“What it Really Means to ‘Seize the Day’” (2017)


Fiona Macdonald’s essay for the BBC was inspired by social philosopher Roman Krznaric’s book Carpe Diem Regained: The Vanishing Art of Seizing the Day.

The essay and book both touch on numerous sources including the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the artistic tradition of vanitas painting, the memento mori exercises of Stoic philosophy and so-on, while sharply critiquing the reductionist mainstreaming of “carpe diem” into a corporate slogan:

“There are different ways of thinking about it, from seizing opportunities, to spontaneity, to hedonism, to being in the present moment; as well as a collective political form of carpe diem,” he says. “They’re all different ways of having agency in the face of death, of feeling that you’re fully alive.”

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