Do you ever think about the literary value of your life? Maybe the fantasy is common, or at least common to people who read a lot, but I often think about my life as if it were a book. Just the bits of my life that are actually interesting, mind you. I don’t think anyone would write about someone studying for four hours. As I write this, it seems self-important, but I don’t mean it that way. I know that I don’t lead a particularly special life. It’s just that my penchant to see things verbally and construct narrative shapes the way I look at the world. Maybe, if the impulse to think about one’s own life as if it were a novel is self-important, it’s a particular impulse of the young.
I’m reading The Closing of the American Mind, by Allen Bloom. He seems to argue that an education from great books is necessary and that today’s youth lack the literary background to lead what a philosopher would call a good life. I feel as if I’m firmly planted in books, though not necessarily great ones, and I don’t see how that’s any better than being intellectually influenced by music, or movies, or your own life experience. I was also appalled by his views on women and subsequently amused that he had translated the edition of Rousseau’s Emile to which I subjected myself; Bloom and Rousseau seem to share views on the role of females.
Anyway, Bloom also argues against cultural relativism, and on this I must agree with him; cultural relativism is a black hole into which many interesting discussions fall and from which they can never escape to reach any sort of resolution. If we give up the ability to stake a claim towards what’s right and wrong, we give up the ability to say anything at all.
Overall the book is alright.
On a different note, we visited the Blarney castle today, home of the Blarney stone. Like any good American tourist, I kissed the stone. Supposedly, it gives you “the gift of the gab” or eloquence, but I’m not sure the effect can be trusted. Likely, if people have spoken well after kissing the stone, it’s because so many people have kissed it that some of them are bound to speak well.
The best thing about the castle itself is that you can go into all of the side rooms and little areas; none of them are closed off. Of course, as a result, there is plenty of graffiti, especially in the smaller chambers, but I think it’s worth it to preserve the feeling of exploration of the castle. The views out of some of the windows are stunning as well:
After going through the castle, Ciara and I explored the grounds, which are also lovely. We went first into the “poison garden” which has a large variety of poisonous plants. However, their definition of poisonous seems to be quite broad… they were exhibiting tea, tobacco, and even marijuana (it was not available to pick… it was sort of being grown in a cage)! I generally don’t think of tea as poisonous.
We continued through the “Irish gardens,” where they were growing some of Ireland’s 850 native flowering plants. Apparently there are so few flowering plants native to Ireland because Ireland broke off from the main continent of Europe at a pretty early stage. They were lovely as well. Then we had to rush back because we had agreed to meet at the car park at three, and it was nearly three. We had also lost Ciara’s mother. She had come to the castle with us, but within fifteen minutes we had lost sight of her. We did successfully reunite with her and Shaun, who had been running errands in town while we explored the castle. Then, we went out to dinner, and here I am blogging.
I’m not actually sure what the meal schedule is supposed to be. We eat breakfast and then dinner and then tea(?). I’m not sure if tea is dessert(?) or if we’re supposed to eat lunch(?). Hopefully, Ciara doesn’t read this and laugh at me. I’ve been to Ireland three times, and I still don’t really know how they eat their meals here. I mean, I know what they eat, but not when they eat it. The Irish diet, or at least the Irish diet as I’m experiencing, is sort of a cross between what one would typically imagine a traditional Irish diet to be (meat, boiled vegetables, potatoes, and porridge) and the sort of stuff I eat a lot of at home (pasta, pizza, sandwiches, and the like). Luckily for me, Shaun and Mary are pescatarians, so they have a lot of meat substitutes readily available.
Anyway, off to watch a movie and go to bed.