Ictus Animi: The Smiting Of The Mind

We are unlikely to arrive at any awareness of things while sitting within the confines of our domestic barricades.  Enlightenment requires perception; perception, sensory input; and sensory input, direct experience with the world of the living outside our familiar habitations.  The leisure of contemplation, and the enticements of philosophical reflection, allow for the refinement and processing of these experiences, but cannot serve as a direct substitute for them; and unlucky is he who deludes himself into believing he has arrived at weighty insights from the contemplation of the four walls around him.

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On Idle Or Trifling Speech

There are some who say that idle talk has no purpose, and should be avoided.  Yet in many cases it serves valuable purposes:  it enables us to test ideas or plans on our friends, and solicit their opinions; it enables us to relieve stress; and it enables us to pass the time in conversational pleasantry.  Not every dialogue needs to have a definite purpose; sometimes the exchange of words themselves becomes a form of relaxation.  The exchange below is taken verbatim from James Boswell’s famous Life of Samuel Johnson.  In the short dialogue between himself and his biographer, Johnson, that great man of English letters, makes the point that it may be well to make idle speech, as long as one does not unduly subscribe to its banalities.

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On The Acceptance Of Disappointments

There is no man who can boast of having enjoyed an unbroken string of successes.  The variability of Fortune, a pervasive theme in these pages, is a force of nature that ensures success will be liberally interspersed by failure.  So it seems to me that we ought to spent just as much time–perhaps even more time–in equipping ourselves with the tools needed to deal with defeats and disappointments, than we do in preparing ourselves for short-lived victory parades.  The seasoned, mature mind will wave to the crowd, and enjoy his moment of reflected glory, remembering all the while that dejection is waiting for him just around the next corner.  I believe it was Theodore Roosevelt who said that, nearly as soon as man passes through the triumphal arches of his victory parade, the crowd will be ready to pelt him in the back with bricks.  And this is undoubtedly true.

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