Wednesday August 1st 2012 Tim
Struggling as I do with an appalling memory, I still
believe that long ago I thought that if ever I got older I'd become less
of a cynic. Which is a sometimes confusing word. In the
Ancient Greece, A Cynic, was a member of a sect who thought that virtue
was the only good and self control the only way to become virtuous.
Consequently, The Cynics were apt to spend more time than is healthy
pointing out the flaws in others. Of modern definitions of
"Cynic", the one I best understand refers to a person who thinks that
others are motivated by an always transparent self centeredness.
And I mostly think this because when I was at boarding school, we were
not supposed to be cynical about the motives of those under whose care
we found ourselves. They were perfect, we were badly flawed.
The ancient philosophy of
cynicism is said to have been inspired by Diogenes, whose father was
probably a banker of some sort. Diogenes himself was once exiled for
defacing currency, he was once captured by pirates, he is said to have made
a habit of urinating on table legs. He was pretty much homeless, and
unwashed, and his indifference to wealth and proper behavior was probably
very irritating to be around. And it is said that one morning, while
Diogenes was waking up to a chilly day, in the public square where he had
spent his night, enjoying the warmth of sun as it brought heat to his body,
Alexander the Great walked up to him. When the powerful and often
scary Alexander asked Diogenes what favor might be granted to Diogenes,
Diogenes replied "You can stop standing in my sunlight."