Joshua Level 03
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  • Member since May 28th 2019
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Posts by Joshua

    I do mean "FALL to grief". Hermarchus, despite his protest in Line 1, has been grieving already internally. Maybe he feels the triple burden--the death of Epicurus, the responsibility for the school, the care of the children of Metrodorus--maybe he feels it's all too much. But when he sees that one of the young scholars has placed a wreath of laurel onto the cold marble bust, and that out of reverence and joy rather than grief, he is overcome by an emotion of relief and catharsis. Even should he fail in his task (as scholarch), he now understands that the master's teachings will endure.

    Absolutely! I find Hermarchus a fascinating character, and I wish we knew more about him. Wrote this one last night and didn't think much of it, but when I read it this morning I made a few line changes and decided I liked it after all.


    Seeing the bust of Epicurus

    Ho! I--Master, I held from grief. We laid

    Your body to its rest beneath the sky

    And sun. What then to grieve? Thy atoms fly

    Scattered, thy soul at more than peace which said

    "Death is nothing"--but here! Thy sculptured head

    Is wreathed with leaves of bay. Ah, how can I

    Fall to grief? Your students with laughing cries

    Honor you--your 'membrance blesses their bread.

    Should scholarchs fail, and birds alone here warble--

    Should vine and olive go to sage and sorrel--

    Still aged men would carve your like in marble

    And shining youth crown thy head with laurel.



    I will google but do you have a good link for that? Thanks!

    I can't find any full text in English in an html website format. His orations weren't even translated into English until 2007 by Robert Penella under the title of Man and the Word--Himerius is a minor figure, and Julian's pagan renaissance was stillborn. If I ever settle down and buy a house, I mean to assemble a proper library and archive!

    The third Oration of Himerius against Epicurus, delivered during the reign of Julian the Apostate in the 4th century, gives us a late period during which it was still "current" to argue the case. Six hundred years isn't a bad run for a materialist school!

    One of the ways that archaeology finds Jewish settlements in the ancient world is to rule out the presence of pig-bones in midden heaps. Probably a similarly obscure data point is what we're missing with regard to ancient Epicureans. Except that biblical archaeology has been well funded for centuries, and so they find more sites of interest.

    The subject interests me..I'll report back if I turn up anything curious!


    It started in the context of whether there were ever Epicurean communities in the ancient world outside the garden in Athens,

    And what was the conclusion of that line of questioning? I had thought the evidence was quite convincing in the affirmative--namely;

    1. Far-flung sources. The wall at Oenoanda in the Near East, the Villa of the Papyri in the Bay of Naples, the story of Alexander burning his scrolls in Abonuteichus.

    2. The writing of letters. DeWitt cites this as a precursor to the Epistles of Saint Paul; letters sent to groups of the 'faithful' in various localities.

    3. The grave markers in Latin all over the Mediterranean. Non Fui, Fui, Non Sum, Non Curo.

    4. The discovery of signet rings, marble busts, etc.

    5. The favor displayed to Epicureans by the Empress Plotina.

    6. The curse hurled by Cicero to Calpurnius Piso; "Send [Caesar] a pamphlet!" The Epicureans often couldn't teach publicly. They were notorious pamphleteers.

    This all suggests rather strongly a grass-roots movement spread over three continents, nay? How else but by community? From a sidewalk in modern Turkey to the Senate-house itself in Rome, and as far again to the west.

    I'm trying to shore up my Science Fiction deficiencies with audiobook time, partially for the sake of my long-suffering friends. I absolutely love Dune, but hadn't gotten much farther in my 30 years. So I recently finished the first Foundation book by Isaac Asimov, which I enjoyed immensely. Rather than finish the series (knowing what I know about sequels in general), I moved on to Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein. I came across an exchange that caught my eye ear; a young man trying to convince his father of his desire to join the novel's interstellar military force. The father's response:


    In the first place this family has stayed out of politics and cultivated its own garden for over a hundred years—I see no reason for you to break that fine record.

    I haven't finished the book, but I'll be looking for other clues. There are similarities to the past, and some differences (after all, Epicurus' two year military service was mandatory. The protagonist's two year service in the novel is voluntary.)

    That's kind of a funny passage, given the times!

    "Yes, but we're civilized now; we give men a trial before we throw them off the Tarpeian Rock."

    But to the point. It's important to realize that the Founding Fathers were a matched set only by time and circumstance. In fact they argued about almost everything, including 'rights' and their provenance. The diary of John Adams, in which he records his notes on the meetings of the Continental Congress, are illuminating;…/index.php/view/DJA02d149

    The seminal passage from the above is this;


    I have looked for our Rights in the Laws of Nature—but could not find them in a State of Nature, but always in a State of political Society.

    I have looked for them in the Constitution of the English Government, and there found them.

    -Joseph Galloway

    The same quote is memorably acted by Zeljko Ivanek in the John Adams HBO miniseries (albeit thrown into the mouth of John Dickinson).

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    Happy Twentieth! I've decided to try something. I'll start using the twentieth of each month to outline actionable goals in pursuit of Epicurean happiness, and try to make progress toward those goals in the following month.

    My goals for between June 20 and July 20;

    Peace goal--stop reading things on the internet that I know will be calculated to frustrate me. There's nothing wrong with internet engagement; I just want to make sure I'm using it in an intentional way. I worry about how much time I will regret having wasted on trivial and fruitless news cycles that will be lost in a week anyway.

    Security goal--return to cash and debit as exclusive modes of exchange, with a view toward giving up the false security of a wallet full of credit cards. I'm sure that using credit cards contributes to overspending, even though I don't pay interest on them. Just time to let them go, I think.

    Pleasure goal--It's something I've always wanted to do, but I still haven't figured out the right way to study languages on the road (I find pimsleur while driving to be just a little too distracting.) I have a few Latin texts in the truck already, including Hans Ørberg, so I'm just going to dive in on memorizing Latin declensions and reading directly.

    Immortal blessings!



    As for the "solitary confinement of the mind," my theory is that solipsism, like other absurdities of the professional philosopher, is a product of too much time wasted in library stacks between the covers of a book, in smoke-filled coffeehouses (bad for brains) and conversation-clogged seminars. To refute the solipsist or the metaphysical idealist all that you have to do is take him out and throw a rock at his head: if he ducks he's a liar. His logic may be airtight but his argument, far from revealing the delusions of living experience, only exposes the limitations of logic.

    -Edward Abbey

    This is more or less my reaction to the free will argument. You'd only have to add one more sentence; "If he blames you for the rock, he's a liar; he must have known that it was a necessity the whole time."

    I am certainly not one who thinks the market will always yield the best result. The market gave us robber barons, children working in mines, Irish Need Not Apply, and myriad other problems.

    That, to me, is on a par with a similar fallacy; that "humans needn't worry because mother nature will always find balance". Mother Nature often finds balance by eradicating whole clades. Lucretius had it right; the universe doesn't exist for us, and it will continue to exist long after we and all our works are gone. (Am I off topic yet? ?)

    I have a laptop, but seldom wifi. I use my Samsung phone for everything. I'm not sure about a sidebar, but I can pull up two different menus by swiping either left or right from the edge of the screen.

    There's something that very often doesn't get said about customer service work generally, Elayne, and that's that almost all of the people one deals with actually are very pleasant! People of any sort can be and often are happy. I was merely intending to show that they can be happy or unhappy in unexpected ways. It isn't always easy to draw a straight line between excellence and happiness, or between mediocrity and misery...or vice versa.

    Un an unrelated note, there's a strong tradition of quilting in my large German-Catholic extended family. I won't vouch for the stitchwork, but the intergenerational bonding is something very special to see! There are probably over 40 of us descended from my grandparents, and we all have quilts, to the fourth generation.

    For myself, I have been a low-wage restaurant cook, a metalcaster at a foundry, a package sorter, a retail clerk, and now a trucker. In spite of a general lack of excellence in my life, I somehow manage to remain tranquil and equanimous throughout the day. And yet in the course of 14 years in customer service one way or another, I was always meeting with attorneys, physicians, engineers, bankers, and business people who were chronically grumpy and generally unsatisfied.

    Who knows. Maybe when they actually make it out to that lakehouse, or boat, or golf course, or posh vacation, they really are happy. But I always thought---if I can be happy riding my bike to work making $10 an hour, why can't you be happy heading to the firm in your Range Rover, even in spite of the traffic?

    I think this relates to the larger issue of whether it's good for people to be specialists or generalists. I read a "Romantic vs Classical" distinction into the argument. Take the view of the Generalist, here expressed by Robert Heinlein;


    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyse a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

    The problem with this view is that it appears to the Classical thinker as being overly Romantic; it sounds like it should sound good, but in reality it yields poor results. The Jack-of-all-trades is the master of none.

    The Specialist ideal finds its expression in a character like Doyle's Sherlock Holmes;


    I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.

    This strikes the Romantic thinker as something inhuman; the machination of man.

    It's clear that the market selects for Specialists. A person with a mediocre ability in 10 different areas will very often be shoehorned into employment using one of those skills at a low level. The Specialist attaining excellence in one area will, if they have chosen a good field, find high-status employment that is satisfying and rewarding. But here's the thing; the Generalist will almost always be better at handling adversity. First of all, because they are accustomed to mediocrity anyway; second, because when confronted by it, they have a wide range of other hobbies and activities to plug into it.

    So when it comes to the Epicurean project of maximizing pleasure and happiness over a whole human life, it won't necessarily be the case that striving for excellence yields the best result.

    Good to know, Cassius! I've been clicking "New" under the same drop-down menu, which seems to yield similar results. I'll start using dashboard. I did at first find the sheer number of sub-forums to be quite daunting, but the system works well once one knows how to use it.

    6:30 AM. Lansing, MI

    Lost; North Face hoodie. Color brown, size medium. If found, please return to... who? I know the article well, and can remember the day it was purchased. In Denver, at a Sports Authority store (now closed forever) on a trip I took to meet up with the family and visit my brother. The last of its kind on the clearance rack and a size smaller than I wear normally, this garment was sartorial perfection. Nothing ever fit me so well (I an ectomorph; 6'2", 145 lbs, gangly in the superlative). I hadn't known until then that clothes could fit, and should; I had never been comfortable in my own clothes.

    Gone now, though. Left behind. Not yet "reduced to it's primitive elements", which was Thoreau's consignment program--it was instead hove off of this human shore, and floats free on the listless currents of humanity--or else cast into the rubbish, and Virginia has its bones. Who can say?

    Nevertheless, I find that I actually can reduce it to elements. I can, in my mind's eye, dissolve it into atoms and void. A feeling of unweaving starstuff. I can let it go, and can convince myself to want it to go! Can actually begin to see it for what it is; not to miss it, but to doff my cap and wave heartily as it sails toward some New World. Every garment is a kind of tapestry in this sense, knitting itself toward doom and dissolution. Try it; there's nothing to it--even the emperor, as it were, could find that he really has no clothes.

    Perhaps it was time. While the jacket has held together in a more or less uniform way, I've spent the intervening years reknitting myself. I've learned and applied new skills, and forgotten old ones. I've given up other things, too; my apartment. My furniture. My small library. I've gained money and time. A little less work, and a little more freedom. I trust I've even changed my mind once or twice.

    A great sloughing off of the old, and growing into the new, that's what I want. A surpassing even of the Toga Virilis, into a still higher privilige and maturity.

    The realization of an ideal.


    On the second trip three years ago there was a lot of construction going on around it, which I presume is now complete. It no doubt looks best without those chain link fences around it.

    That's funny; that was my EXACT experience at the Parthenon in Athens! Scaffolding, fencing, etc. for restoration work. Ongoing for decades.

    I'll get to Nashville eventually. I drove through every so often, but getting out of the truck to see the sights is easier in some cities than others!

    It would've been the summer after my sophomore year in college. My first major was History, and the department organized a trip. I later went to the United Kingdom with the English Literature department, which was my second major.

    I do recall having some fear that the Parthenon Marbles would be repatriated to Greece from the British Museum before I'd made it to London but after I'd already been to Greece. I was deep into British poetry by then and Keats remains my favorite poet. All rather selfish of me, of course; but in any case I did get to see them. If I can ever get a little Latin or AG under my belt, I will certainly try to go back.