Second Opinion

Posted in Uncategorized by chamblee54 on December 26, 2015







Eighteen words appeared on facebook. “Nothing is more conductive to peace of mind than not having any opinions at all.” ~ Georg Christoph Lichtenberg. The FBF is known to have opinions.

In the google age, or le goog, you are only a right click away from too much information. In cases of facebook education, the first impulse is to ask the question, did the person really say that? In the case of Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, the probable answer is yes.

“Nothing…” is from The Waste Books (New York Review Books Classics) “German scientist and man of letters Georg Christoph Lichtenberg was an 18th-century polymath: an experimental physicist, an astronomer, a mathematician, a practicing critic both of art and literature. He is most celebrated, however, for the casual notes and aphorisms that he collected in what he called his Waste Books.”

The Sudelbücher, or scrapbooks, were written in German. They are essentially a collection of random thoughts. If twitter had existed then, these thoughts would have gone to 140 character purgatory, never to be seen again. History would not have been affected.

The first thing you learn when you investigate this quote is a translation controversy. Conducive is possibly more appropriate than conductive. German speakers might have thoughts about which word best describes the thoughts of GCL. This would constitute having an opinion.

The cited aphorism does have the aroma of truth. You are not required to have an opinion about everything that goes on. Those rhetoric warriors often do not have your best interests at heart. Sometimes the best thing to do is to realize that the hot trending hashtag is #noneofmybusiness.

While stumbling through google city, searching, like a digital Diogenes, for one honest man, a lovely essay appeared. How to Waste a Notebook: The Waste Books of Lichtenberg. The author might have actually read the Sudelbücher, instead of the Brainy Quotes highlights.

“Last month, however, I chanced upon The Waste Books by 18th century German polymath Georg Christoph Lichtenberg. (Polly Math would be a good stage name.) Containing thousands of aphoristic notes, Lichtenberg’s books read like clippings from newspaper horoscopes, fortune cookie fortunes and one-liners commingling with trenchant observations about the human condition and the existential peccadilloes with which it’s fraught. So, why call these gems The Waste Books?”








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