Monday, March 22, 2010

Library Porn, Renaissance Edition

When at home, I a little more frequent my library, whence I overlook at once all the concerns of my family. ‘Tis situated at the entrance into my house, and I thence see under me my garden, court, and base-court, and almost all parts of the building. There I turn over now one book, and then another, on various subjects, without method or design. One while I meditate, another I record and dictate, as I walk to and fro, such whimsies as these I present to you here. ‘Tis in the third storey of a tower, of which the ground-room is my chapel, the second storey a chamber with a withdrawing-room and closet, where I often lie, to be more retired; and above is a great wardrobe. This formerly was the most useless part of the house. I there pass away both most of the days of my life and most of the hours of those days. In the night I am never there. There is by the side of it a cabinet handsome enough, with a fireplace very commodiously contrived, and plenty of light; and were I not more afraid of the trouble than the expense—the trouble that frights me from all business—I could very easily adjoin on either side, and on the same floor, a gallery of an hundred paces long and twelve broad, having found walls already raised for some other design to the requisite height. Every place of retirement requires a walk: my thoughts sleep if I sit still: my fancy does not go by itself, as when my legs move it: and all those who study without a book are in the same condition. The figure of my study is round, and there is no more open wall than what is taken up by my table and my chair, so that the remaining parts of the circle present me a view of all my books at once, ranged upon five rows of shelves round about me. It has three noble and free prospects, and is sixteen paces in diameter. I am not so continually there in winter; for my house is built upon an eminence, as its name imports, and no part of it is so much exposed to the wind and weather as this, which pleases me the better, as being of more difficult access and a little remote, as well upon the account of exercise, as also being there more retired from the crowd. ‘Tis there that I am in my kingdom, and there I endeavour to make myself an absolute monarch, and to sequester this one corner from all society, conjugal, filial, and civil; elsewhere I have but verbal authority only, and of a confused essence. That man, in my opinion, is very miserable, who has not at home where to be by himself, where to entertain himself alone, or to conceal himself from others. Ambition sufficiently plagues her proselytes, by keeping them always in show, like the statue of a public, square:

“Magna servitus est magna fortuna.”

[“A great fortune is a great slavery.”
—Seneca, De Consol. ad. Polyb., c. 26.]

They cannot so much as be private in the watercloset. I have thought nothing so severe in the austerity of life that our monks affect, as what I have observed in some of their communities; namely, by rule, to have a perpetual society of place, and numerous persons present in every action whatever; and think it much more supportable to be always alone than never to be so.

-Michel de Montaigne
"Of Three Forms of Commerce"
Essays, Book III, Part 96
Cotton Translation.

1 comment:

Templeton said...

Hi there,



I thought that you may be interested to know that this year's Templeton Prize winner will be announced on Thursday 25th March at 15:00 GMT (11:00 EST) in Washington D.C. The £1,000,000 prize is awarded annually to outstanding individuals who have devoted their talents to life's big questions. You can register for the webcast at http://bit.ly/d7soUA and you have the chance to pose questions to the new winner.



If you do not wish to receive further information about the Templeton Prize please email: sgillespie@bell-pottinger.co.uk













DIARY NOTE



38th TEMPLETON PRIZE WINNER TO BE ANNOUNCED



Event: News conference

Date: 25 March 2010, 15.00 GMT

Venue: Washington DC – National Academy of Sciences

Live webcast: www.templetonprize.org



The world’s largest annual award, the £1,000,000 Templeton prize, will be announced on Thursday 25 March at 15.00 GMT at a press conference in Washington DC and broadcast live online.



The winner will be a major international academic figure who has made a significant contribution to the study and understanding of new scientific discoveries and to one of life’s big questions: Does scientific knowledge contradict religious belief?



The £1million Templeton Prize, monetarily the largest award given to an individual, honours a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery or practical works.



The 2010 Prize laureate will join a distinguished group of former recipients including Mother Teresa and Soviet dissident, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn alongside scientists such as Professor Freeman J. Dyson and the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Professor Charles Townes;.



Statements will be made by the new Templeton Laureate and the Templeton Foundation’s President, Dr John Templeton Jr and both will be available for questions.



Last year's award went to Bernard d'Espagnat, a French physicist and philosopher of science whose explorations of the philosophical implications of quantum physics have opened new vistas on the definition of reality and the potential limits of knowable science.



Speaker and Templeton Foundation interviews are available by contacting +44 20 7861 3974.



Speak to either:



James Carron

Sally Gillespie



Information on the 2010 Templeton Prize Laureate can be provided in advance under strict embargo.



Contact James Carron at +44 207 861 2494 / jcarron@bell-pottinger.co.uk or Sally Gillespie at +44 207 861 3974 / sgillespie@bell-pottinger.co.uk





Notes to editors



1. The Templeton Prize was created by global investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton and was established in 1972.



2. The Templeton Prize is a cornerstone of the John Templeton Foundation's international efforts to serve as a philanthropic catalyst for discovery in areas engaging life's biggest questions, ranging from explorations into the laws of nature and the universe to questions on the nature of love, gratitude, forgiveness, and creativity.



3. The Templeton Prize aims to identify "entrepreneurs of the spirit", outstanding individuals who have devoted their talents to expanding notions or understanding about ultimate purpose and reality.



4. The Templeton Prize is awarded annually on the decision of a panel of independent judges. Past judges have included the Dalai Lama, Professor Sir Brian Heap and Professor Paul Davies.



5. For more information on the John Templeton Foundation and the Templeton Prize, visit www.templeton.org and www.templetonprize.org.