I recently acquired a Kindle. I can say that I love it. I find myself reading more stuff, and especially a wider variety of things. Things I wouldn’t normally read but always wish I had. Since it stores so much and since it’s so easy to use … The first thing I did was engage in an orgy of buying stuff from Amazon. They have a “classics” section which has a lot of great stuff that’s either free or costs very little. For example I bought two volumes of the Great Books series for $6. It has a huge amount of material from War and Peace to James Joyce to the Greeks. Amazing. I also can download articles I wish to read, send them to Kindle.com and they will convert it for free to the Kindle format and send them directly to my Kindle. Wow!
So, I’ve always wanted to read Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations. He was a Roman emperor, formally named Marcus Aelius Aurelius Verus Caesar. He ruled from 161 to 180. He was extremely well educated and was known as one of the “five good emperors.” He wrote Meditations in Greek while out on military campaigns, over a ten year period (170-180). Brilliant, a Stoic philosopher, but a man of his times. Quite a bit of his writing is pretty much a kind of Boy Scout manual for good citizenship for nobles and emperors (Do good; don’t do bad). But he has some stunning passages that are worth thinking about. So far, this is my favorite. From Book II:
Of human life the time is a point, and the substance is in a flux, and the perception dull, and the composition of the whole body subject to putrefaction, and the soul a whirl, and fortune hard to divine, and fame a thing devoid of judgement. And, to say all in a word, everything which belongs to the body is a stream, and what belongs to the soul is a dream and vapour, and life is a warfare and a stranger’s sojourn, and after—fame is oblivion. What then is that which is able to conduct a man? One thing and only one, philosophy. But this consists in keeping the daemon within a man free from violence and unharmed, superior to pains and pleasures, doing nothing without purpose, nor yet falsely and with hypocrisy, not feeling the need of another man’s doing or not doing anything; and besides, accepting all that happens, and all that is allotted, as coming from thence, wherever it is, from whence he himself came; and, finally, waiting for death with a cheerful mind, as being nothing else than a dissolution of the elements of which every living being is compounded. But if there is no harm to the elements themselves in each continually changing into another, why should a man have any apprehension about the change and dissolution of all the elements? For it is according to nature, and nothing is evil which is according to nature.