Old Art Terms #1: Picture Sunshine

John Elderfield
Nov 16, 2012 5:31PM

Among the Marginalia of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge is a note in which he recommended to himself,

“The overcoming [of] the habit of deriving your whole pleasure passively from the Book itself, [an overcoming] which can only be effected by excitement of Curiosity or of some Passion. Force yourself to reflect on what you read paragraph by paragraph, and in a short time you will derive your pleasure, an ample portion at least, from the activity of your own mind. All else is Picture Sunshine.”

Someone with "the excitement of Curiosity or of some Passion" in their reading or looking, Coleridge argues, will gain much, much more than the "Picture Sunshine" that falls onto the passive reader or spectator. Something more like "North Atlantic Light." 

John Elderfield