The Liberation Of The Mind

From birth we are surrounded by the inherited and imposed belief systems of our environment.  Such systems exert a silent force on our thinking; they channel our behaviors within defined limits, and demarcate the boundaries of conventional thought.  They can become so pervasive that they escape even our own notice.  We should not necessarily see this as an evil, for custom and tradition provide, on balance, a certain predictability and stability that makes for civilized leisure and artistic creation; and society must have some immovable foundation upon which to direct its spires skyward.

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The Sorrow Of The Grammarian Of Basra, Iraq

Abu Faid Muwarrij al-Sadusi was a grammarian from the city of Basra, Iraq.  We do not know the precise date of his birth, but he is reliably said to have died in the year A.D. 810 (year 195 in the Islamic calendar).  His biographer Ibn Khallikan says that he studied at the school of Abu Zaid al-Ansari, and showed a particular talent for poetry and philology.  We are also told that he accompanied the Abbasid caliph al-Mamun to Khorasan, and eventually took up residence in Marw and Nishapur.

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Arthur, The Three-Legged Dog (Podcast)

A reader asks about how he should handle a limitation he believes he has. We respond by telling him an anecdote, and drawing the appropriate lessons from it.

We close on a humorous note by reading some recent tweets by the G Manifesto.  Humor may indeed be the healthiest tonic.

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Captain George Francis Lyon’s Explorations In Africa

There is a certain type of Englishman who is not content with confinement in any one locale.  He seeks new vistas, new challenges, and the chance to test his mettle against geography, climate, and the decrees of Fortune.  We have chronicled a number of such men in these pages.  To this list we must add the name of British naval officer George Francis Lyon (1795–1832), who enjoys perhaps the unique distinction of being known for exploratory achievement in two very different climatic conditions:  the polar regions of the Arctic and the desert expanses of northern Africa.

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On Idle Or Trifling Speech

There are some who say that idle talk has no purpose, and should be avoided.  Yet in many cases it serves valuable purposes:  it enables us to test ideas or plans on our friends, and solicit their opinions; it enables us to relieve stress; and it enables us to pass the time in conversational pleasantry.  Not every dialogue needs to have a definite purpose; sometimes the exchange of words themselves becomes a form of relaxation.  The exchange below is taken verbatim from James Boswell’s famous Life of Samuel Johnson.  In the short dialogue between himself and his biographer, Johnson, that great man of English letters, makes the point that it may be well to make idle speech, as long as one does not unduly subscribe to its banalities.

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Xenophon’s Dream, And The Power Of Character

When a man is under the duress of extreme events, he sometimes finds himself wracked by indecision.  He will mull over various courses of action in his head; he will script out different scenarios in his imagination; and he will ponder his predicament from multiple perspectives.  And yet, when he has finished with these troublesome cogitations, he may find a course of action still eludes him; but at some point, a moment of inspiration will arrive to pierce the gloom, and confer on him the guidance he has desperately been seeking.  When this happens, he must unhesitatingly seize the present hour for action, and proceed with his rendezvous with Fate.

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