Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is one of the world most wonderful books.

Marcus Aurelius, author of Meditations.
Marcus Aurelius, author of Meditations.

Marcus Aurelius was considered the last good emperor of Rome.  He ascended to rule in 161 CE succeeding his uncle and adoptive father, Emperor Hadrian. Marcus chose him to co-reign his adoptive half-brother Lucius Aurelius Verus as co-emperors until Lucius’ death in 169 CE.

Marcus Aurelius was educated by the esteemed orator Marcus Cornelius Fronto before turning wholly to philosophy.  He ruled according to the precepts of Stoicism. Unfortunately his rule was interrupted by constant warfare by Nazarenes and Christians. Despite his persecution of Christians who tried to over through the order and the laws in Rome he is considered the last good emperor.  He consistently placed the needs of the people before his own desires or visions of glory.

During the last twelve years of his life, Marcus Aurelius fought the Germans successfully as one of the top generals of Rome, despite the fact that he was never trained in warfare.

He had 10 children nearly all of whom died.  Unfortunately Commodus the only surviving child was deranged and one of the worst rulers in history. Commodus had his only surviving sister Anna killed after she and her husband tried to plot against him.  Marcus Aurelius is considered the last of the good emperors as he did not succeed in passing on his stoic wisdoms.

Book Summary: Getting to Yes

Getting to Yes was written by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton.

This book was published originally in 1981 and since has been translated into 18 languages. It has been taught on several Universities including Harvard and Colorado University. Roger Fisher, a Williston Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard University died at 90 years of age in Hanover on August 25th, 2012. For over 40 years, he served as a professor at Harvard, where he established conflict resolution and negotiation as single field deserving academic study. Fisher joined the Harvard Law School faculty in 1958 and became a full professor of law in 1960. In 1976, he became the Samuel Williston Professor of Law. In 1992, he was named a professor emeritus. He also taught at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, the London School of Economics, the Naval War College, Air War College, and the NATO Defense College.

The Harvard Gazette reported that Fisher told Ury that he liked his (Ury’s) paper so much he sent it to the assistant secretary of state for the Middle East, and wanted Ury to work with him.

“I was stunned. Never had I expected a professor to call me up, let alone invite me to collaborate, or see one of my ideas offered up for practical application,” said Ury. “Roger introduced me to the field of negotiation, taught and mentored me, and shaped my career more than anyone. It would be impossible for me to imagine my work without the inspiration and influence of Roger Fisher.“ Full article

The New York Times reported in his obituary: “In 1979, Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance went to Professor Fisher’s house on Martha’s Vineyard before the meeting at Camp David that would lead to a peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. Professor Fisher suggested to Mr. Vance the “single negotiating text” method that was used to bring the parties together, said Bruce M. Patton, who wrote “Getting to Yes” with Professor Fisher and worked on many diplomatic projects with him. The strategy involved having President Jimmy Carter alone be responsible for writing solutions and letting the other leaders shape the treaty through a back-and-forth critiquing process.” Full article

The was the son of Katharine Dummer Fisher and William T. Fisher who each are descendants of prominent families in the legal profession. The ancestors of his mother were in the circle of Abraham Lincoln and his grandfather William T. Fisher advised Tuft as his secretary of the interior.

It is said that Roger Fisher’s passion for conflict resolution derived of the fact that four out of his eight college friends passed away during the World War II. Early on he decided to devote his life to find a way to prevent conflict and wars.

David Mort’s latest book Voodoo Child now available on Kindle

David Mort’s latest book “Voodoo Child” is available now from the Kindle Book Store. You may be interested in it as it covers the evolution of the blues and rock.

One of rock music’s more iconic images is that of Jimi Hendrix onstage at the Monterey Pop Festival in ’67, kneeling over the remains of his burning guitar after his performance of “Wild Thing.” He was beckoning the flames to rise as if summoning up demons and dragons from hell, which is what several fans described as witnessing after ingesting “Monterey Purple,” a strain of LSD concocted especially for the event.

Thirty years earlier, a bluesman by the name of Robert Johnson supposedly made a pact with the Devil at the crossroads in return for becoming an Ace” on the guitar. So perhaps Jimi had made a similar pact as both their souls were claimed at the age of 27. And before Robert there was another “Ace” named Charlie Patton who, like Jimi, could play the guitar behind his back, above his head and with his teeth. And before Jimi there was T Bone Walker who performed in a similar fashion. And as these three musicians were African Americans with Cherokee ancestors, perhaps they’d inherited an added spiritual dimension.

By the time Robert Johnson made his supposed pact however, the myth was already as old as the hills. The fact is that most blues musicians were itinerants who’d chosen a life on the road over a mundane, family or domestic existence, leading loved ones to conclude they were dancing to the devil’s tune.

For the purposes of my story, which traces the evolution of blues, r n b, soul and rock n roll from the Mississippi flood of ’27 to the deaths of Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, all such talented musicians, those deemed “Aces” “Kings” or “Queens,” had made similar pacts with the devil. Artists such as Buddy Holly, Bessie Smith, Eddie Cochran, Billie Holiday, Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, who when their respective souls passed over, often after meeting a violent death at an early age, could be claimed to play for the “ARKestra Paradiso.”

This “ARKestra,” so called because it boasts two players per instrument, performs in a room whose walls are made of a membrane fashioned from tightly stretched goat skin or vellum. Therefore, it can pick up on sound waves travelling through air and water. This room is situated in an old slave ship named “the Paradiso” which floats on a giant underground lake, so can detect vibrations through its wood, taut ropes or sheets, and surroundings. This lake is in a giant cavern known as the Orpheus chamber, situated deep inside a mountain, home to stalactites, stalagmites and crystalline, flower like structures named anthodites, which also pick up on vibrations passing through rock. Consequently, these musicians are performing in a closed environment that resonates like a gigantic bell, thereby creating a wall of sound.

The “ARKestra” is composed of pairs of those musicians deemed “Aces,” “Kings” or “Queens,” plucked from the flood of misery that segregation created to help change the New World for the better. They mentor and sympathetically resonate with musicians still alive, and working through their performances and recordings, seek to create a new vibe called the “big beat,” woven from different strands of music.

The old slave ship, “Paradiso,” is also home to the largest record repository in the world. Known as the “ARKhive,” it comprises two copies of all the recordings ever made in the New World, arranged year by year in the aisles of the original slave hold.

David Mort