Travailler, toujours travailler.

Roding then took Rilke outside for a tour of the grounds. As they walked, Roding began to tell Rilke about his life, but not in the way one might speak to a journalist on assignment. He understood that Rilke was a fellow artist, and so he framed his stories as lessons that the young poet might take as examples.

Above all else, he stressed to Rilke, Travailler, toujours travailler. You must work, always work, he said.

“To this I devoted my youth.” But it was not enough to make work, the word he preferred to “art”; one had to live it.

That meant renouncing the trappings of earthly pleasures, like fine wine, sedating sofas, even one’s own children, should they prove distracting form the pursuit.

— from You Must Change Your Life: The Story of Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin by Rachel Corbett

Re-entry problems

More from Lost in the Cosmos:

But what is not generally recognized is that the successful launch of self into the orbit of transcendence is necessarily attended by problems of reentry. What goes up must come down. The best film of the year ends at nine o’clock. What to do at ten? What did Faulkner do after writing the last sentence of Light in August? Get drunk for a week. What did Doestoevsky do after finishing The Idiot? Spend three days and nights at the roulette table. What does the reader do after finishing either book? How long does his exaltation last?

He gives several (slightly tongue-in-cheek) options, including suicide, sex, and alcohol. But also, travel or moving:

The self leaves home because home has been evacuated, not bombed out, but emptied out by the self itself. That is, home, family, neighborhood, and town have been engulfed by the vacuole of self, ingested and rendered excreta. What writer can stay in Oak Park, Illinois? One leaves for another place, but soon it too is ingested and digested.

Yeah, thinking of leaving myself.

Escaping the predicament of the self

The difference between Einstein and Kafka, both sons of middle-class middle-European families, both of whom found life in the ordinary world intolerably dreary:

Einstein escaped the world by science, that is, by transcending not only the world but the Cosmos itself.

Kafka also escaped his predicament–occasionally–not by science but by art, that is, by seeing and naming what had heretofore been unspeakable, the predicament of the self in the modern world.

— Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos

I didn’t love this book, which I found through Austin Kleon, but I did love the chapter on escaping the self and re-entry problems.

Related to Bohm on creativity, order, art, and mediocrity.

How to not be busy

Step one: identify what seem to be, right now, the most meaningful ways to spend your life.

Step two: schedule time for those things.

There is no step three.

Everything else just has to fit around them – or not. Approach life like this and a lot of unimportant things won’t get done, but, crucially, a lot of important things won’t get done either. Certain friendships will be neglected; certain amazing experiences won’t be had; you won’t eat or exercise as well as you theoretically could.

In an era of extreme busyness, the only conceivable way to live a meaningful life is to not do thousands of meaningful things.

Oliver Burkeman

Found this in my notes from a few years ago. Huge fan of Burkeman’s book The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking.

Sure, follow your passion, you masochist

The etymology of the word “passion”:

Middle English, from Old French, from Medieval Latin passiō, passiōn-sufferings of Jesus or a martyr, from Late Latin, physical suffering, martyrdom, sinful desire, from Latin, an undergoing, from passus, past participle of patīto suffer.

From wordnik.





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