He was upstairs in a bookstore.
Twenty years old at the time, he had climbed a ladder set against a bookcase and was searching for the newly-arrived Western books: Maupassant, Baudelaire, Strindberg, Ibsen, Shaw, Tolstoy…
This is the opening paragraph of a short story called The Life Of A Stupid Man by Ryunosuke Akutagawa.
This paragraph hooked me into the work of the father of the Japanese short story because of the author’s vulnerability.
His short stories offer several mental health and creative insights:
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Stoicism is sexy. All you need to do is look at the huge rise in Stoic content that people are consuming and that’s been popularised by the likes of Ryan Holiday and other authors who’re bringing the philosophy down to earth.
It’s little wonder a philosophy that has been described as austere and confused with being emotionless has found its sex appeal. I’m all for keeping this momentum going and making Stoicism more accessible to younger generations.
Donald Robertson’s Verissimus graphic novel could be a perfect Stoic entry point for Gen Z readers and younger. Focusing on the life of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Verissimus is a sweeping epic of man putting his philosophy into action and has great relevance today.
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The shadow of the Roman politician Seneca looms large in Stoic philosophy. His work is among the most well-preserved and quoted Stoic texts throughout history, and countless generations have been influenced by his insights into the human condition.
Perhaps this is best seen in The Letters to Lucilius, where Seneca discusses universal themes with his friend. While the letters contain timeless wisdom, Seneca’s ideas are spread across hundreds of pages, and distilling them down could seem like an intimidating task to some.
Not for David Fideler.
In Breakfast With Seneca: A Stoic Guide To The Art Of Living, Fideler has provided a wonderful overview of Seneca’s ideas, and here are my ten biggest takeaways from the book.
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We all desire something. More money, more security, more love, more friendship. We all imitate each other. Ideas, perspectives, thoughts, processes. This is mimesis, the fuel that powers a system of desire that’s been around since the earliest days of mankind.
Author Luke Burgis is fascinated with mimesis and he breaks down this universal concept in Wanting: The Power Of Mimetic Desire In Everyday Life. In the book, Burgis explains how to identify mimetic desire, when it’s negative and positive and how to develop tactics for promoting healthy desires.
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