In Erasmus’ 16th Century book ‘In Praise of Folly’ he said that he only believed people saw him as a genius (he was thought at the time to be one of the cleverest people alive) because he was willing to laugh at himself. He didn’t consider himself a genius. He felt he was full of idiocy: and as we all know...there’s a fine line between madness and genius.
Erasmus believed none of us really know what we are doing in life. We just DO, then we react and analyse. Then do again. Action, reflection, action, reflection. Some patterns will stick and we will realise they give us either one of 2 benefits: they help us survive and live better, or they provide us some reward.
In 1844 the French author Alexandre Dumas – the man who wrote The Three Musketeers – finished a new book, The Count of Monte Cristo. It is an incredible book, if not very long-winded, because Dumas was paid by the line, which meant he put loads of unnecessary stuff in to up the word count – a bit like a student trying to pad out an essay.
Quite early on in the book, the titular hero, a man called Edmond Dantes, is in a horrible island prison where he meets an old priest digging an escape tunnel. The priest, being a very clever man, hears Edmond’s story and swiftly figures out who it was that caused Edmond to be imprisoned. Edmond is understandably angry when he hears this, and vows to have his revenge. The priest offers to help him, using the four years it will take to complete their escape tunnel to teach Edmond everything he knows – multiple languages, science, history, politics, etc.
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