Links to a Few Favorite Essays

A cold, grey, drizzly day in Augusta, Georgia today — a day that reminds me of my six months spent in the Aleutian Islands in 1990. The gloom was unrelenting. Soldiers stationed there during the Second World War often developed the “Aleutian stare,” eyes set at a thousand-mile focus as if looking through things. But I actually liked the Bering Sea environment — I think I was the only one of my squadron mates who did — for the simple fact that it was a great place to read.

As a balm for the gloomy days that face you, here are some links to some of my favorite essays, an off-the-cuff selection limited to what is available online:

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How to be Slothful and Productive at the Same Time

My defining sin is sloth. I am pretty good at avoiding sins of commission — although I certainly have my share — but it is the sins of omission that really get me. By sloth I don’t exactly mean laziness; I mean what the medievals called acedia, a condition perfectly consistent with constant activity. In Dante’s Purgatorio, for instance, the slothful are found running nowhere in particular in a restless frenzy. This restlessness is closer to the essence of sloth than true rest is. As Samuel Johnson writes: “It is the just doom of laziness and gluttony to be inactive without ease and drowsy without tranquility.” And: “There is no kind of idleness by which we are so easily seduced as that which dignifies itself by the appearance of (more…)