My coign of vantage. My corner. My keystone. My world view
. The something without which other things do not make sense. The piece that holds other pieces in place.
I once had someone read my blog and then disparage it for being misspelled. Just for the record, it is spelled correctly and is taken from this painting by Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema
I own a print of this and have had it since my early twenties. It never occurred to me that anyone would think my blog title was a mistake I had overlooked! I have lived with this painting for fifteen years and the possibility that there was another source or meaning for the word ‘coign’ just never entered my mind. I am a contextual creature. As a child, I was a nerd in training that learned ‘big words’ by reading above my age level and figuring out what some words ment from the context in which they were used. This kind of learning also left me struggling in many significant ways because not all words are easily deduced in this manner. I took it for granted that people would ‘get it’ and for the most part, I think some people do and others just think it’s a quirk employed to make my blog unique. But in case you’re wondering, the g is deliberate and serves a purpose. It unites world views for me. Proverbs
1 verse 20 states “Wisdom
calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares.” I feel that having a ‘coign’ of vantage, or an opinion if you prefer, is another way to approach wisdom and to share something about who I am with others. In the painting, three women languidly look over a scene below them. They have a vantage point from which to see what is going on below. Their relaxed postures and their position on such a overlook suggest that they are endowed with a sort of privilege. What is unsaid is that this privilege comes with a responsibility to report what they see. To discuss it amongst themselves as they go about the business of living and to live with the implications of unimpeded vision, signified by the giant stone lion that sits enthroned with its back to them in a protective gesture that implies vigilance.
commentary on the Bible says of Proverbs 1 verse 20 that “Wisdom is personified. In the Hebrew
the noun is a feminine plural, as though this Wisdom were the queen of all wisdoms, uniting in herself all their excellences. She lifts up her voice, not in solitude, but in the haunts of men “without,” i. e., outside the walls, in the streets, at the highest point of all places of concourse, in the open space of the gates where the elders meet and the king sits in judgment, in the heart of the city itself Proverbs 1:21
; through sages, lawgivers, teachers, and yet more through life and its experiences, she preaches to mankind.”
I don’t harbor so quite a grandiose role for my humble blog but I do appreciate the role of wisdom in communication. For the first two years of my blogging life, I tried to blog about politics
. The format I followed often left me as a mouth piece for ideas that were merely recycled ideologies while the actual insights I gained
about politics itself were few. By not allowing myself time to fully digest the implications of a news article before posting about it, I became a fount of pithy catchphrases that treated politics as a spectator sport and did civics itself a disservice. Now that I have changed my format and ‘Tweet
‘ about politics, I can still share news I think to be worthy but without having to weigh in with constant commentary, giving myself time to find new insights, which is what civic discourse is supposed to be about anyway. Ultimately, the shift away from politics is a good thing for me and a professional move now that I am a year away from graduating. The class I’ve taken in social media marketing really inspired me to give this blog a makeover and to allow it to be a platform from which to engage the online universe on my own terms. And I want those terms to be professional.
When it comes to uniting two seemingly different or even contradictory world views, A coign of vantage is indispensable! My chosen degree is in Interdisciplinary Studies
and is itself, an outgrowth of this underlying philosophy of mine. As a new Massage Therapist, I didn’t realize just how reactionary so much of the philosophy of massage is and was when I first entered the field. I entered the field following the traditional route of literary romanticism and it was grand! The field was new and it
was green not me
! Those of you who know what I am getting at will no doubt find the fact that my father used to tell me when I was a young therapist, “But baby! Everybody’s a communist until your thirty!” an interesting commentary on my life from the perspective of a historian. Dad was right needless to say and I am far more
capitalistic in my ideals now. But one of the most valuable things about Massage Therapy to me is its romanticism and that worldview still plays a vital role in informing my life and my pursuits. I have to credit my Dad and his wisdom of being a romantic himself, for influencing me. Naturalism is another favorite topic of the romantics and has an intertwined and almost Tantric history with Massage and Spa. Being my father’s daughter and getting my degree from his Alma Matter has given me a coign of vantage from which to survey my Profession and it’s interaction with such lofty ideals as ‘naturalism’ and ‘modernity’ and helped to form my own opinions. Choosing not to follow along with all of the reactionary aspects of massage, I have been able to grow and develop my own ideals grounded in Western history, while retaining an appreciation of the diversity of artistry in my profession. By combining the romantic with the modern, I have done nothing
new. I have invented no new terms or categories for postmodern reflection except in my own spiritual life, neither have I conquered or founded a new world. What I have done, is provided myself a comfortable framework from which to understand the world in which I live and acquired an appreciation of the many paths of diversity that make it unique.
And so I submit for your approval, my humble point of view. It’s not to be taken as gospel or as anything more than commentary but if it serves to keep you entertained and informed about this and that, I will consider myself blessed.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, as you prefer. May this Yule season bring you light and warmth and keep any cold winter at bay.