The Cynics Moves: An Address to the Audience (You)

A performance lecture by Will Daddario & Ioana Jucan

Presented at the 2nd biennial Performance Philosophy conference, Chicago

Dates: April 2015


We want you to promise: Never use the word “cynic” unless you mean it.

The ancient cynics are arguably among the first performance artists in Western history. Self-declared ‘dogs’ and ‘citizens of the world,’ embracing simplicity in the face of poverty and communal property in the face of slavery, keen practitioners of endurance, committed to matter-of-factness, the cynics developed an embodied philosophy (μήτις, metis, and philosophy as a way of life) that foregrounds thinking as a way of doing.

Drawing on Diogenes Laertius’s account of the lives and deaths of the ancient cynics, we and you will move through pedagogical moments and σπουδογέλοια (spoudogeloia, “seriously funny” — Beware the octopus from hell!) situations doing thinking in the spirit of cynicism.


The first performance artist of all times lived in a barrel, Which he rolled around, From: place. To: place, Enjoying the sun, Asking spectators not to keep the sunshine from him [sunglasses], Often he was begging, He was asked why he begged, He said, To teach people, Oh yeah, And what do you teach, Generosity, He replied, He was asked, Why do you take money from people, To show them how to spend their money, A piece of advice, Avoid some things in life, Why, Because, Money costs too much, For a change, The city was under siege, All were busy fortifying the walls, Walls grow stronger if you make them, Everyone – working frantically, The first performance artist in history did not want to appear idle, He rolled his barrel back and forth, Back and forth, Back and forth, Back and forth, Back and forth, Back and forth, Back and forth, Force, It’s called endurance, Growing muscles, The city fell, I need an apple, I don’t have the teeth to eat it, A child has beaten me in simplicity

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s