The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives

March 2022


14 March 2022, around 7.24.

Water droplets and usnea hanging from a branch along the forest path

Τὰ μὲν σπεύδει γίνεσθαι, τὰ δὲ σπεύδει γεγονέναι, καὶ τοῦ γινομένου δὲ ἤδη τι ἀπέσβη: ῥύσεις καὶ ἀλλοιώσεις ἀνανεοῦσι τὸν κόσμον διηνεκῶς, ὥσπερ τὸν ἄπειρον αἰῶνα ἡ τοῦ χρόνου ἀδιάλειπτος φορὰ νέον ἀεὶ παρέχεται. ἐν δὴ τούτῳ τῷ ποταμῷ τί ἄν τις τούτων τῶν παραθεόντων ἐκτιμήσειεν, ἐφ’ οὗ στῆναι οὐκ ἔξεστιν; ὥσπερ εἴ τίς τι τῶν παραπετομένων στρουθαρίων φιλεῖν ἄρχοιτο, τὸ δ’ ἤδη ἐξ ὀφθαλμῶν ἀπελήλυθεν.

Some things hasten to be, and others to be no more. And even whatsoever now is, some part thereof hath already perished. Perpetuall fluxes and alterations renew the world, as the perpetuall course of time doth make the age of the world (of it selfe infinite) to appeare alwaies fresh and new. In such a fluxe and course of all things, what of these things that hasten so fast away should any man regard, since among all there is not any that a man may fasten and fixe upon? as if a man would settle his affection upon some ordinary sparrow flying by him, who is no sooner seene, then out of sight.

—Marcus Aurelius, 6.14 (trans. Meric Casaubon)1

Yet fragments and aphorisms are easily detachable and equally easily misunderstood, since their significance can only be appreciated on the basis of an understanding of the whole of which they are fragments – hence the paradoxes that such idiosyncratic and radical thinkers can be so widely and quickly assimilated but so often misunderstood.

—Gillian Rose (The Melancholy Science, p. 19)

Rather than setting up tension, the blandness of the margin delivers us from all constraining obsessions. It creates ease. It unburdens consciousness, for this transcending is not directed and does not lead toward anything other than itself.

—François Jullien (In Praise of Blandness, p. 122, trans. Paula M. Varsano)

  1. Cf. unus passerum […] qui cum per unum ostium ingrediens, mox per aliud exierit. Ipso quidem tempore, quo intus est, hiemis tempestate non tangitur, sed tamen paruissimo spatio serenitatis ad momentum excurso, mox de hieme in hiemem regrediens, tuis oculis elabitur (Bede, 2.13.9–10). []

Crambe repetita (51)

27 March 2022, around 16.35.

It is seldom that minds long exercised in business have formed any habits of conversing with themselves, and in the loss of power they principally regret the want of occupation. The amusements of letters and of devotion, which afford so many resources in solitude, were incapable of fixing the attention of Diocletian; but he had preserved, or at least he soon recovered, a taste for the most innocent as well as natural pleasures, and his leisure hours were sufficiently employed in building, planting, and gardening. His answer to Maximian is deservedly celebrated. He was solicited by that restless old man to reassume the reins of government, and the Imperial purple. He rejected the temptation with a smile of pity, calmly observing, that if he could show Maximian the cabbages which he had planted with his own hands at Salona, he should no longer be urged to relinquish the enjoyment of happiness for the pursuit of power.

—Edward Gibbon (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ch. 13, pt. 4)

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