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Archive for the ‘Cynicism’ Category

Now that we’re in the interdiem of the two wretched holidays of Christmas and Valentine’s Day, we’re free to return to despising humanity without the commercial pressure to spend money to love everyone. This brings to mind that marvel of a society, the Diogenes Club, mentioned first by Sherlock Holmes in the story, “The Greek Interpreter”:

There are many men in London, you know, who, some from shyness, some from misanthropy, have no wish for the company of their fellows. Yet they are not averse to comfortable chairs and the latest periodicals. It is for the convenience of these that the Diogenes Club was started, and it now contains the most unsociable and unclubable men in town. No member is permitted to take the least notice of any other one. Save in the Stranger’s Room, no talking is, under any circumstances, allowed, and three offences, if brought to the notice of the committee, render the talker liable to expulsion. My brother was one of the founders, and I have myself found it a very soothing atmosphere.

Diogenes_Club

The eponymous Diogenes was a Greek philosopher about whom a number of stories are told. One has him wandering about with a lantern, looking for an honest man.

Diogenes_looking_for_a_man_-_attributed_to_JHW_Tischbein

Another tells of a meeting between Alexander the Great and Diogenes. The young king asked the philosopher what he might do for the older man, to which Diogenes replied that Alexander could stop blocking his sunlight.

387px-Alexander_visits_Diogenes_at_Corinth_by_W._Matthews_(1914)

His philosophy was known as cynicism, derived from the Greek word, κυνικός (kunikos), meaning dog-like. He praised dogs for their natural behavior, animals that don’t take on the hypocrisy of civilized life.

800px-Jean-Léon_Gérôme_-_Diogenes_-_Walters_37131

My regular readers will see why I hold Diogenes in high regard–not that he would care in the slightest. And that is the message here. We spend far too much time worrying about what other people think of us. A measure of cynicism is a good corrective. As George Carlin told us, a cynic is a disappointed idealist, and a whole lot of disappointing people could do us all a favor and stop being so bloody annoying.

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