A Novel Idea

2017-12-17

I've long imagined that the sixth movement in my "eudaimonia suite" of books on the art of living would be about Taoism. However, recently an intriguing ambition came to me: writing a novel about Pyrrho's journey to Central Asia and Northwestern India with Alexander the Great's army and his conversion to skepticism there by early Buddhists (likely in the Gandharan city of Taxila above the Peshawar Valley - a great center of learning at the time). I like the goal of exploring the commonalities among early Taoism, early Buddhism, and Pyrrhonism, as well as Heraclitus and other pre-Socractic philosophers. In essence, this would be a novelization of Christopher Beckwith's thesis from his fascinating book Greek Buddha. Aside from the usual challenges of working through the ideas of a thinker like Nietzsche or Thoreau, there would be new obstacles to overcome here: I don't know Sanskrit or classical Chinese, and I've never written any fiction, not even a short story. Truth be told, I'm not deeply drawn to stories and I rarely read novels. However, a few years ago I read both The Glass Bead Game and Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, and recently I read When Nietzsche Wept by Irvin Yalom. In so doing, I realized that I enjoy novels of ideas, which have no plot to speak of but make up for it with interesting dialogue and internal discovery. In any case, after I publish Songs of Zarathustra a few weeks from now I'll first finish my translation of the ethical writings of Epicurus and then write an epitome of Aristotle's moral philosophy, so writing a book on ancient Buddhism and skepticism is years away.

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