Taking a two-week break from New York, family, essay writing and blog posting, rent-paying work, . . . The phrase “The Freedom Tour” came into my mind in this regard, and not too long after that the song lyric, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” But I would not ignore my first, more positive feeling—the possibility of enjoying a particular freedom that perhaps only a bureaucrat with a permanent contract, “9 to 5” job and defined-benefit pension can enjoy. The freedom of being able to take a rather complete if not long break, sans need to check one’s messages, etc. (For at least a dozen years now I’ve been at work on a piece about the advantages and disadvantages of being a bureaucrat.)
As the current break is expected to involve visiting Wittgenstein’s haunts at Cambridge University and Paris streets once strolled by Baudelaire, I offer the following two quotations:
In order to live happily I must be in agreement with the world. And that is what ‘being happy’ means. — Ludwig Wittgenstein
[I]l est beaucoup plus commode de déclarer que tout est absolument laid dans l’habit d’une époque, que de s’appliquer à en extraire la beauté mystérieuse qui peut y être contenue, si minime ou si légère qu’elle soit. — Charles Baudelaire, « Le Peintre de la vie moderne »
My translation: It is a lot easier to declare that the wrappings of a given period are completely ugly than to apply oneself to trying to extract the mysterious beauty that could be inside, regardless of however minimal or insubstantial that beauty might be.
Credit & Links
Image is a graphic abstracted from the Folkestone White Horse, the figure carved into Cheriton Hill, Folkestone in Kent, England, overlooking the English terminal of the Channel Tunnel. The design for the horse was drawn by a local artist, Charlie Newington.
Wittgenstein quotation is from the posthumously published Notebooks, 1914-1916, edited by G.H. von Wright and G.E.M. Anscombe and translated from German by Anscombe (University of Chicago Press, 1984). Note: Wittgenstein was born in 1889; these are grad school musings.
Baudelaire quotation is from the fourth part (“La modernité”) of his essay “Le Peintre de la vie moderne” (1863). An English translation by P. E. Charvet appears in Baudelaire: Selected Writings on Art and Literature (Penguin, 1995).Date: October 2013