Editorial #2 – A Tricky Balance

They were all good at preaching, but try and imagine Aristotle sharing motivational quotes on Twitter. When you realize that even an afternoon siesta might kill you, that’s the moment you know you need a new philosophy to guide you through life.

 

There’s no need to be Aristotle to know that all that’s beautiful in life, or what is generally labelled as good, can harm us if administered even in slightly more generous portions. Bacon, eggs, even an afternoon siesta that is longer than three hours can transport us to a different time/space dimension. The same goes for being overly updated on American politics.

 

A long time ago, old pal Aristotle spoke about “the middle way” in his Nicomachean Ethics and explained that every human virtue must be exercised with balance in order to live a fair, happy life. He also talked about Wisdom (a combination of Intellect and Knowledge) and Intellect (the capacity we develop with experience, to grasp the sources of knowledge and truth). It’s from these two subjects that the idea for our story “Intelligenza” was born.

Intellect and knowledge are tools we need in our social life and to solve problems of various kinds. But what happens when we get to the apex of these disciplines? Isabel, our protagonist, realizes that after many years of study and dedication her love for knowledge and her brilliant mind can’t really make her life any easier.

Let’s take as example our daily life: what good comes from reading in detail, every day for weeks, about how thousands of people have been killed by hurricanes and earthquakes? Not to mention those history books about the Middle-East that explain how things really work (colonialism, mmm). Alas, it would really seem that finding an Aristotelian balance between fearful-mind sets and genuine curiosity isn’t that easy after all.

Were it only about practicing more defence strategies to defend ourselves from the terrifying wave of information and stimulations, that would be it. But that isn’t the case, because we also have to consider that every human being is a unique case in itself and with it there’s also the way they choose to live their life.

Each one of us has a different level of sensibility and mental resistance. For example, almost everybody has that one friend able to stay unmoved in front of ignorance flaunted on social media and idiocy on national newspapers (not to mention the their online versions, where really one wonders how the rescue of Ms Jones’ cat deserves the front page).

Nonetheless, there are also more delicate and softer personalities around, quick to get the undertones and the deep meaning of what they listen to. Because of it, they are eventually more damaged than the former. Everything beautiful, poetic and enlightening they learned is instantaneously shattered by pictures of African children’s suffering. Therefore, the bearer feels guilty, lives and worries constantly in the shadow of awareness and “the right perspective”. In our story, Isabel belongs to this second category.

What we really need nowadays is a new ethic philosophy: because even if ancient Greek ideas still stun us for their modernity, it would be terribly difficult for Plato to guide us in this 2016 world.

It would be a hands-on philosophy teaching us not only how to halt our intellectual ambitions and balance what we consume (example: one can barely survive only of Chekov and classical music: cheap thrillers and good old pop music can also perform miracles, if well administered), but also how to defend ourselves from outer offences.

If as a solution this didn’t feel good enough, one option still available is a lobotomy. Or to open a beauty and lifestyle vlog channel: what would the difference be, you tell me.

This beautiful illustration is by Gosia Herba and was featured by It’s Nice That. You can visit the artist Instagram page, or read the magazine article here