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2012-12-29 04:06:17 (UTC)

An EBOOK READER and a CELL PHONE: Aristotle, Descartes and Time Magazine

Aristotle, Descartes and Time Magazine

Part 1:

About once a month in these years of my retirement, having taken a sea-change at the age of 55, after a student working life from 1949 to 1999, my wife and I leave the oldest town in Australia where we live. We take a half-hour drive to Launceston about 50 kms away. My wife shops for fruit and veg, sees a doctor of some type, or dentist, and sometimes engages in a little retail therapy. I go for a swim and spa in an indoor pool, enjoy a take away-meal and sometimes two, give blood at the Red Cross occasionally, and visit the city library.

More recently we also visit our son and his wife and their daughter, our grandchild, now that the 3 of them have moved into Launceston. It is in this city that my son works; my daughter-in-law teaches children’s classes for the Launceston Baha’i community.

In the last two years, 2011-2012, after a dozen years of retirement from paid employment, the cell-phone and the e-book-reader have come into my life. They came via my wife, son, and step-daughter. I do not find the e-book reader that useful because, if I want to read a book when I’m not at home and on a journey, I take a book. But my wife makes frequent use of this e-book-reader. I don’t go on journeys much anymore after living in more houses and more towns in my life than I care to count, and after visiting between 100 and 200 towns and cities from the 1940s through the 1990s, again, more than I care to try and make a total count.

Part 2:

My son gave me me a cell-phone in 2012 so that he and his wife could communicate with me, and me with them. I don’t use the phone much or even this new cell-phone since, after half a century of extensive use of the phone, and having reinvented myself as a writer and author, poet and publisher during my retirement, I prefer to communicate via email. Texting and phoning, faxing and letter-writing are not part of my communication life in this second decade of the 21st century. I’m an email man and, for the moment, I want to keep it that way. After decades of 50 hour weeks involving extensive social contact, I also limit my contact with others so that I can write and read, poetize and publish as much as possible.

I won’t give you chapter-and-verse of my comings and goings, or those of my wife, on our day in Launceston, yesterday. With less than 40 hours to go to the new year, 2013, as I now edit this little piece of wrting, my intention here in this poetic-diaristic entry in my journal, is not to comment in detail on that busy day in Launceston.

I could write a good deal if I was a slave to my diary which is now in its 40th year of seeing some literary action. I will, though, write a few things about the pleasant hour I spent in the Launceston library from 4 to 5 p.m. two days ago now, 28/12/’12, before getting back to our home in George Town about 6 p.m. for a brief snack, and an early to bed evening---by 8 p.m.

Part 3:

I’ll try and summarize, by means of this prose-poem, the two books and one magazine I browsed through: The Cambridge Companion To Aristotle, Cambridge UP, ed. Jonathan Barnes, 1995; The Cambridge Companion to Descartes, Cambridge UP, ed. John Cottingham, 1992; and Time Magazine, 31/12/’12.

I have not really had a look at
Aristotle & Descartes for some
years…Aristotle came into my
life in 1963/4, Descartes about(1)
a decade later. The two books(2)
were written for graduates and
under-graduates; after all these
years I feel as if I am an under-
graduate..…and a graduate since
the field is staggeringly immense.

Time magazine has not been in
my life for years; I enjoyed the
browse in the special edition on
President Obama, and so many(3)
other topical issues..I’ll list
those headlines that caught my
fancy after a good sleep tonight,
& finish this poem tomorrow. (4)
The complex & tortuous history
of the emergence of this modern
age, and this complex & tortuous
modern history keeps everyone
busy figuring-out the horrors of
our centuries; ill-equipped as we
are to interpret the commotion on
the planet as we sink deeper into a
slough of despond while the many
pundits of error battle-on with the
phantoms of a wrongly informed
imagination, and our pitiful social
conditions prompt us all to action,
unabating action as our days pass
swiftly as the twinkle of a star.(5)

1 I studied the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle(384-322 BC) in the early months of 1964. The Nicomachean Ethics is the name given to Aristotle’s best known work on ethics. The work, which plays a pre-eminent role in defining Aristotelian ethics, consists of ten books, which were either edited by or dedicated to Aristotle's son, Nicomachus. My study of these ethics took place in a course entitled: History of Philosophy: Ancient and Medieval in my 2nd year of an honours history and philosophy program at McMaster University.

2 Descartes(1596-1650) has been dubbed the 'Father of Modern Philosophy', and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which are studied closely to this day. In particular, his Meditations on First Philosophy continues to be a standard text at most university philosophy departments. He is perhaps best known for the philosophical statement Cogito ergo sum: I think, therefore I am. His writings have an extraordinary range and fertility; his program is “an infinite one beyond the power of a single person”.1 His writings came into my life while I was teaching in Colleges of Advanced Education in Australia in the 1970s. -1Cottingham, op. cit., p.19.

3 I browsed through the 31/12/’12 issue of Time magazine, an issue which focussed on the presidency of Barack Obama. I was especially interested in his keeping of a diary, having kept one myself for nearly 30 years; Obama’s model for literary work was Abraham Lincoln. I came across much else in my ½ an hour with this latest issue of Time---too much to record here.**

** I kept some notes from my reading of Time magazine. These notes were as follows: (i) an ad from the Salvation Army for donations for their care for 25,000 homeless families in the USA; (ii) Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple succeeding Steve Jobs, who died on 5 October 2011 from pancreatic cancer; (iii) Mohamed Morsi(1951- ) the fifth and current President of Egypt having assumed office on 30 June 2012; and much else.

4 I began this poem on 28/12/’12 in Launceston, finished it on 29/12/’12, and edited it on 30/12/'12 in George Town.
5 The Universal House of Justice, 21 April 1999.

Ron Price
28 and 30/12/’12.
(final draft)