Life on Repeat

There is a picture of Jay Z standing on a street corner in the year 1939. It appears that Conan O’Brien fought for the Union army in the Civil War. There is a picture of Matt Damon from 1961. Peter Dinklage apparently spent time as court jester for Philip IV of Spain in 1645.

We’ve talked about how the Stoics believed that history was a never-ending repetition. The stories over and over again, the same things happening over and over again. This is true, and what’s so fascinating about these often viral photographs of celebrity lookalikes from history is that it shows how even body types and facial features are stuck in the same loop. We like to think that we are special, that our DNA is entirely unique and unprecedented, and yet there is the evidence, staring us in the face—sometimes wearing our face—and saying: “Nah, everything is the same and always will be.”

This isn’t to say that you’re nothing and that life is meaningless, but noticing these little glitches—not unlike when a director slips up and breaks the fourth wall in—are helpful. It’s a reminder not to take anything too seriously, helping to step out of the movie that life can feel like, and remember that this is just a show, and frankly, sort of a tired one.

Even this email is a bit tired…since you’ll remember we covered the exact same topic on October 3rd. But what can you do?

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