Lorenzo & his humble friends

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool

Tag: alain de botton

Culture can save your life

A very good idea from Alain de Botton is called bibliotherapy: you can go and meet someone and talk to them about your life, and on the basis of the challenges that you are facing in a whole range of areas. The bibliotherapist will do you a reading prescription to match people to books that are important to them at that moment in their life.

Because in the modern world we don’t dare to imagine that culture has a purpose connected to changing and saving your life. We rather imagine that culture’s a really nice thing to visit on a Sunday; you go to the museum or you pick up a book. The idea that culture is literally a resource by which to live is oddly neglected.

Time for books / 6

Between January and late February I have read several books of all the kinds.

The first book I read in early January was Arto Paasilinna’s The Forest of the Hanged Foxes. The main characters of the story run away from the city to live in a small cabin in the wood, pretty much in the middle of nowhere. This is a typically Christmas read, soft and a bit surreal. I loved the idea of living alone in the  intensity the landscapes of Northern Finland. It is rare to find a novel that makes you laugh and at the same time reflect about human condition. This is a really good one.

It took a while to read Heinrich Harrer’s Beyond Seven Years in Tibet: My Life Before, During, and After (in Italian: La mia sfida al destino). The book is about five-hundred pages long about Harrer’s life as a mountaineer who spent seven years in Tibet and who climbed an awful lot of peaks. Harrer died only a few years ago, when he was about to turn 100. This is a good book, perhaps a bit too long. From his autobiography, Harrer stands out as a very controversial character, definitely selfish, probably committed, surely extremely resilient. I really liked the first chapters, then it turned a bit boring and repetitive.

Sempre sull’alpinismo, ho letto anche Giorni di Ghiaccio di Marco Confortola. Ho già commentato questa lettura qui. Ho letto anche due libri di osservatori politici trentini e riferimenti di vita che ho avuto l’onore di conoscere personalmente. Ho commentato il libro di Piergiorgio Cattani su Dellai, un uomo solo al comando qui; e quello di Walter Micheli, Passioni e sentieri, qui.

In una serata oziosa, tanto per cambiare genere ho letto Ciclismo, Storie segrete, di Beppe Conti. Libretto leggero e simpatico, che si legge in circa due ore e che parla dei retroscena e dei piccoli trucchetti legati alle grandi imprese del ciclismo passato. Altra lettura molto leggera e veloce: Lorenzo Baratter, L’autonomia spiegata ai miei figli. Un compendio veloce sulle origini e le ragioni dell’autonomia trentina, in un momento in cui dobbiamo ripensarne radicalmente i contenuti che ne giustificano l’esistenza.

Finally, while travelling to Munich I read Alain de Botton’s The Consolations of Philosophy. I would call this an interesting book. It was a huge success a few years ago. Alain de Botton is a very famous university professor now, one of those who can speak not only to an academic, but also to a much broader public. The book is about six philosophers whose thought could have a powerful effect on our lives. Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche are here interpreted for the light their work can shine on certain great universal problems.