Monday, April 2, 2012

Busy Hodge-Podge

For the past ten days or so, my life has been the embodiment of the old adage, "If you want something done, give it to a busy person to do."

I've been teaching a new course on the literature of Central Eurasia (pre-18th century), so that has kept me busy, but in a wonderful and interesting way. It's given me so much to think about--which is never a bad thing.

Like this famous Persian miniature, "The Feast of Gayumars," attributed to Sultan Muhammad.

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Although you can't see it on the web image, the detail of this miniature is absolutely astounding: you actually need a magnifying glass to see it. For instance, there are faces--different faces--drawn into every single rock. The trees show every single leaf.

All I can think is, this is an artist with the skill of a neurosurgeon. Their fine motor skills are definitely not the same as those of the rest of us. I love that such things can happen in life.

I presented at a conference this weekend, and found out a couple of fun facts. For example, I found out about "leading strings." In the 17th and 18th centuries, these were hooked around children to keep them upright when they were learning to walk. Rembrandt depicted an image of a child in leading-strings.

Sort of puts the whole contemporary debate over parents who use a "leash" on their child into a new perspective.

The thing I like most about being productively busy is that, while some people spend their whole lives trying to find who they are and what they want to be, other people find who they are and what they want to be through doing.

And the rest of us are all the richer for it.

An odd side-note: on the drive into Providence this weekend, I noticed something funny that perhaps speaks to why it might be useful to consult an English professor before putting up billboards or advertisements.

On a billboard promoting Ron Paul, it announced the Republican primary on April 24th and included pictures of What's-His-Name and the other What's-His-Name, both crossed out, alongside a picture of the Texas Wing-Nut with his (in my opinion) trademark goofy smile and unfortunate ears.

In huge letters it said, "DON'T VOTE FOR THE LESSER EVIL!" "VOTE FOR RON PAUL!"

I must admit, I chuckled to myself. I suspect that the poor Ron Paul supporters who put up the billboard have absolutely no idea that they have just indicated--in larger-than-life lettering and for all of I-95 to see--that out of the various Republican candidates, Ron Paul is the greater evil.

Granted, I was driving... say, 65 mph... so it's possible I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure I saw it correctly.

Such is the stuff of life.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."