Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hard Study

One of my favourite chapters in Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy is the one with his wonderful rant against Overmuch Study. This should be required reading for all teachers everywhere: ...hard students are commonly troubled with gouts, catarrhs, rheums, cachexia, bradypepsia, bad eyes, stone and colic, crudities, oppilations, vertigo, winds, consumptions, and all such diseases as come by overmuch sitting; they are most part lean, dry, ill-coloured, spend their fortunes, lose their wits, and many times their lives, and all through immoderate pains and extraordinary studies.

How much poorer we are these days in terms of physical complaints. Now it's just flu, headaches, and irritable bowel syndrome. And how much poorer our world is in having no Burton to anatomise our own deeply, deeply melancholy times.

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