PART TWO: LESSONS ON A DUALISTIC PHILOSOPHY
WISDOM AND FOLLY: Where wisdom and folly co-exist, there, too, is perfection; and you will see that every wise man is also a fool, every fool also wise. But how could it be otherwise? A man always learns wisdom from his folly and, just as often, folly from his wisdom. Is it any disgrace, therefore, to know and foster both of these qualities?
Beware, you wiser men, the 'fools' who pride themselves on their wisdom, the 'champions of wisdom', quite as though they had transcended the human condition by securing a permanent victory over folly! They will not help you to understand yourselves. If you tell them what you know for a fact, they will probably take you for a fool and either send you away or, worse still, attempt to reform you.
And beware also, you wiser men, the 'fools' who mock man's wisdom and would reduce us all to the level of clambering apes if they thought they could get away with it! Avoid these 'champions of folly' whose reasoning powers have succumbed to the tyranny of cynicism! They won't help you to understand yourselves, either. Each of these types is too extreme to be praiseworthy; they acknowledge either the sun or the moon, but never both! That is their greatest misfortune, you wiser men.
But you need not be ashamed of your folly or embarrassed by your wisdom. They are not enemies but close partners in the business of life. You are wise enough to be realists and foolish enough to know why.
So see to it, you wiser men, that your integrity doesn't desert you when it is most needed, i.e. when pitched against your enemies - the lopsided!
TRUTH AND ILLUSION: What is truth but the refutation of illusion? And what is illusion but the foundation upon which truth is built?
You truthful men, you who hate nothing so much as self-deception, see to it that you develop your illusions as a means to new truths!
Beware, you truthful men, the enemies of illusion, the pigheaded 'crusaders for truth', who make war on illusion as though from a sense of duty. Often enough they are chasing their tails, but more often still their tails are chasing them and they are destroying their truths in the heat of the battle! For where one cannot respect one's illusions, one sacrifices one's truths.
So see to it, you truthful men, that you are not drawn over to your enemy's camp!
And see to it, too, that you do not become a mocker and doubter of truth, a 'prophet of illusion' and the immateriality of the world. The 'illusions' of these people are every bit as obnoxious as the 'truths' of the others, and therefore should be avoided by all enlightened men.
But make certain, you lovers of truth, that you do not neglect your illusion!
GOOD AND EVIL: And what is the word 'good' without the word 'evil' but a hollow sound without a meaning?
Beware, you good men, the hollow sounds of the 'preachers of goodness', those sounds that never ring true when heard by a sound ear. There is something false, cracked, lopsided, irresponsible, and spurious about their message, and more so about them. It is not the calling of a good man to denounce evil, but to make use of it for his own benefit. Denouncing evil is tantamount to renouncing good; for were it not for the existence of evil, a man would have no opportunity of doing good. But nothing can be got from a bell without a clapper, and if a man isn't good, which is to say sound, healthy, strong, realistic, and honest, he can only be bad, or unsound, ill, weak, unrealistic, and dishonest, which is to say - spurious!
So beware, you good men, the 'preachers of goodness'! They will not help you to understand yourselves. And neither will they give you a sound definition of evil; for a sound definition isn't something that comes from a cracked bell.
And beware, too, you good men, the 'preachers of evil', lest you become pale and atrophied like them, and gradually wilt away in their winter negativity. They are not strong enough for your goodness, but would rather croak their frog-like evil from a swamp than climb into the light, where they could be seen by every eye.
Yet their 'evil', like the 'goodness' of the 'preachers of goodness', is more a caricature than an actuality; a mean, sickly thing that pales to insignificance when placed beside the authentic life-giving evil which springs from necessity and not from the impoverished obsessions of a sickly dabbler. For a man can no more be evil if he isn't also good, than he can be good if not also evil!
So beware, you good men, both the 'preachers of goodness' and the 'preachers of evil', since extremities are equally fatal and it is not your fate to become either a cracked bell or a croaking frog. See to it that you remain a man, and a good one, too!
HAPPINESS AND SADNESS: But you happy men, you to whom the word 'sadness' is an invitation to happiness, a bridge and not an obstacle to your subsequent happiness, a reprieve and a homecoming at the same time - see to it, you happy men, that you do not lose track of happiness in the jungle of your sadness!
Beware those men who would have you cut back on your sadness to a point where you can hardly discern your happiness because there is all path and no jungle. They are very often the 'teachers of happiness', but their teachings are such that the man who follows them becomes sadder than he would otherwise be, and eventually loses himself in their complications. Instead of setting out simple rules for the guidance of the student, they set his path with tricks and traps which only confuse him the more. Instead of showing him the way to greater happiness, they bind him to formulae which prevent his discovering it. Instead of making him happier, they teach him to cut back on his happiness so that he may become less sad. Such, my readers, is the wisdom of the 'teachers of happiness'!
But you have no need of such lethal advice, you happy men, for you do not fear sadness and neither do you wish to escape it. You know that without sadness there would be no happiness, and that he who wishes to be happy must first learn to accept sadness and not foolishly endeavour to escape it.
Sadness, you happy men, is not the enemy of your happiness but its closest friend. It is 'she', and no other, who gives you happiness and then takes it away when you have had enough, in order that you may have more when you deserve it. It is 'she', and no other, who gives meaning to your happiness and, by breaking it up, prevents you from becoming bored with it. It is 'she', and no other, who makes happiness possible, and whom you ought to thank for it. So what is a book on happiness to you happy men, but an excuse for merriment at the expense of some dupe's illusions?
Be careful then, you happy men, that you are not led astray by the 'enemies of sadness', else you may quickly lose track of your happiness as well! It is not your fate to become a living corpse!
PROFUNDITY AND SUPERFICIALITY: Now you men of profundity, who often strive after the core of things at the expense of the husk - take care, you profound men, that you do not forget how to be superficial, that you do not forget how to honour the husk!
There are many so-called profound men who absolutely abhor superficiality and, conversely, many superficial men who abhor profundity, but one shouldn't pay them too much attention - not, that is, unless one is so superficial as to be deceived by them. For if a man is truly profound, he will certainly know how to use superficiality to his own advantage!
So beware, you profound men, the 'enemies of the superficial'! And if a man is profound but still an enemy of the superficial, you can be pretty sure that his antipathy is a delusion, that he certainly knows how to be superficial all right, but doesn't know exactly when he is being so.
But 'the superficial' themselves are your greatest threat; for although they are not altogether lacking in profundity, their profundity is almost invariably incompatible with yours. It is a profundity from which you instinctively shy away, as from an immense hurdle or grisly nightmare. It is not a profundity you greatly admire but, more often, something that strikes you as being akin to a coffin in the market place, so disagreeable are the cadaverous connotations which rise from it, like the foul stench of a putrid corpse.
So beware then, you profound men, the profundity of 'the superficial', since it will not help you to understand yourselves! See to it that you do not forget how to cultivate your superficiality in antithesis to theirs, lest you endanger the intermittent sovereignty of your profundity as well!
CERTAINTY AND DOUBT: One never has doubts about one's certainties, one has doubts for them. Without the intermittent prevalence of doubt, what certainty could one be expected to have?
Am I not certain that I am a human being with two arms, two eyes, two ears, a nose, a mouth, and walk about on two legs? Yes, of course I am! And do I not have doubts, from time to time, about the future, the weather, my health, work, the nature of my dreams, etc. Yes, of course I do!
But there are those who contend that we can have no certainties, can never be certain about anything since, according to them, certainties are merely illusory - a contention from which we ought to conclude that doubts are, too! Yet isn't the theory that we can have no certainties fundamentally a certainty? It definitely sounds like one anyway, even if it happens to be false.
Whatever we hear, however, no matter how fantastic, there are still many amongst us who firmly believe in the reality of certainty and in the equally pervasive reality of doubt. And if one is to retain one's certainty, one must assuredly know how to doubt! For the latter is, after all, the legitimate foundation upon which the former is built.
So see to it, you certain men, that your foundations are secure, else the 'doubters of certainty' may uproot your doubts as well!
REASONABLENESS AND UNREASONABLENESS: Now you men of reason, whose moderation becomes you in such an extreme age, I have read something to the effect that man is not a reasonable creature but only capable of reason - a remark which didn't greatly impress me when I first came across it but, nonetheless, one which has since caused me to speculate more thoroughly on the nature and extent of human reason and, if you'll forgive my saying so, to draw conclusions remarkably similar to those elicited by Jonathan Swift.
Indeed, it was a great blow to my ego to suddenly find myself confronted by such an apparently stark interpretation of human life, all the more so since I had previously been assured by an author who happens to be humanist that man is a rational creature.
Yes, a great blow indeed, but one from which I have since recovered, if you reasonable men will again forgive my saying so, to return to life with renewed zest!
Ah, what a liberation to know that man is not a reasonable creature but, as the aforementioned satirist rightly contended, only capable of reason!
And do you know why he is not a reasonable creature, you reasonable men? Yes, of course you do! For you are reasonable men, not ignorant, uncouth, bigoted, narrow-minded, bad-tempered, obsessed, or extreme men, and consequently you know as well as I do that reasonableness has to be paid for with the coin of intermittent unreasonableness!
Yes, you know that well enough, and that is why you are reasonable and not fantastic, like the 'preachers of reason'. They would condemn your periodic unreasonableness as a failing, a crime, sin, weakness, etc., over which you have total control but against which you refuse to struggle. Like all other lopsided creatures, the 'preachers of reason' have little respect for your integrity as men, since they do not see man in the whole but only in the part, and that, you reasonable men, is their chief unreasonableness. Instead of leading to an acceptance and understanding of man, it inevitably leads to a condemnation and belittling of him.
So beware, you reasonable men, the insidious calumny of the 'preachers of reason'! See to it that you do not become like them; for they are not even idealists, these lopsided creatures, but misguided realists of a pernicious disposition!
And beware, too, you reasonable men, the unreasonable cynics of whose tribe Jonathan Swift was certainly not a member. For they are as great a danger to your metaphysical integrity as the 'preachers of reason', and will do whatever they can to undermine your complacency and drag you down to the murky depths of their despair. These men will not help you to understand yourselves, you reasonable men, and neither will they do much to help you improve your self-image. Those who preach that man should always be reasonable are usually deluded types. But these 'preachers of unreason' are mostly a low breed, and therefore should be avoided.
One doesn't become a higher man, you reasonable men, by mixing with the low, so see to it that your reason doesn't desert you when it is most needed!
See to it, too, that, for the sake of your reasonableness, you don't forget how to be periodically - unreasonable!
CLEVERNESS AND STUPIDITY: Now you clever men, you whose talents scale the heavens, you whom the world recognizes as wise and competent men, the damnation of some and the salvation of others - see to it that you are clever enough to endorse your stupidity!
I will not hear it said of you that you have no stupidity, for such a callous accusation would surely detract from the indisputable evidence of your periodic cleverness. Genius, be it noted, is entitled to greater mistakes than ordinary men, and for no small reason has genius traditionally been conceded the benefit of the doubt.
But men of genius have often been ashamed of their stupidity, which is no small mistake. For it is stupidity which has regularly convinced them that they ought not to tarnish their reputation for cleverness with stupidity, and it is stupidity which has so often turned them against themselves. The unhappy genius, so often a man who is not sufficiently clever - to himself!
Oh, but there is a salutary lesson to be learnt from such unhappy geniuses, you clever men, a lesson that will not turn us against our stupidity. For even if we are momentarily angered by it when caught unawares, even if we imagine ourselves succumbing to its insidious influence more often than we ought, even if we do or say certain things in the heat of the argument which, on reflection, we are later ashamed of, let us at least have the gumption, you clever men, to recognize it as an indispensable component in the human condition, the very justification of our cleverness, and therefore not something that ought to be entirely eliminated for the sake of our intellectual improvement.
Alas, how many of us would actually be improved by the elimination of a component which guarantees our cleverness? Not very many, I will wager, unless, however, there are some amongst us who see cleverness in the inactivity of a motionless 'sage' sitting under the branches of a tree all day.
But we who pride ourselves on a daily activity, no matter how sedentary, can hardly expect to fare well in the world without maintaining a degree of cleverness, and a degree of cleverness, moreover, which is largely dependent, I tell you, upon the intermittent co-operation of our stupidity.
And yet, you clever men, there is something about your competent, fastidious, deliberative, methodical, sober, and shrewd dispositions which has intimated to me that you are not very willing to acknowledge your stupidity, irrespective of what the latest philosophical oracle may have to say on the subject, when, as far as you are concerned, there is very little evidence of stupidity to be found. You have grown weary of philosophical presumption, you clever men, and now you doubt whether a philosopher can still be trusted, particularly when what he says has some truth in it, and he is therefore no less in danger than anyone else of succumbing to the legitimate influences of illusion or stupidity.
Very well, I concede you the right of disputation, you sceptical men, since you have every right to believe what you consider to be of most relevance to yourselves. But it is still my firm contention that your cleverness and stupidity are interrelated, so that the one cannot exist without the other, and that, whatever you may think, you regularly succumb to stupidity without in the least being aware of the fact! Hence, you are naturally disinclined to endorse a view which seems totally contradictory to your various activities - activities you mostly take for granted, in any case.
However, whatever the final opinion of you clever men may happen to be, see to it that you are not undone, like the unhappy geniuses, by your stupidity. There is surely enough cleverness in you for that!
SUCCESS AND FAILURE: But you successful men, you whose memories are stacked with failure, have you ever considered how important it is to you and your successes that you should continue to experience failures?
Truly, there is hardly a man amongst us who isn't regularly prey to some kind of failure, and most of us could certainly draw up a long list of our most memorable failures - the very ones which we are privately least keen to remember!
But what would we do, you successful failures, if we had never failed in anything? Would we be able to boast of any successes?
Alas, I cannot see that we would! For it seems that our successes are fundamentally dependent upon the intermittent prevalence of our failures, and that without these failures, no matter how hideous or demoralizing some of them were, we should be deprived of even the faintest intimation of success. But who would be able to tolerate a life without some kind of success? Who, with the possible exception of the most unfortunate, would ever be in a position to know what a life without some kind of success was like anyway?
To be sure, one need not be a celebrity to experience such a fundamentally common feature of life. One need only get up at the right time in the morning, prove to be fairly competent in one's work, enjoy a good meal, read an interesting chapter of a worthwhile book, solve a particular problem, maintain congenial relations with one's associates, neighbours, friends, family, etc., or win a raffle, to experience the essential feeling of success, a feeling which isn't restricted to only a 'privileged few', by any means!
So if you value your successes, you successful men, see to it that you aren't ashamed of your failures. For they are not as great an obstacle to your successes as you may at first imagine. On the contrary, they are your greatest incentive to leap ever higher!
PLEASURE AND PAIN: Without pain, you men of pleasure, what pleasure could you possibly hope to obtain from life? For is not the absence of pain somewhat pleasurable to you and, conversely, the absence of pleasure somewhat painful?
Naturally, you do not care to speak very highly of pain, considering that you have hitherto found the subject rather painful and more like an obstacle to your pleasure than a goad to it. But you would not forsake your pleasures all the same, you shrewdly pleasurable men, since you are no fools when it comes to knowing where your advantage lies. For who, having just crossed the bridge which leads from pain to pleasure, has ever cared to look back over his shoulder to survey the opposite bank - the bank of his pains?
Of course, pain is a terrible thing, a real monster to deal with. But tell me, you shrewdly pleasurable men, how could we possibly flee from it if it were not so terrible, if its aspect were insufficiently disagreeable to send us shrieking to our advantage on the other side of the bridge?
Fortunately, it is far too negative a monster to ever cross the bridge after us. But, all the same, it is far too big and crafty a monster for us to destroy. Yet it knows its limits, this 'monster of pain', and it will not transgress these limits while the 'guardian of pleasure' sits beaming on the opposite bank and protects the bridge. For it knows that the 'guardian of pleasure' is ultimately the strongest, since it is to pleasure that all mortals daily aspire.
Just watch this 'monster of pain' slink away into the depths of its pitiless jungle when 'the guardian' sits beaming on the opposite bank, his countenance radiant with the positivity of his kingdom, one in which the monster's negativity has no place. For the 'guardian of pleasure' is no mean host, and his guests know that they will receive a warm welcome, once they enter the kingdom from which all negativity is eternally banned.
But you men of pleasure, you whom nature has endowed with a preponderance of the positive over the negative, you know well enough that you aren't wholly satisfied with pleasure alone, and that something deep inside your dual natures inevitably calls you back to the other bank, the bank of your pains and the longing for pleasure.
Yes, you would soon grow tired of pleasure if you had no means of getting away from it, if there wasn't a bridge in evidence across which your wisdom could lead you so that, newly strengthened by your recent pleasures, you could once more enter the kingdom of pain and grapple anew with the monster from which you must eventually flee.
But it is not for the 'monster of pain' to give you a warm welcome, you pleasurable men. For everything in its kingdom is negative, everything subordinated to pain, and it knows you for what you are, for the born enemies of pain that you are. It knows that you have only come back to use it as a means to your subsequent pleasures and, having no pleasure itself, it mortally loathes this fact. For it is secretly jealous of 'the guardian's' power over you and will do everything it possibly can to make this jealousy known, even though it knows itself to be forever chained to a secondary role, from which there is no escape.
And you won't hesitate to do battle with this loathsome monster, you pleasurable men, once you realize that your future pleasure depends on it. For you are shrewd and know where your advantage lies. And even while you are defending yourselves, you will still cast an occasional glance back over your shoulder towards the opposite bank, the bank of your pleasures, to see if 'the guardian' is sufficiently radiant with the positivity of his kingdom to warrant your return.
Oh yes, I know you, you pleasurable men, considering that I am also of your tribe and, likewise, only too willing to glance back to my advantage.
But beware the prophets of false wisdom, the dead-and-dying prophets of the all-pleasure-and-no-pain or the all-pain-and-no-pleasure schools! They will not help you to understand yourselves, since they are akin to one-sided creatures, and man is not, by nature, one-sided.
So beware all extremists and false prophets, you pleasurable men, and see to it that you do not give up the fight with pain too quickly, before the 'guardian of pleasure' has had sufficient time in which to rejuvenate himself!
LOVE AND HATE: Although it is an odd thing to confess, I have heard so-called men of love proclaim their hatred of hate without in the least being aware that they were still hating.
Yes, they have made it their duty to hate hatred for the sake of love because, according to them, to love hatred would be to acquiesce in it and thereby tarnish their reputation for love. They do not see, these 'preachers of love', that hating hatred is still hate, and that one cannot love without hating. They would like us to believe that they are solely men of love, but we aren't really convinced. We shy away from their doctrine of love when it outlaws hate, much as we shy away from all other crooked and one-sided doctrines. And we do not take a man seriously when he proclaims one thing and does another!
But to whom am I addressing myself if not to the natural, liberated, and honest men? Yes, it is to you natural men that I address this message, since you are not so fantastic as to believe yourselves capable of outlawing hate in the interests of your love. Neither would you deceive yourselves by imagining that a hatred of hate wasn't hate. On the contrary, you are far too honest and strict with yourselves to allow that kind of self-deception to take root in you!
But the others, the hypocrites of love, are the ones against whom you will most have to guard your integrity, if you don't wish to become victims of their love. For this love is a changeable thing, full of multifaceted appearances, and many are the times when they have grown so accustomed to regarding themselves as men of love ... that they have confounded love with hate and termed this latter 'love'.
Just watch how their love will shine in their eyes, once you begin to criticize a doctrine that excludes hate! They will certainly know how to love you then, especially when they perceive how much pleasure your criticism brings you. And if you then inform them, you loving men, that their love is often hatred in disguise, be prepared to witness a 'bonfire of love' in their eyes from which you may well have to shield yourself, so great an emotional conflagration will it engender!
But everything that flares up must eventually die down again, and their 'bonfire' is no exception. They will soon go back to loving you, once they see how incorrigibly unrepentant you are. For they won't have it said that they are mistaken, once they have convinced themselves to the contrary!
And you loving men, who are too strict to deceive yourselves on this issue, will know that they aren't really wrong in practice but only in theory. For this 'bonfire of love' in their eyes is all the evidence you could need to judge of their practical authenticity. It is only their theory which is spurious. They have set themselves a standard to which they are unable to attain (though, between ourselves, that is just as well, since, if they could attain to it, we would soon be obliged to follow suit!). But, in a majority of cases, they are really natural men in disguise, men who are secretly ashamed of their humanity and would rather hide it behind a spurious theory. They are not honest enough to be like you, because they aren't liberated enough to be that honest.
So beware then, you loving men, the 'preachers of love', whose mendacious value-judgements will not help you to understand yourselves!
And beware also the equally mendacious value-judgements of the 'preachers of hate', whose basic attitudes I do not even wish to discuss, since they are just as one-sided in their insistence upon hate as the others in insisting upon love, and neither of these types represent man as he really is!
But see to it, you loving men, that you do not forget how to hate what it is necessary to hate, in order that you may continue to love!
VIRTUE AND VICE: There are in this world people who claim to be virtuous by avoiding vice, a strange breed if ever there was one, but a breed which can be found in virtually every country on earth.
To be sure, there are often among their number many virtuous men, but that is only because the men in question are not ashamed to indulge in certain vices which they mistakenly describe as virtues. Indeed, when it comes to theorizing, they know only too well how to condemn vice as they understand it, which, in a world where one man's meat is often another man's poison, is hardly surprising!
But it is not enough, my virtuous friends, to condemn the vices of other types of people, and thereupon imagine that one has condemned vice altogether, when one is still apparently virtuous enough to possess certain personal vices, and to find these vices so acceptable that they conveniently pass for virtues. For the virtues of these rather priggish individuals exist by dint of the vices of the other types, whereas, in reality, it is only by dint of their own vices that they have any virtues at all.
It is ignorance of the exact nature of their personal vices which has gradually led them to see virtue in terms of condemning the vices, or assumed vices, of other types of people. But this is a very limited view and, if I may be so bold as to say, one which ultimately does a grave disservice to the concept of virtue! For virtues are seldom found in a person without any vices.
However that may be, let us do what we can to cultivate our vices, you virtuous men, and see to it that the relationship between virtue and vice is maintained, in the honourable name of our most esteemed virtues, the continuous prevalence of which more than adequately attests to a well-balanced partnership!
As, however, for those 'hypocrites of virtue' (though some of them are less hypocritical than simply deluded), I don't specifically intend to deprive them of the pleasure they evidently obtain from the vice of condemning other people's vices, but I should certainly feel that some progress had been made if they subsequently came to inquire a little more thoroughly into the nature and extent of their own vices, in order to safeguard their virtues all the more!
So beware, you virtuous men, those lopsided creatures who would have you remove your vices in the interests of your virtues, believing that a man can be virtuous without the assistance of vice!
See to it that you are not led astray by such men. For it is not your fate to become fragmented, but to remain whole!
STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS: Were it not for his weaknesses a man would be unable to boast of his strengths. Is it clear to you exactly what is being implied by this statement, you strong men? Do you not see that boasting is a weakness which enables a man to draw attention to his strengths?
Yes, of course you do, and that is precisely why you are all boasters, you strong men, because you are insufficiently strong to be able to manage without your weaknesses.
But boasting is not your only weakness, nor even your worst, and some of you boast far less than others, in order to cultivate different weaknesses the more!
Indeed, there are so many weaknesses about you that it is often difficult for one to know exactly where a weakness ends and a strength begins. You fool others as much as you fool yourselves, you strong men, and sometimes, at the height of an unreasonable or vainglorious mood, you are even audacious enough to pretend to not having any weaknesses - a foolish pretence if ever there was one, since your strengths aren't sufficiently independent to be able to manage without them!
But, even so, it is not altogether surprising that your weaknesses should occasionally lead you to disown your strengths. For you are not meant to be all strength.
And neither are you meant to pay attention to those who would have you eliminate your weaknesses for the sake of your strengths, since such people will not help you to understand yourselves, you strong men, and will probably make you weaker than you should be. They do not see, these shallow 'preachers of strength', that man isn't meant to be all strength, and so every weakness they detect in another person is inevitably magnified out of all proportion, as though it constituted a real danger to strength.
But their refusal to tolerate weakness is the only real danger to strength, you strong men, so beware the enemies of weakness!
And beware also the enemies of strength, the self-righteous 'preachers of weakness', lest they cheat you out of your self-confidence and reduce you to the base level of their cringing servility! Man isn't meant to live by strength alone, but neither is he meant to be entirely weak!
So see to it, you strong men, that you remain both strong and weak for the sake of your strengths!
INTEREST AND DISINTEREST: But now, as a final contribution to this series of lessons on a dualistic philosophy, it is time for me to consider the most interesting men alive, the men of interest, and to offer them some timely advice on the subject of disinterestedness, the key to their interest.
For I have lately heard it said that men can only remain interested in a given interest for a limited period of time, as also for a limited time within each day, and that they must afterwards turn to fresh activities or, failing that, to no activities at all. And it was also said, not entirely without justification, that they must turn their backs on many high and worthy matters for the sake of their interest, in order not to dissipate their daily quota of intense concentration on subjects less than relevant to their respective occupations.
Now this same wit, whose words I easily overheard, was very much of the opinion that highly cultured people must often allow themselves to be taken for philistines by the adherents of a different culture or interest, since this wasn't only expedient in terms of the prevention of unnecessary argument but expedient, moreover, in terms of the maintenance of their respective interests as well. For if, to cite this worthy logician, they 'aspired to being more interested in matters not wholly pertinent to their strongest predilections than they should, they could soon find their natural quota of sustained appreciation expended long before they were in a position to return to their real interests, to those matters formerly regarded as virtually sacrosanct'.
And this delightful wit, who was also a sort of moral philosopher, admitted most frankly, and with the greatest relish, that he was 'not in the least ashamed to eschew all the most important art galleries, museums, concert halls, theatres, and cinemas in the world in the interests of [his] philosophy', but that he would willingly be branded a philistine 'ten times over' if it guaranteed him, during the course of each day, that he would always have 'the energy and inclination' to return to his 'beloved theorizing', the interest, par excellence, of his cultural life!
So take care, you men of interest, that you do not forget how to cultivate disinterestedness for the sake of your interest. For your culture can only grow where there is sufficient indifference towards culture in general, and your culture is more important to you than anyone else's.
Thus speaks the voice of self-interest!