home

He meant no slight against her…

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

Sometimes the joke is all in the title, but this one is worth reading all the way through.

“Bush Regales Dinner Guests With Impromptu Oratory On Virgil’s Minor Works”

Brilliant. I can’t stop laughing. (And oh, do we need a laugh when it comes to Bush.)

Yet, it does make you all misty-eyed and nostalgic for the days when the president of the US invited Carlos Fuentes and Garcia Marquez for dinner. (Nostalgic for the literary dinners, not the politics.)

Tags: , , , ,

On the Shortness of Life by Seneca

Monday, March 19th, 2007

seneca penguin shortness of lifeSpam Madness… No, this is not the title of a book, this is what happens every time I come to my book blog to post. I login and instead of writing about literature, I spend precious, irreplaceable moments of my life wading through hundreds of spam comments.

Why don’t I just erase them all? you ask. Because I’m haunted by the idea that someone who actually likes books might stop by and say hello… and I’ll miss it.

Unfortunately, the most interesting comment I’ve gotten so far was an offer for a laser comb that cures baldness. I should write them and see if they have laser sunglasses that perform corrective surgery for nearsightedness. I imagine you would have to put them on very, very carefully. And NEVER flip them up to rest on top of your head unless you want an impromptu lobotomy.

But I digress.

Ever since I read Seneca’s “On the Shortness of Life” (Penguin, Great Ideas Series) I’ve been much more aware of how I’m spending my life. I’m getting better at using it wisely, making conscious decisions, not blowing it rashly and so forth, but it’s kind of like herding fluffs — there’s always a breeze blowing…

Sloth, guilt, tiredness, perfectionism all tempt us to fritter our time away like dandelion fluffs in a hurricane. I keep having to remind myself that I only have a finite amount of it. (Time, that is, not the dandelion fluffs.) Why is this so hard to remember? Of course, it’s probably tied to the fact that not having infinite time means that I am going to die one day. This, frankly, is unacceptable. There are far too many fine books to read.

Here are a few quotations to whet your appetite:

On choosing people to hang out with: “But in the current dearth of good men, you must be less particular in your choice. Still, you must especially avoid those who are gloomy and always lamenting, and grasp at every pretext for complaint. Though a man’s loyalty and kindness may not be in doubt, a companion who is agitated and groaning about everything is an enemy to peace of mind.”

“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.”

“We all sorely complain of the shortness of time, and yet have much more than we know what to do with. Our lives are either spent in doing nothing at all, or in doing nothing to the purpose, or in doing nothing that we ought to do. We are always complaining that our days are few, and acting as though there would be no end of them.”

~ Seneca, Roman philosopher (4 BC-65 AD)

Tags:
  • Search

    • "Let's go swimming and have Martinis on the beach," she said. "Let's have a fabulous morning."
    • Goodbye, My Brother
    • by John Cheever
    • I tell myself that we are a long time underground and that life is short, but sweet.
    • Alcestis
    • by Euripides (translated by Richard Aldington)

    • What business Stevinus had in this affair,---is the greatest problem of all;---it shall be solved,---but not in the next chapter.
    • The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
    • by Laurence Sterne