Date: July 04, 2021 12:53PM
The great gift of leaving LDSinc is to be freer than we once were. The great gift of America was to be freer than we once were. So, what to do with this gift?
The first thing we must do with this gift of more freedom than we once had is to at least preserve it, for there are always forces, within ourselves and without, that wish to curtail it:
“In the history of the West, for all its achievements, there is also a persisting impatience with the energy and originality of the mind. It can make us very poor servants of purposes that are not our own. A Benthamite panopticon would have radically reduced the varieties of experience that help to individuate us, in theory producing happiness in factory workers by preventing their having even a glimpse of the fact that there could be more to life. Censorship, lists of prohibited books, restrictions on travel, and limits on rights of assembly all accomplish by more practicable means some part of the same exclusions, precluding the stimulus of new thought, new things to wonder about. The contemporary assault on the humanities has something of the same objective and would employ similar methods. Workers, a category that seems to subsume us all except the idlest rich, should learn what they need to learn to be competitive in the new economy. All the rest is waste and distraction.
—“What Are We Doing Here?”—
We are not here to build and serve in a Benthamite panopticon, no more than we are here to serve the business interests of LDSinc; yet that is precisely what we are doing. We have internalized other people’s purposes for our life and have convinced ourselves that it is the only way things can be. Maybe not YOU specifically, but certainly We collectively have.
There are other ways of being. These ways must be preserved and observed, and are far more than the mere “waste and distraction” that others need us to believe they are.
Walter Pater initially self-censored the following for fear of corrupting the youth attending Oxford:
“…we have an interval, and then our place knows us no more. Some spend this interval in listlessness, some in high passions, the wisest in art and song. For our one chance is in expanding that interval, in getting as many pulsations as possible into the given time. High passions give one this quickened sense of life, ecstasy and sorrow of love, political or religious enthusiasm, or the ‘enthusiasm of humanity.’ Only, be sure it is passion, that it does yield you this fruit of a quickened, multiplied consciousness. Of this wisdom, the poetic passion, the desire of beauty, the love of art for art’s sake has most; for art comes to you professing frankly to give nothing but the highest quality to your moments as they pass, and simply for those moments’ sake.”
—Studies in the History of the Renaissance (1873)—
Human, pleasantly corrupted by the mind’s energy and originality