Sunday, 17 June 2012
On learning and dead people
This past Monday I finally started my classes. Just one course for now, but oh man does it feel good to be learning with an actual teacher again.
I could mention how Finns are not ones for joining in on class discussions (which sort of makes me the Loud And Obnoxious One.. you know, more than usual) and I could mention that the class so far isn't exactly what it said on the tin.
But all that's secondary.
It's learning. It's not-wasting-your-time. More specifically, it's minimizing-harm-and-maximizing-happiness. Our bodies and minds have this terrible desire to be used and to develop and if those needs (that were a biological necessity) are not met, we are want to drown out their pleas with immediate gratifications in excess. And I say in excess because learning and moving and being connected and deriving pleasure from things that are not fashionably pleasurable are all things you can learn (narf) to enjoy and hard to do in excess, but things that are fashionably pleasurable, that is sex, food and similar, are very easy to over indulge in.
Yes, I've been reading about Epicurus. And Benjamin Franklin. And Hans Christian Andersen. And a whole bunch of other people. See, I started on this most awesome book called The Book Of The Dead by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson. It's basically cliffsnotes on all the people and biographies you ever wanted to read with a huge chunk of people you never knew about thought you should and a great big bucket load of happy for having discovered and learned about all of these people.
I did not know da Vinci was gay. It also never really entered my head that he used to be young and apparently very tall and incredibly handsome. Because you just don't think about famous masters in those terms. And the history books in school have this tendency to not mention when someone is gay or bisexual but just note that they had a "companion", like we're talking about puppets or cubes.
Getting back to Epicurus. There's an interpertation that when you tell someone to enjoy all worldly pleasures that you're telling them to stuff their face with cake (which is undeniably pleasurable when you're doing it) or to boink everything. Rarely if ever do people percieve wordly pleasure to mean ALL pleasures that you can take in this life. Not in western interpertations anyway. So how about reading and talking with friends or sitting by the lake listening to the birds and the breeze? I'd say these are pretty pleasurable things. Why I'm bringing up Epicurus is that he had some pretty good things to say: 1) necessities of life are food, water, warmth (I'll just understand this as clothing since most of us don't live on nudist colonies), shelter, freedom, thought and friendship. And now think honestly how many of those are you willingly giving up every day for the benefit of not doing anything at all because scary scary SCARY! 2) The things that are essential and good for you are surprisingly easy to come by. Looking at that list of necessities, do you think those things will cost you a lot of money? Do you think that having a lot of food/sex/money would increase the quality of these essentials and more so, make you enjoy them more?
There's a a phrase that gets uttered at all the wrong moments, by people who fail to understand timing or sympathising: "It's a question of attitude".
Once you get to the right state of mind, once you stop thinking in terms of "I fail at life because I'm not earning as much as my peers or have a house as big as they have and I'm ugly to boot and my pain is something that I need to keep to myself because surely it's a private thing that I wont uncosciouly take out on others once I get annoyed enough" and start believing that everyone has their soft spots and we all protect them the best we know how because scary scary SCARY!.. you'll notice that that phrase is dead on. Damn it.
Don't fear God
Don't worry about death;
What is good is easy to get, and
What is terrible is easy to endure.
Tetrapharmakon according to Epicurus