My experience with books on philosophy is limited to what I read in Philosophy 101 a hundred years ago. I remember the class being interesting, but also confusing. Although I find some of it fascinating, my mind tangles a bit if I attempt to dwell on any of it. Philosophers like Aristotle, Socrates, Kant, Machiavelli, Sartre, and Nietzsche are some of the greats in this field and I’d be a fool if I claimed any large understanding of their teachings. I’m just not a philosophy student at heart.
Thinking about life and what drives each of forward each day is a philosophy and I think we all live by our own personalized set of rules, mantras, beliefs, etc. Most of these derive their roots from some of the greats listed above as well as others not mentioned. We are all a tangled combination of what we’ve been taught, who we’ve been taught by, and then simply the unique basics that reside in each one of us-our specific DNAs that are the physical maps of who we are. I’m an over thinker at heart, but thinking about all that confuses me, it’s a lot to take in.
I picked up Sophie’s World several years ago and still have not read it. Night Train to Lisbon is a recent find. When I first heard about NTTL I didn’t realize it had such a philosophical background, but when it arrived I was pleasantly surprised. Even if I disagree with a belief or philosophy that doesn’t always mean I am uninterested in learning about it or it’s origins. Another thing, I want a story. Plain and simple, I do not want just a philosophy lesson, that holds zero interest. I want to see what moves people. What propels them forward or even backwards, what makes them live introspectively? I want a bird’s eye view of theirlife. I want to be invisibly perched on their shoulder and live their story with them.
Each of these books is a story about the power of words. In Sophie, Sophie comes home to find two questions in her mailbox that push her to enroll in a philosophy correspondence course. She continues to receive this mystery mail. In NTTL, a teacher of the classical languages in Switzerland has a chance encounter that completely inspires him to question his whole life. I’ve begun reading this second book and so far it’s very interesting (not tedious) reading. My mind isn’t tangled up just yet. I’m taking it slow, in part because I don’t want to be confused, but also because I think there is much beauty to be discovered in these pages.
“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.”