Essays in Idleness


Things to do

My prospect of living to be sixty-eight looks very good at the moment, for tomorrow will be my sixty-eighth birthday. Granted, I continue to be quite weak, and somewhat addled, from my recent experience of cardiac surgery, but my son and sister have resolved to take me on a modest outing, which my son has described as an “adventure.”

I have decided, on balance, not to rename these squibs the “Essays in Addleness,” but my intention to add to them waits until I become more coherent. This, I know, will be a judgement call, but I postpone until I judge myself capable of even typing without gross errors. For instance I have noticed I had to correct several typos in the last sentence, and I have probably left more as a favour to my critics.

Reading is my preferred ambitious hobby. The books are my older inspirations, for instance Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, which previously enchanted my childhood in Lahore. And I have re-read the Tsurezuregusa, or “Essays in Idleness” (more exactly, “Nothing Better To Do”) by the 14th-century Buddhist recluse, KenkĊ — in those moments when I have found the Breviarium Romanum too taxing. Also, Dobson’s translation of Mencius, which is an almost exact transciption of my political opinions, albeit dated.

From other dippings into Oriental history I have constructed a universal account of the fate of this world. The poets and philosophers sometimes rule, very briefly. But they will be displaced, inevitably, when they create an opportunity for power-hungry thugs. Those who seek a worldly Utopia, do not understand this.

Latest news

David Warren continues — got back to the High Doganate yesterday; such a joy to be among the jackhammers again, the summer heat, and the jungle music from across the street. My son and sister continue their heroic work on my behalf, together with those doctors and nurses and physiotherapists who have improved my opinion of Canadian healthcare.

I continue to improve, but slowly; at least another two or three months of shameless leisure. Thanks for all letters and emails of encouragement, and reckless gifts of money. Very tired, and still in the mental fog appropriate to my condition, so I shan’t try to be acrobatic just yet.

Very sad to learn of the death of Fraser Sutherland, the splendid poet never sufficiently acknowledged; a less satisfactory cardiac outcome; my good friend through the last forty years. Yet all I can say is, aheu!