Friday, May 31, 2013

Life is not Art

When I read The Duty of Genius, I came away feeling as though a real saint had lived in the not-too-distance past. I'm getting mushy and sentimental, but the world seemed better for having had a man like Wittgenstein as an example of the kinds of heights and depths a man could reach. His commitment to improve those around him likewise arouses in me a desire to improve those around me in some way.

In what way is this desire mine?

Why did I not have this desire prior to reading the book? Or if I did have it, why was it so anemic until I read the book (this is not to say that it is not still anemic, only to say that reading the book strengthened something)? How can I say that this is my desire when it was aroused by my environment?

But then, my environment could not produce the desire without me as a factor. So it is not as though I could say that it is the environment's desire and then consign myself to oblivion. I am there. I am a part of this.

However, when I read the book I did not read it for the purpose of arousing this desire. I read it wanting it to work some good on myself, but I did not know what good it would be. Like going to a surgeon and saying, "I've heard good things about you, why don't you knock me out and do what seems right to you!" Yes, I took a step in the process, and yes both the book and surgeon have to work with the material I provide them with, but it is not I that built myself into anything. I simply arranged the interaction.

When I see the world this way, I am more of a theist. Because I do not deny that I am there, but I do deny that I am sufficient for life. I can not view my life as a work of art; there is too much that belongs to the world for me to claim myself as any kind of ordered and intentional work. I hold out hope for a kind of determinism that would allow me to call the world God and would allow me to call life a wrestling with God.

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