I’ve been reading again, this time Tom Hodgkinson’s Brave Old World, which is a charming book all about living well, in defiance of corporate greed and the ghastly Puritan work ethic. I’m not hugely interested in gardening or rearing my own chickens and pigs, but even so the book was well worth the time, The first paragraph says it all:
The most important but generally the most neglected of the arts of everyday living are simply these: philosophy, husbandry and merriment. Philosophy is the search for truth and the study of how to live well. Husbandry is the art of providing for oneself and one’s family, and merriment is the important skill of enjoying yourself: feasting, dancing, joking and singing.
It is especially interesting as he takes as his authorities mostly long-dead authors such as Virgil, Horace, Thomas Tusser, and many more. In a sense he is recreating the lost arts of husbandry and revelry according to the historical sources, which bears an obvious relationship to our own recreation of the lost arts of the sword.
What I found most enchanting about this book was the author’s absolute insistence on quality over quantity, right over convenient, and his candid admission that he routinely falls short of his own ideals, as do we all.