Thursday, March 24, 2011

The unexamined life is easier to stomach

kw: book reviews, nonfiction, philosophy, essays

Robert Rowland Smith's title boldly proclaims it: Breakfast with Socrates: An Extraordinary (Philosophical) Journey Through Your Ordinary Day. Then, although Socrates is mentioned in passing in the Foreword and Afterword, there is no chapter on Breakfast, and doesn't appear anyway. The "Getting Ready" (as in " go to Work") chapter does mention Lucretius, Heisenberg, Milton, Carlyle, Francis Ponge (AKA "sponge"), Ockham (Occam), and even Freud (well, he had to). But the chapter is more about bracing yourself for the rude reality of life outside your home, your castle. With all these commentators' voices in play, it is little wonder that so many skip breakfast anyway.

The book's eighteen chapters are essays on a miscellany of the philosophical aspects of every part of one's day, including 17, "Having Sex", the first entire chapter on sex that I've read which totally failed to arouse me. I think the author would consider that a triumph. Unless you spend your day photographing wild game and running from rhinos, whatever you are likely to do today, he has it covered.

I find I'm already out of material. It is clear that I am no philosopher. Nothing much stuck with me. So I'll eat a piece of chocolate (a remedy for many ills that is not mentioned at all), and get on with my day.

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