Teach Me What I Need to Know

Seneca, Moral Epistles 109.17-18

“I have done what you asked, although it was in a series of subjects which are in my works on moral philosophy. Consider what I am in the habit of telling you often: there is nothing in these kinds of studies for us other than practicing our wit. I repeatedly return to this: How does this subject help me? Make me braver now, more just, more temperate. There has been no time to practice yet, I still need my trainer beside me. Why do you ask me about useless knowledge? You made massive promises: check this, watch!. You were saying that I would be fearless even if swords were clashing around me, even if the edges were just touching my throat–you were claiming I would feel safe, even if fires were raging around me, even if a sudden storm would toss my ship over the whole sea!

Offer me this cure now so I can spurn pleasure and glory. After that you will teach me to solve logic problems and make sense of ambiguity. For now, teach me what I need to know. BYE.”

Persolvi id quod exegeras, quamquam in ordine rerum erat, quas moralis philosophiae voluminibus complectimur. Cogita, quod soleo frequenter tibi dicere, in istis nos nihil aliud quam acumen exercere. Totiens enim illo revertor: quid ista me res iuvat? Fortiorem fac iam, iustiorem, temperantiorem. Nondum exerceri vacat; adhuc medico mihi opus est. Quid me poscis scientiam inutilem? Magna promisisti; exige, vide. Dicebas intrepidum fore, etiam si circa me gladii micarent, etiam si mucro tangeret iugulum; dicebas securum fore, etiam si circa me flagrarent incendia, etiam si subitus turbo toto navem meam mari raperet. Hanc mihi praesta curam, ut voluptatem, ut gloriam contemnam. Postea docebis inplicta solvere, ambigua distinguere, obscura perspicere; nunc doce quod necesse est. Vale.

screen shot from super mario brothers. mario about to get a power uo

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