Download e-book for kindle: Losing It: In which an Aging Professor Laments His Shrinking by William Ian Miller

By William Ian Miller

In wasting It, William Ian Miller brings his inimitable wit and studying to the topic of growing old: too outdated to topic, of both rightly wasting your self assurance or wrongly keeping it, culpably refusing to stand the truth that you're wasting it. The “it” in Miller’s “losing it” refers typically to psychological faculties—memory, processing velocity, sensory acuity, the ability to concentration. however it contains different facts as well—sags and flaccidities, aches and pains, failing joints and organs. What are we to make of those tell-tale symptoms? Does getting old gracefully suggest greater than easily refusing unseemly beauty surgical procedures? How can we face decline and the ultimate drawing of the blinds? can we recognize if and after we have lingered too long?Drawing on a life of deep learn and concerned commentary, Miller enlists the knowledge of the ancients to confront those vexed questions head on. Debunking the modern new photograph of previous age that has observed the graying of the child Boomers, he conjures a misplaced global of getting older rituals—complaints, taking to mattress, resentments of one’s heirs, schemes for taking it with you or settling up money owed and scores—to remind us of the continuing dilemmas of previous age. Darkly clever and sublimely written, this exhilarating and whimsical ebook will increase the spirits of readers, old and young.

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Advantages, moral and intellectual, are to be had from finally being freed from the chief passion of youth—sex— and from the dominant passion of maturity—ambition. Old age was the time for the soul rather than the body, a time for contemplation. In the pagan Roman world, among the rich, old age could be a time of honestum otium (virtuous leisure), a retreat to one’s villa to read, write, look to the farm (which meant watching your slave steward manage the slave laborers), and correspond with like- M OLD VIEWS OF OLD AG E 39 minded thoughtful old rich people.

I suspected it was the achievement of total inner emptiness, the complete escape from thinking—Buddhism on ice. The attraction of waiting like this for a fish eludes me. For me, waiting is part of a nexus of ideas that includes being stood up, being dealt with cavalierly by a colleague I was to meet but is late, late enough to kill all possibility of forgiveness. Fish were no bet- 34 THE HORROR ter than humans in that regard; both annoyed you, the difference being that I entertained no murderous fantasies about the fish.

My doctor actually prescribed Ritalin for me, which, as it turned out, my health insurance refused to cover for anyone over eighteen. Not willing to pay the unsubsidized price, my avarice, itself an attribute of old age, has kept me Ritalin-free and my mind wandering. Everything distracts me. Being interested in something has become unmoored from my ability to attend to it. 3 Ambient quiet is distracting too and sent me to the Internet to buy a white-noise machine. I interrupted the writing of this paragraph to play a game of solitaire, and then when I lost I allowed myself to play until I won, and then one more in case I won two in a row, and then I kept on until I won two in a row.

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