Contemptuous Expressions Pt 2

April 14, 2011 — 6 Comments

And here, I feel like this better says what I’ve been trying to get at for a long time:

“Like seeing roasted meat and other dishes in front of you and suddenly realizing: This is a dead fish. A dead bird. A dead pig. Perceptions like that—latching on onto thing and piercing through them, so we see what they really are. That’s what we need to do all the timeall through our lives when things lay claim to our trustto lay them bare and see how pointless they are, to strip away the legend that encrusts them.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations VI.13″

I tried here, here, here, here, here, here, here and so many times when I needed to convince myself that it wasn’t all that it appeared. That was some reason, no matter how deep the draw was, to not be like that, to not give in. What I like about finding this again is that its kind of the opposite of that feeling that Emerson talked about when he said that in the genius of others we’ll see our own rejected thoughts with an alienated majesty. This wasn’t discovering that someone else had said what I have struggled to say or never was able to say. This was finding the source that put me down the path the begin with. This is the origin of that nascent thought. And it’s replenishing to return to it.

Ryan Holiday

I'm a strategist for bestselling authors and billion dollar brands like American Apparel, Tucker Max and Robert Greene. My work has been used as case studies by Twitter, YouTube and Google and has been written about in AdAge, the New York Times, Gawker and Fast Company.

6 responses to Contemptuous Expressions Pt 2

  1. Getting to the bare bones of something, whether it be the food on the table, the intentions of people or the functions of nature, is one of the hardest things we can do. Even harder is to keep our truest perception of things in balance with how we interact with other people. Should I strip away my impressions of something in order to not show myself as being too serious or not? I suppose it depends on who we are dealing with.

  2. I admire the increased humility of the past few blog posts.

  3. In my own opinion to get to the bare bone of things (define universally things) is not achievable per se. However I think we can get to a satisfying level: as Mark Aurelius found that a dead fish is the appropriate definition of what be sees in his plate (at this very moment).

    We will always interpret things in our own way, and that defines us. Things, Ideas, words call our memories, feelings, senses and those defines them (things, ideas…) through us. So by trying to get to the bare bone of things you will find yourself. And you can make an attempt to be freer from one thing (fish) by isolating what parts of yourself define it (for instance, the fish looks yummy) and try to imagine what else it could be (the fish is dead, the fish is immobile, etc.) and therefore link this thing to other parts of yourself (the fish had to die etc.) . But you cannot define the bare bone of one thing because it supposes you can connect this thing to everything else… so you are God … just not yet but you are working on it :)

    So I agree with you and you and Mark Aurelius, by doing this you get closer to yourself and God… cool :)

    • Sorry, maybe you can explain what you mean a bit further…

      • Sorry, as you can read from above Im not an English native speaker. I’m trying to be more understandable here.

        You commented on M Aurelius meditation, which says roughly that things are encrusted with legends and you need to strip away this legend all the time in order to see what these things really are and how pointless they are.

        What I tried to say above is:
        1. One, as human, cannot see/define/apprehend what things really are, in their bare truth
        2. The process to strip away legends from things is not pointless because:
        a/ you can “strip away” enough “legends” so that things are seen under new lights and you can deal with them “better” (in a calmer state if you adhere to stoicism).
        b/ it makes you understand better who you are

        Reasoning:
        1. My postulate is: things can only be defined/apprehended by a conscious individual. Oneself defines/apprehend things by their interactions with himself (see, hear…+ analysis) Therefore the bare truth of one thing can be only apprehended by the one who is everything but this thing. A kind of God.
        2. a/ By “stripping” “legends” from things M Aurelius has already seen/apprehended/defined things in some ways and is trying to see them under new lights in order to deal with those things in a stoic state (calm state). Trying to see things under new lights in order to deal with those things in a stoic state does not mean that M Aurelius goes to the bare truth of things but he get closer to it. Actually he may equally try to see things under new lights in order to deal with things with more emotions (for instance in the purpose to motivate – this brings us on another topic -) and you will also get equally closer to the bare truth.
        b/ for instance, by doing this experience in the stoicism way means that you understand what could bring your emotions (in volume) on things and what would not, so you are learning from you. This is a positive experience in my opinion.

        sorry for this late reply, I was away in vacation and there was no internet. all the best to you, i like your work

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