Eric Ravilious, “Halstead Road in Snow”
Sir Robert Burton, from his great Anatomy of Melancholy (1621):
Mirth and merry company may not be separated from music, both concerning and necessarily required in this business. Mirth, (saith Vives) purgeth the blood, confirms health, causeth a fresh, pleasing, and fine colour, prorogues life, whets the wit, makes the body young, lively and fit for any manner of employment. The merrier the heart the longer the life; “A merry heart is the life of the flesh” (Prov. xiv. 30). “Gladness prolongs his days” (Ecclus. xxx. 22); and this is one of the three Salernitan doctors, Dr. Merryman, Dr. Diet, Dr. Quiet, which cure all diseases — Mens hilaris, requies, moderata dieta. Gomesius … is a great magnifier of honest mirth, by which (saith he) we cure many passions of the mind in ourselves, and in our friends; which Galateus assigns for a cause why we love merry companions: and well they deserve it, being that as Magninus holds, a merry companion is better than any music, and as the saying is, comes jucundus in via pro vehiculo, as a wagon to him that is wearied on the way.
Salernitan doctors? Burton refers to the Regimen sanitatis Salernitanum, or the Salernitan Rule of Health, derived from that most famous of medieval medical schools, that of Salerno in Italy. The reference to — in the most common sequence — Dr. Diet, Dr. Quiet, and Dr. Merryman is from Sir John Harington’s 1608 translation of the poem describing the regimen.
Burton’s typically digressive and witty summary offers much to delight in, but I especially love the idea that a “merry companion” is “as a wagon to him that is wearied on the way.” The Year of Our Lord 2020 wearied us all; may we ride on the wagon of merry companionship all through 2021.
H. Jack Geiger, RIP: Dr. Geiger’s Mississippi “clinic ‘prescribed’ food for families with malnourished children — to be purchased from Black-owned groceries — and the bills were paid out of the center’s pharmacy budget. The governor complained, and a federal official was sent to Mound Bayou to scold Dr. Geiger for misusing pharmacy funds, which, the official said, were meant to cover drugs to treat disease. ‘Yeah,’ Dr. Geiger replied, ‘well, the last time I looked in my medical textbooks, they said the specific therapy for malnutrition was food.’” Dr. Diet to the rescue once more.
Speaking of merriment, I have to say that there’s something genuinely delightful about watching Shigeru Miyamoto give a tour of Super Nintendo World. And something sadly appropriate, as 2020 fades in our rear-view mirror, about an amusement park with one person in it.
Larger image here.
Mario Teaches Typing was a game released for MS-DOS in 1992 and then for Windows and Macintosh two years later. Though the Mac was a tiny platform at the time, its version of the game sold half a million copies. And thanks to the Internet Archive, if you need to learn to type you can play it in your browser.
One of the best things I read in 2020 is Alexa Hazel’s wise and provocative meditation on the Pomodoro technique, “self-Taylorization,” and spiritual freedom. Everyone who’s thinking about how to be more productive in 2021 should read that essay before (instead of?) making any such plans.
I wrote a post about my obsession with beautifully recorded music — and my frustration with highly compressed noise.
I wrote a rather lengthy reflection on what I thought and wrote in 2020 — and how I hope to think in 2021.
There are a couple of days left in this festive season — we’d best get back to it: