hunter and gatherer

Towards the end of chapter 42 of Montaigne’s essays we read

In Anacharsis’ opinion, the happiest state of government would be where, all other things being equal, precedence should be measured out by the virtues, and repulses by the vices of men.

When King Pyrrhus prepared for his expedition into Italy, his wise counsellor Cyneas, to make him sensible of the vanity of his ambition: “Well, sir,” said he, “to what end do you make all this mighty preparation?”—“To make myself master of Italy,” replied the king. “And what after that is done?” said Cyneas. “I will pass over into Gaul and Spain,” said the other. “And what then?”—“I will then go to subdue Africa; and lastly, when I have brought the whole world to my subjection, I will sit down and rest content at my own ease.”

“For God sake, sir,” replied Cyneas, “tell me what hinders that you may not, if you please, be now in the condition you speak of? Why do you not now at this instant settle yourself in the state you seem to aim at, and spare all the labour and hazard you interpose?”

“Nimirum, quia non cognovit, qux esset habendi           Finis, et omnino quoad crescat vera voluptas.”       [“Forsooth because he does not know what should be the limit of     acquisition, and altogether how far real pleasure should increase.”       —Lucretius, v. 1431]

Reading it, I remembered the story explaining the Irony of the Rat: the Mexican fisherman, who was approached by the highly business-qualified American tourist who knows all about how one gets rich by working enduringly hard over many years …, finally accumulating enough wealth to relax … at the beach of a small Mexican village.

And today? The Measuring the World takes new forms again, it is about data, the collection of everything that can be counted, and the deformation of everything in order to make it countable …. entire libraries, galleries, landscapes and cities, people alone and in their encounters … all is just a mouse-click away.

*****

It was Sunday morning, when I read Montaigne, remembered the Mexican fisherman’s story and thought about the new turn of human-kind’s perpetuated existence as hunter&gatherer to data-obsessed beings …

… it was the very same Sunday in the tenth month of the year, well deserving the name golden October, when I met later the day a friend, should I even say: a golden encounter, ‘autumnous spring’** – not counting minutes or hours, going to the gallery, taking account of the non-digitalised treasures of the gallery, the original paintings and joining the special exhibition that brought music and the magnificent painter Botticelli together

– an encounter of people, bringing centuries and continents together.

*****

Well, when it comes to numbers and accounting, there are surely Limits to Cheating History and there is surely the need for Changing the Reference. Check for a revised and edited version of the article the International Journal of Social Quality.

 

**

Botticelli’s painting reproduced below is titled Primavera

Annunci

Off, perhaps some mooncake left just after the Chinese holidays

But in any case there is something when it comes to the moon …

… Is it perversity – or a dormant and clandestine wisdom? I was recently listening on YouTube to Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, seeing the German advertisement link to a game: manufacture your own tank – the screenshot from the youtube-site

Digitisation … Perversity? Wisdom? Strange coincidence? ….- Knowing the text of O Fortuna and seeing this ad connected to it one wonders …
There is much to the entirety of the texts found in the Benedictine monastery of Benediktbeuern in Bavaria. And part of it is surely the tension in the ‘O Fortuna’ of which the text reads as follows – below in EnglishItalian and German – always posing the challenge to live a veritable life, even if it is often against the odds:

O Fortune

O Fortune,
like the moon
you are changeable,
always waxing
or waning;
hateful life
first oppresses
and then soothes
as fancy takes it;
poverty
and power
it melts them like ice

Fate – monstrous
and empty,
you whirling wheel,
stand malevolent,
well-being is vain
and always fades to nothing,
shadowed
and veiled
you plague me too;
now through trickery,
I bring my bare back
to your villainy.

Fate, in health
and in virtue,
is against me,
driven on
and weighted down,
always enslaved.
So at this hour
without delay
pluck the vibrating string;
since Fate
strikes down the strong man,
everyone weep with me!

O fortuna,
A guisa della luna
Nell’atteggiamento dell’incostante
Sempre tu cresci
O vai diminuendo
La vita detestabile
Ora perdura salda
E proprio ora (la fortuna)
Occupa l’ingegno con un gioco:
La miseria
Il potere
Dissolve come ghiaccio.La fortuna immane
E vuota
Tu ruota che giri
Funesto stato
Futile benessere
Sempre dissolubile
Oscura
E velata
E su di me chi più si appoggerà,
Ora che per un gioco
Il dorso nudo
Porto per la tua cattiveria?La fortuna del benessere
E della virtù
Ora a me contraria
È un desiderio,
È una debolezza.
Sempre in corsa obbligata
Ora per di qua
Senza sosta
Sentite il battito nel cuore
Poiché a causa della fortuna
(Egli) acquieta la forza
Piangete tutti con me!
Oh Schicksal,

wie der Mond
von veränderlicher Position,
immer wächst du
oder schwindest;
das grässliche Leben
ist jetzt hart
und heilt dann
die Geisteskraft spielend,
die Armut,
die Macht
löst es auf wie Eis.

Monströses und
leeres Los,
du sich drehendes Rad,
üble Position,
unzuverlässige Gesundheit
immer auflösbar,
überschattet
und bedeckt
Du stützt dich auch auf mich;
jetzt trage ich
deinen Schandtaten zum Spiel
den Rücken bloß.

Los der Gesundheit
und Tugend
jetzt gegen mich,
es ist beeinflusst
und beeinträchtig
immer im Frondienst.
In dieser Stunde,
ohne Verzug,
kommet zu jenem, der im Herzen geschlagen wurde4;
denn durch das Los
breitet es den Zufall aus,
klagt alle mit mir!

Vie veritable

I was actually looking for the reference to this quote:

“Our life is part folly, part wisdom. Whoever writes about it only reverently and according to the rules leaves out more than half of it.”

A sentence I found in a review of Bakewell’s Montaigne-review. and I failed. But I found huge pleasure in reading Montaigne then, and just a bit for you to look for.

For instance looking at the question of true life – pouvons-nous encore le trouver?

Numbers and what cannot be counted // nombres – et ce qui ne peut être compté

Quel que soit le moment où votre vie s’achève, elle y est toute entière. La valeur de la vie ne réside pas dans la durée, mais dans ce qu’on en a fait. Tel a vécu longtemps qui a pour- tant peu vécu. Accordez-lui toute votre attention pendant qu’elle est en vous. Que vous ayez assez vécu dépend de votre volonté, pas du nombre de vos années. Pensiez-vous ne jamais arriver là où vous alliez sans cesse ? Il n’est pas de chemin qui n’ait d’issue. Et si la compagnie peut vous aider, le monde ne va-t-il pas du même train que vous ?

Montaigne: Essais. Livre Premiere: 116