This is a 1979 collection of chapbooks, or literary pamphlets, that were published by Capra. I probably bought it for the Colin Wilson essay about Tolkien, which confessed an admiration for “The Lord of the Rings” when its reputation was a bit more culty and juvenile than it is these days (perhaps). But I am more likely these days to read Henry Miller’s sour, wise and obscenity-laced “On Turning Eighty.” Note the echo of Stevenson in the last line.
Despite the knowledge of the world which comes from wide experience, despite the acquisition of a viable everyday philosophy, one can’t help but realize that the fools have become more foolish and the bores more boring. One by one death claims your friends or the great ones you revered. The older you grow the faster they die off. You observe your children, or your children’s children, making the same absurd mistakes, heart-rending mistakes often, which you made at their age. And there is nothing you can say or do to prevent it. It’s by observing the young, indeed, that you eventually understand the sort of idiot you yourself were once upon a time — and perhaps still are.
[Originally posted on my discontinued This Old Book Tumblr.]