Let’s Talk Philosophy: Friedrich Nietzsche

NietzscheFriedrich Nietzsche was born in October 1844 in Rocken, located near Leipzig in Germany. He is the subject for next week’s two discussion groups in my local U3A Group. In preparing my research I came across the following advice from Nietzsche on how to write a novel! Was he serious? I will fill you in on our discussions after the classes next Wednesday!

This is how hard one should try to write a novel: The recipe for becoming a good novelist … is easy to give, but to carry it out presupposes qualities one is accustomed to overlook when one says ‘I do not have enough talent.’ One has only to make a hundred or so sketches for novels, none longer than two pages but of such distinctness that every word in them is necessary; one should write down anecdotes every day until one has learnt how to give them the most pregnant and effective form; one should be tireless in collecting and describing human types and characters; one should above all relate things to others and listen to others relate, keeping one’s eyes and ears open for the effect produced on those present, one should travel like a landscape painter or costume designer … one should, finally, reflect on the motives of human actions, disdain no signpost for instruction about them and be a collector of these things by day and night. One should continue in this many-sided exercise for some ten years; what is then created in the workshop … will be fit to go out into the world.

de Botton, Alain. The Consolations of Philosophy (pp. 216-217). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

It will pass …

In my life there are times when I experience intense emotions – sometimes good and sometimes not. I am sure we all do.  I have found that the secret to riding out these emotions is to try to remember the following:

  • My emotions are not me – they are but a tool or instrument in my experience of life
  • They will pass. Sometimes it feels like an eternity but just like the tides, my feelings ebb and flow and are forever changing – and that is OK!

This too shall pass

Philosophy

ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER

When I first read philosophy over ten years ago I felt reassured that many of the thoughts, hopes and fears I had were common to many. I think Arthur Schopenhauer captures some of the deepest and bleakest aspects of the human experience. I was going through a tough time around then and found some comfort in his words. If you are interested in reading philosophy, I highly recommend a book by Alain de Botton called The Consolations of Philosophy published by Penguin Books. Schopenhauer features in a chapter called Consolation for a Broken Heart.

I have included some quotes of his below.

*****

“It is difficult to find happiness within oneself, but it is impossible to find it anywhere else.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer

“… that when you’re buying books, you’re optimistically thinking you’re buying the time to read them.
(Paraphrase of Schopenhauer)”
― Arthur Schopenhauer

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer, Studies in Pessimism: The Essays

“Thus, the task is not so much to see what no one yet has seen, but to think what nobody yet has thought about that which everybody sees.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer

“A sense of humour is the only divine quality of man”
― Arthur Schopenhauer

“Treat a work of art like a prince: let it speak to you first.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer

“What disturbs and depresses young people is the hunt for happiness on the firm assumption that it must be met with in life. From this arises constantly deluded hope and so also dissatisfaction. Deceptive images of a vague happiness hover before us in our dreams, and we search in vain for their original. Much would have been gained if, through timely advice and instruction, young people could have had eradicated from their minds the erroneous notion that the world has a great deal to offer them.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer

Optimism … easier said than done?

This time last week I wrote about a couple of people I spoke with during the day. Both were facing major issues – one was dealing with sickness in the family and the other had serious business problems.

Today I caught up with the business person again and ventured to ask her if she had any success in fixing a major piece of machinery. Last week she said it could not be fixed and she would miss out on the busy holiday season. Today she was much brighter as she told me the problem was resolved. She said she had a couple of really tough days worrying about going broke.

I was really pleased to hear the good news. It is so easy to get overwhelmed when things don’t go the way we expect.

optimism

What do you like to talk about?

The idea for this post came from some questions raised by Eric Tonningsen‘s blog Awakening to Awareness.

So, what do you like to talk about? I don’t mean the casual exchanges and polite conversations with people who pass through our lives.

I have a real desire for deep and meaningful conversations – usually in a one on one situation. I like to think about possibilities for our shared future. I search for answers to the questions about why we still go to war knowing the enormous costs – especially to loss of life, property and our shared interests and history.

I also love talking to children aged from about three years old and above. I love the simplicity of how they see the world and I marvel and how much a child can see from such an early age.

It is also good to hear the wisdom of people who have lived a long life without becoming embittered by it. There is so much we can learn from our elders.

People who have hit rock bottom in their lives can also have a great clarity about what is important and how to do it – or at least where to start that journey.

Issues such as euthanasia, the death penalty, the customs and beliefs of other cultures and religions are also stimulating topics. I do not like to argue and very much believe in the philosophy of ‘live and let live’. I can sustain a conversation with someone whose views are totally different than mine and accept that they have the right to believe as they choose. I also hope others will offer me the same respect.

Scientific topics are interesting but my depth of knowledge is limited. I try to keep an open mind. I also  hope the scientists will keep an open mind as well and not defend their ideas for the sake of protecting a point of view. Science itself is evolving and we learn new things each day and sometimes dispose of past beliefs in the process.

I also like to listen to good jokes. I am not very good at telling them though 🙂DSC00512

 

Some quotes about not giving up …

Below you can read some famous quotes but I thought I would first share my own thoughts on the topic.

My formula consists of putting one foot in front of the other and doing what needs to be done. Sometimes that means focusing on the next five to ten minutes, or other times it may mean taking life one day at a time. Another successful strategy I have used is to be recharged by the natural environment – it may be a garden, a forest or the ocean.When all else fails, withdraw briefly and then get up and try again :-).

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“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”  (Ella Fitzgerald)

“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

“Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over.” (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

“The man who has done his level best… is a success, even though the world may write him down a failure.” (B.C. Forbes)

“History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.” (B. C. Forbes)

The Third Age

How does one gracefully move from one stage of life to the next? Transitions can be hard work!

I never really bought into the capitalist idea of working extremely hard to gain a lot of money so that I could keep working hard to gain more money and possessions.

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I worked primarily to:

  • provide a home for me and my three sons
  • pay the mortgage, the utility bills and food and clothing
  • meet some good outcomes for the unemployed and disadvantaged members of society
  • try to make a positive difference through the work I did each day.

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Now I am no longer in the workplace I wonder how I can make a contribution. Sometimes I “go with the flow” but at other times I feel an urgency to do something useful or to make good use of my time and this stage of my life.

I am exploring being more creative; I am studying; I get some contract work from time to time; I joined a few not-for-profit community groups; but I still have time and energy on my hands. I even have a vegetable garden now but it doesn’t take much looking after.

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My extended family aren’t in need of my support and both of my parents have passed away. I can enjoy learning new things such as calligraphy, taking videos and photos, sewing … and I will do those things.

I don’t think western society makes the most of the resources of our ageing baby-boomers. Many people my age are still working or busy with their families. Some are happy to follow their hobbies or to travel the world.

Roses 004We gain useful skills and knowledge in life and work and then we fade into the sunset without finding adequate use of our experience. It seems such a waste of resources. I only wish I could come up with an idea to capture these resources (mine and those of many other semi-retired people) and use them to the good of our society.

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Any ideas are welcome on where to from here?