Thoughts on the Diary of an Emperor and More

Cover Image: a bee and a flower somewhere in San Elizario, Texas during a too-sunny day: Canon R6, RF 85mm 1.2 DS

I flew in from Texas yesterday. I’m in my room in Lynnwood, Washington which feels cold compared to my room in Horizon City that stays around 75 for most of the summer. I’m munching on chicharrones (fried pork skins) made by our family’s favorite local grocery store. The Beetles are playing the background. I’m writing to take a break from unpacking.

So many photos to go through over the next days.

I’m tired of how my hands will—by reflex alone—begin to type redd…and the my browser fills in the rest:

It happens. And then I scroll. And not much good follows. I’ve learned a lot of factoids from the site. And it’s good for community problem solving. But, my god, I have lost months and months of my life to mindless scrolling on that site. It reminds me of something that I read in Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff. Slot machine gamblers become one with the machine in a rhythmic flow that exists beyond time. Link: Article by Shoshana Zuboff making the comparison between social media and gambling addiction.

Melding with the machine.
Becoming one: Dissolution.
Timeless and selfless: Impoverished.

I learned a lot from reddit. I’m just not clear about the value or use of that information. Also, the machine learned what I, and my peers, found interesting; and people were paid well for acquiring that knowledge.

See: doomscrolling

Cover art of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, translated by Gregory Hays. It is an illustrations: the blood splattered silhouette of a red crow or raven perched behind the clean, white silhouette of a ruffled feather.

I’m reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. It’s the diary of one of the most beloved Roman Emperors. I’m reading the the newest translation to come out. And it’s hitting me hard, like, in a meaningful, possibly transformative way.

Madeline said the cover art is “the most Andy-art ever.” I’m inclined to agree. I love it.

A voice says: The world is not only organized rationally and scientifically but also aesthetically.

Why? I ask.

No idea, he says.

First , this book has been amazing. If you don’t read it that’s your loss. It’s a best seller. And it has guided the soul of countless leaders, and soldiers over the years.

Second, I’m reminded how pointless it is to try to write profound things. Whatever you have to say, someone has already said it. It’s good to rediscover old truths and reinterpret them. But it has already been done. So, stay humble. Because, you’re not going to make any philosophical breakthroughs. And if you do, people won’t realize it until your dead. (Someone please invent a time machine and tell my younger self to chill with the enlightenment quest and read the paragraph I just wrote.)

One of my favorite parts is where Marcus Aurelius is arguing with himself to get out of bed:

At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I have to go to work–as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I am going to do what I was born for–the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?
–But it’s nicer here….
So you were born to feel “nice”? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and the spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands.
–But we have to sleep sometime….
Agreed. But nature set a limit on that […] And you’re over the limit.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Translated by Gregory Hays