“[L]et us cultivate our garden.” That’s how Voltaire ends his novella, Candide. Great advice, that, though academics argue that, instead of a peaceful resignation, Voltaire was instead using “gardening” as a metaphor for improving the world.
That kind of interpretation strikes me as absurd, but I’m no Voltaire scholar, nor do I want to be. I mean, heck, the guy supposedly once engaged in anal intercourse with another guy in order to see what it was like. When his partner eagerly suggested later that they do it again, Voltaire declined, saying, “Once, a philosopher. Twice, a sodomite.”
That line is pretty funny, but the background disturbing, hence my lack of eagerness to study Voltaire and form an educated opinion about whether Candide suggested that people cultivate their garden literally or “cultivate the garden of the world” (metaphorically), though I would add that Voltaire was a gardener.
I’ve adopted the literal meaning of Candide’s words. The world hasn’t been cruel to me like it was to Candide. Far from it. But I’m increasingly living in a world that makes no sense to me, and I’m done trying to figure it out.… Read the rest