We dare not look into the depths of someone’s soul–sometimes out of fear of what our compassion might sanction, at other times out of decorum, but hardly ever because of some perceived inability. To look into someone’s soul does not require us to ‘read their mind’ or have undisputed access to their ‘thoughts’. Someone’s soul is rendered naked by their actions and reactions, including by their omissions.
Our limitations are self-imposed, but perhaps justifiably: better to give a person the idea they yield at least the simplest form of power–to hide behind silence–than leaving them in the cold, blue reality that nothing is ‘hidden’. For some people, ‘mystery’ incites to life and living…
When you have X framework for comprehending the world and your place in it, do not be surprised to find X reflected back at you by the world and its events, but not for the reasons you might assume: that you possess some divine right or access to ‘knowledge’ or ‘truth’. What is reflected back at you is as much your doing by those actions (or omissions) X carves out for you and that you so faithfully follow as it is the world’s standalone operation on you.
You are in the world and so an integral part of it and its events. You are as much a master as you are a slave of any one of the world’s events and its overall character. Your limited understanding of things as delineated by X, but also, by extension, your limited actions with respect to those events, traps you into what is aptly described as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Why, you might inquire? We are inherently vain; we experience a considerable amount of pain, i.e., the powerful pain that is embarrassment, when we ‘get something wrong’. Accordingly, confirmation of X drives us as much as an ‘objective’ grasp of the world, i.e., ‘knowledge’ and ‘truth’.
Might it not be time to alter how conceive our frameworks for comprehending the world, i.e., as projects rather than prophecies? As maps that send us in a direction to our liking, as opposed to photographs of ‘knowledge’ or ‘truth’?
There is no hope for the accursed vain man. How committed he is to recreating himself at all costs, to see reflections of himself everywhere and without effort: there is nothing more pleasing for a vain person that to think he wields the power of a god. He is a replicating virus. He doesn’t always know it or see it, but the vain man’s actions continually strive to replicate his image in others.
Alas, even those he begets replicate him even against their best efforts to the contrary. His daughter, for example, will fall in love with someone as vain as he is. By his actions, the vain father will entrench her love even when it actually seems as if he is doing the exact opposite and trying to split foster hatred in her, for she is as vain as he is, but she doesn’t know it.
Vanity is the cancer, the ultimate sickness, of the mind.
Is there no ‘good’ or ‘beneficial’ side to vanity, then? Ah, the golden question, indeed! Good and bad have very little to do with this… This is a question of health and sickness. Sometimes, sickness promotes health by the antigens we acquire and the antibodies they encourage us to develop. Health and sickness are matters of degree and the simplicity of good and bad do not do justice to this.
After spending a decade in the clouds and the mountains with ideas, acquiring a bird’s eye-view of things, it’s been quite the experience coming back down to roam among people in the streets for the last few months. I would describe the experience as an inverse vertigo: where once I adjusted to the feeling of falling by seeing it as the freedom of flying, now I am adjusting to the feeling of being trapped and boxed in. I suppose the freedom I seek from the latter will be my rising up and pushing out from the things that box me in.
Where once I overcame myself, I now have to overcome others … Ah, how I now realize why I left for the clouds and mountains in the first place, what I was avoiding.
One of the deficiencies of philosophical thought is that it makes you problem-oriented rather than solutions-oriented. Philosophical thought is sensitive to problems; philosophers have an almost uncanny nose for picking them up. However, they struggle to convert that sensitivity and nose towards solutions of the problems they have picked up.
One has reason to be bemused about why the above is the case, because the same application of the imagination that picks up a problem is equipped to be the one that picks up a solution.
Here, I believe, we are facing a physiological limit: lifestyle is what makes philosophers hyper-sensitive to problems and near-blind to solutions. What they express through their ‘negativity’ is something too personal and unrelated to a topic to be picked up by them with any clarity.
Maybe philosophers should spend less time on their backside, reading, writing, talking and even talking down; more time moving, dancing, shouting, screaming, going wild…
What is most tragic, formidable, but also elegant power principle? Is it not the following:
Elevate the worst to devalue and finally bring down the best.
Look for this principle in the corners of power. Look for it most in the opinions about what and who is best from renowned men and women. Look for it most–in the media.
Where is the root of courage? Assuming it could speak; assuming it had a voice; assuming it could be personified; what would it propose? Would it not declare:
I’d rather die knowing I did the right thing, than live to smugly declare I was right all along.