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Monthly Archives: January 2014

unlearn all that you’re taught
unlearn the ways in which you’ve thought
unlearn the attachment to what you’ve bought
unlearn the sadness in which you rot
unlearn the pride in which you’re caught
unlearn the safety of your cot
unlearn the reason in which you sought
unlearn the objectivity for which you fought

learn to become a wise cave man!

 

solitudinus

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From years of study and of contemplation

An old man brews a work of clarity,

A gay and involuted dissertation

Discoursing on sweet wisdom playfully.

 

An eager student bent on storming heights

Has delved in archives and in libraries,

But adds the touch of genius when he writes

A first book full of deepest subtleties.

 

A boy, with bowl and straw, sits and blows,

Filling with breath the bubbles from the bowl.

Each praises like a hymn, and each one glows;

Into the filmy beads he blows his soul.

 

Old man, student, boy, all these three

Out of the Maya-foam of the universe

Create illusions. None is better or worse.

But in each of them the Light of Eternity

Sees its reflection, and burns more joyfully.

– Hesse

 

Of all people you are the nearest to my soul, and the nearest to my heart, and our souls and hearts have never quarreled. Only our thoughts have quarreled, and thought is acquired, it is derived from the environment, from what we see in front of us, from what each day brings to us; but soul and heart formed a sublime essence in us long before our thoughts. The function of thought is to organize and arrange, and this is a good function and necessary for our social lives, but it has no place in the life of the heart and soul. ‘If we should quarrel here after we must not go our separate ways.’ Thought can say this despite being the cause of all quarreling, but it cannot utter one word about love, nor is it able to measure the soul in terms of words, nor to weigh the heart in the scales of its logic.

– Gibran (Letter to May Ziadeh)

Although all the qualities of mind may be united in a great genius, yet there are some which are special and peculiar to him; his views are unlimited; he always acts uniformly and with the same activity; he sees distant objects as if present; he comprehends and grasps the greatest, sees and notices the smallest matters; his thoughts are elevated, broad, just and intelligible. Nothing escapes his observation, and he often finds truth in spite of the obscurity that hides her from others.

A lofty mind always thinks nobly, it easily creates vivid, agreeable, and natural fancies, places them in their best light, clothes them with all appropriate adornments, studies others’ tastes, and clears away from its own thoughts all that is useless and disagreeable.

A clever, pliant, winning mind knows how to avoid and overcome difficulties. Bending easily to what it wants, it understands the inclination and temper it is dealing with, and by managing their interests it advances and establishes its own.

A well regulated mind sees all things as they should be seen, appraises them at their proper value, turns them to its own advantage, and adheres firmly to its own opinions as it knows all their force and weight.

A difference exists between a working mind and a business-like mind. We can undertake business without turning it to our own interest. Some are clever only in what does not concern them, and the reverse in all that does. There are others again whose cleverness is limited to their own business, and who know how to turn everything to their own advantage.

It is possible to have a serious turn of mind, and yet to talk pleasantly and cheerfully. This class of mind is suited to all persons in all times of life. Young persons have usually a cheerful and satirical turn, untempered by seriousness, thus often making themselves disagreeable.

No part is easier to play than that of being always pleasant; and the applause we sometimes receive in censuring others is not worth being exposed to the chance of offending them when they are out of temper.

Satire is at once the most agreeable and most dangerous of mental qualities. It always pleases when it is refined, but we always fear those who use it too much, yet satire should be allowed when unmixed with spite, and when the person satirised can join in the satire.

It is unfortunate to have a satirical turn without affecting to be pleased or without loving to jest. It requires much adroitness to continue satirical without falling into one of these extremes.

Raillery is a kind of mirth which takes possession of the imagination, and shows every object in an absurd light; wit combines more or less softness or harshness.

There is a kind of refined and flattering raillery that only hits the faults that persons admit, which understands how to hide the praise it gives under the appearance of blame, and shows the good while feigning a wish to hide it.

An acute mind and a cunning mind are very dissimilar. The first always pleases; it is unfettered, it perceives the most delicate and sees the most imperceptible matters. A cunning spirit never goes straight, it endeavours to secure its object by byeways and short cuts. This conduct is soon found out, it always gives rise to distrust and never reaches greatness.

There is a difference between an ardent and a brilliant mind, a fiery spirit travels further and faster, while a brilliant mind is sparkling, attractive, accurate.

Gentleness of mind is an easy and accommodating manner which always pleases when not insipid.

A mind full of details devotes itself to the management and regulation of the smallest particulars it meets with. This distinction is usually limited to little matters, yet it is not absolutely incompatible with greatness, and when these two qualities are united in the same mind they raise it infinitely above others.

The expression “Bel Esprit” is much perverted, for all that one can say of the different kinds of mind meet together in the “Bel Esprit.” Yet as the epithet is bestowed on an infinite number of bad poets and tedious authors, it is more often used to ridicule than to praise.

There are yet many other epithets for the mind which mean the same thing, the difference lies in the tone and manner of saying them, but as tones and manner cannot appear in writing I shall not go into distinctions I cannot explain. Custom explains this in saying that a man has wit, has much wit, that he is a great wit; there are tones and manners which make all the difference between phrases which seem all alike on paper, and yet express a different order of mind.

So we say that a man has only one kind of wit, that he has several, that he has every variety of wit.

One can be a fool with much wit, and one need not be a fool even with very little wit.

To have much mind is a doubtful expression. It may mean every class of mind that can be mentioned, it may mean none in particular. It may mean that he talks sensibly while he acts foolishly. We may have a mind, but a narrow one. A mind may be fitted for some things, not for others. We may have a large measure of mind fitted for nothing, and one is often inconvenienced with much mind; still of this kind of mind we may say that it is sometimes pleasing in society.

Though the gifts of the mind are infinite, they can, it seems to me, be thus classified.

There are some so beautiful that everyone can see and feel their beauty.

There are some lovely, it is true, but which are wearisome.

There are some which are lovely, which all the world admire, but without knowing why.

There are some so refined and delicate that few are capable even of remarking all their beauties.

There are others which, though imperfect, yet are produced with such skill, and sustained and managed with such sense and grace, that they even deserve to be admired.

Р Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marsillac.

Then a lawyer said, “But what of our Laws, master?”

And he answered:

You delight in laying down laws,

Yet you delight more in breaking them.

Like children playing by the ocean who build sand-towers with constancy and then destroy them with laughter.

But while you build your sand-towers the ocean brings more sand to the shore,

And when you destroy them, the ocean laughs with you.

Verily the ocean laughs always with the innocent.

But what of those to whom life is not an ocean, and man-made laws are not sand-towers,

But to whom life is a rock, and the law a chisel with which they would carve it in their own likeness?

What of the cripple who hates dancers?

What of the ox who loves his yoke and deems the elk and deer of the forest stray and vagrant things?

What of the old serpent who cannot shed his skin, and calls all others naked and shameless?

And of him who comes early to the wedding-feast, and when over-fed and tired goes his way saying that all feasts are violation and all feasters law-breakers?

What shall I say of these save that they too stand in the sunlight, but with their backs to the sun?

They see only their shadows, and their shadows are their laws.

And what is the sun to them but a caster of shadows?

And what is it to acknowledge the laws but to stoop down and trace their shadows upon the earth?

But you who walk facing the sun, what images drawn on the earth can hold you?

You who travel with the wind, what weathervane shall direct your course?

What man’s law shall bind you if you break your yoke but upon no man’s prison door?

What laws shall you fear if you dance but stumble against no man’s iron chains?

And who is he that shall bring you to judgment if you tear off your garment yet leave it in no man’s path?

People of Orphalese, you can muffle the drum, and you can loosen the strings of the lyre, but who shall command the skylark not to sing?

– Khalil Gibran

The men of principled simplicity
Will have no traffic with our subtle doubt.
The world is flat, they tell us, and they shout:
The myth of depth is an absurdity!

For if there were additional dimensions
Beside the good old pair we’ll always cherish,
How could a man live safely without tensions?
How could he live and not expect to perish?

In order peacefully to coexist
Let us strike one dimension off our list.

If they are right, those men of principle,
And life in depth is so inimical,
The third dimension is dispensable.

– Hesse

To truth, it seems to us, life once was nearer,
The world ordered, intelligences clearer,
Wisdom and knowledge were not yet divided.
They lived far more serenely, many-sided,
Those ancients of whom Plato, the Chinese,
Relate their incandescent verities.
Whenever we entered the temple of Aquinas,
The graceful Summa contra Gentiles,
A new world greeted us, sweet, mature,
A world of truth clarified and pure.
There all seemed lucid, Nature charged with Mind,
Man moving from God to Him, as He designed.
The Law, in one great formulary bound,
Forming a whole, a still unbroken round.
But we who belong to his posterity
Seem condemned to doubt and irony,
To journeys in the wilderness, to strife,
Obsessions, and longings for a better life.

But if our children’s children undergo
Such sufferings as ours, they will bestow
Praise upon us as blessed and as wise.
We will appear transfigured in their eyes,
For out of our lives’ harsh cacophonies
They will hear only fading harmonies,
The legends of an anguish often told,
The echoes of contentions long grown cold.
And those of us who trust ourselves the least,
Who doubt and question most, these, it may be,
Will make their mark upon eternity,
And youth will turn to them as to a feast.
The time may come when a man who confessed
His self-doubts will be ranked among the blessed
Who never suffered anguish or knew fear,
Whose times were times of glory and good cheer,
Who lived like children, simple happy lives.

For in us too is part of that Eternal Mind
Which through the aeons calls to brothers of its kind:
Both you and I will pass, but it survives.

– Hesse