An InfoSeek search for ascetic turned up:
some poetry:

  and then:
by Doug Lumsden, who was then contacted.

Do your own Search?

Douglas W. Lumsden
1215 Cacique St. #B Santa Barbara, CA 93103 (805) 564-0865 E-mail: Website:



I just finished a tour of your website and found it quite exemplary.  I
admire the courage of your convictions.  I'm not convinced that your
solutions are an effective remedy to the problems you bring up, but I'm
not convinced that they are NOT either (hope you followed that).  You
remind me of Diogenes the Cynic, the ancient Athenian philosopher whom
Plato called "Socrates gone mad."  If you are not familiar with this
colorful personality, you might look into him.  Beneath his eccentricies
was a thoughtful, intelligent, and brilliant philosopher whose words
strike a meaningful chord in the modern world.

Doug Lumsden


(fourth century B.C.) Greek philosopher, the first of the cynics, was a native of Sinope on the Black Sea, the son of Hicesias, probably the magistrate whose name appears on the coinage of that town after 362 B.C. His father was convicted of "defacing the currency", probably after 350; and Diogenes, finding a life of povery thus thrust on him, undertook the task of "defacing the currency" of convention. He seems to have wandered about Greece, but found Athens most to his liking: he was a familiar figure there, with his nickname of Dog (kunikos, "cynic", means "dog-like") circa 330 B.C. He supplied his needs in food and clothing, which he kept to the minimum, by begging, and slept, if in not the traditional tub, in the open or in public buildings. His ideals were "life according to nature", "self-suffiency", "freedom from emotion", "lack of shame" and, in his capacity of missionary, "outspokenness" against wrong-doing and useless convention.

None of his writings survive; and of those ascribed to him in antiquity some were spurious. But he certainly wrote "tragedies", probably burlesques with morals, and a Republic , a description of an ideal state which was to have no armies, no family life, and knuckle bones for coins. This contempt for social organisation is at the bottom of his famous (and sometimes misinterpreted) answer to the question "What city do you belong to?" "I am a citizen of the world".

Of the stories told about Diogenes, some have a certain plausibility: he is said to have deliberately walked barefoot in the snow to practise himself for necessary austerities; to have gone the theatre as it was emptying; to have walked about with a lantern in broad daylight, saying that he was looking for an honest man. At least ben trovato is the story that he died through eating a raw cuttle fish in an attempt to prove that men could dispense with cooking, even for such a tough food; and that Plato called him a "Socrates run mad". But there is no likelihood that he bade Alexander the Great stand out of his light, or that the king remarked: "If I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes."

Diogenes had no school in the ordinary sense of the word, but his admirer Crates did much by writing and speaking to propagate his views and win others to the cynic way of life. Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, was much influenced by Crates.

Francis Henry Sandbach, MA, Lecturer in Classics, University of Cambridge.


{now: }

{ has:}
Date: Tue, 01 Nov 1994 12:43:33 -0500
Subject: Re: Plato and Philosophical Democracy
>>The Hellenic philosophers thought that the good life, the rational 
>>life, was that of self-sufficiency, e.g., Diogenes the Cynic.
Define "self-sufficiency."
>>It seems to me that EVERYONE distinguishes between himself, the 
>>individual, and his family, tribe, state, what have you.  Everyone has 
>>the conception of the individual.
But, if I asked you to tell me WHO you are, how would you go about it? I would
argue that part of your CONCEPT of who you are is identified with whatever
larger whole that you are a part of.  Your family helped define who are, you
are a product of your family, your tribe, your state, your country, your
religion, your education.....

I would venture that IF you were born 100 years ago in western Pakistan your
fundamental concept of who you are and what you believe would have been vastly
different. If I said I am Christopher Sean Planeaux, that in and of itself
tells you nothing. You would want to know more--I couldn't define myself any
clearer without appealing to my communities.

{ has:}
Date:         Thu, 4 Jul 1996 19:00:13 -0400
From: Paul Halsall 
Subject: BYZ: Re: Fools for Christ
To: Multiple recipients of list BYZANS-L
Reply-To: Paul Halsall 

Some notes:

1. When St. Paul talks about "fools" [re "moros"] for Christ, he
is not talking about defecating in the street [see the Life of
Symeon of Emesa.] He is refering to issues of *belief*. As Derek
Kreuger has shown, pretty convincingly if you ask me, the trope
of "foolish" behavior  seems to be derived, or at least strongly
influenced by stories about Diogenes the Cynic, [who like
Symeon, but unlike Christ, did indeed defecate in the street.]

2. The word used for "fool" is not "moros" but "Salos".

Date: Mon, 22 Sep 1997 02:08:22 -0300
To: David MacClement 
From: Peter Fraser (in Canada)
Dear David, I suppose there are parallels between Diogenes' way of life and yours, but I question whether you would find yourselves kindred spirits. The little we know of him suggests his was an abrasive, in-your-face personality not particularly interested in self-reliance and simplicity of life per se, but rather in exposing the absurd conventions and distinctions of society. The only difference that mattered was the difference between virtue and vice (cf. Oxford Companion to Philosopy); the distinctions between wealth and poverty, Greek and non-Greek, cooked and raw food, and so on were just so many foolishnesses. He used shock tactics: masturbating in public, then wishing he could get rid of his hunger as easily by rubbing his stomach. His encounter with Alexander, apocryphal or not, does not bepeak a Ghandian humility but a fearles wit and complete assurance that he, if only he alone, was on an equal footing with Alexander.

I see Diogenes as one of the first stand-up satirists, the forerunner of all those "vulgar", "disrespectful", "dirty-minded", "subversive" types who have made decent folk like us squirm in our seat for centuries: Rabelais, Villon, Swift, Voltaire, Fielding, Austen, Wilde, Gogol, Twain, Joyce, Lewis, Beckett, Rushdie, Kushner; not to mention comedians like Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, Peter Cook, Richard Pryor and the current crop of gay and lesbian stand-ups. All these -and many more can trace their roots back to Uncle Diogenes. Nor can we forget that many in this short list suffered imprisonment, exile, censorship, and isolation for their efforts to get people to laugh at the follies, pretensions, and excesses of their societies. It has always taken a certain amount of courage to point out that the emperor is bare-arsed naked.
Some of your correspondents also pointed to the possibility of an indirect tradition leading from Diogenes to Jesus and the primitive 'Jesus movement': J.D. Crossan in his two books on Jesus places perhaps too much weight on circumstantial 'evidence', but certainly he elicits an image of Jesus as someone who did not care a damn for the conventional religious, social and political pieties of his day, who went without when he had to and feasted when he could, and who in confrontation with others, always gave as good as he got (usually better).

A final thought on Diogenes: what might he have had to say to us who communicate so blithely and earnestly on matters of social justice and the environment via machines which cost more than most people in the world earn in a year? A little squirming is in order all round, I suspect.

From: "Sharon Flesher" <>
To: Positive Futures list
Subject: Re: [pf] What are some ways?
Date: Sun, 1 Oct 2000 20:54:43 -0400

Your advice was much more thorough than mine! And I especially enjoy your lawn-care advice! It would be great to see you in action with your neighbors. Have you ever read a biography of Leo Tolstoy? If not, I recommend it highly. You may find a kindred spirit.

Also, I should have pointed out that lawn mowers are often even more polluting than cars. Someone can probably put their fingers on the exact statistics. I believe that backyard grills are on the villain list as well, but not to the same extent as the lawnmower. In my ecoregion, we have an even greater menace called the "snowblower." When my neighbor uses his monstrosity to clear about 10 feet of sidewalk (I'm serious!), I can smell the exhaust inside my house!


----- Original Message -----
From: David MacClement 
<<· Nice to know we think alike!
Bits I left off my earlier message are below.

· I agree about the push-mower, if you've just got that suburban little patch (or two) of grass. Against the wishes of the rest of my family, I stopped mowing entirely in about 1991. For a while there was concern that the City Council would require us to "reduce the fire risk" and mow the back yard, at the instigation of the neighbours (who see us as lowering the value of their new houses), but after a couple of somewhat acrimonious "discussions" nothing has happened. However, we have a perennial ground-crawler grass, kikuyu, which has deep roots, so it would take a real drought before it dried enough to be a real fire risk. There's only a few people whose opinions I value, and that doesn't include the neighbours (with one exception).

So I'd say: as a minimum, mow about 3 times every spring, and once in the late fall, if you've got ordinary grass with dry dead leaves and flammable seed-heads.

(David MacClement)
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