From Vol. 4, Issue 11, November 2022
When artists need inspiration, they turn to muses. A muse can be anyone who inspires them to do their work. It was Edie Sedgwick for Andy Warhol, Marianne Ihlen for Leonard Cohen, and Marie-Thérèse Walter for Piccasso.
The mythology of the nine muses
According to Greek mythology, Zeus and Mnemosyne had nine daughers: Clio, Erato, Thalia, Terpsichore, Calliope, Polyhymnia, Euterpe, Melpomene, and Urania. They were the original muses and their job was to inspire artists and scientists. There is even a neighbourhood in uptown New Orleans where the streets are named after these nine muses, each responsible for a different discipline.
We can search all of Stoic history but we would be hard put to find a Stoic muse. Stoicism refers to Zeus but not to the muses. What inspires the Stoics to think their thoughts? Where do Stoics find their muse? Do they even have muses?
Yes, Stoics do have their muses. They are plenty and they are ever present. Stoic muses are everyday events. Stoics are inspired by everyday predicaments and are influenced by Stoic rationality. Everything is a learning opportunity and nothing ever is a disaster.
Hurricanes? Yes! Struggles? Sure! Life’s challenges? Bring ‘em on! Stress and alienation? Let’s deal with it! Our life is grist for the Stoic mill. To a Stoic, everything is a natural part of life. That’s the theme of this issue of THE STOIC.
Consider the hurricanes that recently swept through parts of the United States and Canada. A Stoic may welcome them no more than anyone else, but once faced with them, has a different reaction. Confronted with a hurricane, Brandon Tamblin’s immediate response is to follow the Stoic principle of concentrating on what is under our control. Once we have done all we can to protect ourselves, we cease to worry about it and turn our thoughts towards others: Have you offered a haven for someone who may be more affected by the storm? Do you have open communication lines with your friends and family? Have you paid a short visit to your neighbours to offer them support if they need it during the storm? Are there any homeless shelters available during the storm that you could offer a donation to? (See page 7 of this issue.)
Brittany Polat, faced with a similar situation, muses about the importance of a virtuous life and living in accordance with nature. (Page 8)
Karen Duffy notes the gluttony of our inner pigdog and contends that it is what we choose to do during our greatest struggles that shows us who we really are. (Page 10)
When confronted with life’s challenges, Santara Gonzales says, we should take a step back and see the big picture. Then we may come to realize that not only the good things, but also the challenges we have endured, are responsible for shaping who we are. Instead of becoming bitter we should be grateful for everything that happens to us. (Page 5)
Observing “the epidemic of stress and alienation” exacerbated by crazy-busy Silcon Valley schedules, Merdith Kunz takes refuge in an inner citadel a la Marcus Aurelius. (Page 4)
Stoic maxims or quotes we carry in our heads remind us what is important when we lose (or are about to lose) our way. Greg Sadler warns us that many of the Stoic quotes we find on the internet are not authentic. Even when they are, they may be out of context. If we want to live by Stoic principles, we should first understand them in their right context and not hang on to any “stoic quote” that sounds good. (page 11.)