Imitation of a 19th Century Philosopher


This is an imaginary essay that a philosopher of the 19th century would write.

Enjoy.

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The man of low, or what we shall call here not only to preserve the conventions of propriety and formality, but as a well-meaning gesture of understanding for him, normal, intelligence, has much difficulty engaging some of the more rarified mental faculties that are necessary precursors to singular thought and idea.  To this man, then, engagement defines itself as the primary function that precipitates deep thinking.

The genius, on the other hand, is forever in the predicament of attempting to disengage various problematic faculties of the mind that deluge him and thus render focused attention unattainable.  Once disengagement has occurred, the genius is granted a respite from the blur of thoughts and is able to focus the power of his intellect on save one or two.

And while the man of normal capacity of intellect takes a simple pleasure from overt display of a self-formulated answer to a problem that, more often than not is of a practical nature, the genius is distinguished by finding much joy in the process itself of unraveling and dissecting a conundrum, even if, it is emphasized, the end result is not an answer readily perceived as concrete, reasonable, and exclusive.

     These two, then, are the main, but sometimes innocuous differences between the ordinary thinker and the savant.  But what of the similarities? What traits of mental and emotional character instance themselves in these two ostensibly different men?  This question requires a detailed look into the lives of each.

     Certainly, the genius would argue in unequivocal terms that he is an island, would try to isolate himself as much as possible not just from the average man, but from all other evidenced genius.  Not only does he despise the mundane and, what he perceives to be, the superficial, it is justifiable to say that he resents the presence of novelty not directly evinced by himself.  He seeks the state of “Nietche’s Ubermann” – the elusive transcendental qualities of perfect self-sufficiency and self-mastery.

And indeed, it is a fact that he will usually lead a life of social reclusion, quitting much of the possibility for friendship so as to better align himself with the arts and sciences, and with his work.  This foregoing of potential happiness derived from social contact is a solid testimony to his will and constitution, for no one can deny the suffering and confusion that must necessarily accompany a life of solitude.  Even the aforementioned joy the genius partakes of by virtue of his intellectual pursuits cannot provide him refuge from the inevitable tides of Loneliness and Depression that rise ever higher as he progresses in his craft.

All his works are tragic labors of love, to the discerning observer.  They represent the horrendous agony, the sea of tears, the incalcuble number of hours in which he has spent starving himself emotionally and physically to create the sublime.

     That he is consumed utterly by the demands of his vocation should go without saying, yet is not widely understood, I think, how this almost preternatural consuming nature of his work transforms him, bit by bit, into a human of extreme depravity and madness.

He sacrifices all, and in the end, himself, on the altar of his ideals.  To see an example of this we must hardly look further than the most obvious and well-known of painters, Van Gogh, who in his unbowed earnestness for the absolute, relinquished his ear fearlessly, cutting it eagerly from his body.  There is no forfeiture too great, no task he is unwilling to do in the name of the enlightenment of the mind.

     In his final stage, the genius is by most accounts no longer human.  His work has so obscured any other interest or habit of mind that it is impossible for him to act in anyway unnatural to it.  Misery, happiness, ennui, all no longer hold meaning for him as relative contextual entities, and thus only affect him in the form of an impetus to work longer hours, to eat and sleep less, etc.  He will feed off these emotions in the same manner that a sportsman will harness nervous pressure to excel at his game.

     Now that we have acquainted ourselves lightly with the life of a genius, such as it is, we will move on swiftly to bring the life of an ordinary man under scrutiny, and so have a better framework of knowledge in our employ to correctly identify the similarities between them.

     Unlike the obsessive and self-destructive nature peculiar to the man possessed of much intellectual wealth, the ordinary man embodies a rational and cautious temperament.

He settles comfortably enough among life’s quaint trivialities, and as a consequence of his simplicity, allows himself to be blown freely by fate, passion, and circumstance. His worries are practical, and his ethos unremarkable in style.  Yet if he were to struggle determinedly against instances of willful malfeasance, resolving to abide by the universal laws of kindness, how can we say that his time on earth was any less beautiful than the tragic days spent by the genius?  For the average man has more space around him to move gracefully and effortlessly, if he so chooses.

     The subtle scent of a rose many not invoke awe or sense of mystery; the unseen pattern an ant makes with its movements on the earth beneath his feet may escape attention; he will certainly never know the rapture and intensity of solving a differential equation of Calculus.  Yet because he is so empty, his body can more easily be filled like a vessel with the ineffable understanding of God.

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Story for Jeff


Untitled

When the time comes for honor to vanish and eloquence to fade; for men’s dusty glorious banners to tear away from their posts and blow uselessly around in the tepid air, then will the mortals have won with their relentless attacks on humanity’s foundation, and all will return to a morbid state of nature to rejoin the grey origins of the past.
But that time is not now, and the day of its reckoning has not yet been written.
It is curious to think that all that life has fought for in this inhospitable, opposed construct of chaotic forces and matter will be denied it’s full fruition from the very entity that exposed it to existence. We have brought randomness into symphonies of complexity. We built ourselves out of mere floating dust particles to achieve singularities so bright with meaning that they defied their own constituents that they were made from.
Wild hope and ambitions took their place to confront their seemingly impenetrable prisons until the walls were crushed with pure will.
Alas, it was this very will, this volition of life that will one day destroy itself. With no more true enemies to confront, fear and hatred, coupled with our will has begun to fight itself. We are warriors with no foes, and so, since we must vanquish and destroy, we will do so to ourselves.
I have borne witness to these events in my perpetual solitude, my spirit impartial and not lured by the false fantasies presented in the passing moments of eternity. But now the old gods come to me and entreat me to allow myself to be their vessel, and I have agreed with much carelessness. I drink of their essence, and do their bidding in exchange for nothing but the promise of more ineffable knowledge.
There is one goddess who wishes not to entreat me. Her hair and eyes blaze with the sun’s unbridled light, and her lips speak nothing but wisdom and peace. She takes her place among the mortals, tied to them with the karmic rope of compassion. And in her kindness she has blinded her mortal body to the awareness of her true nature. She is my angel, and she has warmed my stone of a heart so that I can now hear the calls of the innocents and respond with pity and empathy. I am hers, entirely; I willingly bonded my soul with hers eons ago. To her I owe everything, and it is with her that I place my hope. She is my refuge and my preternatural lover.

“I am still unable, as the Delphic inscription orders, to know myself; and it really seems to me ridiculous to look into others things before I have understood that.” -Plato’s Socrates


This blogger’s experience as a child with a sibling who has autism.