28 May 2006

In Company with Simon Stylites

I'm here in Cambridge, England, for the Mayweek Seminar, and have been fairly busy preparing my remarks on the virtue of magnanimity in Cicero's De Officiis, especially, the contrast between Cicero's treatment of that virtue and Aristotle's.

This is a fairly sharp change in subject from the difficulties in Aristotle's Metaphysics which I have recently been considering, and that largely explains the paucity in posts over the last week.

I also sometimes find it difficult to post on something that I don't have definite thoughts on yet. Sometimes it seems that a post can help me think, but other times I want to think something through more without sharing with others, yet, what I have formulated. Currently I'm in the latter condition.

So here is a lighthearted post involving scenes from the homestead in Massachusetts, which we call "Sparrow's Nest". The first is a photograph of that noble yet elusive Great Blue Heron which frequents our pond in the summer. It showed up this last week. Viewing it, I find it easy to believe that birds are descended from dinosaurs, because, given its size and the character of its movements, it looks how I suppose in general a (smallish) dinosaur might have appeared. It always astonishes me when I see it.

The second photograph may be entitled, "Testimony to My Laziness", or, to alter the figure, "Simon Stylites of the Front Porch". Last year I moved out to the front porch a couple of closet doors that came unhinged. I should have done something with them or disposed of them. Now they've been sitting there so long, that a robin actually built a nest on top of them; laid her eggs; hatched her young; and is feeding them with caught worms. (You can see the casters on the top of the sliding doors, where the nest is built.) So you can see that in this case my inaction was so stable that a bird could find refuge in it.

This expression of firmness of purpose is an instance of my ... stoicism.


Anonymous said...

Would posting but not making it public help?
Probably not.

Michael Pakaluk said...

Dear Anonymous,

Not anymore than you can raise a question without raising it.

I unfortunately haven't had time to post this week. There are sessions in the morning and afternoon, and in between I'm either studying the text or meeting with people. And then when I might be able to post--finding myself awake late at night because of jetlag, for instance--I'm not near a computer with an internet connection.

The college where I'm staying, Darwin, has got an excellent wireless network, but I don't have an account. Occasionally signals from a neighborhood network float in, "Carbon Nanotubes". It seems to come in best in the early morning hours, but it's hardly reliable and will disappear as suddenly as it showed up. (I just checked and discovered that Carbon Nanotubes is an engineering project in Cambridge. You can see for yourself by googling.)

But I'll resume soon. There are lots of interesting topics from De Officiis to raise.