Saturday, May 12, 2012

Salacious Dalliances with Disciplined Reading

For almost two years now, Paul Mathers has been shamelessly dallying with the Harvard Classics. When he started this affair, I was quite tempted to abandon my lifelong commitment to dissolute reading. I have been seduced by the glamour of disciplined reading plans before, but eventually one wakens with shame and disgust at having so strayed from the ideal of disarray. All that is then left is to crawl back to one’s proper mistress and beg forgiveness for having attempted such a bit of tawdry erudition. After every such affair a heavy sourness clings to the palate as a lingering reminder of having once again fallen into appalling discipline. And so long as that memory lasts, one permits one’s self to feel safe from one’s darker urges, safe in the arms of arbitrary whim. But sooner or later temptation must again visit as a proof that we are yet fallible. Listen to her now—the siren…

Leave the safety of your ships! Forget your wandering, meandering lives and join the stream of the ages! Bury your head in my bosom, and you shall feel the fruit of wisdom within your grasp! You shall be like unto the gods!

As much as I try to resist I cannot endure—I love my wayward whim, but I can almost taste enlightenment zipping down my spine, rushing with the libidinal glee of Kundalini.

But wait… what’s that? Adler’s 10 year reading plan for the Great Books of the Western World comes out to 125 pages per month for 11 months per year for 10 years? Why… but that’s nothing! You mean I can have my salacious dalliance with disciplined reading, and eat my words of whimsy, and still have time for the mercury baths???

[…with apologies to Paul.]

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Quotes from G.K. Chesterton’s Chaucer

Some quotes from the 1st chapter of G.K. Chesterton’s
The greatest poets of the world have a certain serenity, because they have not bothered to invent a small philosophy, but have rather inherited a large philosophy. It is, nine times out of ten, a philosophy which very great men share with very ordinary men.

The poet makes men realize how great are the great emotions which they, in a smaller way, have already experienced.

The great poet exists to show the small man how great he is. A man does not learn from Hamlet a new method of Psychoanalysis, or the proper treatment of lunatics. What he learns is not to despise the soul as small; even when rather feminine critics say that the will is weak. As if the will were ever strong enough for the tasks that confront it in this world! The great poet is alone strong enough to measure that broken strength we call the weakness of man