Seneca on Saturday: procrastinate later

academic-writing-scrollsEpistle LXXII. On business as the enemy of philosophy

For there is never a moment when fresh employments will not come along; we sow them, and for this reason several spring up from one. Then, too, we keep adjourning our own cases, saying “as soon as I am done with this, I shall settle down to hard work,” or: “If I ever set this troublesome matter in order, I shall devote myself to study”

But the study of philosophy is not to be postponed until you have leisure; everything else is to be neglected in order that we may attend to philosophy, for no amount of time is long enough for it… We must resist the affairs which occupy our time; they must not be untangled, but rather put out of the way. Indeed, there is no time that is unsuitable for helpful studies; and yet many a man fails to study amid the very circumstances which make study necessary.

Seneca Epistles 66-92, Translation by Richard Gummere. Loeb Classical Library.

Seneca on Saturday: when the mind needs to be unrolled and examined

academic-writing-scrolls

Epistle LXXII. On business as the enemy of philosophy

The subject concerning which you question me was once clear to my mind, and required no thought, so thoroughly had I mastered it. But I have not tested my memory of it for some time, and therefore it does not readily come back to me. I feel that I have suffered  the fate of a book whose rolls have stuck together by disuse; my mind needs to be unrolled, and whatever has been stored away there ought to be examined from time to time, so that it may be ready for use when occasion demands. Let us therefore put this subject off for the present; for it demands much labour and much care. As soon as I can hope to stay for any length of time in the same place, I shall then take your question in hand. For there are certain subjects about which you can write even while traveling in a gig, and there are also subjects which need a study-chair, and quiet, and seclusion.

Seneca Epistles 66-92, Translation by Richard Gummere. Loeb Classical Library.