Monday, May 10, 2021
5:45 a.m. I think we could begin looking at Bronson Alcott’s Orphic Sayings, but first, you wanted to discuss values, to finish our consideration of the connection between “All paths are good” and free will?
We said “if you wish.”
We might as well look at it. If not all destinations are good (in that they don’t all tend toward our goals), and if our goals are determined by our values, don’t we need to look at how not all values can be good, if we are not to leave the subject hanging in air?
We are not unwilling to have the discussion. Bear in mind, such things cannot be proved; they can’t convince by logic or, for that matter, by appeal to authority. They will spark recognition or they will not.
Yes, I get that we can’t convince people. So let’s see your sparks on the subject.
As a practical matter, everyone holds values, and whether coherently or not, consistently or not, those values shape your lives. Notice, we are not going to discuss the values you think you ought to hold. That would be to describe the person you would wish to be, the forces that you wish shaped you, rather than the realities. Let’s stick to reality, if we can.
The first thing to realize – though we have said this before, in different contexts – is that no one can hold every value. Perfectly valid, defensible, productive values contradict each other, and those who hold to one end of the polarity cannot at the same time hold to the other. One who tries to straddle the divide holds a different position from one who holds either end. No one can be all things to all people. Neither can anyone agree that all values are equally true for himself, or herself. In life, you choose one set of values over another. The choosing may be by default, but you will choose, because no one can live all the contradictions that together constitute life.
I remember you discussing this in considering hunting, I think it was.
Yes, only then we began with a specific subject and showed how your attitude toward it depended upon your values, and that which values you held was not a question of “Are you or are you not an ethical individual,” but, “Which values?”
Same old story: “Which you?”
Why do you think 3D exists? We keep telling you, it sorts things out by separating in time and space. You may hold internally contradictory values in 3D, perhaps, but to do so you will have to hold them in separate buckets, not letting one hand know what the other is doing. We don’t say this is poor practice – consistency isn’t the only thing in life – but we do say, you can’t hold all values all the time. It can’t be done
So how do you choose which values you will uphold, believe in, see as true?
I’m not sure we have a lot of choice in that. What we are will shape what values resonate for us, will it not?
We remind you, As above, so below. Life is usually a reciprocating process. The output of one system is the input of another. Or, if you prefer, today’s choices inform tomorrow’s.
We change as the result of our choices, and the changed version of us is faced with further choices.
Insofar as you change, yes. Another valid way to look at life is that you change what you choose to express, rather than changing what you are. In practice, the two amount to the same thing.
I don’t seem to have a lot of energy for this topic.
Probably because discussion isn’t much needed. It is obvious once stated, and will be accepted or rejected without need for clarification.
Yes, I think so.
No reason to begin Alcott just because you have another half hour available. We could wait.
Well, I printed out the text. I’d sort of like to begin. I just don’t know if I have the energy.
And you don’t know if you would regret the lost opportunity if you let it go.
Well, a word on the overall structure, anyway. The 100 sayings are numbered I to C in Roman numerals. The first, only, is subdivided, into 12 categories. Each saying is one paragraph long, and each of the 12 parts of the first saying is one paragraph long. So it isn’t as if we’re dealing with a lot of words, here. (Since I have it in a Word file, I could look at the word count. Hadn’t thought to do that.) [8,313 words]
I am tempted to list the sayings as a sort of table of contents, to get the structure into my mind, but I won’t. Is it safe to dive right in, or would I be better off reading it first, as I did Thomas?
The question answers itself.
It does. Okay, I will read it and then we’ll see what you and I can make of it, working together. Till then, our thanks as always.
Frank DeMarco, author
Papa’s Trial: Hemingway in the Afterlife, a novel