Musings of Navigating The Finite remainder of life from Porchville, with the hope of a glimpse of The Infinite

Thursday, October 30, 2014

How To Live

THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY is full of people who are full of themselves. A half-hour’s trawl through the online ocean of blogs, tweets, tubes, spaces, faces, pages, and pods brings up thousands of individuals fascinated by their own personalities and shouting for attention. They go on about themselves; they diarize, and chat, and upload photographs of everything they do. Uninhibitedly extrovert, they also look inward as never before. Even as bloggers and networkers delve into their private experience, they communicate with their fellow humans in a shared festival of the self.
Some optimists have tried to make this global meeting of minds the basis for a new approach to international relations. The historian Theodore Zeldin has founded a site called “The Oxford Muse,” which encourages people to put together brief self-portraits in words, describing their everyday lives and the things they have learned. They upload these for other people to read and respond to. For Zeldin, shared self-revelation is the best way to develop trust and cooperation around the planet, replacing national stereotypes with real people. The great adventure of our epoch, he says, is “to discover who inhabits the world, one individual at a time....”
By describing what makes them different from anyone else, the contributors reveal what they share with everyone else: the experience of being human. This idea—writing about oneself to create a mirror in which other people recognize their own humanity—has not existed forever. It had to be invented. And, unlike many cultural inventions, it can be traced to a single person: Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, a nobleman, government official, and winegrower who lived in the Périgord area of southwestern France from 1533 to 1592.
Bakewell, Sarah (2010-10-19). How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer (Kindle Locations 75-99). Other Press. Kindle Edition. 
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I almost fell out of the chair laughing at the self reflection presented in the first paragraph from the introduction of Sarah Bakewell's How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer.  After the initial laugh, I felt somewhat admonished.  Indeed what is my blog but a festival of self?  Perhaps it is time to tear this down and become respectably reticent.  But as I read on, I found that I am simply presenting self in the fine tradition of the inventor of the essay--Montaigne.  

I haven't read this book yet, only started it, but I was so amused with the opening quote that I thought I at least have to point to my dear readers that this book is on the Kindle Daily Deal for $1.99.  Alas because it is a Daily Deal, it will only be on sale for today, October 30, 2014 at that price.   Amazon further sweetens the deal, if you buy the Kindle edition, you can get the Audible version for 99 cents (which is Whispersynched to the Kindle edition and you can do "immersion reading" on devices that support it, predominantly Kindle-Fire Tablets-the current Kindle e-readers do not have audio).  If you do buy both, be sure to buy the Kindle version first.  Otherwise you will be charged the full price for the Audible version.  I am not sure but you may want to restrict your Audible purchase to the Amazon website rather than using Audible's website to ensure you get the 99 cent price after buying the Kindle edition.  Audible has Apps that you can download for a variety of devices here:

Again the Kindle version is only available today at the reduced price of $1.99.  Available here:  

One thing about Kindles, they are cash registers for Amazon.  Good God!  My blog is turning into an Amazon advertisement.  No I am not getting paid.  How dumb is that?


  1. Well......let us know if you still want to blog after reading the book.
    Will it bring out the extrovert in you, or back in your shell, like the turtle?

  2. I am not sure. I am far more extroverted on the net than I am in real life and I am not sure that I am comfortable with that. Real life, now there is a concept for you. Why is real life different than virtual life?

    Anyhow get me in a room with more than one other person, and I sit wordlessly. I enjoy conversations one on one, three is a crowd, and I despise crowds. Maybe the internet is the perfect medium for introverts, zero least physical ones. It is something that interests me.

    Unfortunately with this book, it will be put on the back burner, I already have three going on at the same time. I bought it because it was on sale yesterday. Today it is $8.99 and I can't figure out if they still have the 99 cent Audible. It just shows that I own it, with no price.

  3. There's something about the written word that's totally different from the spoken word. I write things I would never say, face to face, to people I don't know. Or even people I know. Yet, when I write I have no shame. Go figure. I think it's a healthy thing for those of us who feel like doing it, to do it. So don't stop, Sextant.

    1. Donna,

      I just heard on a radio show on NPR that a sense of community and social interaction are critical elements to the elderly.....hmmm!

      Maybe introverts like me find that sense of community in blogging and other social media. I am not sure. I found a desire to write years ago but have absolutely zero chance of ever being published. So my blog fulfills my need for that expression and it costs nothing, except my time (it keeps me off the streets) and the readers time...which is a travesty.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  4. Excellent post and you raise some great questions and create a bit of self introspection.

    Many times we put something out there because we think it's funny or intelligent or we had a thought or action shown to us in a way that we never thought of before and we want to share with others because maybe they would be just as interested as we were/are.

    Sometimes we put thoughts and feelings into words on a blog or post on Facebook because we have to share something and we want to get the thoughts out there to either create discussion or maybe just get it out of our head and into words where someone will have to read our complete thought without interrupting us in the verbal telling of it.

    Then there is the question of why we read these blogs, Facebook posts, tweets, etc. This is where I may get myself in trouble. See I hate the interruption of my thoughts by others peoples words and thoughts. I can be sitting here at work, like I am right now and be totally engrossed in writing this comment (as I am) and my co-worker may come by and want to tell me all about how much fun her visit to Disney on Ice was last night. She may want to show me pictures of her kids and tell me a funny story of how her husband couldn’t park because he didn’t have the cash to pay for parking. With her wanting to tell me that story I have to take a break from my life, my thoughts, my words to you Sextant, simply to look at her and smile and listen and then I have to comment back to her.

    But if she were to post her funny little thoughts and stories on Facebook with pictures of her darling little girls then I could read that post WHEN I WANTED TO, WHEN I HAD TIME, WHEN I HAD THE INCLINATION to do so and I would love it and probably write some super cute little comment that would touch her heart.

    But because she comes to interrupt me, it frustrates me and I’m looking at her and smiling and wishing she would get her story over with because my mind is focused on something else.

    That is why I prefer books to television. Television is so invasive. I have to watch Dancing with the Stars at 8pm on Mondays and that may not always be convenient for me. With a book I can pick it up and read when I want and then put it down and walk away and wake up at 3am and can’t sleep and pick the book up again.

    Does any of this make sense? I don’t know, but it made me feel good to get my thoughts out there in the comment and I look forward to you reading this…when you have the time and commenting.

    1. Alicia,

      In the fine tradition of Montaigne, you have examined a common element of life and have provided an excellent and thoughtful essay on it.

      I suspect that there are as many reasons for blogging as there are people blogging. I must limit my comments to blogging because I am not familiar with FB (seeming to require more booking of my face than I am willing to share) or tweeting (if it can't be said in 500 to 1000 words, is it worth saying, u no wot i mene).

      On the top border of every (Blogger) blog is the button "Next Blog>>." If you click this another blog appears. I am not sure if it is just random or if certain key words in the currently displayed blog helps to select the next displayed blog. But clicking through these you will find just about anything under the sun, many are "the adventures of the _____ family," vacation blogs, building a new home from scratch blogs, hobbies, reviews of books and movies, photography, art, diseases and disabilities, religions, philosophy, name it and there is a blog out there about it. One thing that strikes me when doing this is how many dead blogs there are. Most of these blogs haven't had an entry in several years...some go back to 2007 and beyond. There is something sad and lonely about these abandoned blogs, cast off in a sea of indifference forever hanging in cyberspace waiting for an inquisitive eye.

      What if I decided I am tired of blogging? Would I leave this up forever, or would I take it down? How long will Blogger keep our blogs until they decide...what the hell are we powering thousands of servers for these blogs to which no one pays any attention?

      Would I pay to keep my blog up? I might if the fee was reasonable, say $20 a year maximum and I could pay it automatically with pay pal once a year. Anything more in money or effort, I would balk. Is my blog worth 20 bucks a year? I doubt it.

      You make an excellent point about reading blogs. The reader has the luxury of when and if they are going to read it. Also with time, one can comment in a thoughtful manner, and not be force to say something on the spot, which often is trite and shallow. In that same light, if you want to share this person's experience or photos with a friend, all you need to do is send a URL and that person can, again with luxury of choice, read and enjoy the blog. Indeed an excellent point.

      I am so full of shit today that I exceeded the maximum length. Continued next message.

    2. Continued from above.

      I prefer books to television as well. You are right it is invasive, although with recording you do have some element of choice as to when but you have no choice regarding content. TV has been carefully vetted to bring in the maximum ratings. Take Dancing With The Stars. For me this a conjugal duty show. I watch it because my wife likes it. The show amuses me however. Ever notice that when one of the underdogs that can't dance worth a shit but has a huge fan base threatens a good dancer they suddenly change the rules put in an extra dance or have an exemption to the dance off or some bullshit method of getting rid of the couple that should have been voted off in week two? If I ran the show there would be half the couples, nobody would be voted off the island, all that melodramatic rehearsal bullshit would be eliminated, we wouldn't be subjected to another 10,000 rounds of "Oh we are having so much fun" commentary. There would be 6 couples with 18 minutes of dancing, 6 minutes of commentary from the judges (and of course commercials) and it would be a half hour show. And no one would watch it. It wouldn't make a full season. So instead we have to be subjected to 2 hours of phony melodrama with the results rigged by the shows producers, dancing dances that most of the time resemble nothing of the real ball room dance.

      Books do not seem to be so blatantly maximized to the audience tastes although naturally they are to some degree.

      Yes, what you said made a lot of sense and I am glad that you found a sense of enjoyment in responding and commenting.

      Excellent comment, Alicia. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    3. Thank you. I felt that I lost my train of thought there a couple of times, but of course I was getting interruptions from client phones calls. The nerve of people to expect excellent customer service on a Friday!

      True dat...(my slang for the dat)...there are a myriad of reasons that people read or write blogs. I've come to think that I am a loner that enjoys an occasional social activity but for the most part enjoy my time alone and my thoughts and feelings and sharing them with others through the written word.

      And it's funny that your taste in blogs changes. When I first started blogging I was all about the DIY, fix up your home, decorating blogs, then I went on the thrifting blogs, then cooking blogs then low carb blogs. There are very few blogs that I've followed for long periods of time, yours being one of them.

      But all in all I would much rather read and respond to people that actually speak to them in person. What that says about me I don't know, it might seem to others to be sad.

      But like right now I'm all alone in my kitchen, mom is still in bed, my sister Lisa hasn't arrived for coffee and I am so at peace. Once everyone in my household wakes up and the day gets going it's all about them, right now is the only time that it's all about me and I get to do what I love....comment and speak my mind with no interruption. As always I enjoyed your post, you make me think!

    4. Oh Yay! I was having a heck of a time posting a comment, fault of my settings on my computer,not your blog. I just wanted to mention that I'm not following Dancing with the Stars quite as closely this season because of Monday Night Football. I find that I can just switch back and forth and pretty much keep up with it because you are correct, there is a lot of fluff and not enough substance. I hate those pieces they do during the week at practices where you see the dancer and the pro being rude and ugly to each other, that's something that to me takes away from the pleasure of watching them dance, you know it's just a job then.

    5. Hmmm! I just posted a comment here and it went straight to jail, did not pass go, did not collect $200, and did not end up here. Shall I try again and this time copy the text before I hit publish. Blogger comments have been acting weird here lately.

      Alone time is very important. I have been reading a lot lately that modern teens do not get any alone time any longer. Their days are prescribed and over-scheduled and when they do get some time to themselves they use it for intense social networking which in teen world is just as stressful as in the school social order.

      I have never been too theme related in my blog, just what ever struck my fancy. What I like about your blog is that although sometimes the subject is not that terribly interesting to me...I don't cook or do I wanna Wednesday, you always put a lot of your heart and Soul in your posts. There is a lot of Alicia in your blog and you as well make me think.

      I have cut way back on how many blogs I follow, it just got out of hand. I follow only four now and all four are people that I want to have a beer in heaven with. Are you up to having a beer with Feynman and me?

    6. Count me in! I'll even buy a round!