Reading

Basil.CA entered its nineteenth year as of a couple weeks ago. The two little posts below convey the tone of the early years. (My interests seem to have stayed steady …)

9 July 02:  “How comes it,” asks my man Francois duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613 – 1670), “that our memories are good enough to retain even the minutest details of what has befallen us, but not to recollect how many times we have recounted them to the same person?”  I know that my own friends wonder, often and out loud, why I never seem to notice that I’m repeating myself, so it is really pleasing to read that Mr. La  Rochefoucauld and his salon-mates shared this particular cognitive deficit.  I finally bought his Maxims last November, and the book might never leave my bathroom.  The man’s skeptical appraisals of human vanity, self-love, envy, and romance are wry and perfect.  “When it comes to love, the one who recovers first recovers best” — “En amour celui qui est guéri le premier est toujours le mieux guéri” —  was a favourite in my old Buffalo days, not sure why.  Today I am a businessman with many clients who are involved in financing and promoting various speculative ventures.  It is a world in which, if skepticism is not always rewarded, then naivete is pretty much always punished.  The following La Rochefoucauld maxim comes to mind most every day:  “Our promises are made in proportion to our hopes, but kept in proportation to our fears.”  (It is no more sentimental in the original French:  “Nous promettons selon nos espérances, et nous tenons selon nos craintes.”)

24 September 02:  As my readers know:  When I get into a funk, I read and read and read.  Sometimes this improves my mood; it rarely damages it further; and, because I have a very expansive view of education, I believe it elevates my mind.  The best experience is when my reading makes me laugh out loud, as a recent item did [link no longer active, alas!]. In a Canada.com story about Vancouver officials trying to close down three bars in the city’s downtown eastside neighborhood, we get this paragraph:

“The bathrooms are shooting galleries,” says one. “Cops are always here raiding the people for dope, drugs and hookers and shit,” speculates another. 

The faux-journalistic use of the word “speculates” is so wittily Canadian that I will live to read another day.

1 Comment»

  johnglionna wrote @

Congrats on 19 years of breaking it down Basil style. Brilliant.


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