My biggest Stoic sin of the day was being rude about mum, and on this blog too! The irony!
Reading back over the entries so far, I’m surprised how negative they seem, because I like Stoicism, and I’ve been looking forward to taking part in this week for the last few months. I think I should try to use this blog to express some of the reasons I read the Stoics and how I’ve found the philosophy helpful.
I made several mistakes today. The second was saying that I’d give up sweet stuff for the week. I’d had breakfast at 6 am, and by 11.30 I was too hungry to wait for lunch. By then I was in an art gallery with a tea room that only served cakes and scones. I compromised by having a cheese scone. I’m amending my pledge to say I’ll try to exercise moderation vis a vis sweets for the rest of the week.
Thirdly, I accuse myself of moral laziness. The art gallery I visited was Ditchling Arts and Crafts, dedicated to the work of the artistic community there between the wars. I was drawn there because I wanted to see Louis Ginnet’s tender pictures of his daughter. One of them was on display in the Brighton Museum for years and I always felt drawn to it. But, the star of the show at Ditchling is, inevitably, Eric Gill. The museum puts his art into context; his Roman Catholicism, his ideals, his friends and relationships. There is a sketch of his wife with a script that says they were ideally suited because she could tolerate his infidelities. Did the infidelities referred to include those with their daughters and their dog?
I don’t think that Gill’s work should be condemned because of the man, although I’d make an exception for his devotional work; if I was an RC I’m sure I wouldn’t want to pray in front of his stations of the cross, however beautiful. But the exhibition at Ditchling does not just exhibit Gill’s work, it is about Gill’s life, and there is something rather dishonest about ignoring that aspect of it. Instead they sweep it under the carpet.
I wish I’d at least asked for an explanation before I left.
OK. Day examined. Now meditate on Cato the Younger. I’m too tired for this. The only thing that comes to mind is that I’d avoid getting stuck in a corner with him at a party. It would be like having a conversation with Norman Tebbit in a toga. I’d offer to fetch some nibbles and then seek out Cicero and ask him how his daughter was getting on. He’d rabbit on happily for twenty minutes on his favourite subject. Then when Cato came looking for me, I’d give him a meaningful look and explain that Cicero’s been talking about his daughter. That would make Cato feel superior, because he doesn’t invest so much in these emotional attachments, and everyone would be happy.