Sunday, November 28, 2010
Some passages from my journal of 1996-98:
The ideological character can present an outward flexibility, complaisance, openness to change, which disguises his inner rigidity and inability to be open to persuasion by argument and evidence. The morally principled person may come across as strong, if not unyielding, fixed in his or her thoughts, unbending - all of which is but the outer shell of a mind continually in the process of becoming.
The quality of thinking is like quality of tone in singing. This is a big secret, one that can be meditated upon. Good quality thinking can reach the high note without shrillness.
Wit, or aphorism: that which is formed, like a waffle, when the two sides of the brain are heated up and pressed together.
Aphorism is the poor cousin of Parable. Aphorism is the daughter of Intellectual Reason - Parable is the daughter of Vital Reason. The former is rich, and clothed in all the finery of the world - the latter despised and driven from her home - always on a quest. Perhaps this tension is discernible in Pascal? - a great aphorist, though there is an underlying mood of unhappiness or dissatisfaction. "... the immense silences..." He could not go out into the night of Vital Reason - for being a Christian, he knew what would happen.
Jan. 1, 1998: The closest thing to civilizational theory we've had has been in the writings of men like Russell Kirk. But the identification was made with conservatism rather than civilization. This identification has strangled conservatism at his birth: for when you have lost civilization, what is there left to conserve?
One of the needs of the age: to find a new form of writing which can convey vital reason. Argument from principles rather than trying to prove a thesis. The trick is to find something that people care about. Most people are still interested to some extent in the history of their local communities.
Unprincipled minds fear chance, hence embrace determinism. For an unprincipled mind is easily swayed, and fears its own vulnerability. It experiences possibility as a form of attack... But possibly one of the hardest things to do is to define principles of the mind. Rather than something fixed and solid - the usual image conjured up by the word - a principled mind is alert to all possibilities. Indeed it has made a science, a knowing, of possibility. It is, therefore, a mind born of paradox, for how can we know anything but what has already happened? A principled mind is something of the impossible made possible - a paradox, like "Virgin Birth."