Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Leisure

The Germans say it's from Goethe:
Entschuldigen Sie, dass ich Ihnen einen langen Brief schreibe, für einen kurzen habe ich keine Zeit.
 The Americans say it's from Mark Twain:
 I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.
The French say it's from Voltaire, but it's from Blaise Pascal:
Je n’ai fait celle-ci [cette lettre] plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.
I love that it's "loisir": leisure. And that it's Pascal, whose famous formulation about the troubles of humanity also implicitly touches on "loisir", here as "repos":
Tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos, dans une chambre.
If only we had the time to sit quietly and write shorter letters.

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