El tema central de este Blog es LA FILOSOFÍA DE LA CABAÑA y/o EL REGRESO A LA NATURALEZA o sobre la construcción de un "paradiso perduto" y encontrar un lugar en él. La experiencia de la quietud silenciosa en la contemplación y la conexión entre el corazón y la tierra. La cabaña como objeto y método de pensamiento. Una cabaña para aprender a vivir de nuevo, y como ejemplo de que otras maneras de vivir son posibles sobre la tierra.

viernes, 6 de enero de 2012

La cabaña de los pensadores de Staten Island

Cornelius Geertruyus Kolff 


(...) A century ago, residents of Staten Island knew the name Cornelius G. Kolff --dean of realtors, apostle of good will, a man who dedicated 60 years of his life to boosting the island's image.

(...) Kolff admitted to being an ardent disciple of Emerson’s philosophy and promoted it by building a log cabin on Emerson Hill, five hundred feet from his own farm, which was in the vicinity of the home of Ralph’s brother, Judge William Emerson. Kolff named the cabin the Philosopher’s Retreat. It was here that statesmen, poets, artists, writers, and friends would come and spend hours within a “natural auditorium,” smoking from corncob pipes and reading their philosophical treatises—in a sense sharing their stories. Some of Kolff’s own tales were born from these meetings—meetings that took place during the years of 1904-1917. The Philosopher’s Retreat held meetings some twenty years prior to another famed literary circle meeting across the pond in Oxford, England. Lord of the Rings author, J.R.R. Tolkien, met with C.S. Lewis (of Narnia fame), Charles Williams, and others, and formed The Inklings, a group like Kolff’s that met to share philosophies and stories. So, in essence, the “Staten Island Inklings,” (as I have dubbed them,) were ahead of their contemporaries’ literary curve a half a world away. (...)
Fuiente: http://herenistarionnets.blogspot.com/2009/02/in-memorium-cornelius-geertruyu-kolff.html

A group of men gathers for a photo in front of Cornelius Kolff 's philosopher's retreat log cabin on Emerson Hill.

(...) When he dug deeper, through some 40 boxes of Kolff's papers at the Staten Island Historical Society in Richmond Town, he found that Kolff was a well-known real estate developer and civic activist. He also found what was less well known: Kolff had collected people's stories all his life and maintained a cabin for socializing, contemplation and smoking corn cob pipes. up among the oaks atop Emerson Hill. Kolff's idiosyncrasies reminded him of the Inklings, a literary group at Oxford that inspired Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.

Kolff, who was born in 1860, died in 1950 at his home in Shore Acres, one of a number of notable and tree-lined neighborhoods he had developed in the borough. Others included Emerson Hill, Bement Estates, West Brighton; Hillcrest Park in Great Kills, and Woods of Arden.
He was knee-deep in civic activities, helping to establish the borough's Chamber of Commerce and a Tree Planting Association. In an essay titled "Vanishing Beauties," among other writings, he expressed second thoughts about the nature of his business - destroying the landscape by attracting people to build homes.
"He balanced the ill nature of business with being involved with nature," said Burdge who sensed a kindred soul.
Built in 1910 and named the Philosopher's Retreat, Kolff's 11-by-22-foot cabin was made from dying chestnut trees. It had an open fire place, in front of which men sat on rough hewn planks and presented five-minute philosophical views, smoked their pipes and partook of light fare - cheese and crackers, coffee and apple cider.
Kolff's goals were not nearly as high brow as Tolkien's Oxford group which followed some 20 years later, though Kolff's did include writers, such as the poet Edwin Markham. It also included politicians, businessmen and "thinkers in general." (...)

(...) A 1910 New York Times story, written when the cabin was built, says Kolff had no illusions about competing with the heady literary thinkers that preceded him, such as poet-philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. (Emerson and his brother Judge William Emerson who lived on the lower hill in the mid 1800s inspired the cabin and Kolff's naming of the hill in their honor.) Kolff, the story said, "hopes to perfect an organization of thinkers and students that will be unique in the day of commercial activity."
Last month, Burdge presented his findings about Kolff to a panel of three academics at a forum in Richmond Town. The publicity spurred an interest in the site of the Philosopher's Retreat.
With the help of Historical Society archivist Carlotta Defilla, a 1917 Bromley's atlas was found. It showed "Cornelius G. Kolff, site of log cabin" on Douglas Road, a narrow byway that meanders around the hill in a loop that can disorient the uninitiated.
Enter Connie Lane, a 50-year resident of Emerson Hill, who knows every twist and turn. A Realtor and a retired teacher, she was intrigued with the challenge of piecing together some local history.
We drove to Mrs. Lane's house on Overlook Drive, which was marked as a bowling alley on the 1917 map. She and Burdge pored over maps spread out on her dining room table, and Mrs. Lane became certain the cabin site had been on property that currently belongs to the Proske family.
As we walked to take a look, Mrs. Lane pointed out houses that were on the 1917 map and the Jacobean/Tudor style houses that Kolff later built with his partner Louis Kaufman.(...)

(...) He shared Kolff's description of Harold Baynes, state senator, during a summer meeting that took place outside of the cabin.
"Seated on a log under the spreading branches of a beautiful white oak, he presided over the meetings at the Philosopher's Forum in the woods on Emerson Hill. In an amphitheater like bowl in a cup of hills the philosophers met, seated on logs laid in rows, the sloping hillside in front of him." (...)
Fuente: (http://www.silive.com/eastshore/index.ssf/2009/05/logcabin_retreat_once_stood_on.html)

Bird's-eye view of Staten Island and region
Vista de Staten Island


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