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Bout de Souffle
Out of Breath
On Idleness
Just as fallow lands, when rich and fertile, are seen to abound in hundreds and thousands of different kinds of useless weeds so that, if we would make them do their duty, we must subdue them and keep them busy with seeds specifically sown for our service; and just as women left alone may sometimes be seen to produce shapeless lumps of flesh but need to be kept best by a semen other than her own in order to produce good natural offspring, so too with our minds. If we do not keep them busy with some particular subject which can serve as a bridle to reign them in, they charge ungovernably about, ranging to and fro over the wastelands of our thoughts:

Sicut aquae tremulum labris ubi lumen ahenis
Sole repercussum, aut radiantis imagine Lunae
Omnia pervolitat late loca jamque sub auras
Erigitur, summique ferit laquearia tecti.

[As when ruffled water in a bronze pot reflects the light of the sun and the shining face of the moon, sending shimmers flying high into the air and striking against the panelled ceilings.]

      Then, there is no madness, no raving lunacy, which much agitations do not bring forth:

velut aegri somnia, vanae
Finguntur species.

[they fashion vain apparitions as in the dreams of sick men.]

When the soul is without a definite aim she gets lost; for, as the say, if you are everwhere, you are nowhere.

Quisquis ubique habitat, Maxime, nusquam habitat.

[Whoever dwells everywhere, Maximus, dwells nowhere at all.]

      Recently I retired to my estates, determined to devote myself as far as I could to spending what little life I have left quietly and privately; it seemed to me then that the greatest favor I could do for my mind was to leave it in total idleness, caring for itself, concerned only with itself, calmly thinking of itself. I hoped it could do that more easily from then on, since with the passage of time it had grown mature and put on weight.
      But I find -

Variam semper dant otia mentis

[Idleness always produces fickle changes of mind]

- that on the contrary it bolted off like a runaway horse, taking far more trouble over itself than it ever did over anyone else; it gives birth to so many chimeras and fantastic monstrosities, one after another, without order or fitness, that, so as to contemplate at my ease their oddness and their strangeness, I began to keep a record of them, hoping in time to make my mind ashamed of itself.

      And that, in the words of Michel de Montaigne, is what inspired me to begin this journal.

(Because I lack the intelligence to say anything more witty...)
What is that? Is that latin or something?
» randomjunk on 2006-09-27 08:48:03

» Bartholomew on 2006-09-27 09:03:45

My internet attention span drops to -30 the instant I see a whole lot of intelligent-looking phrases in an entry such as this. Then I go back and actually read it later when I get bored-ish.

Er, that's how it usually goes. Just thought I'd let you know that for some reason.
My brain is weird sometimes...
» invisible on 2006-09-27 09:45:29

“On idleness” makes a very good point that I’ve come to realize over the last year.

Idle minds with no clear direction seldom lead to any type of productive conclusion.

Without a goal to reach, or a conflict to resolve, one’s thoughts are never really clear;

A specified target and constructed path of thought can prevent any confusion.

Spending time watching television and thinking rambling thoughts gets one nowhere.

Drama, sitcoms, and reality shows hardly offer anything more than time-killing delusions.

And so I’ve become less accepting of the allure of television, and no longer stare

At the screen, devouring whatever is displayed, wasting away hours in a vegetative state.

I’ve taken to practicing guitar and reading meaningful literature to make myself aware

Of what great thinkers have to offer (the readings for this class, in this regard, are great).

I’ve actually been thoroughly impressed by what Michel de Montaigne has to say,

And have focused my reading on more philosophically-saturated writings as of late.

I’ve made an effort to read something new and interesting, be it poetry or prose, each day,

As well as to write something of my own (poetry or prose) to reflect what I’ve learned.

Overall, this approach to things makes me feel less lazy and even happier in a way,

Since maintaining an idle mind, although easier, makes joy of life seem unearned.

For what use is a candle, of which the wax, like life in time, drips gradually off,

If its scent or light aren’t made of any use before the wick is all burned?

Or of the ocean: for what purpose does the wave maintain a dark, low trough

If not for spreading its water on either side to climax with a bright foamy crest?

King Arthur and his valiant heroes of the round table at Camelot would certainly scoff

At a knight journeying the lands all the day and night without declaring a quest!
» Bartholomew on 2006-09-27 11:12:48


I don't watch that much TV anymore, and I've never watched sitcoms/dramas.

If you can be happy without being smart I think that's enough.

Nice... poem? Was that what you said it was? Well whatever it is it's cool. :)
» randomjunk on 2006-09-27 11:47:12

I'm not sure I could be happy without being intelligent; I am, after all, a philosopher, a lover of knowledge.
» Bartholomew on 2006-09-28 12:05:34

and this is where i come in feeling extremely daft ^^;;

one, for not getting *any* of that x_x; and two, cos i realised i've been spelling le_battement wrong for...aaaaaages ^^;;...

i must leave before my stupidity shines even more o_O; ^^;;


» Kuri on 2006-10-03 03:58:06

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