The Roman Philosopher Lucius Anneaus Seneca (4 BCE-65 CE) was perhaps the first to note the universal trend that growth is slow but ruin is rapid. I call this tendency the "Seneca Effect."
Showing posts with label Stoicism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stoicism. Show all posts

Saturday, May 20, 2023

The Seneca Effect Blog is Closing Down


The Internet is full of angry people shouting insults at each other. Take it easy, fellows, do as a good stoic would do. Accept the will of the Gods, but keep doing your duty and help others as much as you can. And have a little fun, when you can.


The moment has arrived: after about two years of posting on the "Seneca Effect" blog; I see that a cycle is concluded: look at the stats: 


Clearly, it is not possible to continue in these conditions. It is time to reshuffle, retrench, regroup, reconsider, rebuild. The "Seneca Effects" will close, and I'll transfer my writing elsewhere. For the time being, I am returning to my old blog "Cassandra's Legacy" that I had kept mothballed up to now (yes, Cassandra is returning!)

But to create a strategy for the future, first of all, I need to understand what went wrong. Why this remarkable "Hubbert Curve"? I can think of more than one reason, but essentially two: 1) The blog has been sabotaged by the search engines, Google in particular, and 2) the blog has evolved into something that readers find confusing. 

About the first hypothesis, there are surely elements of truth in it. I already discussed it in a previous post, and the majority of commenters agreed that they couldn't find the blog in the first rows of their search engine, except if they used "Bing." Apparently, Microsoft likes me, but Google doesn't. There is nothing especially conspiratorial in this. It already happened for my old "Cassandra" blog. And I, for one, bow down in front of our new memetic overlords! 

About the second hypothesis, it has elements of truth as well. The blog has evolved along with my personal views. I am normally classed together with the "catastrophists," and the idea of the "Seneca Cliff" can be seen as being as catastrophist as catastrophism can be. But my position is much more articulated than that: I see myself as a modern stoic. I accept the will of the Gods, but I consider it my duty to help people (including myself) to avoid the incoming disaster. 

The problem is that some people seem to have internalized the idea that collapse is unavoidable, and they don't seem to be able to think of a better way to face it than turning themselves into poor peasants (or dreaming the same thing thereof). My view, instead, is that we have to build a resilient society by means of renewable energy and that it is possible to do that with the currently existing technology. 

You may or may not agree with my position; the point is that many people are confused by a blog that has a title that hints at a coming collapse while it deals with ways to avoid collapse (the same problem that "The Limits to Growth" study had: few people understood what the authors were trying to do). So, they see my position as "treason" and proceed to insult me as a result. I prefer to close the blog than have readers like these.  

Apart from a number of hopeless cases of people really gone papayas, the problem is that a blog (or any kind of publication) must have a certain consistency. Many bloggers succeeded in growing their readership by always posting the same thing, only with minor variations (I have a few ones in mind, but let me not name names). That's not strictly necessary, but I understand that the aims of the "Seneca Effect" blog, as it is now, are confusing for many readers.  

So, it is time for the Seneca blog to fold over and for me to move onward. The two "souls" of the blog will find their places in two different blogs. The discussion on energy will move to the existing blog "The Sunflower Paradigm." It has been a marginal blog so far, but you can note that it is reasonably easy to find. And its readership is growing.

Then, how about my meditations on history, art, philosophy, stoicism, and the like? They might go to my existing blog, "Chimeras." Or maybe to a new blog that could be titled "Meditations" √† la Marcus Aurelius?  I am still thinking about that. Suggestions are welcome. In the meantime, here is the latest post I published on Chimeras.


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After 50 years of Catastrophism, we are now facing the cliff. What would Seneca do?




The Raft of the Medusa, a painting by Theodore G√©ricault (1818). It seems to illustrate the way some people feel in the current situation: survival implies throwing other people out of the raft. 

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, the Roman Philosopher, never was a catastrophist, but he understood that in life you have to expect ups and downs. And that when things go bad, they go bad fast (festinantur in damnum). This is what I called the "Seneca Effect.

Seneca was a stoic, a person steeped in the views of his times. It was an age when people understood that their control of the vagaries of life was limited. Sickness, ruin, pain, and death were facts of life for people who had no aspirin, no life insurance, and no dentists. In the stoics' view, bad moments had to be accepted and lived as a test of your moral fortitude, not as an excuse to forget one's duties in life. Seneca, just like all of us, had his defects. But when the final moment came for him, he accepted his destiny with dignity and serenity. 

And here we are, what holds for a single person holds for humankind. We are facing a serious downturn, a decline that could be so rapid to call it a cliff. Half a century after the serious warning of "The Limits to Growth," we not yet falling, but we are on the edge. We start seeing the chasm ahead while the fog of time clears. 

Is this becoming a test of moral fortitude for humankind? Unfortunately not. Humans are dividing themselves into tribes that fight each other, so far only verbally. Some just refuse to look ahead. Others think that, when jumping from the cliff, they'll be able to fly. Others search for someone to blame. 

A mixture of ignorance and aggressivity is generating a tremendous wave of hate; at least from what I can see in the comments to another post of mine. These people seem to think they are already on the raft of the Medusa, the French ship that was wrecked at sea in 1816. Only 15 out of the 146 people stranded on the raft survived. And they did that by throwing the others into the sea and recurring to cannibalism. 

But we are not there yet. There is still space for avoiding the sandbanks. We still can do our duty to live and help others living. Be a good stoic; do not lose hope, and do not fall into cruelty. 



Sunday, April 17, 2022

Veritatem Dies Aperit: Time Reveals the Truth

 


The Resurrection of Christ -- by Piero della Francesca (ca. 1465 AD).


The Roman Philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca lived in difficult times, not unlike ours. Then, as now, a Great Empire was starting to follow a road that would eventually lead to its final collapse. That was clear for those who could see beyond the veil of lies that pervaded everything, then as now. 

Seneca could never really face the ultimate consequences of what he was seeing, but sometimes he peered into the future, and he saw a better world that was to come. In his "De Ira" (about rage), Seneca wrote "Dandum semper est tempus: veritatem dies aperit." (There is always time, and the days disclose the truth). 

Seneca was also a contemporary of Jesus Christ. It is likely that neither knew of each other, but they shared one thing: the need for truth. Christ went beyond Seneca when he said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Seneca was still a man of the past, Christ was the future. 

There will be a moment when the mass of lies that surround us will collapse and fade away. On the day of resurrection, the day of Easter in Christianity, truth is revealed, and we might discover that it was always in front of us. 

Happy Easter, everyone!