A Personal Hajj to Beauty

This was previously published on the now defunct site Open Salon as a digital distribution for the holidays. I also privately published the booklet shown at the bottom of this post, about 100 copies, to send to friends and those that requested a copy. It was a nice thing that the stock was quickly depleted.

I hope you did have holidays filled with hope and love and best wishes for the new year.


Pinky Troll and me on a personal quest

Happy holidays to friends and visitors. If you’ve noticed the date of my last post you’ll have figured out I’ve been absent for a while. There were some things I needed to take care of and they all seem to have worked out, at least for now. This coming year will be one that will present many transitions and it might be interesting to document some of those—we’ll see how things develop. At any rate, I might have to spend less time here. Life intrudes, but it’s nothing more than what happens to all of us—I still treasure my friends.

It’s not that I haven’t been busy, quite the opposite, but the right side of the brain has had to take a back seat lately. That changed when I tried to figure out if I was going to do anything about making a Christmas card and/or project for friends. I plunged in during the Thanksgiving weekend, though it took more time and effort that I had planned—which always seems to be the case.

Here’s the card, featuring our dear Popper. The quote on the left is a riff on The Holstee Manifesto and refers to Popper’s delight in attacking a catnip-laden mouse—hence her drug-enhanced eyes. Of course there’s no need for additives to follow the abridged or original manifesto.


It shows the cover, inside and back. On the back I’ve explained the source of the colophon I designed back when I was considering publishing my own book. Luckily, I got picked up by a real live publishing house, but that meant they had their own publisher’s mark so mine was set aside.

The poem was found in the margins of a manuscript in the Monastery of St. Paul in Corinth, Austria. It was written in Irish, probably by an Irish monk sometime during the ninth century. Pangur Bán means “white cat.”

It’s a bit hard to read the text in the above image, so I’ll transcribe.

Pangur Bán
I and Pangur Bán, my cat,
‘Tis a like task we are at;
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
‘Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill will;
He, too, plies his simple skill.

‘Tis a merry thing to see
At our task how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
Into the hero Pangur’s way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den.
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our tasks we ply,
Pangur Bán, my cat and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine, and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night,
Turning Darkness into light.

Making a card has been enough for me in years past. It represents more work than purchasing a bunch of pre-made cards or duplicating the dreaded Christmas letter, but there had been something percolating in my brain for a while and I decided to do something more.

I wrote a book—I made a book. Actually, it’s a 20-page booklet. And unfortunately, since the production and distribution costs were coming out of my own pocket, it’s a limited run. Quite limited. In fact, there are only 60 in the world.

The books were a little under a sawbuck each, but that wasn’t the only costs associated. In order to protect it in mailing I purchased a box of stay flat cardboard mailers (wholesale) that guaranteed that it would not bend or fold and damage the contents—about $0.50 each. Then, because the sturdy envelope wouldn’t bend, the law of unintended consequences took hold. It had to be mailed as a package instead of an envelope, which added an additional $0.40 or so to each to make the postage a what-was-I-thinking-of $2.22 each just for stamps. And yes, the USPS didn’t have to foresight to make a $2.22 stamp just for me. So, not counting my labor (of love) that run of 60 turned out to be north of $12 or so each, which is a lot to spend on a vanity production. No matter, I can be vain.

Which led to a painful process. Triage. Who gets a book? I’m sorry that everyone I know and like and love couldn’t get one, but it just wasn’t feasible. I did send out twice as many Holstee Popper cards, but I quickly ran out of the booklets. And they weren’t just sent to my non mutual spousal friends, there were some bridal business associates that had to be included on the list.

I don’t think we had this much of a problem when we constructed our wedding invitation list 30 years ago.

So as a poor substitute, I’m recreating the booklet here with a link at the end for a PDF download, that is, if anyone’s interested.

So here commences A Personal Hajj to Beauty, a limited edition vanity press production. It was actually produced and printed by Apple—or its assigned third-party printer—via Aperture, the photo management application I use to store and manage my photos. It was easy enough to do, but since I’m a page layout artist from way back in the Aldus PageMaker days, I lamented the fine tuning and lack of feature set that a real page layout program provides. I had to invent a workaround, for example, to get the Drop Cap on the first page. The quality of what you see here is less than what you would see with the booklet in hand or in the PDF since they are exported from the application as a PDF then converted to jpegs.

Many of the images will be familiar to frequent visitors to this blog, but it’s the first time they’ve been collated in such a fashion.

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Front Cover

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Title Page

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Page 2, verso or the left hand of the spread that includes the next image

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Page 3, recto or the right hand of the spread that includes the former image. Typical for the following separated pairs.

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Page 4

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Page 5—There is an additional nearly subliminal enjoyment of this photograph for me. First, I owned a 1964 356C Porsche for a while, and I loved it. I was very sad to see it go. Second, as noted in the text, the film Giant, starring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean, was filmed in and around Marfa in 1956. James Dean later died in his own Porsche, a Spyder, the precursor to the one that I later owned. That I happened upon this Porsche parked on the main street of Marfa seemed just too serendipitous to me at the time and even now.

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Back Cover

all photos copyright © 2009, 2010 or 2011 by barry b. doyle · all rights reserved

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