Manvotional: The Bull’s

The bull is a symbol of strength and power. This creature embodies the masculine ideal from which men should strive to be.

Manvotional: The Bull’s is a book by brett mckay. It tells the story of how he and his friends survived in the wilderness for 4 years.

I encountered a picture that has remained with me like few things I have ever read when I came across Robert Louis Stevenson’s article “The Lantern-Bearers” a few months ago. I’ve thought about it a lot since then, and I felt it was particularly appropriate to share during this “season of lights.”

Stevenson opens the essay by recounting his childhood summer vacations in a little coastal fishing community. He talks about the activities he and the other lads did for pleasure before moving on to their favorite and most memorable form of entertainment:

“Towards the end of September, when school started and the evenings were already dark, we began to sally from our different villas, each carrying a tin bull’s-eye lamp. The item had become so well-known that it had developed a rut in British trade, and grocers started to adorn their displays with our special brand of light in due time. Because of the rigors of the game, we wore them belted to the waist on a cricket belt and a buttoned top-coat over them. They reeked of blistered tin; they never burned properly, though they always burnt our fingers; their purpose was nil; the pleasure they provided was purely imaginary; and yet a child with a bull’s-eye beneath his top-coat demanded nothing more. The fishermen hung lamps from their boats, and I believe it was from them that we got the clue; nevertheless, their lanterns were not bull’s-eyes, and we never pretended to be fisherman. The police wore these on their belts, and we had clearly duplicated them; nonetheless, we did not pose as cops. We may have had some eerie visions of burglars, and we were surely thinking back to a time when lanterns were more widespread, and to specific stories in which they played a prominent role. Take it all together, the joy was substantial, and being a youngster with a bull’s-eye beneath his top-coat was good enough for us.

Vintage man carrying a lantern on a side of lake and boat.

There would be an apprehensive “Have you got your lantern?” and a delighted “Yes!” when two of these asses met. That was the shibboleth, and it was also extremely necessary; since it was the norm to keep our splendor confined, no one could identify a lantern-bearer except (like the polecat) by scent. Four or five people might sometimes crawl into the belly of a ten-man lugger, with nothing but the thwarts above them–the cabin was normally locked–or seek out a depression of the links where the wind would whistle above. These lucky young gentlemen would hunch together in the chilly sand of the links or on the scaly bilges of the fishing-boat, and amuse themselves with unsuitable chat, in the chequering gleam, beneath the big windy hall of the night, and encouraged by a rich steam of toasted tinware. These were so fiery and innocent, so richly silly, so romantically young, that I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to give some specimens– some of their foresights of life, or deep inquiries into the rudiments of man and nature, these were so fiery and innocent, they were so richly silly, so romantically young. But, in any case, the conversation was only a side dish, and these reunions were merely coincidental events in the lantern-career. bearer’s The essence of this bliss was to walk alone in the dark, with the slide closed and the top-coat buttoned, with not a ray escaping, whether to conduct your footsteps or to make your glory public: a mere pillar of darkness in the dark; and all the while, deep down in the privacy of your fool’s heart, to know you had a bull’s-eye at your belt, and to exult and sing over the knowledge.



It is believed that a poet died young in the most stolid’s breast. It may be argued, however, that this (rather minor) bard nearly always lives and adds spice to his owner’s life. The variety and unplumbed childishness of man’s imagination are rarely given due credit. From the outside, his life may seem to be a haphazard heap of mud; nonetheless, there will be some gilded chamber at its center, in which he delights; and for as dark as his route appears to the viewer, he will have some type of bull’s-eye at his belt.

Thus, trailing that mean man about his freezing fireplace, and to and fro in his uncomfortable dwelling, attention identifies the poet in the full flow of life, with more, even, of the poetic fire than normally goes to epics; and spies inside him a burning flame of joy. And so it is with others, who do not live by bread alone, but by some cherished and perhaps fantastic pleasure; who appear to be meat salesmen to the outside world, but may be Shakespeares, Napoleons, or Beethovens to themselves; who do not have one virtue to rub against another in the field of active life, but may sit with the saints in the life of contemplation. We can count their buttons and see them on the street, but nobody knows what they are proud of! Who knows where their wealth has been hidden!

There’s a legend about a monk who went into the woods, heard a bird sing, listened for a trill or two, and returned to find himself a stranger at his convent gates; he’d been gone for fifty years, and only one of his colleagues remembered him. This enchanter does not exclusively sing in the woods, but he may be a resident there. He sings in the darkest corners of the world. The miser laughs as he speaks, and the days pass in a flash. I evoked him on the nude links with nothing more than an obnoxious lamp. All non-mechanical existence is made up of two strands: searching for that bird and hearing him. And it is precisely this that makes life so difficult to assess, and each person’s joy so incomprehensible.”

Stevenson used the account of his childhood lantern game to segue into his critique of the “realist writers” of his period, whose work dealt with the common man and who, under the guise of being entirely faithful to reality, depicted him as a boring, one-dimensional creature with little inner life.

But, as an observer observing at the lads during their secret fall game would not have seen the lights concealed under their jackets, people who evaluate other men from afar are frequently unaware that the “ordinary man [is] full of pleasures and full of his own poetry,” Stevenson reasoned. “To miss the thrill is to miss everything,” Stevenson continues.


We don’t always comprehend what gives purpose to other people’s life. The globe-trotting playboy may despise the suburban dad who works a 9-5 job as a strangled, lifeless dullard, yet that father may find unrivaled delight in raising his children. As William James demonstrates, Stevenson’s article deserved to “become eternal,” as he put it.

“Wherever a life process conveys an urgency to the person living it, the life becomes really meaningful.” The enthusiasm is sometimes more closely linked to motor actions, sometimes to perceptions, sometimes to imagination, and sometimes to introspective contemplation. However, wherever it is discovered, there is the zing, the tingling, the thrill of actuality; and there is ‘important’ in the only true and good sense in which significance can ever be anyplace.”

While Stevenson maintained that even the most ordinary man has some joie de vivre inside him, I believe that some men tend to the light of their lanterns more assiduously than others, enabling it to burn brighter and energize their lives to a larger degree than the majority. And it is through walking in this light that they achieve greatness.

I first learned about the Lantern-Bearers essay through a lecture given in 1985 by Charles Scribner Jr., who worked with Ernest Hemingway for many years.

Scribner illuminates—quite literally—what the flames of a bulls-eye lamp may seem like in the life of a human man while portraying Hemingway:

“One of the most evident truths about Hemingway is that he thought of himself as a writer—nothing else—for almost his entire life, from the time he was a youngster until the time he died.” That vision of himself fueled his ambition, guided his will, and gave him the most joy.

I believe there was an enchantment about his passion to writing from the outset. In his autobiographical essay “The Lantern-Bearers,” Robert Louis Stevenson tells how excited he was as a youngster when he and his pals would gather after dark, each of them carrying a bulls-eye lantern beneath his top coat. For the most part, the lamps were kept lighted but covered for the duration of the voyage. Then, at the very end, they were revealed and allowed to shine brightly. But for those lads, the thrill of the expedition was knowing that the lanterns were lighted and shining brilliantly beneath their topcoats, even in the dark.

Hemingway, like all genuine artists, kept his own light buried under his overcoat, away from prying eyes; he would only mention it in passing, if at all. However, it was always there, the most essential thing in his life.

He had been thinking of himself as a writer since he was in high school. It was an understandable pretense. He had an easy way with words and a natural sense of style when it came to putting them together. One of the outcomes of his time at Oak Park and River Forest High School was the recognition of his abilities. He published colorful reports for the weekly school paper and short pieces for its literary journal during his final year. For a schoolboy, it isn’t an uncommon mix of genres, but Hemingway never gave up on them. He published short tales and news reports throughout his career.


Seeing his work in print was pleasurable for him, as it is for many authors, but it became an addiction for him. He was constantly on the hunt for material to employ in a narrative; he was a magpie in that regard, diligently and almost reflexively collecting colorful bits and pieces of life in his memory…

When it came time to consider about college, it should come as no surprise that he selected a position as a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star instead. He knew he had a knack for journalism, and the work matched his desire to be a writer.

Hemingway’s six-month term on The Star has been compared to a training program. It was useful in many ways, and it supplied him with fodder for subsequent work. He honed his ability to unearth the facts of a narrative and to explain them succinctly and clearly. He also learnt how to spot a good narrative when he came across one. His concept of himself as a writer had evolved into the reality of being a professional writer, and he valued status—particularly that specific status—extremely highly.

It is apparent that Hemingway’s development as a writer would continue beyond the lessons he had learnt in Kansas City. He’d wind up developing a style capable of conveying events and facts beyond the realm of journalism, and he’d have to relearn a little in the process. His media colleagues were pleased by both his on-the-job vigor and his off-the-job interest in literature. A bulls-eye candle was lit under his cloak.”