Epic-this!


If anyone tells you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you but answer, “He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would not have mentioned these alone.” …We can’t control the impressions others form about us, and the effort to do so only debases our character. Let the quality of your deeds speak on your behalf. Epictetus

As much as I gravitate to much of the commonsensical philosophy of life adopted by Stoic sages, there is much in Epictetus (and others) which one simply cannot live their life by. I’m not simply saying one shouldn’t – though I am also saying that – I’m saying it is impossible. The first instalment is infused with a kind of grassroots humour akin to the annoyance of something stuck between your teeth! The latter makes up part of Epictetus’ philosophy which has been memed to death, mostly, I think, because we live in times where the idea of free will seems most easily negotiated within the solitary confines of one’s own mind; i.e. happiness lies in recognizing what is beyond one’s control and letting go of any and all inclinations to possess it. Epictetus includes amongst matters outside of one’s control “the opinions of others.” Instead, let us focus on the deeds of others! I won’t even bother with the obvious limitations of a behaviouralist approach to reading the intentions of others off their actions. But what of intentions? Deeds only speak to our actions and not the intention with which we act – but clearly, it is just as important, if not more important, that someone acts with benevolent intentions rather than malice, that someone may have acted in ignorance or be deranged in which case their actions would not be blameworthy, and in the former case, not of the man to whom we assign blame.

But more importantly, and beyond the moral scope, the primordial state is that of being in the world with others. We are not first “who we are” and then seek to negotiate our existence over-against externalities, like others! The who of our being is the very out-birth of those fine and delicate arrangements which thread their way into our comportment ever so subtly until finally…finally…we must reckon with claims to our authenticity – here, here lies, that possibility, in those most intimate moments with others, for that is the space in which the magic of interpersonal(ised) comportment retrieves, or revives our wonder, our ecstatic, realisation of self. Alas, this can not come about without others!

Parrhesia

First instalment…

Parrhesia, an ancient Greek term, is frank-speech. Being frank is an act of forthrightness, as when one would say, “to be frank…” An utterance often quasi apologetically employed to signal unsavoury content; that is, something the listener is not prepared, or expecting to be clued in on. With this there is the risk of offence that may find oneself marginalized, (politically/socially) exiled and/or punished. The irregularity is not so much with the truth-value of the content, a point to which I shall return, but in “coming clean,” or explicitly exposing a truth which is contrary to acceptable form. Courage then is a fundamental virtue of the parrhesiastes. For she is not that chatterbox who feeds off the entrails of others, indiscriminately sharing wherever opportunity should veer her head. Such a gossip-whore is a sensationalist whose voice takes the form of entertainment at best, youtuber at worst!

The parrhesiastes does not chance upon potentially marginalizing acts, but diligently and with the virtues of courage, honesty and justice, push forward nonetheless. She must then ac-knowledge the irregularity and for the sake of some “higher” calling, and with veracity at her hip, share. Thereby vulnerable to public scrutiny – it is public both because it has been openly shared, and because it is subject to the regularizing force of public opinion – she’s made herself spokesperson for the truth. It is exhortative as it seeks to invite critical awareness where she is but the vehicle for its attainment. This finds the “offenders” apologoumenos before themselves and others, but always at the risk of the boomerang effect finding her the target of criticism.

Check The Back Seat

We’re all after the truth. It’s programmatic to any inquiry. But it can often take a back seat to alter-narratives. Self-preservation is a basic instinct; inciting action often through a paralysis of comportment. This has become intrusively put to me as circumstance challenges my default mode…ad infinitum….

All is Truth.

 

O ME, man of slack faith so long!
Standing aloof—denying portions so long;
Only aware to-day of compact, all-diffused truth;
Discovering to-day there is no lie, or form of lie, and
can be none, but grows as inevitably upon itself
as the truth does upon itself,
Or as any law of the earth, or any natural production
of the earth does.
(This is curious, and may not be realized immediately
—But it must be realized;
I feel in myself that I represent falsehoods equally with
the rest,
And that the universe does.)
Where has fail’d a perfect return, indifferent of lies or
the truth?
Is it upon the ground, or in water or fire? or in the
spirit of man? or in the meat and blood?
Meditating among liars, and retreating sternly into
myself, I see that there are really no liars or lies
after all,
And that nothing fails its perfect return—And that
what are called lies are perfect returns,
And that each thing exactly represents itself, and what
has preceded it,
And that the truth includes all, and is compact, just as
much as space is compact,
And that there is no flaw or vacuum in the amount of
the truth—but that all is truth without excep-
tion;
And henceforth I will go celebrate anything I see or
am,
And sing and laugh, and deny nothing.
– Walt Whitman

Before i go

I’m missing you before i go. There’s nothing quite as profound as the experience of loss in moments of completeness. i know you like to say that “everything happens for a reason,” and are disturbed when i bring an entourage of philosophical claims to dismantle your hopes, but know this: i often feel that everything that has happened in my life was so that I’d find you! Enduring life without you only makes sense when i remind myself that real love is not lived out in the everyday, trite and mundane. The Dionysian before the Apollonian – as my Dionysis reminds me! For all possible worlds…

 

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for right.

I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

(Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

Leap!

Believe as you must that for which your mind is thwarted to perceive; but indulge not convenience, or first order interpretative paradigms which come unreservedly, easily, and conveniently. Brace yourself for the inertial overhaul and the voice of veridical certitude that springs from “knowing”your beliefs are always also utterly false!

Authenticity comes not for wanting it so. It comes not for those who wait. It comes with that intra-subjective comportment negotiated within a context that will surely threaten to outstrip you! LEAP!

“…could blessedness in a technical term, pleasure, ever be a proof of truth?  So little is this true that it is almost a proof against truth when sensations of pleasure influence the answer to the question “What is true?”  or, at all events, it is enough to make that “truth” highly suspicious.  The proof by “pleasure” is a proof of “pleasure” nothing more; why in the world should it be assumed that true judgments give more pleasure than false ones, and that, in conformity to some pre established harmony, they necessarily bring agreeable feelings in their train?  The experience of all disciplined and profound minds teaches the contrary. Man has had to fight for every atom of the truth, and has had to pay for it almost everything that the heart, that human love, that human trust cling to.  Greatness of soul is needed for this business: the service of truth is the hardest of all services.  What, then, is the meaning of integrity in things intellectual?  It means that a man must be severe with his own heart, that he must scorn “beautiful feelings,” and that he makes every Yea and Nay a matter of conscience!  Faith makes blessed: therefore, it lies.” (F. Nietzsche, The AntiChrist)

Loss

Those gone by choice or fate, in life or in death, shall be irrevocably and deeply intertwined with those for whom mortal, earthly existence is, was, but one dimension. The visceral is brought to life with unimaginable magnitude wheresoever the slightest provocation is permitted entry. A sight, a sound, a scent, a word like an avalanche brings him to life. It is only in that insufferable state of oppression that he dies a sure and nasty death.

Epiphanic Ascent

People often wonder about happiness and how they can get them some. Sure I could, and do, throw some Aristotle and Nietzsche, in the mix, but ultimately it tends to come in epiphanic jolts which come to alter and make one’s mode of being brighter and more purposively, and intently lived. Of course not a permanent state, but without these moments, these jolts, often despairingly won, a simple state of inertia cuddling with hedonism, is all there is. Happy to be in an epiphanic ascent.

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