According to Ernest Hemingway, we are born with a raw optimism, but as we acquire knowledge of life’s inescapable suffering and fundamental emptiness, we are irreversibly damaged. Therefore, we must avoid the pain of thinking too much or feeling too much.Continue reading Hemingway
The British essayist and historian Thomas Carlyle was just another chronic melancholic, easily irritable thinker who failed to locate any profound meaning in life.Continue reading Carlyle
The moral and philosophical predicaments of Shakespeare still haunt us today. His sonnets exhibit a fixation with time, uncertainty and death, whereas his plays explore the gory existence beneath the pleasant veneer we manufacture.Continue reading Shakespeare
Discontent with the increasing wealth and unchecked corruption of the Roman Catholic church helped to interrupt and eventually break down the stagnant worldview of the Dark Ages, and the long slumber of free inquiry slowly began to end. For the first time in a thousand years, investigations into the nature of things could be directed without clerical tampering and the threat of heresy.Continue reading Nihil Sub Sole Novum*
In 314, the Emperor Constantine’s Edict of Milan assured the Christian hegemony over several competitors. You’d think the anxieties and melancholia present during the Roman Empire’s decline would be partially alleviated with the official sanction of Christianity. Hardly!Continue reading Apropos of Nothing
Lucius Annaeus Seneca, one of Rome’s most famous philosophers spent a large part of his life trying to convince his student Nero the finer points of being a Stoic-flavored philosopher-king. While he did demonstrate unselfish nobility in his writings, his life was rife with greed, made base with expediency. and plagued with conspiracies. Continue reading Seneca
Not only was Lucretius my all-time favorite Roman philosopher, he was also the greatest of philosophical poets who lived through one of the most anarchic periods in Roman history: a time of dictatorship, civil war, and conspiracies. No one was safe from this world. Continue reading Lucretius
The hallmark of the Hellenistic era was chaos due to the deteriorating political influence of the city states and countless ruinous wars among autocratic rulers. That Tyche, the mercurial goddess of chance, was highly venerated everywhere, clearly indicates the instability of the time. Hellenistic people were deeply cognizant of the omnipresence of contingency in their lives.
Nothing at all. Our relationship with death has profoundly shaped Western culture. A pervasive death consciousness has created religions, nourished philosophies and eventually stimulated scientific investigation, as well as fueled fanaticism, a brooding and melancholic pessimism, which resulted in nihilistic conclusions. Such nihilistic sentiments are far more than merely isolated occurrences, pervasive although manifesting in various guises. Continue reading In the beginning… there was Nothing.