Sunday, December 19, 2010

Aimless Reading: The L's, Part 23 (Lucretius)

On the Nature of the Universe

Purchased for $3 at the late, lamented Niagara Falls Outlet Mall Discount Book Store.

On the Nature of the Universe, the founding text of Epicureanism, is one of those books I keep meaning to get to. I kick myself each time I realize I haven't gotten to it. I am kicking myself right now. And it hurts! Ouch!

I have a vague recollection of Charles Bernstein recommending this to me when were preparing my orals list in grad school -- not for the oral exams themselves, but as an extension of the classical reading I was doing at the time. Alas, sigh. Someday.

Well, this is the end of the L's. We'll see you in the M's, one of my favorites, and also the thirteenth letter in the alphabet, the end of which will mark, alphabetically anyhow, the midway point of the Aimless Reading Project.

from On the Nature of the Universe

Give your mind now to the true reasoning I have to unfold. A new fact is battling strenuously for access to your ears. A new aspect of the universe is striving to reveal itself. But no fact is so simple that it is not harder to believe than to doubt at the first presentation. Equally, there is nothing so mighty or so marvelous that the wonder it evokes does not tend to diminish in time. Take first the pure and undimmed luster of the sky and all that it enshrines: the stars that roam across its surface, the moon and the surpassing splendor of sunlight. If all these sights were now displayed to mortal view for the first time by a swift unforeseen revelation, what miracle could be recounted greater than this? What would men before the revelation have been less prone to conceive as possible? Nothing, surely. So marvelous would have been that sight--a sight which no one now, you will admit, thinks worthy of an upward glance into the luminous regions of the sky. So has satiety blunted the appetite of our eyes.

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