Saturday, February 17, 2018

Of Sleep, No Shortage

I can't honestly say I was feeling particularly tired at work as the Chinese New Year came upon us, but I must say I managed to sleep more than well yesterday and today. I nodded off several times on Friday, even before attending Prayers, yet had no problem at all crashing out as soon as I went to bed at night, which was by no means at a late hour. And today I've successfully re-visited the land of nod a couple of times since getting up, despite not really intending to. This is all highly satisfactory even though it does interfere with my reading.

Still I managed to finish all the stories in Idries Shah's highly enjoyable Tales of the Dervishes. There's a fair amount of controversy regarding Mr Shah's standing as a kind of spokesperson for Sufism (assuming there is such a thing in a simple sense) but that doesn't detract from the obvious value of the teaching stories in the volume. Most have the simplicity of the great fairy tales combined with the depth of the great parables in a manner that's utterly beguiling. I'm also pressing on with Joseph Campbell's Primitive Mythology, the first in his four volumes in The Masks of God sequence. Again, beguiling stuff. We all need some enchantment in our lives.

And to balance the enchantment I thought I'd reread a battered paperback I've got of Hobbes's Leviathan. It's an abridged version but comes with an excellent introduction by its editor, John Plamenatz. A cheap Fontana from the mid-seventies, it's a reminder of a time when you could get hold of philosophical classics in well-edited popular paperbacks. TH has little time for enchantment, of course, but there's a kind of magic in connecting with one of the great minds of the seventeenth century making sense of the chaos of civil war and man's capacity for brutishness. Plenty to keep me awake here.

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