Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I am about ready to scream at myself. I was posting quite regularly until that last trip. I am bound and determined to get back into the groove. That said, there has been a bit of a reason why I have not posted. I have recently read two things that I wished to comment on, that expressed my feelings quite well, but both would have taken some time to type to properly explain. I will get to it as I can. The two things were “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and “Day of the Amateur” by Hugh Nibley. This is rather ironic as Emerson upbraids us for quoting other people. Oh well.

My book reviews on “The Long Emergency” and “Freakonomics” will have to wait.

I will start with Emerson. Emerson is, in most circles, the better known of the two. He has been called ‘the wisest American’, banned from at least one ivy league campus for his views and wrote something that has haunted me since my freshmen days. Haunted not unlike Ebenezer Scrooge, voices whispering that I could do better. I know I can, but, like a word I can’t quite remember, it seems to stay stuck, where my mind can’t quite grasp it.

Quoteth Emerson:

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost,—— and our first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the Last Judgment. Familiar as the voice of the mind is to each, the highest merit we ascribe to Moses, Plato, and Milton is, that they set at naught books and traditions, and spoke not what men but what they thought. A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else, to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.

Shame indeed! Forced to take with shame my own opinions from another! I has happened too often!

There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried. Not for nothing one face, one character, one fact, makes much impression on him, and another none. This sculpture in the memory is not without preestablished harmony. The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray. We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents. It may be safely trusted as proportionate and of good issues, so it be faithfully imparted, but God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace. It is a deliverance which does not deliver. In the attempt his genius deserts him; no muse befriends; no invention, no hope.

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying their perception that the absolutely trustworthy was seated at their heart, working through their hands, predominating in all their being. And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny; and not minors and invalids in a protected corner, not cowards fleeing before a revolution, but guides, redeemers, and benefactors, obeying the Almighty effort, and advancing on Chaos and the Dark.

If I am to do anything great, it will not be by imitation. In my younger days, when I had the opportunity to put my heart and soul into my studies, I was at the top of my class. For too long now, I have lost that spark, that excitement, being driven by the mere busyness of homework, or work to be done. What is it I need to do to leap Mohammad-like, from the terrestrial straight into heaven? I know I can do better, but how is not always obvious. As much as I have sometime criticized Covey, perhaps it is time I humbly eat my words, and learn from his success literature.

There is too much dumbing-down in society these days. Why start off with the seeds of genius and godhood, but end up as boring lifeless people. I shall have to comment one of these days on the movie, “Joe vs. the Volcano”. Life is meant to be lived, and not sold for ‘rent money’ in a rat race.

I do not care for glory, but I do want to have lived so I have done some bit of good in the world, that only I could have done, because that bit of good was my little work of genius. I don’t want or care for the spotlight, I just want to become what God put Man on Earth to become, like Him. I have a long way to go.

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