Sur des vers de Virgile

“Sommes-nous pas bien brutes de nommer brutale l’opération qui nous fait?” M. de Montaigne, Essais III, Chapitre V, p. 132, Éd’s Gallimard, 1965.

[Amateuristic English translation: “Aren’t we brutes for calling the action that made us brutal?”]

It’s been a while. Let me talk about myself a bit:

Initially, I wanted to write about the principle of charity. The reason why I wanted to write about it was that I felt as if I wasn’t getting enough of it.  There are times in which you feel lonely like that. Times in which what you really want is to expose others and the world for both of their insensitivity, but where you start from this perceived insensitivity and not from the fact that it is you who is having this perception in the first place. I was in such a period where I felt a lack of charity towards me and therefore wanted to expose the world and the others for both their deficiencies in showing charity.

I was in a mood where I thought the others were brutal.

And maybe they are. Probably some are mostly brutal. Certainly most are sometimes brutal.

But however much brutality may be out there the only brute fact in all this is that I felt brutalized. It’s the typical thing of wanting things to be a certain way and then blaming whatever is out there for it to be less-than-perfect. It’s a saintly thing to do: to refuse to engage with the real world (or better: to refuse to connect with all of the real world) and to go around making an example of yourself by not admitting you are as real as anybody else.

It’s uncharitable, that’s what it is.

It’s uncharitable to go around believing everything else should be somehow different from how it is because you would feel better that way. It’s specifically uncharitable to feel that way and not admit that this is about you feeling better. It is brutal to forget that most of what you are is thanks to the immense amounts of charity that have been shown to you. If not for that charity you wouldn’t be able to read nor certainly would you have been able to write (and if you are not able to read and write you might just have a real cause to complain about the world not being charitable enough).

The hustle and bustle of everyday life may well feel brutal but it’s that hustle-&-bustle out of which you’re constructed and it’s the longing for something more immaculately perfect that is the very source of real brutality. Whether you are convinced that sex is essentially a brutal act or whether you believe that everyday life with all its imperfections is just a distraction, it is the same negation of what is into the zeal for what minimally ought to be that gets us off track.

Our personality is not a spirit or something essential god-given that is immaculate until corrupted by the horrors of an all-too-real world. What each of us is, is a social construct. As such it is something that has emerged thanks to others & their opinions and actions, both the good and the bad. Once it is possible for all of us to be humble enough to realize it’s not original sin that is to blame but that it’s our bad for taking the bad and leaving the good we will be ready to accept the fact that virtue is the ultimate consequence of us being able to take the good and leave the bad.

Understanding where we come from and acknowledging we came from the unromantic everyday charity from others who were able to maximize the amount of charity given to you because of the efforts of still others providing space in which the first others could go about their maximizing-charity business, will do more good than articulating where we should be or ought to have been or might wind up if not … Such understanding is the only real charity required from us because, as fallible as we may be, it is that understanding that will inspire us to inspire others.

So there you have it: I went on a positive trip and I wound up with something that could be part of a mass of sorts. I am a softy after all and, frankly, I wouldn’t wish me to be anything else. It’s unfortunately still a success strategy to deny it is good to be soft and to elect to be the bad ass who is constructing his own success in spite of everything, but this just is the remnant of a period where we were not yet inspired by the word.

There is nothing more brutal than abusing the word to do the opposite of what it inspires us to do, to abuse it for power and for struggle. Instead of using it for understanding and for charity.

[Whilst writing this I was listening to Om, the albums ‘God is Good’, ‘Conference of the Birds’ and ‘Pilgrimage’.]


8 responses to “Sur des vers de Virgile

  1. this seems very on topic of your post

  2. read, like the movie (and the music) but don’t get Russian. Thought I saw Tolstoï somewhere but not sure. Tell me: how is it on topic?

  3. here,
    so Tolstoi says that one loves others for the good one does to them and hates for the bad s/he caused them, so it seems a similar thought to the britality thought, as it goes your translation of de Montaigne
    it’s not about others’ attitude towards one or charity though
    and it’s about one’s adjustment to the world and others, the movie is really really great, i hope you’ll be able to find it with the subtitles in English or French

  4. i’m not very satisfied with the wiki article on the play though, Protasov is not a melodramatic hero involved only with his relationship with his wife, he’s just unable to live the life of his time’s nobility when so many are enslaved and he feels that life is dirty and false and even the gypsy Masha’s pure love can’t save him, and he feels it’s more honest to ruin his life than live the conventional life
    his wife and friend put him into the position that he has to kill himself to give them some solution to continue to live, those were very stupid laws not allowing divorce and ending one’s life in unloving marriage for life
    i think the debate on abortion is something similar with that law, people would see after some historical time maybe that it’s just a medical problem and a woman’s decision whether to give birth or not and nobody else’s concern to judge and criminalize her decision

  5. Hey read, that’s indeed a wonderful connection to make! Specifically the “unable to live the life of his time’s nobility” striked a chord as I would guess I somewhat count as ‘this time’s nobility’. There is something to be written on that because on the one hand it is perfectly fine to be noble and perfectly fine that more & more people can live more or less as only the few could live before whilst on the other hand it creates responsibilities, or something of a straightjacket, in your relations with others. That’s probably the original appeal of the bohémien but it is, for me, a false appeal as it is indeed brutal to disconnect from other’s expectations.

    Also the suicide/right-to-die angle is à propos. It is less brutal to step out as it is to keep connections which raise expectations that one cannot live up to.

    In short: thanks!

    PS: don’t feel bad about getting the last word on this one 😉 My feeling of responsibility to react on reactions has not always created more happiness.

  6. I really do hate automatic conversion of smiley’s to graphical format.

  7. Hi, Guido! I wonder have you received my email? I thought you might by EU times. I asked your for a favor in there. can you do that for me, please?
    It’s difficult to reach people by emails with all the spam filters, I guess.

  8. Sorry, I bothered you, AK took care of my request. Thanks!

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