LYING FLAT IS JUSTICE

I’m always on the lookout for creative types who lead or led an “alternative lifestyle.”

Recently, for example, I came across a woman named Hope Bourne (1920-2010), who lived for decades on the moors at Exmoor, Great Britain, in a broken-down “caravan” (basically, trailer), on virtually no money. She wrote, tramped the fields and woods, painted, drew, thought, grew her own vegetables, shot her own rabbits, and walked into the village every week or so to collect her mail and buy a loaf of bread and if she was flush, a bar or two of chocolate.

She considered herself wealthy in every way that matters. She was not a recluse, she emphasized: simply a solitary, with a wide circle of friends. You can view (fairly low-quality) YouTubes where she describes her life and philosophy. And I’m dying to read one or two of her books, which include Wild Harvest, Living on Exmoor, and Hope Bourne’s Exmoor Village.


Paul Erdős (Hungarian: 26 March 1913 – 20 September 1996) “was one of the most prolific mathematicians and producers of mathematical conjectures of the 20th century. Erdős pursued and proposed problems in discrete mathematicsgraph theorynumber theorymathematical analysisapproximation theoryset theory, and probability theory.” [wiki]

He apparently spent almost his whole working life traveling about and simply descending upon the home of whoever would have him, with no advance warning and no end date.

“Described by his biographer, Paul Hoffman, as ‘probably the most eccentric mathematician in the world,’ Erdős spent most of his adult life living out of a suitcase. Except for some years in the 1950s, when he was not allowed to enter the United States based on the accusation that he was a Communist sympathizer, his life was a continuous series of going from one meeting or seminar to another. During his visits, Erdős expected his hosts to lodge him, feed him, and do his laundry, along with anything else he needed, as well as arrange for him to get to his next destination.”

Another point in his favor: he was a total caffeine addict. He once tried to wean himself from the Ritalin and  Benzedrine he’d started taking after the death of his mother and managed to last thirty days. “You’ve showed me I’m not an addict,” he afterward told the friend who’d bet him $500. “But I didn’t get any work done. I’d get up in the morning and stare at a blank piece of paper. I’d have no ideas, just like an ordinary person. You’ve set mathematics back a month.”

He spent virtually every waking hour on his beloved mathematics and died with his boots on, of a heart attack, at a mathematics conference in Warsaw.

BUDAPEST, 1992
BREW ME UP A POT OF DARK ROAST!

Finally, we have a movement called Tang ping that really took off “in April, 2021, with a post by Luo Huazhong (username “Kind-Hearted Traveler”) on the internet forum Baidu Tieba, in which he discussed his reasons for living a low-key, minimalist lifestyle.

In 2016, 26-year-old Luo quit his factory job because it made him feel empty. He then cycled 1,300 miles from Sichuan to Tibet, and now back in his home town Jiande in eastern Zhejiang Province, spends his time reading philosophy, and gets by doing a few odd jobs and taking US$60 a month from his savings.He only eats two meals a day.

Luo’s post, entitled with “Lying Flat is Justice”, illustrates:

‘I can just sleep in my barrel enjoying a sunbath like Diogenes, or live in a cave-like Heraclitus and think about ‘Logos‘. Since there has never really been a trend of thought that exalts human subjectivity in this land, I can create it for myself. Lying flat is my wise movement, only by lying down can humans become the measure of all things.’”


Happy 4th of July, and I hope everyone gets some rest today. It’ll be 109 degrees today here in Tucson.

6 Replies to “LYING FLAT IS JUSTICE”

  1. tina daoud says: Reply

    hi heather!
    i wish it would be so easy for me. freedom! one day here, or another day there. in my youth i was travelling, france, italy, portugal, greece. but i wish for a christian freedom. going places does not allure me anymore. soon i will give up going to cafes because the real adventure is not there. i can not get clear on that point. you need the outside world for your inner world? where should the inner world get its treasures? then – you do not need experiences! but, not all people are well behaved…
    thank God i have ditch vision( i read it somewhere) which means i delight in the grasses that grow in the cracks and in he sand at the side of construction areas.
    anyway. freedom.
    would be good if somebody would give it to you. in a democracy, you know.
    but- its completely other. completely.
    and now i think that i must just have it. and God will just give it to me!
    would be good, right?

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Ditch vision: I love that, Tina. Right–what, if anything, do we need of the “exterior” to feed the interior?…Obviously people have lived rich, full inner lives say in solitary confinment in prison. There may well come a day when I no longer want to travel. For now, I seem to have two (at least) modes. Some of the time I’m a complete homebody, living in pretty deep silence and solitude, and will have a very set routine, be perfectly happy taking the same walk every day, reading, writing, not going out much, puttering around the house and yard, walking to Mass, entranced by the grasses, leaves, birdsong, light coming through the ocotillo fence. Then I have another mode where I will set off into the world in a way that stretches my being on every level and is WAY beyond my “comfort zone.” Not just traveling, which for someone like me who simply delights in my little bedside table, my earrings, my dishes, candles, prayer cards, plants, paintings, rugs etc, is a stretch in itself–but also meeting new people and/or visiting with/staying with people. Which requires an utter relinquishment of inner comfort, ease and control, and a total giving of oneself over to the experience, place and people. I need both modes. They balance each other out. All of one or the other would not make for emotional and mental health. So I have a lot of freedom but it’s all grounded in Christ so is thus very very focused interiorly. As Robert Frost said about the rules of poetry, my life is “moving easy, in harness.” But we all have that interior freedom, as Viktor Frankly pointed out in Man’s Search for Meaning. Christ had total interior freedom even lacerated, gouged, dying of thirst, and nailed to the Cross: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” Of course he’d been honing and disciplining the freedom his whole life so that it would be directed outward, in love, to us…

      1. Heather, I’m positive you’ve already known this, but the thought hit me this morning that eternity for you will be much the same! Delighting in the little – and that includes all these beautiful souls you discover, one-by-one! So much to love and thank the Lord for in His mercy 🙂

        Your time in all these locales is wonderful to see through your eyes….I wish those weekends in Ireland would be in my plan for this fall. However, I know it will be wonderful to read about all you saw, did and met after the fact.

        1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

          Thank you, Angela, I love that idea–that we really prepare for our own eternity by celebrating and paying attention to what we love here…I wish you could join for one of the weekends, too, but rest assured I’ll be writing about my time in Ireland. I so appreciate the blessing! And here’s to a beautiful summer for all of us…

  2. Wish’t the sound was better on the youtube article(s) about/with Hope Bourne, such a Treasure! How did you hear of/about Hope Bourne, dear Heather?

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      I know, Glenda, the quality’s not great–I think you can maybe turn on captions and catch more of what she’s saying. There’s a three-part interview…I think I read about her in a Times Literary Supplement review of some other woman’s recent book about solitude. This other woman mentioned Hope Bourne so I looked her up and became captivated…

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