THE SENECA PROJECT

I woke up at 12:30 in the afternoon, the bright Australian sun beaming in through the window - a rough and musty task in my mouth. Blinkingly I looked around, aware of a dull headache, and realised that I was wearing my underpants backwards. I had attended a pool party the night before, and obviously I had gotten the boxer shorts back to front. In short the life of hedonism was taking its toll. I decided to read a novel called “A Man in Full” to balance things out.

It is a novel based on an interview story that involves a young man discovering a stoic book in prison and using those principles to change his own life and that of the main character, Charlie Cocker - a bankrupt billionaire. The book itself was quite poor, I thought - the characters were not that engaging, and I thought that the first half was a laboured read.

It was however a good introduction into the Stoics again after quite an absence. I have started to read the letters of Seneca, and I realised that they are very short and readable. I do have one problem with texts like these. I skim over them, nodding away and agreeing and then walk away as if I have achieved something. I feel smug in the comfort that I have read something from an ancient Roman - privately confirming my own genius. The only issue is that I remember nothing of it five minutes later.

I have come up with a challenge: I want to read a stoic chapter everyday and then write up a little review on it based on my observations. I will put the observations in the dropbox folder under musings, and you can have a read if you want. I have kind of stalled on the 1000 words a day, as I was getting bored of the routine. I think that the Seneca writings will be a more interesting approach. I have stuck some up already, so have a look!

Seneca’s writings were aimed at bored Roman aristocrats who were seeking meaning in their privileged lives. I got critical of this position. Then I thought; here I am in Byron Bay, chilling on the beach, going swimming and surfing when I feel like it, drinking mid-afternoon ciders. I’m in a fairly similar position to the son of a Roman centurion in a distant outpost in southern Spain really. I think I need all the advice Seneca can give me.