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Feb 05 2017

Meditations for submissives 005

This post guest-stars Epictetus! Bonus! (source)

For an introduction to this series, please see the first post.

Unlike some selections in this series, this is the entire segment.

Book One, Entry Seven.

From the Stanisforth translation:

From Rusticus I derived the notion that my character needed training and care, and that I must not allow myself to be led astray into a sophist’s enthusiasm for concocting speculative treatises, edifying homilies, or imaginary sketches of The Ascetic or The Altruist. He also taught me to avoid rhetoric, poetry and verbal conceits, affectations of dress at home, and other such lapses of taste, and to imitate the easy epistolary style of his own letter written at Sinuessa to my mother. If anyone, after falling out with me in a moment of temper, showed signs of wanting to make peace again, I was to be ready at once to meet them half-way. Also I was to be accurate in my reading, and not content with a mere general idea of the meaning; and not let myself be too quickly convinced by a glib tongue. Through him, too, I came to know Epictetus’s Dissertations, of which he gave me a copy from his library.

There’s much to discuss here but we’ll take it bit-by-bit.

First, with any of Marcus’ writing (yes, that’s what people call him, I know it sounds like I’m being overly familiar—it feels weird), don’t get hung up on names of people or places that mean nothing to you. Rusticus sounds like a great name for a Rottweiler or a Pomeranian to me, for example, and I haven’t the foggiest clue what his letter written at Sinuessa was like. That’s not important most of the time. We’re looking for the overall meaning.

The take-aways from this one:

Your character needs training and care.

Well. I should think so. If anyone can understand needing training and care it’s an s-type. If you’re not with a D-type you should be improving (training) yourself in order to make yourself worth owning.

Then he goes on a run:

I must not allow myself to be led astray into a sophist’s enthusiasm for concocting speculative treatises, edifying homilies, or imaginary sketches of The Ascetic or The Altruist.

Short version: Don’t be distracted by the unattainable or practically impossible. A sophist is a philosopher and, yes, Marcus was a Stoic philosopher, but Stoicism is a philosophy that can be practiced rather than only discussed. It’s not practical for most people to be ascetic (avoiding physical pleasure) or completely altruistic (entirely unselfish).

Stoicism was about moderation in all things and recognised human nature for what it was and the need to help our fellow man and forgive him for being human.

Next up!

He also taught me to avoid rhetoric, poetry and verbal conceits, affectations of dress at home, and other such lapses of taste, and to imitate the easy epistolary style of his own letter written at Sinuessa to my mother.

We’ve covered the letter part—I suppose Rusticus wrote great letters? No clue. This sentence is about what the French would call ‘farting higher than your ass‘ or being pretentious. This goes back to moderation in all things.

Boy, ol’ Rusty taught Marcus a lot. Next on the scroll:

If anyone, after falling out with me in a moment of temper, showed signs of wanting to make peace again, I was to be ready at once to meet them half-way.

I admit, this is one I struggle with. No one is saying any of these things is easy and I’m certainly not saying I achieve these every day, but they’re attributes and actions I strive for and believe make better s-types and D-types.

This one is pretty self-explanatory, I think.

Also I was to be accurate in my reading, and not content with a mere general idea of the meaning; and not let myself be too quickly convinced by a glib tongue.

At first glance, this looks like it’s two separate thoughts separated by a semicolon, but they’re both about looking beneath the surface. Check the methodology. Ask who funded the study. Read more than the headline. Be aware of confirmation bias. Apparently they had fake news 2,000 years ago.

We made it! We finally made it!

Through him, too, I came to know Epictetus’s Dissertations, of which he gave me a copy from his library.

Epictetus was also a Stoic philosopher. I admit I have not read his work, spending most of my time luxuriating in Meditations. Only fragments of Dissertations remain—his most well-known and available works are Discourses and Enchiridion.

From Wikipedia:

Epictetus taught that philosophy is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. To Epictetus, all external events are beyond our control; we should accept calmly and dispassionately whatever happens. However, individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline.

That’s a core tenet of Stoicism, along with the other things I’ve mentioned.

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