How Proust can change your life

how proust can change your lifeAlain De Botton’s How Proust Can Change Your Life is an interesting blend of biography and philosophy text that contains quite a few pearls of wisdom.

Open your eyes/How to read for yourself

Reading and art should never be revered to the point of idolisation, as we then falsely perceive the things written about to be the only things of beauty in our surroundings. We should learn to see our surroundings with the master’s eyes, rather than trying to see the master’s surroundings with our own eyes. Use a master’s work to learn a new way of seeing to expand your abilities, instead of restricting yourself to the tiny fragment of human experience which the master artist has lived through.

On friendship

Friendship tends to be over-rated. A cynical and perhaps truthful view to take is that friendship is just a warm feeling of affection which may be reciprocated, and nothing more should be expected to avoid disappointment. The pursuit of affection and the pursuit of truth should be seperated. Friendship allows for affection, but you need to split your personality for it to work. You cannot be brutally honest with a friend, but in placing your thoughts on paper or a painting you can be perfectly truthful. Thus both pursuits can be achieved without intefering with one another.

On appreciating life

If your death was guaranteed in a day, week, or year; how would your priorities change? Shouldn’t they be changed now rather than procrastinating till you’re dead? How would those people who were killed by the tsunami have lived differently if they knew? Okay, they probably would’ve given the beach a miss, but you get the point.

On taking your time

If you rush through life you’ll miss out on the richness which seemingly mundane objects and events have to offer. This applies even more in our current culture of get-things-done-faster-or-you’re-just-a-lazy-sod.

How not to point fingers

When suffering, don’t blame something or someone else and give up; just accept that shit happens and move on.

Expressing yourself

Avoid clichés in expression. Though they may be tried and true, they are also old and worn. Rather be original at the risk of ridicule or rejection.

[tags]proust, books, philosophy, psychology, life[/tags]

2005.03.20