Concise, compelling works and excerpts from antiquity until today. A commonplace book of sorts.
“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.”
—L.P. Jacks (often misattributed to François-René de Chateaubriand)
—from Education Through Recreation
The art of not reading is a very important one. It consists in not taking an interest in whatever may be engaging the attention of the general public at any particular time. When some political or ecclesiastical pamphlet, or novel, or poem is making a great commotion, you should remember that he who writes for fools always finds a large public. A precondition for reading good books is not reading bad ones: for life is short.
—from Essays and Aphorisms (translated by R. J. Hollingdale)
That our ideas are baseless, or rotten at the roots, is what few who study them will deny; but they are rotten in the same way as property is robbery, and property is robbery in the same way as our ideas are rotten at the roots, that is to say it is a robbery and it is not. No title to property, no idea and no living form (which is the embodiment of idea) is indefeasible if search be made far enough. Granted that our thoughts are baseless, yet they are so in the same way as the earth itself is both baseless and most firmly based, or again most stable and yet most in motion…
I was struck by what you say in your letter about having been to Nuenen. You saw everything again, “with gratitude that once it was yours” — and are now able to leave it to others with an easy mind. As through a glass, darkly — so it has remained; life, the why or wherefore of parting, passing away, the permanence of turmoil — one grasps no more of it than that.
For me, life may well continue in solitude. I have never perceived those to whom I have been most attached other than as through a glass, darkly.
—Vincent Van Gogh (translated by Arnold Pomerans)
—found in The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh