Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Irony and Pity

As sort of an addendum to yesterday’s entry where it pertained to reading, I realized later that I forgot to mention another book I finished, namely, The Garden of Epicurus, by Anatole France. I do enjoy this man’s learnèd philosophic rambles. There is much to be said for growing up in your father’s antiquarian bookshop — almost as much, in fact, as there is for growing up in your father’s vineyard, as I did, or your mother’s kitchen (in keeping with more pleasantly nostalgic, aromatic examples).

Here is one brief sample:

The more I think over human life the more I am persuaded we ought to choose Irony and Pity for its assessors and judges, as the Egyptians called upon the goddess Isis and the goddess Nephtys† on behalf of their dead. Irony and Pity are both of good counsel; the first with her smiles makes life agreeable; the other sanctifies it to us with her tears. The Irony I invoke is no cruel deity. She mocks neither love nor beauty. She is gentle and kindly disposed. Her mirth disarms anger, and it is she teaches us to laugh at rogues and fools, whom but for her we might be so weak as to hate.

 † Nephthys


nouvelles couleurs - vienna atelier said...

true, the irony because of his intelligence has always been the bearer of wisdom and rebellion, I agree in full your thinking. already in antiquity the irony was used to fight the abuses because a time it was not forbidden to be clowns and irony was the only way..

William Michaelian said...

Thank you, Laura. I especially like the author’s closing observation.

Christopher Blaum said...

Mr. Michaelian (William if I may); I commented before when you first acquired this book - I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I think the title essay should be required reading for everyone. I am a dedicated fan of your blog - one of the few websites I have bookmarked and filed under 'check every day'. Thank you for sharing your life, your art, and your wisdom.

William Michaelian said...

Christopher, I’m pleased and honored that you feel that way. Thank you. I remember your comment, and thought of it many times before I got around to reading the book. I certainly haven’t given the essay the attention it deserves here, but I hope offering a sample will encourage others to find it. I don’t know, maybe it’s even online. I’m so addicted to paper and ink, I didn’t even look.