In Praise of Damns

Dear Professor Manners,
Some days the state of the profession gets me down. I know it’s Live Like a Stoic Week, but I just can’t seem to get my apatheia on, especially when I read the blogs.

Sincerely,
Philosophus Feministus (who doesn’t know Latin and it’s a shame since that might help with the whole Stoic thing)

Dear Philosophus Feministus,
Alas, the profession does too often resemble a Roman spectacle. One goes to the blogs, as Seneca might say, in quest of “some fun, wit, and relaxation” only to find “pure murder” (in the strictly figurative bloggy sense only of course). Indeed, Professor Manners herself is often obliged to retire to her Roman couch, if not in despair, then in something like it. Still, she recommends (in addition to referring to oneself in the third person for kicks) borrowing from the regrettably obscure writer Mary McClain’s technique and giving oneself a therapeutic damn a day. To wit, McClain:

“I say on Monday, Damn the ache in my left foot; on Tuesday, Damn that rattling window – I hate it; on Wednesday, Damn this yellow garter – it’s too tight; on Thursday, Damn my futile life; on Friday, Damn the solitude; on Saturday, Damn these thoughts; on Sunday, Damn my two dresses… [T]he morale of my Damns remains perfunctory. But they are apt and useful… I begin each day with a Damn of sorts. I end each day with a Damn of sorts… Let my Damns be always brave, always contemptuous of disaster to me, and they will be first-water value though their kind alter never-so.”

Yours in damning the spectacle,
Professor Manners

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