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mercredi, 17 janvier 2018

Stoic Spiritual Hygiene with Regard to Normies


Stoic Spiritual Hygiene with Regard to Normies

Ancient philosophy, as Pierre Hadot has argued, was not merely a set of ideas but meant to include something far more practical: the leading of a good life in the pursuit of truth. In the case of Stoicism, as with Cynicism, the notion of leading a philosophical way of life is particularly explicit and central.[1] [2]

The philosopher is interested in living a life according to purpose and principle, as opposed to the frivolous or the popular. This necessarily can make him seem a bit of a kill-joy and can make interacting with what we call “normies” problematic. This is not a new problem. Here is Epictetus’ advice on avoiding gossip, chit-chat about the ball-game, and other small talk:

Lay down from this moment a certain character and pattern of behavior for yourself, which you are to preserve both when you’re alone and when you’re with others.

Remain silent for the most part, or say only what is essential, and in few words. Very infrequently, however, when the occasion demands, do speak, but not about any of the usual topics, not about gladiators, not about horse-races, not about athletes, not about food and drink, the subjects of everyday talk; but above all, don’t talk abut people, either to praise or criticize them, or to compare them. If you’re able to so, then, through the manner of your own conversation bring that of your companions round to what is fit and proper. But if you happen to find yourself alone among strangers, keep silent. (Handbook, 33)

stoique.jpg“Show, don’t tell,” besides being good writing advice, is then an important Stoic principle concerning philosophy. One will always be tempted to make a philosophical and political point in order to show off or best another in argument, which of course defeats the whole purpose. Epictetus reiterates the point:

Never call yourself a philosopher, and don’t talk among laymen for the most part about philosophical principles, but act in accordance with those principles. At a banquet, for example, don’t talk about how one ought to eat, but eat as one ought. . . . And accordingly, if any talk should arise among laymen about some philosophical principle, keep silent for the most part, for there is great danger that you’ll simply vomit up what you haven’t properly digested. (Handbook, 46)

Epictetus is quite explicit that adoption of the Stoic way of life means a radical change, perhaps analogous to religious conversion. The change is so radical that one must be careful who one associates with. Obviously, one’s own spiritual practice will be all the greater insofar as one associates with like-minded people. Conversely, this also means one may have to abandon boorish old friends:

This is a point to which you should attend before all others, that you should never become so intimately associated with any of your former friends and acquaintances that you sink down to the same level as them; for otherwise, you’ll destroy yourself. But if this thought worms its way into your mind, that “I’ll seem churlish to him, and he won’t be as friendly to me as before,” remember that nothing is gained without cost, and that it is impossible for someone to remain the same as he was if he is no longer acting the same way. Choose, then, which you prefer: to be held in the same affection as before by your former friends by remaining as you used to be, or else become better than you were and no longer meet with the same affect . . . if you’re caught between two paths, you’ll incur a double penalty, since you’ll neither make progress as you ought nor acquire the things that you used to enjoy. (Discourses, 4.2.1-5).

Epictetus_Enchiridion_1683_page1.jpgThe message is clear: the low spiritual and intellectual condition of “normies” is highly contagious, one must exercise the utmost caution. No doubt this bad condition has been severely aggravated and magnified by television and pop culture.

By these metrics, I observe that the modern university experience is something of an anti-education: the stupidities of youth are exaggerated and made fashionable, rather than curtailed. The soul grows obese with pleasure and pride, rather than being moderated and cultivated. (I note in passing that Plato would no doubt be surprised, to not say worse, to learn that “academia” would grant degrees to 40 percent of the population.)

The Stoic will manage his social relations with moderation. He will economically support himself, honor his parents, and find a wife and raise of family of his own. Nonetheless, to the extent possible within the web of relations implied by his social role, he will live a philosophical life, and raise his peers by his example. In this, I should think, a shared spiritual practice with the wife and other immediate family is a great aid, to not say fundamental: by prayer, meditation, readings, song, and other rituals in common, one can lift up souls away from the sensuous and the frivolous, and towards principle.


Epictetus, Discourses, Fragments, Handbook, trans. Robin Hard (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).

[1] [3] Epictetus scolds those who adopt the name Stoic but prefer to talk about philosophical principles than live them:

What difference does it make, in fact, whether you expound these teachings or those of another school? Sit down and give a technical account of the teachings of Epicurus, and perhaps you’ll give a better account than Epicurus himself! Why call yourself a Stoic, then; why mislead the crowd; why act the part of a Jew when you’re Greek? Don’t you know why it is that a person is called a Jew, Syrian, or Egyptian? And when we see someone hesitating between two creeds, we’re accustomed to say, “He is no Jew, but is merely acting the part.” But when he assumes the frame of mind of one who has been baptized and has made his choice, then he really is a Jew, and is called by that name. And so we too are baptized in name alone, while in fact being someone quite different, since we’re not in sympathy with our own doctrines, and are far from making any practical application of the principles we express, even though we take pride in knowing them. (Discourses, 2.9.19-22)

Epictetus repeatedly contrasts Middle-Eastern “Jews, Syrians, and Egyptians” with “Romans,” as culturally and perhaps ethnically others.


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URL to article: https://www.counter-currents.com/2018/01/stoic-spiritual-hygiene-with-regard-to-normies/

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vendredi, 26 mai 2017

Baudelaire et la conspiration géographique


Baudelaire et la conspiration géographique

par Nicolas Bonnal

Ex: http://www.dedefensa.org 

Lisons les Fleurs de Baudelaire moins bêtement qu’à l’école. Et cela donne :

Le vieux Paris n’est plus (la forme d’une ville

Change plus vite, hélas ! que le cœur d’un mortel)…

On est dans les années 1850, au début du remplacement haussmannien de Paris. Baudelaire comprend ici l’essence du pouvoir proto-fasciste bonapartiste si bien décrit par son contemporain Maurice Joly ou par Karl Marx dans le dix-huit brumaire. Et cette société expérimentale s’est étendue à la terre entière. C’est la société du spectacle de Guy Debord, celle ou l’Etat profond et les oligarques se mêlent de tout, en particulier de notre « environnement ». C’est ce que je nomme la conspiration géographique.

La conspiration géographique est la plus grave de toutes. On n’y pense pas assez, mais elle est terrifiante. Je l’ai évoqué dans mon roman les territoires protocolaires. Elle a accompagné la sous-culture télévisuelle moderne et elle a créé dans l’ordre :

• Les banlieues modernes et les villes nouvelles pour isoler les pauvres.

• Les ghettos ethniques pour isoler les immigrés.

• La prolifération cancéreuse de supermarchés puis des centres commerciaux. En France les responsabilités du gaullisme sont immenses.

• La hideur extensive des banlieues recouvertes d’immondices commerciaux ou « grands ensembles » conçus mathématiquement.

• La tyrannie américaine et nazie de la bagnole pour tous ; le monde des interstates copiés des autobahns nazies qui liquident et recouvrent l’espace millénaire et paysan du monde.

• La séparation spatiale, qui met fin au trend révolutionnaire ou rebelle des hommes modernes depuis 1789.

• La décrépitude et l’extermination de vieilles cités (voyez Auxerre) au profit des zones péri-urbaines, toujours plus monstrueuses.

• La crétinisation du public et sa déformation physique (le docteur Plantey dans ses conférences parle d’un basculement morphologique) : ce néo-planton est en voiture la moitié de son temps à écouter la radio.

• La fin de la conversation : Daniel Boorstyn explique dans les Américains que la circulation devient le sujet de conversation numéro un à Los Angeles dans les années cinquante.

Dans Slate.fr, un expert inspiré, Franck Gintrand, dénonce l’horreur de l’aménagement urbain en France. Et il attaque courageusement la notion creuse et arnaqueuse de smart city, la destruction des centres villes et même des villes moyennes, les responsabilités criminelles de notre administration. Cela donne dans un de ses derniers textes (la France devient moche) :

« En France, cela fait longtemps que la survie du commerce de proximité ne pèse pas lourd aux yeux du puissant ministère de l’Economie. Il faut dire qu’après avoir inventé les hypermarchés, notre pays est devenu champion d’Europe des centres commerciaux. Et des centres commerciaux, ça a quand même beaucoup plus de gueule que des petits boutiquiers… Le concept nous vient des États-Unis, le pays des «malls», ces gigantesques espaces dédiés au shopping et implantés en banlieue, hermétiquement clos et climatisé. »

Il poursuit sur l’historique de cet univers totalitaire (pensez à Blade runner, aux décors de THX 1138) qui est alors reflété dans des films dystopiques prétendant décrire dans le futur ce qui se passait dans le présent.

La France fut ainsi recouverte de ces hangars et autres déchetteries architecturales. Godard disait que la télé aussi recouvrait le monde. Gintrand poursuit à propos des années soixante:

« Pas de centres commerciaux et multiples zones de périphérie dans «La France défigurée», célèbre émission des années 70. Et pour cause: notre pays ne connaissait à cette époque que le développement des hypermarchés (le premier Carrefour ouvre en 1963). On pouvait regretter l'absence totale d'esthétique de ces hangars de l'alimentaire. »

Le mouvement est alors ouest-européen, lié à la domination des trusts US, à la soumission des administrations européennes, à la fascination pour une fausse croissance basée sur des leurres (bagnole/inflation immobilière/pseudo-vacances) et encensée par des sociologues crétins comme Fourastié (les Trente Glorieuses). Dans les années cinquante, le grand écrivain communiste Italo Calvino publie un premier roman nommé la Spéculation immobilière. Ici aussi la liquidation de l’Italie est en marche, avec l’exploitation touristique que dénonce peu après Pasolini, dans ses si clairvoyants écrits corsaires.

En 1967, marqué par la lecture de Boorstyn et Mumford, Guy Debord écrit, dans le plus efficace chapitre de sa Société du Spectacle :

« Le moment présent est déjà celui de l’autodestruction du milieu urbain. L’éclatement des villes sur les campagnes recouvertes de « masses informes de résidus urbains » (Lewis Mumford) est, d’une façon immédiate, présidé par les impératifs de la consommation. La dictature de l’automobile, produit-pilote de la première phase de l’abondance marchande, s’est inscrite dans le terrain avec la domination de l’autoroute, qui disloque les centres anciens et commande une dispersion toujours plus poussée».

Kunstler a très bien parlé de cette géographie du nulle part, et de cette liquidation physique des américains rendu obèses et inertes par ce style de vie mortifère et mécanique. Les films américains récents (ceux du discret Alexander Payne notamment) donnent la sensation qu’il n’y a plus d’espace libre aux Etats-Unis. Tout a été recouvert de banlieues, de sprawlings, de centres commerciaux, de parkings (c’est la maladie de parking-son !), d’aéroports, de grands ensembles, de brico machins, de centrales thermiques, de parcs thématiques, de bitume et de bitume encore. Voyez Fast Food nation du très bon Richard Linklater.

Je poursuis sur Debord car en parlant de fastfood :

« Mais l’organisation technique de la consommation n’est qu’au premier plan de la dissolution générale qui a conduit ainsi la ville à se consommer elle-même. »

On parle d’empire chez les antisystèmes, et on a raison. Ne dit-on pas empirer ?

Je rappelle ceci dans mon livre noir de la décadence romaine.

« Pétrone voit déjà les dégâts de cette mondialisation à l’antique qui a tout homogénéisé au premier siècle de notre ère de la Syrie à la Bretagne :

« Vois, partout le luxe nourri par le pillage, la fortune s'acharnant à sa perte. C'est avec de l'or qu'ils bâtissent et ils élèvent leurs demeures jusqu'aux cieux. Ici les amas de pierre chassent les eaux, là naît la mer au milieu des champs. En changeant l'état normal des choses, ils se révoltent contre la nature. »

Plus loin j’ajoute :

Sur le tourisme de masse et les croisières, Sénèque remarque :

« On entreprend des voyages sans but; on parcourt les rivages; un jour sur mer, le lendemain, partout on manifeste la même instabilité, le même dégoût du présent. »

Extraordinaire, cette allusion au délire immobilier (déjà vu chez Suétone ou Pétrone) qui a détruit le monde et son épargne :

« Nous entreprendrons alors de construire des maisons, d'en démolir d'autres, de reculer les rives de la mer, d'amener l'eau malgré les difficultés du terrain… »


Je laisse Mumford conclure.

« Le grand historien Mumford, parlant de ces grands rois de l’antiquité, parle d’une « paranoïa constructrice, émanant d’un pouvoir qui veut se montrer à la fois démon et dieu, destructeur et bâtisseur ».


Bonnal – Les territoires protocolaires ; le livre noir de la décadence romaine ; les maîtres carrés

Debord – La société du spectacle

Kunstler – The long emergency

Mumford – La cité dans l’histoire (à découvrir absolument)

dimanche, 08 novembre 2015

Stoic indifference is a personal power


Stoic indifference is a personal power

Ashley Bailey

© Raymond Depardon/Magnum

Ex: http://www.therussophile.org   

As legions of warriors and prisoners can attest, Stoicism is not grim resolve but a way to wrest happiness from adversity

We do this to our philosophies. We redraft their contours based on projected shadows, or give them a cartoonish shape like a caricaturist emphasising all the wrong features. This is how Buddhism becomes, in the popular imagination, a doctrine of passivity and even laziness, while Existentialism becomes synonymous with apathy and futile despair. Something similar has happened to Stoicism, which is considered – when considered at all – a philosophy of grim endurance, of carrying on rather than getting over, of tolerating rather than transcending life’s agonies and adversities.

No wonder it’s not more popular. No wonder the Stoic sage, in Western culture, has never obtained the popularity of the Zen master. Even though Stoicism is far more accessible, not only does it lack the exotic mystique of Eastern practice; it’s also regarded as a philosophy of merely breaking even while remaining determinedly impassive. What this attitude ignores is the promise proffered by Stoicism of lasting transcendence and imperturbable tranquility.

It ignores gratitude, too. This is part of the tranquility, because it’s what makes the tranquility possible. Stoicism is, as much as anything, a philosophy of gratitude – and a gratitude, moreover, rugged enough to endure anything. Philosophers who pine for supreme psychological liberation have often failed to realise that they belong to a confederacy that includes the Stoics. ‘According to nature you want to live?’ Friedrich Nietzsche taunts the Stoics in Beyond Good and Evil (1886):

O you noble Stoics, what deceptive words these are! Imagine a being like nature, wasteful beyond measure, indifferent beyond measure, without purposes and consideration, without mercy and justice, fertile and desolate and uncertain at the same time; imagine indifference itself as a power – how could you live according to this indifference? Living – is that not precisely wanting to be other than this nature? Is not living – estimating, preferring, being unjust, being limited, wanting to be different? And supposing your imperative ‘live according to nature’ meant at bottom as much as ‘live according to life’ – how could you not do that? Why make a principle of what you yourself are and must be?

senecaFUJR6XH4W_1.jpgThis is pretty good, as denunciations of Stoicism go, seductive in its articulateness and energy, and therefore effective, however uninformed.

Which is why it’s so disheartening to see Nietzsche fly off the rails of sanity in the next two paragraphs, accusing the Stoics of trying to ‘impose’ their ‘morality… on nature’, of being ‘no longer able to see [nature] differently’ because of an ‘arrogant’ determination to ‘tyrannise’ nature as the Stoic has tyrannised himself. Then (in some of the least subtle psychological projection you’re ever likely to see, given what we know of Nietzsche’s mad drive for psychological supremacy), he accuses all of philosophy as being a ‘tyrannical drive’, ‘the most spiritual will to power’, to the ‘creation of the world’.

The truth is, indifference really is a power, selectively applied, and living in such a way is not only eminently possible, with a conscious adoption of certain attitudes, but facilitates a freer, more expansive, more adventurous mode of living. Joy and grief are still there, along with all the other emotions, but they are tempered – and, in their temperance, they are less tyrannical.

If we can’t always go to our philosophers for an understanding of Stoicism, then where can we go? One place to start is the Urban Dictionary. Check out what this crowd-sourced online reference to slang gives as the definition of a ‘stoic’:

Someone who does not give a shit about the stupid things in this world that most people care so much about. Stoics do have emotions, but only for the things in this world that really matter. They are the most real people alive.
Group of kids are sitting on a porch. Stoic walks by.
Kid – ‘Hey man, yur a f**kin f****t an you s**k c**k!’
Stoic – ‘Good for you.’
Keeps going.

You’ve gotta love the way the author manages to make mention of a porch in there, because Stoicism has its root in the word stoa, which is the Greek name for what today we would call a porch. Actually, we’re more likely to call it a portico, but the ancient Stoics used it as a kind of porch, where they would hang out and talk about enlightenment and stuff. The Greek scholar Zeno is the founder, and the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius the most famous practitioner, while the Roman statesman Seneca is probably the most eloquent and entertaining. But the real hero of Stoicism, most Stoics agree, is the Greek philosopher Epictetus.

He’d been a slave, which gives his words a credibility that the other Stoics, for all the hardships they endured, can’t quite match. He spoke to his pupils, who later wrote down his words. These are the only words we know today as Epictetus’, consisting of two short works, the Enchiridion and the Discourses, along with some fragments. Among those whom Epictetus taught directly is Marcus Aurelius (another Stoic philosopher who did not necessarily expect to be read; his Meditations were written expressly for private benefit, as a kind of self-instruction).

Among those Epictetus has taught indirectly is a whole cast of the distinguished, in all fields of endeavour. One of these is the late US Navy Admiral James Stockdale. A prisoner of war in Vietnam for seven years during that conflict, he endured broken bones, starvation, solitary confinement, and all other manner of torture. His psychological companion through it all were the teachings of Epictetus, with which he had familiarised himself after graduating from college and joining the Navy, studying philosophy at Stanford University on the side. He kept those teachings close by in Vietnam, never letting them leave his mind even when things were at their most dire. Especially then. He knew what they were about, those lessons, and he came to know their application much better than anyone should have to.

Stockdale wrote a lot about Epictetus, in speeches and memoirs and essays, but if you want to travel light (and, really, what Stoic doesn’t?), the best thing you could take with you is a speech he gave at King’s College London in 1993, published as Courage Under Fire: Testing Epictetus’s Doctrines in a Laboratory of Human Behavior (1993). That subtitle is important. Epictetus once compared the philosopher’s lecture room to a hospital, from which the student should walk out in a little bit of pain. ‘If Epictetus’s lecture room was a hospital,’ Stockdale writes, ‘my prison was a laboratory – a laboratory of human behaviour. I chose to test his postulates against the demanding real-life challenges of my laboratory. And as you can tell, I think he passed with flying colours.

Stockdale rejected the false optimism proffered by Christianity, because he knew, from direct observation, that false hope is how you went insane in that prison. The Stoics themselves believed in gods, but ultimately those resistant to religious belief can take their Stoicism the way they take their Buddhism, even if they can’t buy into such concepts as karma or reincarnation. What the whole thing comes down to, distilled to its briefest essence, is making the choice that choice is really all we have, and that all else is not worth considering.Who […] is the invincible human being?’ Epictetus once asked, before answering the question himself: ‘One who can be disconcerted by nothing that lies outside the sphere of choice.’

Any misfortune ‘that lies outside the sphere of choice’ should be considered an opportunity to strengthen our resolve, not an excuse to weaken it. This is one of the truly great mind-hacks ever devised, this willingness to convert adversity to opportunity, and it’s part of what Seneca was extolling when he wrote what he would say to one whose spirit has never been tempered or tested by hardship: ‘You are unfortunate in my judgment, for you have never been unfortunate. You have passed through life with no antagonist to face you; no one will know what you were capable of, not even you yourself.’ We do ourselves an immense favour when we consider adversity an opportunity to make this discovery – and, in the discovery, to enhance what we find there.

How did we let something so eminently understandable become so grotesquely misunderstood? How did we forget that that dark passage is really the portal to transcendence?

Many will recognise in these principles the general shape and texture of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Indeed, Stoicism has been identified as a kind of proto-CBT. Albert Ellis, the US psychologist who founded an early form of CBT known as Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) in 1955, had read the Stoics in his youth and used to prescribe to his patients Epictetus’s maxim that ‘People are disturbed not by things but by their view of things.’ ‘That’s actually the “cognitive model of emotion” in a nutshell,’ Donald Robertson tells me, and he should certainly know, as a therapist who in 2010 wrote a book on CBT with the subtitle ‘Stoic Philosophy as Rational and Cognitive Psychotherapy’.

This simplicity and accessibility ensure that Stoicism will never be properly embraced by those who prefer the abstracted and esoteric in their philosophies. In the novel A Man in Full (1998), Tom Wolfe gives Stoicism, with perfect plausibility, to a semi-literate prison inmate. This monologue of Conrad Hensley’s may be stilted, but there’s nothing at all suspect about the sentiment behind it. When asked if he is a Stoic, Conrad replies: ‘I’m just reading about it, but I wish there was somebody around today, somebody you could go to, the way students went to Epictetus. Today people think of Stoics – like, you know, like they’re people who grit their teeth and tolerate pain and suffering. What they are is, they’re serene and confident in the face of anything you can throw at them.’

Which leads us naturally to ask just what it was that was thrown at them. We’ve already noted that Epictetus had the whole slavery thing going on, so he checks out. So does Seneca, in spite of what many have asserted – most recently the UK classicist Mary Beard in an essay for the New York Review of Books that asks: ‘How Stoical Was Seneca?’ before providing a none-too-approving answer. What Beard’s well-informed and otherwise cogent essay fails to allow for is just how tough it must have been for Seneca – tubercular, exiled, and under the control of a sadistically murderous dictator – no matter what access he sometimes had to life’s luxuries. It was Seneca himself who said that ‘no one has condemned wisdom to poverty’, and only an Ancient Greek Cynic would try to deny this. Besides, Seneca would have been the first to tell you, as he told a correspondent in one of his letters: ‘I am not so shameless as to undertake to cure my fellow-men when I am ill myself. I am, however, discussing with you troubles which concern us both, and sharing the remedy with you, just as if we were lying ill in the same hospital.’


Marcus Aurelius lay ill in that hospital, too. As beneficiary of the privileges of emperor, he also endured the struggles and stresses of that very same position, plus a few more besides. I know better than to try to improve on the following accounting, provided in Irvine’s A Guide to the Good Life:
He was sick, possibly with an ulcer. His family life was a source of distress: his wife appears to have been unfaithful to him, and of the at least 14 children she bore him, only six survived. Added to this were the stresses that came with ruling an empire. During his reign, there were numerous frontier uprisings, and Marcus often went personally to oversee campaigns against upstart tribes. His own officials – most notably, Avidius Cassius, the governor of Syria – rebelled against him. His subordinates were insolent to him, which insolence he bore with ‘an unruffled temper’. Citizens told jokes at his expense and were not punished for doing so. During his reign, the empire also experienced plague, famine, and natural disasters such as the earthquake at Smyrna.

Ever the strategist, Marcus employed a trusty technique in confronting the days that comprised such a life, making a point to tell himself at the start of each one of them: ‘I shall meet with meddling, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, and unsociable people.’ He could have been different about it – he could have pretended things were just hunky-dory, especially on those days when they really were, or seemed to be. But how, then, would he have been prepared to angle both into the wind and away from it – adapting, always, to fate’s violently vexing vicissitudes? Where would that have left him when the weather changed?

Lary Wallace is features editor of Bangkok Post: The Magazine. He has written for the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Paris Review Daily, The Library of America Reader’s Almanac, and others.

mercredi, 06 mai 2015

Pourquoi il faut se remettre à Sénèque (et aussi au latin !)


Pourquoi il faut se remettre à Sénèque (et aussi au latin !)
Précepteur de Néron, Sénèque fut bien placé pour savoir que les bons conseils n'ont pas de bons suiveurs.
Ex: http://www.bvoltaire.fr

Il est inepte et socialiste de se remettre au latin sans savoir pourquoi. Le latin, langue de Pétrone, de Virgile et d’une poignée de grands génies politiquement incorrects…

Précepteur de Néron, Sénèque fut bien placé pour savoir que les bons conseils n’ont pas de bons suiveurs. Pourtant, à vingt siècles de là, et dans les temps postmodernes désastreux et désabusés où nous vivons, nous ne pouvons que nous émerveiller de la justesse de ses analyses, comme si Sénèque faisait partie de ces penseurs qui cogitent dans ce que Debord appelait le présent éternel.

Et je lui laisse écrire à Lucilius :

Sur le quidam obsédé par l’argent et par la consommation : « Les riches sont plus malheureux que les mendiants ; car les mendiants ont peu de besoins, tandis que les riches en ont beaucoup. »

Sur l’obsession des comiques et de la dérision, si sensible depuis les années Coluche : « Certains maîtres achètent de jeunes esclaves effrontés et aiguisent leur impudence, afin de leur faire proférer bien à propos des paroles injurieuses que nous n’appelons pas insultes, mais bons mots. »

Sur la dépression, ou ce mal de vivre mis à la mode par les romantiques, Sénèque écrit ces lignes : « De là cet ennui, ce mécontentement de soi, ce va-et-vient d’une âme qui ne se fixe nulle part, cette résignation triste et maussade à l’inaction…, cette oisiveté mécontente. »

Sur le tourisme de masse et les croisières, Sénèque remarque : « On entreprend des voyages sans but ; on parcourt les rivages ; un jour sur mer, le lendemain, partout on manifeste la même instabilité, le même dégoût du présent. »

Extraordinaire, aussi, cette allusion au délire immobilier qui a détruit la terre : « Nous entreprendrons alors de construire des maisons, d’en démolir d’autres, de reculer les rives de la mer, d’amener l’eau malgré les difficultés du terrain… »

Une société comme la nôtre ne manque pas d’esquinter les gens, de les réduire à un état légumineux. Sénèque le sait, à son époque de pain et de jeux, de cirque et de sang : « Curius Dentatus disait qu’il aimerait mieux être mort que vivre mort » (Curius Dentatus aiebat malle esse se mortuum quam uiuere).

L’obsession du « people », amplifiée par Internet et ses milliers de portails imbéciles (parfois un million de commentaires par clip de Lady Gaga), est aussi décrite par le penseur stoïcien : « De la curiosité provient un vice affreux : celui d’écouter tout ce qui se raconte, de s’enquérir indiscrètement des petites nouvelles, tant intimes que publiques, et d’être toujours plein d’histoires (auscultatio et publicorum secretorumque inquisitio).

Je terminerai par l’obsession humanitaire de nos temps étiolés, dont Chesterton disait qu’ils étaient marqués par les idées chrétiennes devenues folles, voire idiotes : « C’est une torture sans fin que de se laisser tourmenter des maux d’autrui » (nam alienis malis torqueri aeterna miseria est).

Fort heureusement, on peut se remettre aux classiques grecs et romains grâce à remacle.org.