Mildly distracting notes on distraction


Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does a bunch of other stuff.

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5 Responses

  1. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    Bookes give no wisdom where none was before,
    But where some is, there reading makes it more.

    -Sir John HarringtonReport

  2. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    I know whatyou’re talking about entirely.

    Work, especially a major case moving through expert discovery, and a series of bench trials endlessly trailing one another due to budget cuts at the court.

    Family life and honey-do’s — my backyard looks better all the time and my bank account diminishes in quality proportionally.

    Social activities like the impropmtu get-togethers that seem to happen with frequency in our ever-upgrading back yard, with cooking to support them, as well as supporting my wife’s endeavors to begin distance running for physical fitness (which means I too run for physical fitness now).

    All of this gets in the way of what is truly important, and what generates true happiness: blogging.Report

  3. Avatar Will H. says:

    I believe the distinction that Marcus is making is very similar to protestant criticism of the Lord’s Prayer.
    The disciples came to Jesus, and said, “Teach us how to pray,” but did not say, “Teach us a prayer.”
    In several traditions, this would imply that Jesus entered into a state in which the actual words which were spoken were of no consequence.

    That is, the value of reading is in the manner and degree of stimulation derived from it.

    Ouspensky (emphasis is the author’s):

    In man the growth of consciousness consists in the growth of the intellect and the accompanying growth of the higher emotions – esthetic, religious, moral – which according to the measures of their growth become more and more intellectualized, while simultaneously with this the intellect is assimilating emotionality, ceasing to be “cold.”

    Thus “spirituality” is a fusion of the intellect with the higher emotions. The intellect is spiritualized from the emotions; the emotions are spiritualized from the intellect.

    In their outer manifestation pure and impure emotions may differ very little. Two men may be playing chess, acting outwardly very similarly, but in one will burn self-love, desire of victory, and he will be full of different unpleasant feelings toward his rival – fear, envy of a clever move, spite, jealousy, animosity, or schemes to win, while the other will simply solve a complex mathematical problem which lies before him, not thinking about his rival at all.

    That which is not moral is first of all not beautiful, because not concordant, not harmonious.

    But we also know that every emotion may serve either knowledge or nescience.

    Let us consider such an emotion – valuable and capable of high development – as the pleasure of activity. This emotion is a powerful motive force in culture, and of service in the perfection of life and in the evolution of all higher faculties of man. But it is also the cause of an infinite number of his delusions and faux pas for which he afterwards pays bitterly. In the passion of activity man is easily inclined to forget the aim that started him to act; to accept the activity itself for the aim and even to sacrifice the aim in order to preserve the activity. This is seen with especial clearness in the activity of various spiritual movements. Man, starting out in one direction, turns in the opposite one without himself noticing it, and often descends into the abyss thinking that he is scaling the heights.

    There is nothing more contradictory, more paradoxical than the man who is enticed away by activity. We have become so accustomed to “man” that the strange perversions to which he is sometimes subject fail to startle us as curiosities.

    Violence in the name of freedom; violence in the name of love; the Gospel of Christianity with sword in hand; the stakes of the Inquisition for the glory of a God of Mercy; the oppression of thought and speech on the part of the ministers of religion – all these are incarnated absurdities of which humanity only is capable.

    A correct understanding of morality can preserve us in some degree from such perversions of thought. In our life in general there is not much morality. European culture has gone along the path of intellectual development. The intellect invented and organized without considering the moral meaning of its own activity. Out of this arose the paradox that the crown of European culture is the “dreadnaught.”

    —from Tertium Organum
    Book XVIII


    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      One of the things I love about this site is how often comments about one of my posts are wiser and more stimulating than the post itself. I think that’s exactly it- the human propensity to be sidetracked by activities that are meant as stepping stones to the higher life.Report

      • Avatar Will H. says:

        But your posts are very stimulating in themselves.
        I was an occasional visitor at first, coming over through links at Mike’s The Big Stick.
        It wasn’t until you started doing you ‘blogging the canon’ series that I became a regular.
        Very stimulating.Report