note cards

Today in Posthumous notes from Charles, we celebrate Charles’ lifelong self-education and hunger for knowledge.

Many of the notes in the pile are in this theme: they are notes Charles made of information he might need again someday. I have no idea if these were notes from college classes, or the self-education he enjoyed for the rest of his life — he saw no reason why no longer being in school was a reason to stop learning about the world, especially history and evolution and the science of the human brain.

I think the cards range throughout his years, and these are probably pretty early ones…

Charles Heinle Notes #5

Charles Heinle Notes #6

Because Charles put such emphasis on self-education and life-long learning, he was not very bothered about grades, which meant that my sister Kate and I were encouraged to get good grades, but he never pressured us the way some parents pressure their children, which I think made it easier on both of us to see school as a place to learn, not just “I must get ‘A’s!”

I myself was surprised to discovered I’d graduated college cum laude — I’d not paid the slightest attention to my GPA, just enjoyed my time at the university. And Kate graduated summa cum laude, so obviously Charles’ policy of supporting but not pressuring really paid off, there!

It’s been too long since I updated the Posthumous notes from Charles Project — it is ironic that the business of life gets in the way of taking the time to honour and remember the dead.

Today’s random draw brings us this fabulous quote:

Charles Heinle Notes #2

If you can’t read it in the image, it says,

When an elderly person dies, I say, ‘There goes one who has done his work.’

When a younger person dies, I say, ‘We must work doubly harder to make up for the loss of one who could have done something.’

Well, Charles made sure we never had to make up for any lack of his “doing something.” Indeed, I think anyone who knew him would agree that in his 95 years, he did enough for at about ten hard-working people! What we can all admire about Charles is that he did something — and he kept doing it until the Alzheimer’s cut his life’s work short. (Although not “short” by any normal standard — still, we can all agree that “normal” was not a word that applied to Charles A. S. Heinle!)

Charles Heinle Notes #2

We’ll probably never know where that quote came from (a Google search yields nothing helpful), so all we can know of it is that Charles read it somewhere, and it resonated enough with him to take the time to write in down, so he could review it and remember it.

As you may recall, I started the Posthumous notes from Charles Project — and then our printer/scanner promptly broke! Well, we now have a new one, so I can start things up again!

The pile of notes has yielded this amazing quote from Francis Bacon:

Charles Heinle Notes #2

If you can’t read it in the image, it says,

There is no exquisite beauty without some strangeness in the proportion.

This really speaks to me. And what it tells me is that my father influenced my aesthetic sense, and even down to how I see the world every day, far more than I would ever have guessed.

Because Charles was so many generations from me in age, and because when I knew him he was so completely focused on the Pimsleur Language Programs (to the exclusion of much else, as the years went on), there was a great deal we could not share when he was alive.

So it makes me deeply happy to know that when I enjoy something weirdly beautiful or gorgeously macabre, that it’s a bit of his spirit moving in me.

It makes me even happier to think that when I make art that is strange yet striking, weird but wonderfully compelling, that part of my inspiration comes from him, and always has.

Weir2X statue beauty decay

Going through my father’s things, I found a pile of note cards covered with his handwriting. I was fascinated — and then fascinated still more when I discovered that the notes were completely and utterly random: some were science-related, some were quotes from literature, some were seemingly his own thoughts, jotted down as they came to him.

One was a list of what might have been book titles and authors, seeming to be continuing in the theme of “utterly random”.

Charles Heinle Notes #1

However, after some searching, I’ve discovered all are plays, and are collected in a slim volume called Contemporary One-Act Plays — a book originally published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1922, and now republished with the notes:

Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.

I’m buying a copy to read these plays which obviously impressed Charles at some point (he was 6 in 1922, so one assumes at some point after that!)

I never knew my father to read a play (he seemed entirely settled on history, biographies, and the science of the mind by the time I knew him), or to show the slightest interest in the theatre. I wish I could go back in time and discuss them with him!

I’ll be going through the notes and posting them up here, so watch this space for more!