How to Talk and Shut Up on the Internet

Have you read Leigh Alexander's piece on "Dos and Don'ts to Combat Online Sexism"? I highly recommend it. She isn't covering new ground. The advice and explanations that are offered can be found in the myriad of similar articles that exist. Alexander's piece is simply a great example of the form. Clear. Understandable. Fairly comprehensive. I wanted to post it days ago.

Why did I wait? Because there is so much to say about how to talk like a Stoic. There may be even more to say about how to shut up like a Stoic! I attempted to write a piece on the subject, but it grew monstrously large and I have yet to tame it. So while I work on that, I ask that you read Alexander's article. Her piece considers conversations about sexism, but the points can be applied to any topic in a multitude of forums. I agree with them. I believe Stoicism agrees. In short, the ancient Stoics recognized that discussions require a proper time, a proper place, and a proper relationship, if they are to be considered useful. Alexander's article reminds us to listen, learn, and to bring challenges to our own communities, not to those who we're peering in on.

Death is for Me

People are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things. Death, for instance, is not terrible, else it would have appeared so to Socrates. But the terror consists in our notion of death that it is terrible. When therefore we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never attribute it to others, but to ourselves; that is, to our own principles... -Enchiridion Ch 5

Stoics view mortality as a natural and fundamental aspect of life. We exist in an ever-changing universe. Therefore, much of stoic practice is meant to instill a consistent recognition of the impermanence of every aspect of life. Now, if you live in a culture that hides death away, be prepared for the backlash. As more Stoics become vocal about our philosophy, there will definitely be criticism concerning our views. And let's face it, the concept of death tends to strike at nerves.  

Caitlin Doughty, mortician and talented blogger, posted about her experiences with criticism in Death is for Everyone (a bit of a rant, really) . She is not a stoic, to my knowledge, but she is at the forefront of a movement to bring death back into our lived experience. As she reminds us, "Death is not a fad. Talking about mortality is not a trend piece like artisanal pickles or hand-carved charcuterie boards. It’s not something that “hipsters” are doing now. It is the fundamental core of the human experience." I enjoyed her post, and recommend it to you.

And just in case you hadn't stumbled across Stoicism's position on death yet, here's one more quote. 

Let death and exile, and all other things which appear terrible be daily before your eyes, but chiefly death, and you will never entertain any abject thought, nor too eagerly covet anything. -Echiridion Ch 21

I'm going to say that if a stoic teacher is advising daily visualizations concerning death, you have to view mortality as pretty central to the Stoic mindset. Now, Epictetus is not instructing us to be morose. On the contrary, death only "appears terrible." The goal is a daily recognition that death is neither terrible nor good, it is simply a fact. That fact, however, is a powerful one and can shape our decisions concerning what truly matters in this mortal life.  

So as we go around accepting Death, remember that we are the healthy ones. Living in accord with the world's terms is wise. So go forth, be mortal, and memento mori!

Interview with a Stoic and Some Odds and Ends

Have you been to Philosophy for Life? Jules Evans' website is an outstanding source of reflection and information concerning the living out of practical philosophies. He recently interviewed Jonathan Newhouse, who is CEO of Conde Nast and a practicing Stoic. Personally, I enjoy learning about how stoicism is used by others. It's interesting to see the commonalities and differences in our journeys. I recommend checking out the interview.  

I also wanted to share some of the other media that I use for this project.  

You can always join The Immoderate Stoic Facebook Page by clicking that ever present LIKE button. I do post things there that don't make it to this site.

Also, you can follow me on Twitter @ImStoic. Warning: I think I'm funny so a fair number of tweets are just bad comedy.

Lastly, you can get an RSS feed for this blog here

Have a wonderful weekend. Remember to pay attention to what's in your control!