Sunday, January 24, 2016

Baldassare Castiglione's 'The Book of the Courtier' (1528), Take II

What else does Baldassare Castiglione say to us now from his perspective of living 500 years in the past? A few snippets for our consideration, from his "Second Book" of The Courtier (1528). 

"Who can hold rest dear, unless he [or she] has first held the hardship of fatigue? Who enjoys food, drink and sleep, unless he [or she] has first endured hunger, thirst and wakefulness?"  (Wordsworth Classics edition, 2000, English translation by Leonard Eckstein Opdycke, page 74).

Why is it that many people, especially as they age, "nearly all praise bygone times and censure the present, inveighing against our acts and ways and everything which they in their youth did not do; affirming too that every good custom and good manner of living, every virtue, in short every thing, is always going from bad to worse?" (Ibidem, p. 71).

There are "those who keep their eyes fixed upon the land as they leave port, and think that their ship is standing still and the shore recedes, although it is the other way [around]." (Ibidem, p. 72).

"Thus they feel . . . despoiled, and they lament and call the present times bad, not perceiving that the change lies in themselves." (Ibidem).

And thus it comes to some to romanticize the past, emotion and time fueling their selective memory and imagination. I suppose this is because we are mortal and that is a hard fact to live by. 

But once taken on, every new day becomes enriched, not impoverished, cherished not tarnished, smiled upon and not frowned upon -- a choice of such perspective. 

Past, present and future bundled together as a whole, beyond traditional "Western" temporality, the stuff of sleep, dreams and hope.  


t said...


Tom Sarmo said...

Awesome! (Midnight in Paris echoed) :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Romanticizing the past seems like a full time job for some. AKA, some politicians I could name.