POINT: “I would very much like or prefer to have success, approval, or comfort,” and then end with the conclusion, “But I don’t have to have it. I won’t die without it. And I could be happy (though not as happy) without it.”
COUNTERPOINT: YES I DO AND YES I WILL AND NO I CAN’T, RESPECTIVELY
POINT: “Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men…I can neither be harmed by any of them, for no man will involve me in wrong, nor can I be angry with my kinsman or hate him; for we have come into the world to work together.”
COUNTERPOINT: Honestly, fuck you.
POINT: “To the rational being only the irrational is unendurable, but the rational is endurable.”
COUNTERPOINT: NOTHING IS ENDURABLE HOW DARE YOU
POINT: “Study how to give as one that is sick: that thou mayest hereafter give as one that is whole. Fast; drink water only; abstain altogether from desire, that thou mayest hereafter confirm thy desire to Reason.”
COUNTERPOINT: HONESTLY WHY DON’T YOU TRY NOT EATING AND WANTING THINGS AND SEE HOW GOOD IT MAKES YOU FEEL
POINT: Worse than war is the very fear of war.
COUNTERPOINT: THAT’S RIDICULOUS, PROBABLY
POINT: The old Romans had a custom which survived even into my lifetime. They would add to the opening words of a letter: “If you are well, it is well; I also am well.”
COUNTERPOINT: WELL THAT IS A STUPID CUSTOM TO HAVE
POINT: “Does aught befall you? It is good. It is part of the destiny of the Universe ordained for you from the beginning. All that befalls you is part of the great web.”
COUNTERPOINT: THEN IT’S A STUPID WEB AND I HATE IT
POINT: “To you, all you have seems small: to me, all I have seems great. Your desire is insatiable, mine is satisfied. See children thrusting their hands into a narrow-necked jar, and striving to pull out the nuts and figs it contains: if they fill the hand, they cannot pull it out again, and then they fall to tears.—’Let go a few of them, and then you can draw out the rest!’ — You, too, let your desire go! covet not many things, and you will obtain.”
COUNTERPOINT: I’M NOT GOING TO WANT LESS STUFF JUST BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH FIGS, BUDDY
POINT: “How can it be that one who hath nothing, neither raiment, nor house, nor home, nor bodily tendance, nor servant, nor city, should live tranquil and contented? Behold God hath sent you a man to show you in act and deed that it may be so. Behold me! I have neither city nor house nor possessions nor servants: the ground is my couch; I have no wife, no children, no shelter—nothing but earth and sky, and one poor cloak. And what lack I yet? am I not untouched by sorrow, by fear? am I not free?”
COUNTERPOINT: Well, congratulations on not wanting anything, GUY, I’ll be over here wanting and getting stuff
POINT: “In the morning, when thou art sluggish at rousing thee, let this thought be present; ‘I am rising to a man’s work.’”
POINT: “Think of God more often than thou breathest.”
COUNTERPOINT: THAT SOUNDS TERRIBLE
POINT: “‘My brother ought not to have treated me thus.’ True: but he must see to that. However he may treat me, I must deal rightly by him. This is what lies with me, what none can hinder.”
COUNTERPOINT: THAT SOUNDS EVEN WORSE THAN THE OTHER THING, I WANT TO PUNISH HIM
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.