“What is there to live for but work?” asks a character in one of Shaw’s novels.
I respond, there are cocktails on the beach to live for; and if you can’t make it to the beach, they taste good enough in your living room.
Nobody reads Shaw’s novels, and even he decided to hate them, eventually. I’ve only come across the quote in Michael Holroyd’s Bernard Shaw.
Some words surprise you.
catholic, adj: 1. of broad or liberal scope – comprehensive. My English degree, being catholic in nature, prepared me for no particular job.
2. including or concerning all humankind, universal. Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, though a Russian Orthodox text, is also a catholic text.
Good work, fathers of the church. You’ve opened your religion up to some delightful punning.
This religion belongs to all, says its title, to all mankind. It’s a beautiful idea. This provided a framework for a campaign of proselytizing, saviorizing and missionizing, and also for the invention of Hell for those who refuse to believe, and, of course, of wars and executions and crusades, in order to expedite the heretics to this fiery destination.
Which makes the “Catholic” belief no different from any other; believers, whether in vegetarianism or Islam or Buddhism or pacifism or the Red Sox, consider themselves catholic, and attempt to convert. Is the wisest thing is simply not to attempt to convert anyone in any way?
Now, to teach you more words.
A vade mecum is a useful item that you carry with you wherever you go. If the phrase looks super latinate, that’s because it is. And when you translate it directly, “go with me!” is what it means, exclamation mark and all: the verb is in the imperative (direct address). “Go with me!” it orders anyone who will listen.
Every great adventure hero has a vade mecum; for The Doctor it’s the sonic screwdriver, for Harry Potter it’s his wand, for Mario it’s the mustache; you and I have our smartphones.
But consider, too, the uses of the binky or teddy – think about Linus and his blanket. The comfort object is actually one of the most constantly used devices – it is always being used for comfort. Linus’ blanket in Peanuts dramatizes this concept by acting as a kind of inanimate factotum, with all kinds of uses from self-defense to warmth to object retrieval.
The other definition of “vade mecum” is: a guidebook, or any book containing useful, ready reference.
It’s a dictionary, it’s Planet Earth, it’s the Hitchhiker’s Guide; and once again, it’s also the smartphone: both a constant, useful companion, able to sort out most problems that might arise on the daily, and a catholic reference book.
A factotum, a word I used just now and you should have looked up, is a person employed to do all manner of duties. These people are the personal assistants and secretaries; they’re probably more and more common as more and more jobs are eliminated and more able and beleaguered underpaid staff-members with titles like “Visitor Services” or “CSA” or “Program Manager” who, when you ask them what their job is, just laugh at you and change the subject.
The opposite of these poor creatures is the sinecure, another kind of human which has mostly died out except in politics and perhaps organized crime. A sinecure is a job or a post with little to no responsibilities or duties, but which provides a steady paycheck. Their titles are often vague just like a factotum’s, but rather than being all-encompassing umbrellas designed as a dumping ground of responsibilities, they rather seem to exclude any possible duties you could ever conceive of; think Lead Solutions Engineer or Future Accounts Representative.
In 1871 the New York Times published a snarky article disrobing a list of “those political parasites . . . whose sole duty it is to draw money from the City Treasury.”
Factota are a fact of life; I want nothing more than to secure a sinecure.