Day 2070, stoicism.

Day's pictures

Meteora – Greece, 2014

One of the advantages of living in a foreign country is that I am no longer tempted to buy all kinds of old books. I lived close to a place called Deventer, and Deventer is known for the biggest outdoor book market in Europe. Because of this market that is open for a long weekend at the end of the summer, Deventer has a lot of stores where you can buy used books. I love going to these stores and buying old books like the one you see underneath. Modern books like this often have better translations and interpretations, but I just like that feeling that lasts for a second of me being there in 1911 and buying that book and opening the pages sitting in one of those old-fashioned café’s. Touching an old book is the closest I can get to that fleeting feeling.

This particular book goes about Roman stoicism, but because I want to keep it to Greek Philosophers, I chose a chapter about Heraclitus. Heraclitus is not as well known as the big three (Socrates, Plato, and Aristoteles), but there are enough more modern philosophers that have him in high regard, and through these philosophers, I came in contact with his work. There is not much over from his writings, and he is best known because others talked and wrote about him. I will leave you now with one chapter of this book from 1911 written by Edward Vernon Arnold.

Day 1710, internal.

Day's pictures, Poetry

The next poem that spoke to me was not because I liked it particular but because it was once again about reality, or the world we are aware of, and how we mold it to our needs. Remember, the nerves that connect to our eyes leave a blind spot, we miss a part of the picture when it is send to the brain, but that brain combines the two pictures of both our eyes and “makes up” the information that is missing.

That is a more physical reason why our senses are not a hundred per cent accurate or trustworthy. But our mind can play more tricks on us like cognitive dissonance or a lack of critical thinking. I was also listening to a book about stoicism, and specifically Seneca. One of the ideas of stoicism is that you should not let the outside world be responsible for your happiness, don’t think that money, a big house or (in ancient Greases case) many slaves will make you happy, because it can be taken away from you. Find a spot in yourself as the source of your happiness and than it doesn’t matter where you are or what you have or loose.

I like the last sentence of the poem I chose for today: “the world stops out there”. Your world stops outside of you, or said in an other way, the way you see the world is constructed (subconsciously) by you, and can resemble reality but it most definitely does not do that all the time. You construct a world internally, your eyes are corrected internally and your cognitive dissonance, phobia’s, upbringing and other ideas are part of the way you look, see and think about the world and yourself, they are part of the internal construct that determines how you see the world.

I like what the stoics are saying, and I think that it is useful to…aim for the idea that happiness should be found internally. But I also believe that the way we look from this internal platform to the world is marked by all the scars of our past and the way we are as humans. So in this mess we have to try to find a place where we can safely store our happiness. I am not finished with these two.

The poem is from Day 826:

Towards the outside of my awareness.

The transition is veiled.

Reality and imagery are tangled.

The world stops out there.

And one from Seneca:

If you really want to escape the things that harass you, what you’re needing is not to be in a different place but to be a different person.