Oliver Burkeman on Life

I think virtually everyone, except perhaps the very Zen or very old, goes through life haunted to some degree by the feeling that this isn’t quite the real thing, not just yet – that soon enough, we’ll get everything in working order, get organised, get our personal issues resolved, but that till then we’re living what the great Swiss psychologist Marie-Louise von Franz called the “provisional life.”

~ Oliver Burkeman

Epicurus on Fear

“The fool’s life is empty of gratitude and full of fears; its course lies wholly toward the future.”

~ Epicurus

Julian Baggini on Living

“If we pretend or imagine that life’s purpose lies outside living itself, we will be searching the stars for what is underneath our feet all the time.”

~ Julian Baggini / Atheism: A Very Short Introduction

Julian Baggini on Immortality

“Our desire to preserve is a form of denial about our own mortality. The fact that art can endure longer than people has led some to seek a form of proxy-immortality through it. If we accept that art is mortal too, and that nothing is truly permanent, maybe we can see more clearly where the value of art and life is to be found – in experiencing them.”

~ Julian Baggini / The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten: 100 Experiments for the Armchair Philosopher

David Letterman on Doing Good Work

You were innovating out of necessity?

I never knew if the stupider things we did or the more traditional things we did would work. I didn’t know if the stupid stuff would alienate people. I didn’t know if the traditional stuff would be more appealing. And then, when I look back on it now, of course the answer is, you want to do the weird thing.

David Letterman / NYT

Julian Baggini on Wrongdoing

“Judas sees he has done wrong and condemns himself…The price of ‘sin’ is not that you will be sent to hell by a divine judge or that karmic forces will ensure you’re paid back. The price of being bad is that you have to live with being the person who did wrong”

~ Julian Baggini / The Godless Gospel

Samuel Beckett on Quietism

I found quantities of phrases like qui melius scit pati, majorem tenebit pacem [he who knows how to suffer well shall find the most peace], or Nolle consolari ab aliqua creatura magnae puritatis signum est [to refuse comfort from any creature is a sign of great faith], or the lovely per viam pacis, ad patriam perpetuae claritatis [by the way of peace to the country of everlasting clearness] that seemed to be made for me and which I have never forgotten.

Samuel Beckett / Courtesy Aeon

Seneca on Rehearsing

Seneca for instance advises “to envisage every possibility and to strengthen the spirit to deal with the things which may conceivably come about. Rehearse them in your mind: exile, torture, war, shipwreck.”

~ Seneca / Courtesy Philosophersmag

Paul Theroux on Comfort

At my age – which is way past retirement – if you haven’t found a person and a place you love, a house that suits you, an ideal bed, a perfect armchair, the books you value, a bit of garden, and something like comfort – you have my sympathy.

~ Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux on Blogging

You could say blog-like, but I think “blog-like” is a disparaging term. I loathe blogs when I look at them. Blogs look to me illiterate, they look hasty, like someone babbling. To me writing is a considered act. It’s something which is a great labor of thought and consideration. A blog doesn’t seem to have any literary merit at all. It’s a chatty account of things that have happened to that particular person.

~ Paul Theroux / The Atlantic

Charles Bukowski on Writing

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
fame,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
else,
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

~ Charles Bukowski

Jim Harrison on Ruts

The interesting thing about being in a rut is that the only thing you see are the sides of the rut. You don’t see out.

~ Conversations with Jim Harrison

Jim Harrison on Infirmities

Our cures are interesting. Our infirmities aren’t. Everyone knows about infirmities.

~ Conversations with Jim Harrison

Jim Harrison on Therapists

…the trouble is, as many will admit, only one therapist out of a thousand is any good.

~ Conversations with Jim Harrison

Jim Harrison on Writing and Money

“I averaged twelve grand a year for ten years, and then I got a little more, up to thirty-five grand,” Harrison said.

~ Conversations with Jim Harrison

Jim Harrison on Writers

Writers, I think, are sometimes productive to the extent that they remain sort of childlike about certain things. They stay operative for that reason.

~ Conversations with Jim Harrison

Viktor Frankl on Decisions

“…in the final analysis, it becomes clear that the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone.”

~ Viktor Frankl / Psychology Today