1. Seneca, The Epistles Good stuff. It just keeps going and going... I think if I was Lucilius I would have stopped reading a long time ago, but...
It is clear to you, I am sure, Lucilius, that no man can live a happy life, or even a supportable life, without the study of wisdom; you know also that a happy life is reached when our wisdom is brought to completion, but that life is at least endurable even when our wisdom is only begun. This idea, however, clear though it is, must be strengthened and implanted more deeply by daily reflection; it is more important for you to keep the resolutions you have already made than to go on and make noble ones. You must persevere, must develop new strength by continuous study, until that which is only a good inclination becomes a good settled purpose. Hence you no longer need to come to me with much talk and protestations; I know that you
have made great progress. I understand the feelings which prompt your words; they are not feigned or specious words. Nevertheless I shall tell you what I think, - that at present I have hopes for you, but not yet perfect trust. And I wish that you would adopt the same attitude towards yourself; there is no reason why you should put confidence in yourself too quickly and readily. Examine yourself; scrutinize and observe yourself in divers ways; but mark, before all else, whether it is in philosophy or merely in life itself/a that you have made progress. Philosophy is no trick to catch the public; it is not devised for show. It is a matter, not of words, but of facts. It is not pursued in order that the day may yield some amusement before it is spent, or that our leisure may be relieved of a tedium that irks us. It moulds and constructs the soul; it orders our life, guides our conduct, shows us what we should do and what we should leave undone; it sits at the helm and directs our course as we waver+amid uncertainties+.
I grow in spirit and leap for joy and shake off my years and my blood runs warm again, whenever I understand, from your actions and your letters, how far you have outdone yourself; for as to the ordinary man, you left him in the rear long ago. If the farmer is pleased when his tree develops so that it bears fruit, if the shepherd takes pleasure in the increase of his flocks, if every man regards his pupil as though he discerned in him his own early manhood, - what, then, do you think are the feelings of those who have trained a mind and moulded a young idea, when they see it suddenly grown to maturity?
I claim you for myself; you are my handiwork. When I saw your abilities, I laid my hand upon you,/a I exhorted you, I applied the goad and did not permit you to march lazily, but roused you continually. And now I do the same; but by this time I am cheering on one who is in the race and so in turn cheers me on.
The last part is quite a heavy claim... quite a heavy burden, ownership. Isn't it?
2. Open Culture has a blog entry with a list of animated literature and books online, including Shakespeare, Dickinson... Neil Gaiman's weird Christmas poem. Lots and lots of wild, amazing stuff. I bookmarked it.
3. The word "shambolic", an informal, mostly British term originating in the 1970's, means "chaotic, mismanaged or disorganized." I'm thinking... I need to apply this word as often as possible from now on.
4. The United States Department of Education RESPECT project. I was invited to participate in a roundtable discussion about this vision statement (in draft form-- a very live document). Although I am a little hesitant to hope that policymakers in Arizona would sincerely and creatively find ways to implement this ambitious vision, I really feel like the changes it would make to schools would be good for teachers, parents, students and administrators, and would make school a more satisfying experience for all. Download and read the document-- it doesn't take long to understand the general changes being proposed in the way that the teaching profession is envisioned.
Damn, I am ready for winter break.