How a little chalk can change one’s life for the better

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Image credit: the author on behalf of Rivesy

Earlier today I was strolling along Lausanne’s rive nord and, looking down on the sidewalk (or trottoir, as we ostentatious bilinguals like to call it), I discovered the latest thought-provoking works of our resident chalkospher, pictured here under the title of this article. The author of these transient but deeply meaningful expositions of the human soul has provided us with no clue as to her or his identity, so I’ve taken to calling the artist Rivesy in homage to London’s more famous exponent of improvised visual communication.

These words of wisdom from Rivesy set me thinking: perhaps now is the time when I should cast aside the shackles of my quotidian existence, move to Paris, and write important works of philosophy that sadly no one at all will read. In this way, when I finally expire (hopefully with a partial view of some well-known Paris landmark just visible from my humble bed, if I prop myself up on enough pillows) I will die with the satisfaction of having contributed my share to the sum of human understanding.

This in turn set me to musing over what titles my books would carry. A few obvious ones leapt to mind:

My first book is likely to be titled Philosophy Is Less Fun When You’re Hungry.

This will be followed by the existentially relevant Hello, Is There Anyone Out There?

My magnum opus, however, is almost certainly going to be Why Don’t People Realize The Importance Of Putting Their Leftover Foods Into Hygienic Sealed Plastic Bags Before Tossing It All Into The Garbage?

To the best of my knowledge, even the greatest of the Greek philosophers had surprisingly little to say about the importance of eating regularly and few seem to have concerned themselves with the existential dilemma inherent in (i) not having a job, (ii) not having an independent source of income, while (iii) feeling surprisingly hungry after missing five meals in a row. Even the great Immanuel Kant is silent on the best places to scavenge leftovers at 3.15 am on a Sunday morning in the 4th Arrondissement.

It is entirely possible that my contribution to the great corpus of knowledge within the glorious discipline we call Philosophy will consist in pointing out how astonishingly deficient the great philosophers were when it comes to the important matter of sustaining the body. For, despite Plato’s notions to the contrary, without the body the spirit fades very rapidly indeed. Only David Hume seems to have possessed a satisfactory appreciation of the brain’s need of calories and his wisdom was evidenced later in life by his ample figure.

Surely Hume is the kind of philosopher we should be emulating? Not least because his two great works contain far more sense than the specious witterings of Hegel and the twisted-bowel abstractions of the perpetually constipated Kant. Who, it must be said, didn’t get out enough. If he had, he might have discovered the joys of patisserie or perhaps even developed a fondness for properly warmed gaufre liégeoise.

Reaching further back for inspiration, Epicurus is a much-misunderstood philosopher whose ideas unfortunately lost out to the small-minded neurotic Yahweh and all its subsequent incarnations throughout the various Christian and Muslim mythologies. Live well, but not to excess, seems to me a very well-balanced approach to life and certainly a lot more well-balanced than the hysterical שאול התרסי, otherwise known as Saul of Tarsus and then later still, post-name-change, Paul the Apostle. (As an aside, the amount of name-changing prevalent in the early period of Christian mythology would not be seen again until the Soviet era when everyone and their suitably communistic pet hamsters felt a need to change their names, perhaps to spare a generation of parents deep embarrassment and shame.)

Furthermore, I also entirely approve of the Epicurean way of dealing with non-existence: Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo. So much better than the children’s fairytales used by the Yahweh mythologies with their nonsensical heavens and hells, ghouls, gods, and goblins.

At any rate, live well but not to excess sounds rather splendid especially if one happens to be a penniless philosopher living off the slender pickings to be found in La Ville-Lumière’s Poubelles and other repositories of wealthier people’s cast-off meals.

Taking the theme further (despair not, gentle reader, for we shall reach our terminus soon, I promise) perhaps modern philosophy is best suited to a well-padded frame, a body nourished by the spoils of popular acclaim. Now that we have the deeply intellectual Instagram and the equally high-minded YouTube, it should be a matter of simplicity itself to become today’s hip, trendy, groovy, and far out philosopher of plenitude. A couple of books written in the ever-popular “oh shucks” style, relying heavily on transiently fashionable vernacular, should do the trick.

Plus, of course, some sort of visual identifier. Pop people have been cultivating the instant-recognition look for decades so no doubt a little adaptation will serve me well. Perhaps I shall adopt suit of pure silver (symbolizing the wealth that comes from dedicating one’s life to the pursuit of wisdom) with various cuts of beef adhering to its outer surfaces (to symbolize the profound synergy between flesh and fame) along with one or two flashing LED lights (to indicate the illumination one may achieve from appearing as a well-paid guest on popular television shows).

Perhaps, after all, my original thoughts regarding book titles were amiss. Perhaps my true magnum opus will be titled:

Another Glass Of Vintage Champagne To Wash Down The Truffles? Well, If You Absolutely Insist…

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