Italo Calvino on classics, short walks, inspiration being overrated, Bukowski marginalia, and more
Seven links to worthwhile thin(g/k)s
Hello dear reader,
I can’t quite put my finger on it, and if I am romanticizing, then so be it, but being back in New York has given me such butterflies and, correspondingly, has enlivened my spirit. The strolls, the people, the buildings, and all the splendor of this fascinating city. My goodness. Although I have been out and about exploring during the day, I have also marked the mornings with some introspective exploration by way of reading and journaling and gathering things of interest online.
And so, here are seven links to bits of the world I have been exploring this week, shared with the hope that you will find them to be an inspiring springboard for deeper thinking.
I have adored psychotherapist Esther Perel for a while now after coming across some excellent online videos of hers, reading her book Mating in Captivity on NYC subway rides, and listening to her podcasts. I was elated to find a recent interview in which she explores the backdrop of this crazy year. Some interesting points she made:
On space and structure: “When you don't have any of that—you are a partner, a parent, a lover, a friend, a son, an employee, a manager—and it's all happening at the same table in the same sweatpants, it becomes like a fog. You start to experience a type of lethargy. You start to lose the pleasure of what you do.”
Our obsession with imperatives to be happy: “The tyranny of positivity is a burden. Happiness is an outcome, not a mandate, because the mandate of happiness makes you constantly have to wonder, "Am I happy? Am I happy enough? Could I be happier? Should I leave this relationship? I'm happy, but maybe I could be happier somewhere else." So it becomes, how do I know? And then it becomes massive uncertainty, massive self-doubt.”
Beautiful video on Albert Camus and absurdism, his philosophy of the human spirit.
Examining the civilizational impact of epidemics and environmental calamity: “COVID-19 did not topple the West. But it might have hobbled it in its competition with the global South.”
Marginalia by way of a used Charles Bukowski book.
I got lovingly lost in Italo Calvino’s essay from the 1980’s, Why Read the Classics? Some notable points:
“A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.”
“[W]e do not read the classics out of duty or respect, but only out of love. Except at school. And school should enable you to know, either well or badly, a certain number of classics among which—or in reference to which—you can then choose your classics. School is obliged to give you the instruments needed to make a choice, but the choices that count are those that occur outside and after school.”
“Your classic author is the one you cannot feel indifferent to, who helps you to define yourself in relation to him, even in dispute with him.”
How to pay attention; and a syllabus; and a fun result of taking a moment to pay attention and be open to curiosity.
On short walks and leisurely travel.
See you in August, friends!
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