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Thursday, 19 March 2009

Ars longa, vita brevis (what does it mean?)

The Latin phrase came into my mind this morning as |I was in the bath listening to a piece of music by Sir Hubert Parry, one that I'd never heard before. It was beautiful, a memorial to Parry's hero Brahms. And I thought about how many lovely things have been composed, made, written, that most people have never come across.

So to that Latin phrase. For many years I took it that it meant "There's so much art in the world, and life is just too short to enjoy it all." Art is long, life is short.

That's a perfectly possible meaning. And today, when we plunder the world and the whole of history for artistic experiences, it seems truer than ever.

But "ars" also means "skill." My phrase could also mean "It takes a lifetime to perfect certain skills, and just when you think you are nearly an expert, your life is over, and it's up to the next generation to develop their own skills.


Barbara has just arrived, so I'll continue these musings later.

Well, much later. I think I'll leave the musings there - you'll have got the gist - and have another post with yesterday's news.

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