Lessons from a 16th century philosopher’s gap year


In 1571, the French nobleman Michel de Montaigne sold his seat at the Bordeaux parliament, retired from public service and sequestered himself in a circular tower in his family castle, Château de Montaigne. He was 38.

For the next 10 years he occupied this tower on the estate which had a chapel, a bedroom, a study and a library, separated between 3 levels. Montaigne self-isolated here and spent his days reading, meditating and writing. He was living according to his belief that: “The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”

It was here that…

How the greatest novel ever written can help you love better

Portrait of a young lady (so-called Anna Karenina) by Aleksei Mikhailovich Kolesov, 1885/Wikipedia

Anna Karenina, despite its age, has much wisdom to impart to modern lovers, from the dangers of idealising a partner, to the pitfalls of Romanticism, the difficulty of marriage and the importance of communication.

Naturally, there are elements of Anna Karenina which do not translate to our own time very well; set in 19th century Russia, the drama unfolds in a society where marriage for love was still contentious, peasants worked the lands for aristocrats and wife’s were expected to stay in the domestic sphere, raising children and obeying…

Bookshelves Can Fuel Prejudice. They Can Also Cure It.

Aneta Pawlik/Unsplash

I just finished reading Virginia Woolf’s A Room Of One’s Own; an essay which incisively shows that women’s silence in fiction was down to their social marginalisation; they weren’t allowed the time, resources or the space with which to create masterpieces, and then were judged as creatively inferior on this absence. Upon finishing it, I had a sudden realisation: I noticed that I only had one female author on my bookshelf.

How had I been blind to such a glaring absence for so long? It shocked me, deeply, to realise that I had ignored half the human race’s output for…

What do Picasso, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and Voltaire have in common?

Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash

In his short book Think Like An Artist… and lead a More Creative, Productive Life, art correspondent Will Gompertz posits that artists steal. It sounds scandalous- as if The Sun has penned a grand expose- but in fact, it is the artists themselves lining up to confess. Albert Einstein remarked: “Creativity is knowing how to hide your sources”. Voltaire, two centuries earlier, stated that “Originality is nothing but judicious imitation.” The title of this article is an aphorism uttered by Picasso. …

Viktor Frankyl on finding meaning in life, suffering and death

Science and Charity by Pablo Picasso (https://www.pablo-ruiz-picasso.net/work-11.php)

Just eleven months after being liberated from Auschwitz, which claimed the life of his pregnant wife, brother and parents, the neurologist and psychiatrist Victor Frankl delivered a series of public lectures in Vienna. He later compiled and published these as a book titled “Yes to life, in spite of everything”.

Despite the degradation and dehumanisation that he had endured, Frankl’s lectures set out a life-affirming philosophy. In response to the Eugenics movement and Social Darwinist ideas, Frankl championed every human’s intrinsic worth and defended the the right to life of…

Feeling boxed in by a 9–5? The portfolio career might be for you

Remember being a kid? At breakfast you were a fireman, at lunch you were an explorer and at noon you were a scientist; it would have seemed absurd to define yourself by any one of these roles- you had far too much depth of character to be boxed in. Unfortunately, as we grow up, we are expected to choose a specialism, and for years this has meant defining yourself by one role. What if there was a way to indulge your many sides however? What if you…

Why success is not a bulwark against the quarter life crisis

I have recently noticed that on account of my own experience, I am often biased towards one specific model of the quarter life experience, namely, one where a young person struggles to get into a chosen industry, or is living at home and unable to obtain any work in a competitive job market. Whilst this is certainly what some QLC’s look like, other individuals find themselves feeling empty and adrift for other reasons. What happens, for instance, if you climb to the top of the ladder in a chosen…

Short stories imagined from a painted scene

Room In New York By Edward Hopper, 1932

I often find myself gazing at paintings and imagining a story around it; what preceded the captured image, what ensued it and what the subjects are feeling in the petrified moment on the canvas.

This small act of imagination sparked an idea: Imagine, I thought, a series of short stories creating the drama around famous paintings. In each one an iconic image would be brought to life as if the painting were merely a film that had been live paused. …

You’re not qualified to say so yet


We’ve all heard it at some point, whether it was parents, friends or relatives, in our university dorms or at a family dinner:

“Your Twenties are the best years of your life. Enjoy them”.

It seems harmless enough, right? And besides, there certainly is a romanticism about being newly adult and having a life ahead of you; a million possibilities and the youth to pursue them.

With that being said, I believe this narrative is a toxic one, and far from encouraging 20-somethings to make the most of their time, it leaves them…

Photo by Elizabeth Jamieson on Unsplash

A wonderful day for a stroll in the… graveyard?

My eyes ache and my head throbs from excessive screen time. All the while, the sun is shining and the birds are singing melodiously, framed by my bedroom window.

I shut my laptop, bury my head in my hands, rub my eyes and decide that I need some fresh air.

There are a few options that lie before me: I can stroll around the local recreation ground, although I’ve completed the circuit so many times in the past few days I feel like I’m competing in Formula One.

Secondly, I could go to the forest, but I’m in a contemplative…

Ross Carver-Carter

Politics graduate and aspiring journalist. Passionate about mental health awareness. Hoarder of odd historical facts.

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