12 Matching Annotations
  1. Sep 2021
    1. “Be careful, though, about your reading in many authors and different types of books. It may be that there is something wayward and unstable in it. You must stay with a limited number of writers and be fed by them if you mean to derive anything that will dwell reliably with you. One who is everywhere is nowhere. Those who travel all the time find that they have many places to stay, but no friendships. The same thing necessarily happens to those who do not become intimate with any one author, but let everything rush right through them.”

      One who is everywhere is nowhere. Seneca in his second letter to Lucilius, (Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium, Letter 2, On Discursiveness in Reading, in a translation by Margaret Graver and A. A. Long)

      Applicable not only to reading, but also to doing.

  2. Aug 2021
    1. I used to think copying was unseemly before one of my writing professors in college filled me in on the big, unkept secret. He handed us a small trove of writing samples from folks like Joan Didion, John McPhee, Barbara Kingsolver, and Ernest Hemingway. Essentially a Who's Who of New Yorker essayists. We had to copy out their work, then write our own pieces using the copied sentences as 'templates.'

      This general thought goes back to antiquity (and possibly earlier). In writing about classic rhetoric Seneca the Younger wrote in Epistulae morales

      "We should follow, men say, the example of the bees, who flit about and cull the flowers that are suitable for producing honey, and then arrange and assort in their cells all that they have brought in; these bees, as our Vergil says, 'pack close the flowering honey | And swell their cells with nectar sweet.' "

      (Sound a bit like he's one of the original digital gardeners, but in an analog world?)

      He's essentially saying, read the best, take their thoughts and ideas, consume them, make them your own."

      Generations later in ~430 CE, Macrobius in his Saturnalia repeated the same idea and even analogy (he assuredly read Seneca, though he obviously didn't acknowledge him):

      "You should not count it a fault if I shall set out the borrowings from a miscellaneous reading in the authors' own words... sometimes set out plainly in my own words and sometimes faithfully recorded in the actual words of the old writers... We ought in some sort to imitate bees; and just as they, in their wandering to and fro, sip the flowers, then arrange their spoil and distribute it among the honeycombs, and transform the various juices to a single flavor by some mixing with them a property of their own being, so I too shall put into writing all that I have acquired in the varied course of my reading... For not only does arrangement help the memory, but the actual process of arrangement, accompanied by a kind of mental fermentation which serves to season the whole, blends the diverse extracts to make a single flavor; with the result that, even if the sources are evident, what we get in the end is still something clearly different from those known sources."

    1. I should perhaps also note that I try, whenever possible, not to collect raw quotes or information simply copied from the Internet or from books, but to write excerpts or summaries in my own words on the basis of my reading. Luhmann called this "reformulating writing" and argued that such an approach is most important for one's own intellectual life. But this idea is not a new discovery Luhmann made. In fact, the idea that excerpts should be used to keep on's research goes back to at least the Renaissance when people first began to make extensive excerpts on paper.

      This is also related to the ideas of invention as well as the analogy of the bee in relation to commonplaces. Link this to the bee analogy of Seneca the Younger and Macrobius in Saturnalia.

  3. May 2021
    1. Long before Vannevar Bush, Francis Bacon cited Seneca to describe a similar ambition for his scientific method, which he hoped would “abridge the infinity of individual experience ... and remedy the complaint of vita brevis, ars longa.”
  4. Sep 2020
    1. “My advice is really this: what we hear the philosophers saying and what we find in their writings should be applied in our pursuit of the happy life. We should hunt out the helpful pieces of teaching and the spirited and noble-minded sayings which are capable of immediate practical application–not far far-fetched or archaic expressions or extravagant metaphors and figures of speech–and learn them so well that words become works.”

      quote #Seneca

  5. May 2020
    1. The Loeb Classic Library collection of Seneca’s Epistles in three volumes (1-65, 66-92, and 92-124), should be read by all in its entirety. Of course, if you don’t have time to read them all, you can read a heavily curated version of them.
  6. Dec 2019
    1. Seneca

      identify

    2. Seneca

      Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC – AD 65) was a Roman Stoic philosopher, moralist, and dramatist. He was forced to commit suicide by Nero after allegedly plotting the Emperor's death.

  7. Feb 2016
    1. a young man came along. He was very angry and said: "It is not at all right to destroy this tree. Its fruit is all that we have to live on." With this remark he gave the young woman who lay there ill a shove with his foot, causing her to fall into the hole that had been dug.

      Was the young man punished for shoving the Chief's daughter into the hole? Also, did this cause the Chief and his daughter to lose contact with one another? As he is not mentioned in the rest of the text.

    2. How did human beings arrive in the world? • How were animals helpful? • What did twins do to create the world?

      1) The humans fell from heaven and came into the world with animals. 2) Animals cared for the human when she was ill and gave her a place to stay until she was healed. 3) The twins traveled the world to create environments and climates that humans could live in. This lead to mountains, trees, lakes, forest, rivers, etc.

  8. Jan 2016
    1. The boy that remained in the lodge grew very rapidly, and soon was able to make himself bows and arrows and to go out to hunt in the vicinity. Finally, for several days he returned home without his bow and arrows. At last he was asked why he had to have a new bow and arrows every morning

      The boy had to teach himself how to use things. When we grow up we do not rely on our parents as much, we have to explore the world on our own.