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!