April 09, 2012

Musing amidst the ruins-updated

El Cabrero recently passed a literary milestone. After several years of effort, I finally made it through an unabridged version of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. My "secret" for getting through big books like that is to read a couple of pages from each volume daily, then take a break when a volume is finished, then repeat as necessary. I've found that you can get through almost anything that way...although I have yet to try my method on Joyce's Ulysses.

I was inspired to try Gibbon after three people I know did the same (one, however, told me that if he had to do it over again he'd do a one volume condensation). As the story goes, Gibbon was inspired to take up the task while visiting Rome on the "grand tour" of Italy made by so many upper class Europeans. As he put it,

It was at Rome, on the fifteenth of October, 1764, as I sat musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while the barefooted fryars were singing Vespers in the temple of Jupiter, that the idea of writing the decline and fall of the City first started to my mind.
I got a bit of a chance to muse amidst the ruins of the Roman capitol myself last summer, so I can relate.

Was it worth it? What with cognitive dissonance and all I'd have to say yes, especially since saying no would mean fessing up to wasting a bunch of time. Still, it was a grand tour of its own. Over the next few days I may share some impressions.

A FAVORITE TARGET OF MINE gets whacked by Paul Krugman here.

IN PRAISE OF HAVING A SPINE. Here's E.J. Dionne's latest while we're at it.

OLD SCHOOL BIRDS can be seen here.

PERSONAL NOTE. We're back in WV after a bit more than a week on the road. It's always nice to come back to the farm and find that approximately the same number of animals are still alive as were there when we left.


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