Little Machines that Won’t Try

Seneca, Moral Epistles 116.6-8

“As much as possible, let’s step back from the slippery slope. We stand too shakily on dry ground as it is! You will surely present me with that public complaint about Stoics: “You promise too many great things, your commands are too hard. We are only little machines, we can’t deny ourselves everything! We will grieve, but too little; we will desire, but temperately; we will get angry, but we will be appeased.”

You know why we can’t do these things? Because we don’t believe it is possible. Really, my god, there’s more in this, because we love our faults, we defend them and prefer to make excuses for them instead of addressing them. Nature has given us enough strength, if we use it, if we gather all our abilities together for us or at least we don’t let them work against us. Our unwillingness is the cause, inability is pretense. BYE.”

Quantum possumus, nos a lubrico recedamus; in sicco quoque parum fortiter stamus. Occurres hoc loco mihi illa publica contra Stoicos voce: “Nimis magna promittitis, nimis dura praecipitis. Nos homunciones sumus, omnia nobis negare non possumus. Dolebimus, sed parum; concupiscemus, sed temperate; irascemur, sed placabimur.” Scis, quare non possumus ista? Quia nos posse non credimus. Immo mehercules aliud est in re: vitia nostra quia amamus, defendimus et malumus excusare illa quam excutere. Satis natura homini dedit roboris, si illo utamur, si vires nostras colligamus ac totas pro nobis, certe non contra nos concitemus. Nolle in causa est, non posse praetenditur. Vale.

Color photograph of an oil painting. Geometric abstract art: one large black circle with many colored circles within it. There are think diagonal lines bisecting the main circle: yellow from left to upper right; green-blue from upper left to lower right. Various straight lines are among the circles within

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