A glorious read: Jeanette Winterson on reading, writing, and the role of art in our everyday lives
For Aldous Huxley’s 120th birthday, gorgeous vintage and modern illustrations for his only children’s book
For Carl Jung's birthday, the iconic psychiatrist on human nature and the meaning existence in a rare BBC interview
Aldous Huxley, born 120 years ago today, on drugs, democracy, and religion.
It seems to me quite reasonable to think that the death of the fly is entirely insignificant and that it is at the same time a kind of catastrophe. To entertain such contradictions is always uncomfortable, but in this case the dissonance echoes far and wide, bouncing off countless other decisions about what to buy, what to eat – what to kill; highlighting the inconsistencies in our philosophies, our attempts to make sense of our place in the world and our relations to our co‑inhabitants on Earth. The reality is that we do not know what to think about death: not that of a fly, or of a dog or a pig, or of ourselves.
That tadpoles are fodder for pond-life is as natural as the leaves falling on the water in autumn; that flies get squidged is as ordinary as apples rotting in the orchard. One’s own death, on the other hand, seems most unnatural. It seems rather an error and an outrage; a cosmic crime; a reason to raise one’s fist and rebel against the regime that ordered this slaughter of innocents… But here we are – guests at the party of life and death. We know we must exit along with the flies and the tadpoles. But we would rather not think about it.
We cannot do away with death without doing away with life.
Philosopher Stephen Cave, author of Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization, echoes Alan Watts in a beautiful essay on death in Aeon Magazine.
Or, as C.S. Lewis put it, “Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself.”
Stanley Kubrick, born on this day in 1928, on the meaning of life in a rare Playboy interview he gave when he was 30.
George Bernard Shaw, born on this day in 1856, on marriage, the oppression of women, and the hypocrisy of monogamy
If you read one thing today, make it C.S. Lewis on suffering and the question of free will.