interview // Lin Stone
photo // Craig Thomas
A Vermont Supreme Court justice for 14 years, Jim Morse recently published a philosophical book and collection of 280 colorful doodles underscored with thought-provoking reflections. Morse refers to the drawings and maxims as his doodles and (thought) jots, and notably, he swears, he did not – not ever – doodle while sitting on the bench.
What inspired a philosophical book of doodles and jots?
“Two or three years ago I made a colored pencil doodle of my cat in the window at home. Nothing more than that – but I kept doodling. I also write regular journal entries, often just short phrases expressing an idea or musing. Eighty little Shutterfly books later, with urging from friends and family, I culled through the sheaves to properly publish this collection of favorites.
“I view this as my Lana Turner of books … she was discovered by an agent while sitting in a Schrafts’ drugstore in Hollywood. I see my book as sitting in Red Barn Books ‘drugtore’ and hoping some big book agent will come in, it’ll be discovered, picked up, and promoted.”
Your playful scribbles and one-line captions ponder earnest topics and life and death questions: law and justice, health care, politics, religion, war, etc. Is this jurisprudence and citizenry advice for a just world?
“I never thought of it like that. I’ve always been philosophical; it’s just part of my nature. Later, it became part of my legal training. It’s not a wordy book. I hope that people enjoy the book’s presentation of life’s interesting twists and ironies – even if my point of view is not the same as yours.
“What I hope that people take away from my book is encouragement to think and carefully consider their take on things. I fear that mankind has done many unusual things that no other animal has and what’s been done is often not compatible with the intended consequences. The evidence is very real, and I worry that harm done may not be reversible. We should take our actions very seriously.”