed in the high fashions of the day, but had many outlandish outfits specially tailored from her own ideas. One such example, which was worn to a ball in 1922, was decorated with dozens of tiny light bulbs, powered by a generator beneath her skirt, and reportedly gave the Marchesa tiny electric shocks throughout the night. "The door to the room where we sat chatting suddenly opened. A dead woman entered. Her superb body was modelling a dress of white satin that was wrapped around her like a shroud and dragged behind her. A bouquet of orchids hid her breast. Her hair was red and her complexion livid like alabaster. Her face was devoured by two enormous eyes, whose black pupils almost overwhelmed her mouth, painted a red so vivid that it seemed like a strip of coagulated blood. In her arms she carried a baby leopard. It was the Marchesa Casati."
- Gabriel-Louis Pringué In her later years the Marchesa’s life of lavish excess caught up with her and it emerged that by 1935 she had raised up to $25 million in debt. Her belongings were auctioned away to bidders (including fashion house Chanel) and she fled to London to live in a slightly more modest lifestyle, funded by friends and her daughter. Still glamorous and striking, she continued to surround herself with artists, modernists, free thinkers and admirers until her death in 1957. Inscribed on her tombstone are Shakespeare’s words of the queen in Antony and Cleopatra “Age Cannot Wither Her, Nor Custom Stale Her Infinite Variety”. The Marchesa’s influence is still celebrated today, particularly in fashion. Of the dozens of portraits she had commissioned, a small amount survive, including images by Augustus John, Cecil Beaton, Man Ray, Romaine Brooks, and Giovanni Boldini. Though sadly somewhat unknown to the mainstream, in the realm of art The Marchesa’s desire to become immortal through art was achieved just as she wished. While many are granted wonderful lifestyles of excess and freedom through their riches, few shape their existence with such brazen determination and individuality. Through her standing within the world of art, the Marchesa seemed to surpass the more superficial privileges of wealth, and instead ascended to a world where art and life are one and aestheticism is given a divine status. In 1999 an official biography, Infinite Variety: The Life and Legend of The Marchesa Casati was published by Scot D. Ryersson and Michael Orlando Yaccarino, and in 2017 a revised and expanded 'Ultimate Edition' of the book was published. To order a copy, or find out more about The Marchesa, visit the official website: marchesacasati.com Don't forget to follow The Dilettante around the internet! You can find us on Facebook and Instagram or use #TheDilettanteSociety!

Hand-Me-Down Traditions (and why you should make up your own)

Hand-Me-Down Traditions (and why you should make up your own)

To begin our first post of 2020, we'd like to wish all of our readers a most happy new year. With a fresh orbit around the sun ahead of us, and a hectic festive season now safely in the past, Lady M reflects on the traditions and rituals that make us. Here we are in a new year and a new decade. The fridge bears only slithers of cheese, our festive hangovers are gladly becoming a distant memory, and it is not quite so acceptable to use Baileys for milk in our morning coffee anymore. That sensible, incumbent inner voice has been grumbling loudly for the past week or so, and we are begrudgingly compelled to agree that, ‘Well, it is Christmas...’ is no longer a rational excuse. There is a lot to be reflected on in festive period we have recently endured. We all revel in seasonal celebrations to varying degrees, but the modern traditions of Christmas are exceedingly glitzy and wasteful, and often indulged in without much scrutiny or reasoning. At the fear of being called a humbug, we are expected to festoon our living quarters with shiny tat, endure the unctuous tones of Mariah Carey, and eat, drink and be merry on all occasions. There’s panicked present buying, chaotic crowds, and portly red nosed men having their moment. There’s office parties, small piles of tinselly crap everywhere, and too many types of alcohol around to avoid mixing drinks. A little sparkle and merriment is much needed in the dark winter months, but by gosh, it is a frantic time of year. So we emerge from this gaudy festive climax, bewildered and completely disorientated, in the monotone month of January. A year of fresh possibilities laid out before us; we bow to restraint, and start to reflect. What is life now we can no longer be drunk at 3pm? Have I been a gluttonous brute to the environment? Why did I think this much cheese was necessary? And what do I do for a living again? At this time of year we are often harangued into self-improvement - which is certainly no bad thing if the excesses of Christmas are anything to go by. Perpetually harrowing world news aside, January generally affords little else to worry our comfortable selves about, so it’s the perfect time assess traditions, question old habits, and work out how we can do things a little better. For those who sometimes question the hand-me-down ways that their culture has bestowed on them, there has never been a better time to consider something new. Thanks to that all-consuming beast called the internet, it’s easy to learn about the sheer range of traditions, habits, rituals and ideas that the human species has come up with. Of course, we are not suggesting that you go on a sweeping frenzy of cultural appropriation, or that you decide the basic ethical structures of society are just not for you, but there are certainly benefits to shaking off that which doesn’t work for you, and there is also power in cultivating the things that do. Read about the morning routines of artists, discover how Pagans mark the changing seasons, observe what mourning looks like across the world, or why meditation is being taught in schools. Find out about the various genders that exist throughout the globe, why in Britain people run into the sea at Christmas, or what people have for breakfast across the world. There would be much less opportunity for boredom or burnout if we took a more eclectic approach to choosing our traditions, and perhaps we would practice them with more thought and meaning. So spend a little time contemplating what rituals exist in your life, why they are there and what they mean. If you feel your days are lacking something, consider what new ideas you might implement. There may be a morning ritual that could enhance your life, a philosophy to help you gain clarity, a routine to organise your day, or an unusual way to mark something that needs celebrating. And if there isn’t, damn well make up your own! Stare at the moon, walk the scenic route, dance when you get out of the shower, stretch, pray or find something to make you laugh each day. Next time you feel the unease of simply going along with the traditions and pastimes that society suggests, take a moment to question if it's actually enjoyable, healthy, or necessary. There may be another way that brings much more satisfaction. Don't forget to follow The Dilettante around the internet! You can find us on Facebook and Instagram or use #TheDilettanteSociety!