Posts by Nate

    Certainly! So, 'Drake' is a 30-something, Canadian musician. The author of the original meme took two images from a music video, and stacked them to express preference. For example, we might use the template to insert a picture of Marcus Aurelius at the top, and Thomas Jefferson at the bottom. The following website provides a more thorough explanation with examples: [https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/drakeposting]

    I have only been able to trace this attribution to the same source (Niall Feguson's "Civilization, the West and the Rest")

    That being said, Frederick II of Prussia provides us with a few fun quips:

    "I think it better to keep a profound silence with regard to the Christian fables, which are canonized by their antiquity and the credulity of absurd and insipid people." (Letters of Voltaire and Frederick the Great [New York: Brentano's, 1927], trans. Richard Aldington, letter 37 from Frederick to Voltaire, June 1738)

    "Neither antiquity nor any other nation has imagined a more atrocious and blasphemous absurdity than that of eating God. — This is how Christians treat the autocrat of the universe." (Letters of Voltaire and Frederick the Great [New York: Brentano's, 1927], trans. Richard Aldington, letter 215 from Frederick to Voltaire, 19 March 1776)

    Typically, religious imagery is symbolic, and the actual elements of the image aren't considered to be expressive of objective reality. Shape, contour, and color are removed from their natural orientation, and repurposed for the purely symbolic. For example, the picture of Lakshmi depicts a goddess clothed in gold, representing wealth and prosperity (who knows if such a being would have actually preferred yellow tones). We also observe that––though clearly human in form––she has four arms, representing the four, possible aims of life (as identified in Hindu philosophy), being Kama (Sensual Gratification), Artha (Economic Success), Dharma (Spiritual Fulfillment), and Moksha (Transcendental Liberation). Her depiction expresses ideas, and not atoms.

    Epicurus warns us against explicitly mythologizing our experience, so attempting to express the 'Ideal Epicurean Being' as an image is incredibly difficult. Like the creator of the image of Lakshmi, we, too, are tasking ourselves with encoding meaning through shape, contour, and color, which requires that we mythologize our experience rather than express it at the atomic level. Thus, we run into frequent discussion about 'the gods' without being able to describe their specific qualities (not generalizations like 'they're made of atoms' or 'they represent the ethical ideal', but specifics like, 'here is a description of their evolutionary history, their location in spacetime, and the biochemical means by which they are capable of maintaining constant pleasure).

    It may not be the case that there are any universal images that can adequately express the character of 'the [atomic] gods'. Epicurus doesn't seem to have written any hymns, prescribed prayer rituals, or dedicated any of his writing to Hellenistic deities like Lucretius later did, so I question if Epicurus personally viewed 'the gods' as anything but 'symbolic mental imagery that most people seem to rely upon to orient themselves toward pursuing satisfaction'. I sometimes wonder if Epicurus simply appropriated the symbolic imagery of 'God' as a teaching tool when attempting to instruct religious-minded students, sort of like when atheists rhetorically invoke the Ten Commandments to traditionally-minded Christians to justify their progressive position (like being against Capital Punishment).

    In general, I think it might be more appropriate to dig into the imagery of our own experiences if we're trying to find 'the gods'. For some Epicureans, it may have been Epicurus; for other Hellenists, it may have been giant, intergalactic beings who accidentally communicate through dreams; for Nietzsche, it may have been the Ubermensch; for contemporary American youth, it may be superheroes; for contemporary atheists, it may be astronauts; for many of us, it may be parents, mentors, or teachers who provide powerful examples that we can strive to emulate. All of these people become characters in our mind that allow us to reflect upon the choices we make. Maybe those mental ideations are the same tangible entities that Epicurus called 'the gods'.

    Here's the first panel with some minor edits.


    1. I finally hit the 'to' preposition!
    2. 'Abstractions' is better than 'Conceptions'
    3. I added 'at birth' in the first description. (Note: all of the cartoons of animals are actually baby animals that seem much older now that they have the heads of male philosophers. We could consider removing the heads and using the cartoon baby animals).
    4. On the second description, I changed 'Winds of Skepticism' to 'Desert of Superstition', with the intention of making the 'Winds', 'Storm', 'Illumination', and 'Valley' all part of the same wasteland.

    Allegory Panel I.png

    I'll correct Panel 2 and 3 on grammar and verbiage. I think you're right that the first panel should include a line "at birth" to emphasize the grounding in biology.

    I wasn't sure how to communicate the opposing philosophies in a linear narrative ('Winds...', and 'Valley...' and the 'Mountain...') other than how they visually fit together. Topically, like you mention, any one of them can come first, and follow, or precede each other in no particular order. The linear nature makes it seems like 'If You Give An Epicurean Skepticism, He'll Turn Into a Platonist, and Then Become a Virtue Ethicist.' I'm not sure if it was the best way to go, but it at least fits in the narrative of the story.

    Maybe I can textually reinforce this idea that the 'Winds' come from, or lead to the 'Storm' which precipitates from the 'Mountain', all features that distract from the 'Garden', in no particular order?