This week Seneca’s got a thing or two to say about over-indulgence and ending up controlled by our vices. Drawing from Letter 39, ‘On Noble Aspirations’, we explore how to indulge without losing control; the value of moderation (but only in moderation); and whether it’s really possible to become desensitised to anything.
First off, it seems Lucilius has asked Seneca for the Cheat Sheet to philosophy and Seneca ain’t too impressed. The old man of Stoicism would much rather you did the deep work, but there’s a time and a place for the Cliff Notes – when we need to recall things we already know. It’s like the index file to our mental libraries, but the file itself is going to be useless if you go to the right section in the library only to find the shelves are bare.
But it’s not like we have to write all the books ourselves. This letter brings a welcome reminder that all the work and creativity that’s gone before us shouldn’t make us feel inadequate, but can instead be seen as a vast number of leg-ups for us to take advantage of.
Moving on, this is really an episode about obsession and addiction and how to manage those impulses which can certainly lead to great experiences and achievements, but which can also be destructive and rob us of the ability to enjoy the simple, freely-available pleasures in life.
Seneca didn’t have a word for addiction as we’d understand it today, but he was certainly worried about over-indulgence in ‘vices’ that can end up controlling us. We dig into the latest theories on addiction, habit-forming, desensitisation and what we can do to make the best choices for ourselves.
We also contemplate the psychology of kink and whether BDSM can only remain exciting while it remains taboo in mainstream society. And then we give a swift knee-to-the-balls of self-help gurus, because having happiness and purpose is an attitude rather than something to be found under a bush or at the end of yet another self-discovery course.
We also plot our next big book: Fifty Shades of Pink and discuss the vital role of dwarves and donkeys in our sex lives.
- How to use life-hacks properly and effectively
- Do we really need ‘purpose’ to be happy?
- Why creative city planning could seriously improve our lives
- When vice becomes habit (or how not to eat cake)
- Getting desensitised at the movies
- And: Stop Shaming Vanilla Sex:
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