In “Chapter XIII: The Life and Philosophy of Pythagoras,” Manly P. Hall states:
Pythagoras taught that friendship was the truest and nearest perfect of all relationships. He declared that in Nature there was a friendship of all for all; of gods for men; of doctrines one for another; of the soul for the body; of the rational part for the irrational part; of philosophy for its theory; of men for one another; of countrymen for one another; that friendship also existed between strangers, between a man and his wife, his children, and his servants. All bonds without friendship were shackles, and there was no virtue in their maintenance. Pythagoras believed that relationships were essentially mental rather than physical, and that a stranger of sympathetic intellect was closer to him than a blood relation whose viewpoint was at variance with his own.
(pp. 196 – 197)
This passage struck multiple nerves when I read it. I completely agree that friendship is based upon sympathetic interests, and I have long accepted that “bonds without friendship were shackles, and there was no virtue in their maintenance.” Throughout my life, friends have come and gone, usually the result of changes of interests and ideas, resulting in the sympathetic connection dissolving over the course of time. Generally, I have been OK with this, although, at this stage in my life, it seems easier to lose friends in this divisive society than it is to make new friends. Which leads me to the next point.
Pythagoras asserted that “a stranger of sympathetic intellect was closer to him than a blood relation whose viewpoint was at variance with his own.” As much as I want to dig my heels in and rail against this statement, I must concede the veracity of it. One need only look around and note the family members who are alienated because of different views, be they political, social, religious, or whatever. I know people who refuse to speak with their parents, and parents who refuse to speak to their children, all because of what I would consider trivial differences of opinion. And while I personally would never alienate myself from my family because of a difference of ideology, there are clearly many who would. So, it appears that Pythagoras recognized that this is a tendency of human behavior. Anyway, it gave me reason to pause and think.
I think that is all I have to say about this passage. I will conclude by saying that reading the several chapters on Pythagoras in this book gave me a whole new perspective on him as a thinker and philosopher. Previously, all I could tell you about Pythagoras was that there was a mathematical theorem named after him, but could not tell you anything else. He was fascinating.
Thanks for stopping by, and have an amazing day.
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This is a short arc of four issues. I decided to wait until all four were published so I could read them all in a single sitting. I’m glad I did, because it was nice to read the entire tale from beginning to end.
As is often the case with Stranger Things, this arc incorporates themes of friendship, adventure, and nerdiness. In fact, there is a bit of dialog in the first issue that about being a nerd that I want to share.
“Have no fear, my man! We too will shine in our time!”
“Yeah, we’re nerds… the older we get, the cooler we get.”
I really agree with this. Growing up, I felt I was an outcast because my interests were just not cool, and try as I did to fit in, I was just faking and always felt like an outsider. But as I got older, I started meeting people who shared my interests and passions, and they became my lifelong friends. I can get on the phone with people and talk about art and music and books and mysticism. I can get together with friends and play board games. All the things I loved growing up that made me feel like I didn’t quite fit in are now the things that serve as bonds with my closest friends. I suppose that is why I am so much happier now than I was in my younger years.
Anyway, not a whole lot else to talk about regarding these comics. They were fun to read, and sometimes I just want to read something light and fun and happy. This falls into that category.
For me, what made the “Stranger Things” series on Netflix so engaging was the sense of nostalgia that it evoked. This comic, based on the series, does the same thing for me.
The premise of the story is that Eleven is celebrating her first Christmas with the gang. Since she is unaware of the customs and traditions associated with the holiday season, the boys suggest watching holiday specials which they had recorded on VCR tapes. Each one describes his favorite show in a way that is truly endearing. For example, Dustin begins his explanation of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” as follows:
There’s this kid, and he’s always kind of sad and a little lonely, even though he’s got lots of friends around him all the time. But his best friend is really his pet dog, who walks around like he’s people. Anyway, all the kids at school are going to put on a Christmas pageant…like a kind of play…and this guy’s job is to go pick out a Christmas tree for it. But the tree that he brings back is just, like, a stick. It’s completely hilarious.
When asked how her first Christmas was, Eleven replies: “Being together. With family, and friends? That’s the meaning.”
That succinct reply really sums it up for me. The holidays are about connecting with those you care about, sharing joy, and looking forward to a better tomorrow. While it is easy to get caught up in the negative hype that media outlets love to bombard us with, I genuinely feel that there is a lot of love and good which is getting overlooked. Personally, I am going to focus my attention on the things that make me happy this season.
May you and your loved ones be blessed with happiness.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unus’d to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancell’d woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanish’d sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor’d and sorrows end.
This poem is one of the “fair youth” sonnets. It essentially contrasts the emotional states associated with focusing on the past as opposed to the present.
The beginning of the sonnet is filled with the alliterative “s” sound, emulating the sound of a sigh, which is actually mentioned in the third line. The speaker is lost in thought about the past, obsessed with wasted time, failed endeavors, and lost loves. There is also a sense of mortality, as the person remembers the deaths of his friends and presumably contemplates his own. The focus on the past becomes so intense, that he is actually renewing and reliving his pain and loss. This is something I feel we have all experienced, at least I know for sure that I have. In my quiet times, it is easy for me to replay old tapes of the past and imagine what might have been, to mourn missed opportunities and lost friendships. This is exactly the feeling that Shakespeare is conveying in this poem.
But the last couplet provides a stark contrast to the prevailing mood of the sonnet. Here his focus shifts from the past to his current relationship with the fair youth, and you get the sense that the speaker is immediately able to let go of the past and appreciate what is truly important: the connection with people here and now.
We have a very limited time in our lives, and to waste that precious time obsessing about the past is a tragedy. To quote Ram Dass, we need to “Be Here Now.” We cannot change the past, and the future is uncertain. All we have is this moment. Take advantage of it and enjoy your connection with your friends and loved ones.
I recently saw this play performed on stage. Prior to that, I had no idea what this play was about, except that it probably had something to do with a guy named Timon who was from Athens. What I discovered was a really cool play which touched on themes that I could relate to. I decided to read the text and explore the nuances of the text.
To very briefly summarize this play, it is about a guy named Timon who was from Athens (surprised?) who was fortunate enough to have some degree of wealth. Timon was very generous and would hold lavish parties for his friend, give them expensive gift, and offer charity to those in need. But after a while, Timon found himself in financial trouble and sought the aid of his friends. It is an old but true cliché, that when you are down and out, you discover who your real friends are. Timon sadly discovers that his friends were false and just hung around to sponge off of him. Not a single person offers to help him. Disillusioned with humanity, he leaves society to live in the wild, certain that all people are solely motivated by greed and selfishness.
Early in the play, there is some foreshadowing of what will happen to Timon.
When Fortune in her shift and change of mood
Spurns down her late beloved. all his dependants
Which labored after him to the mountain’s top
Even on their hands and knees let him slip down,
Not one accompanying his declining foot.
(Act I: scene i)
After Timon’s flattering fake friends turn their back on him, he comes to the realization that humans are worse than animals. Animals would not use each other for material gain, or neglect each other when difficulties arise. This dark revelation affirms in his mind that humans are not to be trusted, and this loss of faith in mankind swiftly turns to a hatred of all humanity.
Timon will to the woods, where he shall find
The unkindliest beast more kinder than mankind.
The gods confound—hear me, you good gods all! —
The Athenians both within and out that wall!
And grant, as Timon grows, his hate may grow
To the whole human race of mankind, high and low!
(Act IV: scene i)
While Timon is in the woods, he is accosted by some bandits who suspect he has some hidden treasure. Timon responds by pointing out that nature can provide all of a person’s needs, that money is not required in order to thrive.
Your greatest want is you want much of meat.
Within this mile break forth a hundred springs.
The oaks bear mast, the briers scarlet hips.
The bounteous housewife, Nature, on each bush
Lays her full mess before you. Want! Why want?
(Act IV: scene iii)
As I finished this play, I was reminded of the song “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.” And while I have had my share of experiences with fair weather friends, I am also fortunate enough to have close friends who have always been there for me in my time of need. For this I am grateful.
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