On vacation

Dear Readers,

My son, his cousin and I are off to Vermont for our annual week of fun in the woods and lakes, and on ballfields of various sorts (to say nothing of group singing and lying in our tent open to the night and listening to the loons and owls). One of our adventures last summer has recently been immortalized (let’s grandiosely say) by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Click here for the pdf.

It might be a worthy goal for this summer for me to actually be, or stay, on vacation, not writing anything. We shall see if I can pull that off.I might, in this regard, quote from the draft text (on Plato’s Lysis and friendship) on which I have been working hard, and with pleasure, since May:

As I work on this essay I am surrounded, in my corner of New York City, by attractive women thirty years my junior, who this hot summer are walking about stripped down to their underwear, more or less, and who are also prepared to quickly take offense, if not go to the police, should I propose that we might together and in a more private location explore what might be meant by a word like friendship or philia. And thus I can appreciate all too well how discussion and writing can be asked to satisfy deeper needs or desires. And I can appreciate, too, how discussion and writing fail to do this, and how a talker’s or writer’s response to this failure is often to talk or write more. This is not the only alternative (there is alcohol, onanism, prostitution, figure-drawing or tango classes, etc.), but it can seem the best one. If such a life—without erotic exploration with someone tantalizingly other (and tantalizingly similar too)— at times feels not worth living, then a life well-examined can seem both a pale shadow and the next best thing. And, to pick up on an old joke, third prize would be a life examined in yet greater depth or over and over again.

Back in a week, thanks for reading,

Best, Wm.

PS: The other large, literary activity of my summer has turned out to be translating Baudelaire poems. A small collection of these translations my be found by clicking here, and these texts along with comments on some of the translation challenges may be found via Zeteo is Reading. See Reading Baudelaire (11-17 August 2013).

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