In my new book Carpe Diem Regained, I describe six different ways of thinking about death that can inspire the art of living – ranging from ‘live each day as if it were for the second time’ to ‘live as if you’ve got six months left’.
As a little taster, I’ve just written about them in a new article at YES! Magazine. Embedded in the article (and in this post) you will also find the world’s first Digital Death Dice – featuring each of the six approaches – which you can “roll” online. Think of it as a modern version of Renaissance memento mori, like the skulls people used to keep on their desks as a reminder that death could take them at any moment.
Have a go with the dice, share it with a friend, and get into the habit of taking a daily Death Pause – where you spend a few minutes each day thinking about your mortality.
In other book news:
Forbes Magazine just chose the US edition as one of the “13 Best Books for Summer 2017”. I can’t say that I regularly read this bible of American capitalism, but I was pleased to be on a list with the great sci fi writer China Miéville and his book October, a history of the Russian revolution
Live each day like it’s your last. It’s been the mantra of everyone from the Ancient Roman philosopher Seneca to the digital sage Steve Jobs. In my humble opinion, however, there are five fundamental reasons why it is one of the most misguided pieces of life advice to have emerged in Western history. You can find out more by reading a new article I’ve written over at YES magazine.
A quick update on the campaign: it’s speeding along and is now almost 70% funded. Thanks to everyone who has supported it.
IF YOU’VE BEEN THINKING OF BACKING THE BOOK BUT HAVEN’T QUITE GOT ROUND TO IT, NOW’S THE TIME TO SEIZE THE DAY! 3 REASONS:
1.Join Philip Pullman. You’ll be one of more than 250 supporters with your name printed in the back, alongside great authors like Philip Pullman (who made the first pledge).
2.Unique rewards. Sure, you can get a beautiful book. But you can also pledge to be an Editorial Advisor, giving comments on the manuscript itself, or take part in an exclusive Carpe Diem Workshop (or give it to someone as a gift).
3.Save the world. Yes, I believe that carpe diem is a great untapped political force for our times, and a cure for the apathy that stands in the way of tackling wealth inequality, climate change and corruption.
And that’s just for starters…
My aim is to reach 100% by May 1. I’d be thrilled if you gave your support. All power to the crowd!
This evening I told my six-year-old-twins the bad news: we have to put down our aging tortoiseshell cat Scully. Part of what made the task emotionally difficult was not just that they love the cat but that they live in a culture where they are shielded from death. If they’d been living in the nineteenth century they probably would have already seen a dead body, maybe laid out in someone’s home or at a neighbourhood funeral. But not today, where our contact with death, and conversations about it, are remarkably limited. Death is a subject as taboo as sex was during the Victorian era, even though issues such as euthanasia and palliative care are creating an element of public discussion. Continue reading →
I am sitting in a tiny, sparse stone hut at the top of a North Devon cliff, overlooking the sea. Outside is an enticing sign: ‘Ronald Duncan’s Writing Hut is Open’. This is where the West Country poet and playwright – best known for writing the libretto for Benjamin Britten’s opera The Rape of Lucretia – used to spend his working days. Continue reading →
It’s launch day for my new book How Should We Live? Great Ideas from the Past for Everyday Life, which has just been released in the US. Previously published in the UK under the title The Wonderbox (sorry, a bit confusing, I know), it’s about what history can teach us about the art of living. What might we learn from the Ancient Greeks about the different varieties of love, from the Renaissance about creativity and death, or from the industrial revolution about rethinking our attitudes to work, money and family life?
But rather than tell you all about the book myself, there’s a fascinating review and discussion of it by the brilliant Maria Popova from Brain Pickings, which came out today. She describes it (most flatteringly) as ‘an illuminating and awakening read in its entirety’. Check out her full article, which focuses on the topics of love, time and empathy.