Talking Philosophy with the cold caller

So yesterday, a young man knocked on my door.  I live in the suburbs and work from home, so his happens from time to time.  I always answer the door, because about half the time, it’s the postie delivering something and I really don’t want to have to go to the post office to pick it up.  Occasionally, it’s even a friend or neighbour!  But often, it’s someone who wants me to do or buy something (and yes, I consider changing electricity providers as ‘buying something’).

flowers

Beautiful photo courtesy of my friend, Alexandra Oke, Soprano (multi-talented human)

If they are collecting for a charity, I consider the request.  If they are kids selling school fundraising chocolates or the like, I buy some.  (It’s only neighbourly and I am, after all, a writer.  Coffee and chocolate are necessary adjuncts to the creative process.)  If they open with ‘I’m not selling anything,’ they get short shrift, as I object to being lied to.  (The politeness or otherwise of the short shrift depends on whether they let me get a word in edgewise and how well the writing was going before they interrupted.) Continue reading

We’ll all be rooned, said Hanrahan: or why I think we all need a cup of tea and a good lie down

SAID HANRAHAN

"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
  In accents most forlorn,
Outside the church, ere Mass began,
  One frosty Sunday morn.

The congregation stood about,
  Coat-collars to the ears,
And talked of stock, and crops, and drought,
  As it had done for years.

"It's looking crook," said Daniel Croke;
  "Bedad, it's cruke, me lad,
For never since the banks went broke
  Has seasons been so bad."

"It's dry, all right," said young O'Neil,
  With which astute remark
He squatted down upon his heel
  And chewed a piece of bark.

And so around the chorus ran
  "It's keepin' dry, no doubt."
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
  "Before the year is out."

The above is an excerpt from ‘Said Hanrahan’, by Australian poet John O’Brien.  You can find the whole thing (and the rest of the book it came from, Around the Boree Log and other Verses) here.

So why am I quoting poetry, you ask?  Well, you see last weekend, I was flipping through the paper and I came across a piece in which the writer was bemoaning the agony of leaving books in bookstores.  Just like puppies at the pet store, he wanted to take them all home and he worried that the rejected ones would feel sad and abandoned once he left.

So far so good.  I’m sure we’ve all felt like that.

But then he went on to talk about the vast quantities of books, both e-books and paper, flooding the market now and how it was impossible to keep up with them and to choose from so many and  people were self-publishing and you couldn’t tell whether they were any good and… stuff like that.  My eyes started to glaze over and I lost the will to keep reading.  I may have even made a rude noise.

Because I’m tired of hearing it.

Not just this particular piece of doom and gloom about publishing, but all of it.  It seems, no matter where I look these days, blogs, papers, online columns, wherever, if the subject is books or publishing, someone wants to tell me the sky is falling.  Bookshops are closing, publishing is dead, quality is history, the gatekeepers are lost, physical books will soon be no more, art is pandering to the lowest common denominator, literature is going to hell in a handbasket, yada, yada, yada.

You know what?

I DON’T BELIEVE IT.

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Friday Favourites eschews ranting and goes for links instead

I wrote a post for today, I really did.  It was ranty and long and potentially controversial – all those things that ‘they’ say blog posts should be, to get attention and make a name.  With the possible exception of the long.  I don’t know what they say about long.

But then I looked over at my bedside table.  On the top of the pile of books is a copy of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.  He was a Stoic, was Marcus; a philosopher.  And one of the principles of Stoicism is not to fret about things over which one has no control.

It’s a good principle.

Another one is that happiness is achieved, not by lusting after what one does not have, but by being satisfied with what one does have.

So instead of posting my rant, I have put it and the angst that goes with it away and instead I am going to share with you some of the great articles I have found in my cruising of the interwebs this week. (And a completely random picture of ‘The Dish’ at Parkes, just because I like it!)

First, an article from the NYTimes about how scientists have been staggered to discover that fitness matters more than weight and that fat people with certain conditions are actually more likely to live longer than thin people with the same health conditions.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/18/health/research/more-data-suggests-fitness-matters-more-than-weight.html?_r=2&ref=health

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