Saturday, January 28, 2012

A good day to read

It was 4 degrees below zero this morning here in Alpine. But the sun is bright and it doesn't feel so cold when you go out because it is so dry and there is no wind today. But I've been reading most of the day. I picked up The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt at the Alpine Library, and I'm enjoying it. It relates the discovery, in 1417, of a manuscript of the poem De Rerum Natura by Lucretius, in a German monastery library, by one Poggio Bracciolini, a papal scribe. Lucretius, a first century BCE poet and student of Epicurus, had pretty much fallen into oblivion centuries earlier, but when this work was re-discovered and put back into circulation, it helped to usher in the Renaissance - helped to cause a "swerve," to use the language of Epicurus, i.e., an unexpected shift in cultural perspective. The story of all this is told by Greenblatt in a vivid way, so that it reads like a detective thriller. I've known about Lucretius since graduate-school days, but I'm learning a lot. Earlier today I puttered in the kitchen and made some bread (by machine).

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