Thursday, 17 August 2017

Epictetus - 29 (From the Fragments)

From: The Golden Sayings of Epictetus (translated by Hastings Crossley) - from Project Gutenberg.


Crows pick out the eyes of the dead, when the dead have no longer need of them; but flatterers mar the soul of the living, and her eyes they blind.

Give me by all means the shorter and nobler life, instead of one that is longer but of less account!

Of pleasures, those which occur most rarely give the most delight.

Exceed due measure, and the most delightful things become the least delightful.

No man is free who is not master of himself.

A ship should not ride on a single anchor, nor life on a single hope.

Fortify thyself with contentment: that is an impregnable stronghold.

No man who is a lover of money, of pleasure, of glory, is likewise a lover of Men; but only he that is a lover of whatsoever things are fair and good.

Think of God more often than thou breathest.

Choose the life that is noblest, for custom can make it sweet to thee.

Let thy speech of God be renewed day by day, aye, rather than thy meat and drink.

Friday, 11 August 2017

I can never get enough fog

Sunny days are great but I do love foggy days. The world is less expansive, less vast. It is closer, more intimate. And perhaps more mysterious. (Without there being an intentional pun on 'mist'.)
One Saturday, a year or so ago, I awoke to find that outside there was a thick fog, so I dressed quickly and went out for a walk. I even took photographs of the fog - or rather of familar sights now rendered unfamiliar by being wrapped in a blanket of mist.

Here is one of my photographs:

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Alma Mater

In May 2017, my wife and I are going back (and by the time you read this will have been back) to our old university - Surrey - for a weekend visit when it celebrates its 50th anniversary. In one form or another, the University of Surrey has been in existence for 125 years but it is choosing to celebrate just 50 years as a fully fledged university. That is in stark contrast to another I will not name that recently celebrated 175 years in existence even though it had only been a university for 10 years!
I'm sure that we will enjoy the ocassion very much but I notice, not least from its website, how much things have changed. All UK universities have changed, although to varying degrees. I nearly didn't type 'degree' then because it sounded too much of a pun but I leave it in because the degrees on offer are now very varied in their depth and value. Many, I feel, are not worth the time, effort or debt - nor the heartache because no university education is devoid of this in some form or another. When we went to university, it was a formative experience that many no longer receive or even want! Many are at university to pick up a degree because they have been told that it is a ticket to a good job (which is becoming increasingly debatable).
This degree-ticket mentality is not helped by the modular approach to higher education that has now been widely adopted. Rack up the modules; get a degree. My undergraduate degree in Human Biology seemed very intricately woven. So much so that, given the subject matter, I feel that I am still unpicking it.

The following seems particularly relevant:

"...bits of knowledge laid end to end [do not] lead to wisdom."
Altered and attributed to Melvin Konner. I hope I have got his sentiment right - it is certainly mine.

As I write (and schedule) this, I notice that it is about this time of year that the exam results come out. Good luck.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Before Selfie Sticks

I do have a couple of selfie sticks but I have never used them to take a selfie! I got them because they were being sold for £1 each and I took the opportunity of getting them while I could. The idea was to use them a bit more creatively than to pamper my ego. I've used them only a few times and then mainly to take a photo of somewhere hard to reach - like the top of a bookcase. I needed to know what was (lurking) up there.

Four years ago, having one would have been very useful. I was aware that some blackbirds had built a nest in a tree in our garden and I was quite sure that it had been vacated. I wanted to look inside but didn't want to make too much disturbance - just in case. A camera on the end of a selfie stick would have been ideal had they been available (for £1!) that summer. In the end I got a number of photos of the inside of the nest but it took a lot of trial and error, stretching at arm's length and hoping the angle was right - it often it wasn't. The photo below is probably the best I got (which says a lot.)

Sunday, 23 July 2017

My Fascination With Right Angles (again)

Here is a collection of images (some my own; the first two are web finds) which reflects, in various ways, my fascination with right angles and the like:

To the above I will add this, a photograph I took in St Peter's Square (which, of course, is not square!):

Monday, 17 July 2017

Epictetus - 28

From: The Golden Sayings of Epictetus (translated by Hastings Crossley) - from Project Gutenberg.

What wouldst thou be found doing when overtaken by Death? If I might choose, I would be found doing some deed of true humanity, of wide import, beneficent and noble. But if I may not be found engaged in aught so lofty, let me hope at least for this—what none may hinder, what is surely in my power—that I may be found raising up in myself that which had fallen; learning to deal more wisely with the things of sense; working out my own tranquillity, and thus rendering that which is its due to every relation of life. . . .
If death surprise me thus employed, it is enough if I can stretch forth my hands to God and say, "The faculties which I received at Thy hands for apprehending this thine Administration, I have not neglected. As far as in me lay, I have done Thee no dishonour. Behold how I have used the senses, the primary conceptions which Thous gavest me. Have I ever laid anything to Thy charge? Have I ever murmured at aught that came to pass, or wished it otherwise? Have I in anything transgressed the relations of life? For that Thou didst beget me, I thank Thee for that Thou hast given: for the time during which I have used the things that were Thine, it suffices me. Take them back and place them wherever Thou wilt! They were all Thine, and Thou gavest them me."—If a man depart thus minded, is it not enough? What life is fairer and more noble, what end happier than his?