Thursday, February 24, 2011

Logical Song

208.2lbs. Man it seems like yesterday I was in in the 230's. It almost brings a tear to my eye- almost. I figure we are looking at almost 24lbs lost, maybe more, due to scale issues at the beginning. That puts me at almost the halfway mark and in a very short period of time - not even through with week 7 yet. I still have two weigh ins before we can see how deep the rabbit hole of weight loss goes.

I am still a bit cynical about all of this. I even calculated the calories for my breakfast this morning. It was somewhere around the 750 calorie mark if I remember correctly. You see, I don't remember because I realized losing 1lb by counting calories alone would not be possible, even if my breakfast was my only meal or if I ate nothing at all. By conventional wisdom 1 lb fat equals 3500 calories. I'll let you sort out the math but even a precursory bit of number crunching can tell you why I quickly dismissed the calorie factor from my memory.

I am a natural cynic and one my personal heroes is the greatest of them all: Diogenes the Dog. Diogenes was one of the founders of Cynicism. The word cynic means dog-like. Cynics were often referred to as dogs because they roamed the streets and were shameless - it was meant as an insult. But Diogenes being a very clever man turned this on its head by saying, "Other dogs bite their enemies, I bite my friends to save them." He also said, "I am Diogenes the Dog. I nuzzle the kind, bark at the greedy and bite scoundrels.""

In modern times he would have been called a curmudgeon albeit a very funny one. Diogenes had no problem exposing the hypocrisy of his day and did so in such a comical way, he gained favor by tweaking even the highest of authorities with his scathing but much appreciated wit. He also lived much the way Buddhist monks lived - by begging, hence another reference to being "dog-like", but not for the sake of being ascetic. Diogenes did not want to be beholden to any man and felt that certain pursuits in life would make him very much so. Diogenes was asked, Why do people give to beggars but not to philosophers? "Because they think they may one day be lame or blind, but never expect that they will turn to philosophy," Diogenes replied.

Diogenes could have lived quite comfortably if he chose. Among his many admirers was perhaps the most powerful man in ancient history, Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great once declared, "If I were not Alexander, then I should wish to be Diogenes." High praise from a man who virtually ruled and conquered much of the known world at the time.

Diogenes also had a very famous enemy, Plato. Reading their exchanges sends me reeling with laughter. Diogenes really did a great job of sending up Plato - to his face! Plato rarely had a decent reply, in fact, most of his statements toward Diogenes seemed downright juvenile. Diogenes saw through the puffed up man who labeled him as "a mad Socrates" and the man knew it. I love this anecdote:

Plato had defined Man as an animal, biped and featherless, and was applauded. Diogenes plucked a fowl and brought it into the lecture-room with the words, "Here is Plato's man."

I believe Plato hated having a light shone on his ideas or to have them held up to scrutiny. Plato only entertained him because Diogenes was so beloved by Athenians. What made Alexander truly great was that he knew, no matter how much he acquired and did, he was still prone to having flaws like any other man. He embraced someone who had the bravery to expose them, Plato did not. Plato did not like his ideas to be viewed so cynically.

More and more I wish that people would embrace a bit of cynical thought and use it upon themselves and their beliefs the way Diogenes often did. I think they would be more enlightened than ever even if it means breaking down the very ideas that have caused them to label themselves arbitrarily to fit into some preconceived notion on what they are expected to think. The cynic in me tells me that no one seems to want to make that effort much anymore.

By the way, if you have ever heard the word "cosmopolitan" you can thank Diogenes for coining it. It means: citizen of the world.

Here are some more anecdotes and quotes, the first one should sound very familiar:

"On one bright, clear day, Diogenes was walking up and down the market place, holding a lighted lantern high in front of him and peering around as if searching for something. When people gaped and asked him what he was doing, he replied, "I am looking for an honest man.""

"Dogs and philosophers do the greatest good and get the fewest rewards."

"Discourse on virtue and they pass by in droves. Whistle and dance the shimmy, and you've got an audience."

"Most men are within a finger's breadth of being mad."

"Blushing is the color of virtue."

"As a matter of self-preservation, a man needs good friends or ardent enemies, for the former instruct him and the latter take him to task."

“I know nothing, except the fact of my ignorance”

“When I look upon seamen, men of science and philosophers, man is the wisest of all beings; when I look upon priests and prophets nothing is as contemptible as man”

“It is the privilege of the gods to want nothing, and of godlike men to want little.”

“He used to say that other men lived to eat, but that he ate to live”

In a rich man's house there is no place to spit but his face. "

"The foundation of every state is the education of its youth."

"Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend."

And then they showed me a world where I could be so dependable,
oh clinical, oh intellectual, cynical.

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