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The Book Basement Bulletin #16
Why modern problems aren't modern, the new home channel and the most interesting island you'll hear about - On this week's issue
Good day! This week has been relatively lax when it comes to reading. I finished Meditations and started two other books that you’ll hear about next week.
Three Things I Wanted to Share
My book of choice this week was Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. If you don’t know, Marcus Aurelius was a Roman Empire during the Pax Romana. He kept a journal which is this book. The appeal is that through the book, we can observe that people's problems two thousand years ago are very similar to the ones we have today. Aurelius shares his own thoughts, processes, and philosophies (which were primarily influenced by Stoic philosophers like Epictetus which, in turn, makes Marcus a Stoic philosopher) in a wonderful and artistic way. Reading philosophy is incredibly useful and if you want a relatively short introduction to stoicism, Meditations is a great start.
Are you a fan of those crappy house-restoration TV shows? If, or if not, then you should check out this amazing video where a couple completely renovates a house that was on its last breath. I absolutely loved sitting through 25 minutes of restoration, especially since many restoration videos and TV shows are highly idealistic and don’t show all the grunt work necessary to make a house look remarkable.
Seeing as I’m always on the lookout for exciting podcasts, it’s no wonder I stumbled upon such an intriguing one. This week I listened to Hometown Village an episode of the 99% Invisible podcast. The history-packed episode has a gripping narrative, heart-felt interviews, and a surprisingly good message. If you want to expand your useless bank of knowledge, it wouldn't hurt to listen to this episode.
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Quote of the Week
“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can't tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own - not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are unnatural.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
The first time I heard of this passage it came off as a little arrogant, who is this guy to be labeling other people as meddling, ungrateful and treacherous after all? Then I re-read it a couple of times and focused more on the second part of it, where Marcus is basically saying that the reason we shouldn’t be harmed by these people is that they are much like us. In the same way we hurt others, we hurt ourselves. What he’s indicating, is that reaction to the actions of others should be seen through an “I could’ve done the same thing” perspective rather than “look at this horrible thing they did”. He compares people to hands, feet, and eyelids, working together for the purpose of the body, which can be interpreted as the common good. Going in opposition to this common good is senseless, he claims, What’s good for the hive is good for the bee; that’s a quote from a different book in meditations, but it applies here too. Unison work is the hive; our collective efforts. Can you see the parallel there? Now, don’t misconstrue this as an excuse to allow bad people back into your life, to give them second chances. That is not what this excerpt is about. It’s not saying you should excuse the actions of others, but look at them as you would look at your own wrongdoings. Consider the motives behind their actions, he says in another book, and you will feel pity, not surprise or anger. ”We can avoid them…without suspicion or enmity” Aurelius later says.
If you’re reading this newsletter, you’ll definitely benefit from this episode. I condense everything that I’ve learned through my year of taking reading seriously into one podcast episode.
Thank you for reading! Let me know what book you are currently into, I’m curious to know!