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The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

FROM BOOK ONE

6. I must remember to thank Diognetus for use of his [blow dryer?].

7. It was Rusticus who introduced me to the Dissertations of Epictetus. What can I say? Epictetus writes like a man afire… flat-out brilliance in a voice all his own. Trenchant… gripping. I laughed out loud on page 1 and couldn’t put it down until the end. A gifted and thrilling young writer with a ­deliciously dark take on contemporary life. Two thumbs up—way up—for Epictetus.

FROM BOOK TWO

11. Man’s life is not more or less than the life of a housefly. The body is a decaying heap of garbage and the soul a fleeting dream. Why can’t I get any girls to go out with me? I’m such a loser. Ate a giant bag of M&Ms today.

17. Even if the gods granted us a million years in which to live we would still not understand why Veronica Mars doesn’t do better in the ratings. The young cast is hugely appealing. But perhaps they remind the weary soul of its own steadily creeping decay. Our deeds will be forgotten forever within a generation of our deaths.

FROM BOOK THREE

1. Life shrinks and fades away until it is gone, and nothing can be done to stop its flight. In the end we are no better than dirt and dust. Have I mentioned this before? Why won’t [Jennifer?] call me back?

FROM BOOK FOUR

5. Birth and death are exactly alike. In the former case, one is being born. In the latter case, one is dying. Well, shit. Come to think of it, birth and death are nothing alike. I have no fucking idea what I’m talking about. Let me come back to this one.

15. Many droplets of sacrificial blood may mark the same small patch of ground, falling as if at random, first one, then the other. What does that even mean? I am so stoned!

17. Never forget that Fate is always with you. Watch out! There it is, right behind you! Ha ha, made you look.

21. If there is life after death, where do all the souls go? Some kind of condo? The whole notion is absurd. I feel like I’ve read this somewhere before. Am
I coming off too Woody Allen?

32. Consider the age of Vespasian. Men and women fornicating, enjoying bounteous feasts, assuming crowns and ascending thrones, making war, in­dulging in every sublime pleasure and base outrage of the flesh. And yet today they are less than dust, less than vapor, lost in the abyss of time. Still, they had it pretty fucking sweet, you have to admit.

FROM BOOK EIGHT

5. The first requirement of the truly virtuous man is a calm, reflective soul. The second is an unblinking eye that soberly takes in the world as it is. The third one I can’t remember. Number four is something about training the body in chastity and strength. There is a fifth thing, which involves having a nice pair of dress shoes, but that’s mostly just a suggestion. And remember, club soda can do wonders for just about any stain. Gum stuck in your hair? You’ll find that a dab of peanut butter does the trick quite nicely. Feeling blah? Fresh carrot juice makes a great pick-me-up.

FROM BOOK NINE

29. What is the Primal Cause? I mean, what if God is like a flea or something, and we’re all just a dream that this flea is having and when this flea wakes up we’re all totally, like, going to disappear or whatever? Am I blowing your mind?

30. Observe humankind as if from a mountain peak. How like insects they seem, scurrying this way and that. They pay no heed to you, nor do they care if you live or die, each absorbed in his own pointless race toward death. God I need a drink.

FROM BOOK TWELVE

36. Well, that’s about it for me, folks. I hope you enjoyed reading these meditations as much as I enjoyed writing them! It was a blast. Remember, don’t let “the turkeys” get you down! I complained because I had no shoes, and then I met a man with no feet. Chew on that one for a while. Hang in there, baby, it’s almost Friday! Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me. When the going gets tough the tough get going. And speaking of getting going, I am so outta here. Stay sweet. Catch you on the flip side! —M. A.

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