Marcus Aurelius, Emperor and philosopher
I am preparing a post on method.
1) Because I am a dilettante philosopher who is not content with just blogging. I need a method in my blogging.
2) I had promised a method post, so it is very Roman-like to keep my promise :-)
Truth being the method governing my posts keeps bugging me since I started this blog, and, needing to process my ideas a bit I propose this posting sequence to readers:
I) a post as a preparation for the method post (ugh!). It’s the present post. I need it for clearing my mind up before the real thing.
II) A post on SEX, as a break. It might help not to lose ALL my readers because of my philosophical manias.
III) The real thing, i.e. the method post.
IV) A second post on SEX, to beg for additional pardon, thus ending this sequence in full regalia.
What do you think? Will you pardon me? Will SEX help?
Rhetorical questions not expecting answers let us put some preparatory ideas together and that the trip begin!
Game of Ideas
with Hidden Links
1) We will touch upon questions from numerous points of view, as if for each topic there were like a dialogue of different opinions in the writer’s mind.
2) A thought in progress where who is writing is gradually clarifying his ideas. Such ideas might contradict one another because the writer is constantly reaching new (sometimes opposite) perspectives, which could baffle the reader but also help her/him understand the complexity of things.
3) A game of ideas, then, with anecdotes and facts only apparently deprived of connections. Such connections (mental links) will sometimes be explicit (said) or implicit (unsaid,) which should bring the reader to make her/his own connections, namely towards creative non-passive reading / thinking.
Well, at least Magister was very successful in this game. But Magister was Magister.
Writing vs Thinking
Writing, thinking, clarifying,
striving to sort out thoughts
in ways so “clear and ordinate”
This, many years ago, Magister counselled
for the good education of the mind.
writer, philosopher, educator…
Writing in fact is a stern discipline linked to the activity of thinking. Writing teaches us how to think in ways so clear and ordinate. It obliges us to. Reason and word (word = discourse, written or oral) are actually only one word in Greek: λόγος (logos.)
Awkward prose or clumsy oral / written reports often reflect muddled thoughts.
As for the MoR the problem is:
- writing in a foreign language makes things harder
- we have this fatal attraction for digressions and all their unrestrained associations, ie for chaos (something Magister definitely wouldn’t condone.)
We like both sides of the moon – the dark indistinct and the crystal-clear. We appreciate discipline, clear argumentation, polished sentences, and we also dig lush jungles of words. Examples of both attitudes in art are:
- The perfect equilibrium of Western Classical Music: Mozart, Boccherini, Clementi, Haydn and young Beethoven. Or of Italian Opera: Verdi, Bellini, Donizetti etc. wrongly called romantic, since Italian Opera is classical in its nature (and even Puccini is.) Interesting how Italians never totally absorbed Romanticism, their classical heritage and almost inborn sense of taste (and grace) being too tenacious (read here.)
- Insane Western Romantic music (later Beethoven, Wagner, Mahler, Scriabin etc.), with a tendency towards excess.
Thus said, will our so-called philosophy be muddled? Will readers think MoR is crazy? I really got no idea, I really got no idea at all.
Note. We just gave above an example of digression + bizarre association. The concepts of writing and thinking were linked with music, two totally different planes of the human experience, although the connection appears evident to me.
We like mental associations though we understand they may confuse readers. See an example in the post Relax & Creativity.
Weakness or Strength?
My friend The Jurist has told me yesterday:
“Why the heck are you worried about this roving of the mind? It’s just a blog, go ahead and be crazy.”
True, but the thing is I am a bit ambitious (only a bit, or I will fail). I am actually attempting a research. A research from a man-in-the-street-of-Rome point of view, though a research nonetheless. Thence this roving tendency could turn into a weakness (or into a strength?)
A Philosopher in Every Man
Magister used to say that every person is a natural-born philosopher, ie everyone, during the entire course of his/her life, keeps building a constantly evolving grid of interrelated concepts. This world vision or Weltanschaung (read here) enables us to com-prehend the surrounding world (from Latin comprehendere, cum + prehendere = put together, grasp, or insert into a grid).
Comprehension of the surrounding environment – it implies also better (inter)action within it, the two things going together.
Ok, if this is true of every man (that he is a natural born philosopher,) and, if I am a man, which I certainly am, I should somehow hope to be able to transmit my Roman feel in a sort of organized way. Is that true?
In principle yes, ALL though depending on the degree of discipline, education and availability of time I dispose of.
A Helping Hand
- What’s the difference – one might ask – between a philosopher on one hand and a man of the street on the other hand? No difference, except the level of training, skill, specialization that may differ. The philosopher is a pro. Which doesn’t mean the non-pros must shut up. I will not ;-)
- We should all learn to think (and write) more effectively because it can greatly help us to make our days and guide us in the fundamental choices of our life. The more efficiently we think, the happier we live, classical measure being vital here though: should we think too much and act too little, we can get neurotic, wimpish (the list is long.)
This blog will try to give a helping hand to those who think self-improvement is important and possible.
Reason? Not All
Ideas are now taking shape a bit as regards my future method post. The next writing will though as promised be devoted to SEX, SEX, SEX NOTHING BUT SEX (though in the Roman way.)
In the meanwhile, some additional patience pls.
One can rule one’s chaotic mind with control, writing, striving for some order. But chaos is still there; non rational things, disorder etc. are still there. The guys at the Third Culture are doing some work on this, good idea to have a look at it.
What I do know is we can not live in disorder. We need force, organization, we need to discipline ourselves most of the time.
Though not all the time.
We also need excess, spring breaks, fun, Carnivals, Saturnalia – a Roman festival (see picture below) where rules were broken: masters became for ex. slaves and slaves masters (see two posts of ours on Saturnalia: 1 & 2).
The Romans were big gurus in the art of living. They ruled the world with humour on their faces and tongue and not with mystical seriousness. While facing the most dreadful tragedies with utmost courage, they preferred comedies.
Reason and order are not all. They can lead to horrors if taken too seriously, a great lesson from the non ideological Romans, that some folks from colder climes do not seem to have quite understood. Taking things zu schwer can call disaster.
Let us then have fun then too! Carnivals are made for that! Look at Rio in Brasil, look at our Spanish cousins! – an economic success [2014 update: well, well, they, we, will rise up again: we are confident] although Madrid has movida every night.
God, how can I finish this never ending blabber?
Perhaps with Coelho‘s beautiful words, from his novel Zahir:
Let us have some respect
for our life on this planet …