Sunday, January 10, 2021

Invisible friends......................................

      Machiavelli is a hunter, always on the lookout for the mechanism that moves human passions and acts on the lives of others.  Where is politics to grasped if not among ordinary people, when differences of opinion arise?  At the tavern are "a butcher, a miller, and two kiln tenders. With these men I dawdle all day playing cards and backgammon, which results in a thousand quarrels with streams of spiteful and wounding words."

     At nightfall, finally, it is time for Machiavelli to pay a visit to his invisible friends who live in ancient books.  They died a long time ago, but they sustain us.  They, too, can be asked for news.  But for that, you need to go to a little trouble, make yourself presentable, to join solemnly in conversation with the men of antiquity:

     When the evening comes, I return home and go into my study.  At the door I take off my everyday clothes, covered with mud and dirt, and don garments of court and palace.  Now garbed fittingly I step into the ancient courts of men of antiquity, where, received kindly, I partake of food that is for me alone and for which I was born, where I am not ashamed to converse with them and ask them the reasons for their actions.  And they in their full humanity answer me.  For four hours I feel no tedium and forget every anguish, not afraid of poverty, nor terrified of death.

-Patrick Boucheron, Machiavelli:  The Art Of Teaching People What To Fear

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