The cynical solution

You don’t realize how much stuff a college dorm can hold until you have to empty it. Took about four hours of schlepping between dorm room and two packed-to-the-gillls vehicles yesterday… a nice break in the monotony of the drive up and back.

And the happy result: family all home and reunited, until Older Daughter’s next move in about three weeks, destination Hollywood via Chavez Ravine. (I’m looking forward to catching a glimpse of the great Vin Scully, she’s looking forward to a glimpse of her professional future.)

Another happy weekend event: the neighbors down the street hosted a block party, with bourbon, beer, barbeque, and bluegrass  I’d just been complaining about how we don’t make enough of an effort, most of the time, to know the people in our neighborhood. As with so many inertial complaints, the solution was simple. Somebody just had to step up and issue the invitations. Thanks for your generosity and initiative, neighbors.

Today’s lifelong learning philosophers thought happiness pretty easy to solve: the Stoics and Skeptics both say it involves a therapeutic recognition and acceptance of our limitations. We can only do and know so much. As the overworked sports cliche has it, they tell us we can be happy if we just learn to “stay within ourselves” and don’t overreach.

The original Hellenistic Stoics and Skeptics were cousins of the Epicureans and Cynics. What they all had in common was a sense that humans could indeed take the initiative and create the conditions of their own well-being by living in accord with nature. They “hoped to move philosophy beyond the bounds of formal discussion” established in the groves of Plato’s and Aristotle’s academes, writes Arthur Herman in The Cave and the Light, and to impress everyday people with the value of reflective thinking that informs deliberate and ameliorative living. They “would have been at home on Facebook or Twitter as any contemporary blogger.”

Image result for diogenes the cynic

Diogenes the Cynic was a dog philosopher, finding canines more reliable than humans. Homeless, fearless, and deconstructive, he famously told Alexander to “stand out of my sunlight.” He had no use for social status or convention, or for intellectual conundrums that fail to recognize a practical solution even when staring it in the face. [Diogenes @dawn]


Solvitur ambulando! He’d have been fun at a block party. Probably not so much help on moving day, though: we’d have had to step around the “School of Athens” lounger while he complained about the light.
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Happy birthday, Studs Terkel! Studs was no cynic, but Diogenes would have loved him anyway. “Why are we born? We’re born eventually to die, of course. But what happens between the time we’re born and we die? We’re born to live. One is a realist if one hopes.”

5:30/5:41, 51/70, 7:45

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