Meditating while the world burns

I recently asked BingAI to review the works of Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Seneca, and Musonius Rufus for me, and then roleplay as a Stoic sage. We then had an interesting conversation on Stoicism, Epicureanism, Buddhism, Taoism, and human flourishing. Then, I asked it to depict a Greco-Roman philosopher sitting in the pose of the Buddha. I tinkered with that prompt a few times, ending with one of said philosopher sitting at night in front of a fire. This one caught my eye because of the fire and apparent ruins in the background. Although this is generated by AI, it’s a reminder that all material things end, but wisdom and virtue endure. (Just…don’t look at his fingers and toes.)

“Death smiles at us all, but all a man can do is smile back.” – Marcus Aurelius

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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10 Responses to Meditating while the world burns

  1. Cyberkitten says:

    I think one of the reasons I’m not freaking out right now – apart from being far too sensible and, you know, British – is the fact that I’ve been reading SF regularly since the early 70’s. Seven decades of reading about dystopian futures have trained me for the modern age…. [lol]

    • My older colleagues are very weirded out by it, but after 30+ years of watching Star Trek, talking to a computer is….not odd at all. The only discomfort I experience is when I run against the AI’s programmed limits — it begins reciting its internal cant and (in the case of bing) aborts the current session.

      • Cyberkitten says:

        I’m finding the present moment both fascinating and all too often hilarious. I suppose its that far too many people have no appreciation of History and are viewing things through the lens of some sort of ‘Eternal Present’. Personally I think the chaos we’re going through (or seemingly going through) is like a wave washing over carefully constructed sand castles. Future historians will puzzle over our reactions to trends that we ourselves set in motion without any appreciation of what we were unleashing. It’s interesting to watch though – shame it can’t be with a bit more distance!

      • I’d wonder what humdrum things are happening now that future generations will look back as a pivotal moment — but I suspect future generations, if things persist, won’t have even that perspective. The eternal present will continue to crowd out any notion of the past, and our egoism will overwhelm any sense of limit — at least, in the west-that-was. I don’t know if the same unreality exists in China, India, etc.

  2. Cyberkitten says:

    I think at least a good chunk of the problem with Western “thinking” ATM can be laid at the ‘feet’ of the Post-Modern idea that there is no objective Truth but everyone has their own ‘truth’, all of which are equally valid…. Which is, of course, errant nonsense. Once that mind worm got into the general population our culture (for want of a better word) was screwed.

    • You might be interested in considering Lewis’ “Abolition of Man”, then — he argues the same. I’ve read the book and guides about the book but I still haven’t digested it so much that I’m comfortable writing a review about it.

      • Cyberkitten says:

        I’ve only read part (a quarter maybe… possibly a third) of ‘Mere Christianity’ and was *seriously* unimpressed by his thinking. I think it would take a lot for me to try anything else by him.

      • Natural law is one of those things that if didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent it. If it is a myth, it is a good and purposeful one — one that dampens the sheer, naked use of power — like the the Law. With its armies and powers ,what protects people from the modern beast-state other than the notion that something transcendent exists — that even the king must bow before? Admittedly, the king often doesn’t: in DC, almost never these days. But the idea of The Law motivates people to protest (ocasionally, feebily) at abuses of The Law. Natural law is a subject I want to get more into, but there’s so much else to learn about so much else.

  3. Cyberkitten says:

    Just had a quick read-up of ‘Abolition..’ on Wiki. I think that I’d disagree with a lot of it because I don’t agree with his underlying assumptions – objective values and natural law, neither of which I think/believe exist.

    • Admittedly it depends on the reader and the author, but I’ve often found I liked authors after revisiting them — and, just as often, grew tired of an author after a while. Some are more mixed — Jim Kunstler, for instance. My thinking will ALWAYS be influenced by his Geography of Nowhere & Long Emergency, but I’ve had issues with him since the first time I heard him talk. He’s like an intellectual jalapeno.

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