Great or Petty Vanity

Are there any Great Books? For some reason, people passionately debate the issue. I believe there are Great Books. Would one study philosophy without first consulting Plato about problems? How would we engage in our philosophical discourses without the philosophical canon, unless we had the peculiar brilliance of a Wittgenstein?

The Red and the Black is a Great Novel. The translation of it I’m reading is a Great Translation. Two assertions with no argument to prove them. Yet they are more than feelings.

Are there Great Loves? Yes. She loves me and I love her passionately and without remorse of any kind. We cannot and will never be together as we wish. The brief moments I spend with her leave me with more longing than I previously imagined possible.

Reading a book I style as Great, leaves me with a longing to write, which surely must be as silly a desire for an old man as wanting the love of a young woman. I see wanting to write as a petty (or Great?) vanity I refuse to relinquish, for my friends are exactly correct: I am not a writer and never will be. It is merely an affectation and excuse for haughty indolence. I must simply wake one morning and tell myself I won’t write much during the day, or better yet, not at all. It is better to read a Great Book than scribble.

People like me best when I don’t speak. Wanting someone’s approbation through silence and accepting that that is all there is for me, seems kind of ugly. But I grow tired of fighting and resenting. From here on when people ask me what I do, I will tell them I read books, the Great Books in particular. People will think me a fool, but it is better than saying I try to write each morning.

Of course, I’m not ready to give up this blog. Writing and blathering are two entirely different things.

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Published in: on December 12, 2008 at 12:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

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