There is an almost sensual longing for communion with others who have a larger vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendships between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality almost impossible to describe.
Now listen! Can’t you see that when the language was new — as it was with Chaucer and Homer — the poet could use the name of a thing and the thing was really there? He could say “O moon,” “O sea,” “O love” and the moon and the sea and love were really there. And can’t you see that after hundreds of years had gone by and thousands of poems had been written, he could call on those words and find that they were just worn-out literary words? The excitingness of pure being had withdrawn from them; they were just rather stale literary words. Now the poet has to work in the excitingness of pure being; he has to get back that intensity into the language. We all know that it’s hard to write poetry in a late age; and we know that you have to put some strangeness, something unexpected, into the structure of the sentence in order to bring back vitality to the noun. Now it’s not enough to be bizarre; the strangeness in the sentence structure has to come from the poetic gift, too. That’s why it’s doubly hard to be a poet in a late age.
The researchers made some remarkable discoveries about the evolution of word usage in English books over the past century. Firstly, the emotional content of published English has been steadily decreasing over the past century, with the exception of words associated with fear, an emotion which has resurged over the past decades. Dr Acerbi said: “This is particularly fascinating because it has recently been shown that differences in usage of content-free words are a signature of different stylistic periods in the history of western literature.”
They also found that American English and British English have undergone a distinct stylistic divergence since the 1960s. American English has become decidedly more ‘emotional’ than British English in the last half-century.
The same divergence was also found in the use of content-free words, that is words which carry little or no meaning on their own, such as conjunctions (‘and’, ‘but’) and articles (‘the’).
This suggests that the divergence in emotional content between the two forms of English is paired by a more general stylistic divergence.
The researchers made some remarkable discoveries about the evolution of word usage in English books over the past century. Firstly, the emotional content of published English has been steadily decreasing over the past century, with the exception of words associated with fear, an emotion which has resurged over the past decades.
Dr Acerbi said: “This is particularly fascinating because it has recently been shown that differences in usage of content-free words are a signature of different stylistic periods in the history of western literature.”
Cynicism defined itself — or rather, was defined — as ‘a shortcut to virtue’ as opposed to the long road, which passed through laborious textual study and the acquisition of theoretical knowledge. But this ‘shortcut’ was arduous and difficult, for it required the application of a demanding method: askésis (‘exercise,’ ‘practice,’ ‘training,’ ‘discipline’).
Understood in the Cynic sense of the term, askésis was intended as a preventive method. Every day, the Cynic trains the self physically in the arts of endurance; the daily exercise of the will causes fear to dissipate, since the practicing Cynic is constantly fortifying the self against unforeseen misfortunes.
The concept of ‘discipline’ (askésis), borrowed from the vocabulary of athletics, was not used by the Cynics only in a metaphorical sense. Like the athlete’s, the philosopher’s ‘discipline’ (askésis) was wholly concrete. The only difference resided in the telos of his training: while the athlete trained his body with a view to victory in the stadium, the Cynic trained it in order to strengthen his will and to ensure his capacity for endurance…
Diogenes trained himself to fight against such existential adversaries as exile, poverty, hunger, and death. For him, this was the only battle worth winning. Whereas civilized existence represents these trials (ponoi) as evils, the Cynic sought to endure them precisely by refusing to consider them evil. In order to acquire this state of mind, the Cynics exhorted themselves and others to practice a life in accordance with nature (kata phusin). Someone ‘trained’ to drink water, sleep on the ground, eat and dress simply, and put up with the heat or cold of the seasons will know how to respond with serenity when Fortune attacks. The law of Cynic askésis was simple: it consisted of living in poverty and satisfying only one’s natural needs — ‘the tuition-free way to learn philosophy.’ In this way, the Cynic sought freedom from emotional turmoil (apatheia) and independence from the outside world.
Changing the question ‘free from what?’ into ‘free for what?’; this change that occurs when freedom has been achieved has accompanied me on my migrations like a basso continuo. This is what we are like, those of us who are nomads, who come out of the collapse of a settled way of life.
I began to get enormously interested in how everybody said the same thing over and over again with infinite variations but over and over again until finally if you listened with great intensity you could hear it rise and fall and tell all that there was inside them, not so much by the actual words they said or the thoughts they had but the movement of their thoughts and words endlessly the same and endlessly different.