Thursday, April 25, 2013

Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar

Daniel Klein is co-author, with Thomas Cathart, of a book about how jokes reflect philosophical tenets, Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar.
Klein spoke to a room packed full of my -- and his -- contemporaries yesterday afternoon. He says the book was rejected 40 times before the 41st publisher saw its possibilities.  He told many jokes and they were all funny -- the academic jokes, the Jewish jokes, the rural jokes. The book sold very well and was translated into several other languages.

At the heart of his talk was his having come to the philosophy of Epictetus -- a calm acceptance of life that fits people of our generation. Enjoy what you have today. We (some, the lucky ones) have outgrown the striving to achieve, the drive of ambition, the needs of accumulation.  Those of us who have reached an epicurean frame of mind -- to a degree I consider myself one of them ... well, sort of -- are the happy ones.  As he pointed out, it involves a Buddhist-like acceptance of what is, and joy in the every day. 

A poem with some of this sense is one without a title (as usual) by ee cummings (I have changed two ampersands to "and" because blogger will not accept ampersands)

love is a place
and through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
and in this world of
yes live
(skillfuly curled)
all worlds.

1 comment:


June -- Daniel Klein's words, "a calm acceptance of life," resonated with me today. Today, I was reflecting on all the bad news that leaps out at us from the media -- so I think I will place his words where I can read them everyday. a gentle reminder of how to live out my day. thanks -- barbara