Jim Holt, in his new book, Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story:
Schopenhauer himself hardly practiced the pessimistic asceticism he preached: he was fond of the pleasures of the table; enjoyed many sensual affairs; was quarrelsome, greedy, and obsessed with his fame. He also kept a poodle named Atma–Sanskrit for “world soul.”
At least my terriers don’t have pretentious names. (Jett, Dash, & Candy, since you ask. And since they are all rescues, they came to us with those names already given.)
Took a walk around the Old Quarter yesterday evening. Lots of dogs, as I noted earlier, but this one struck me by his self-possession. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but he’s sitting in a narrow alley where motorbikes regularly whizzed by six inches from his nose while he practiced a Buddhist sort of equanimity. Perhaps some old bodhisattva radiating peace & quite in a noisy city.
A calm dog in an alley in the Old Quarter of Hanoi.
Vietnam is a much wealthier country than when I began coming here fifteen years ago. Not just more cars, but more Lexus & Mercedes. There is unequal distribution of this new wealth, which is certainly not unique to Vietnam, but one mark of the increased wealth of the middle and working class is the increase in well cared for pet dogs. From the pug riding the motorcycle and the pom wearing little shoes to protect its feet from the hot pavement to the intelligent shepherd-mix sitting at the entrance of a shop, dogs are everywhere.
I buried our old chocolate lab Angel down by the river yesterday — he had progressively lost interest in food over the last six weeks & finally stopped eating. The vet diagnosed a form of leukemia common in old dogs — he was almost 16 — and so we had him euthanized yesterday afternoon while he lay comfortably in the back of the Nissan in the vet’s parking lot. A quiet end for a good dog. We adopted Angel from a family with a little boy who made him nervous enough to growl & snap — he was about five years old at the time (the dog, not the boy) & we had him for about a decade. Because he was temperamentally shy & a bit fearful, he could be a frustrating dog to deal with on occasion, but he didn’t have a mean bone in his body. Carole called him the “poet dog” because he was so sensitive.
I brought him home & zipped him inside an old canvas dogbed cover with stylized paw prints printed on it, then went down by the river to dig a grave near where the old bluetick hound Maude and the little French Bulldog Weezer are buried. Digging on our property is difficult — you have to choose between a place full of stones & a place criss-crossed with thick tree roots. The place I chose was full of roots, but after about an hour I had a hole three feet deep & big enough to hold Angel’s body. I lowered him in & shoveled the dirt on top of him, tamped it down & put a big flat stone on top. I gathered up my tools and put them in the wheelbarrow, then paused to wipe sweat from my face. Looking up, I watched a bald eagle fly directly overhead. I like to think the eagle came to escort the dog’s spirit away into the vast emptiness that gives birth to all the myriad things of the world.