1001: a Misplaced Odyssey


I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?”  I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life.

-Ecclesiastes 2:1-3

Though, evidently, this has been decided for us. Presumably the draconian (you must do these! ) curators of these books which I stumbled across in Waterstone’s are anticipating:

a) a long life span and

b) that said long life span has lots of free time (and disposable)

Not to mention that the 1001 wines and 1001 beers are to be taken in moderation, to enhance your chances of giving yourself enough time to read the 1001 books and watch the 1001 movies. I’ll be honest, I’ve no interest in the 1001 guitars and can think of 1001 things I’d rather do than be anywhere near a golf course (unless it is Bruntsfield Links). I can “see” the 1001 paintings by flicking through the book, and I would hope for efficiency’s sake that the 1001 songs are contained within the 1001 albums and that the 1001 restaurants have happened to find premises in the 1001 buildings.

Ecclesiastes is traditionally attributed to King Solomon, who had 700 wives and 300 concubines (presumably he was working his way through “1001 Foreign Consorts you must Marry for Political Gain Before you Die” and fell just short), and its author describes a kind of life experiment he undergoes to find satisfaction in chapter 2, and discovers that it eludes him, despite doing everything at the time that conventional wisdom says will satisfy. He doesn’t succeed.

Instead he concludes that, while pleasure is good (as will be all the things in the 1001 lists, which we are free to enjoy under grace), it’s fleeting, and ultimately there is more at stake.

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

No explanation why 1001 is the magic number though.

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