29 April 2008

Letter 1.23

Re your comment on the Kierkegaard quote: you seem to consider creative work as the important aspect of existing, and you say that 'the living part of it comes incidental'. This seems to be putting things backwards, since there can be no creative work without life. At any rate, creative work is not 'working for a living'. A salesman, for example, works for a living, but I don't think he could be said to be 'creating' anything - whatever other function he may have. If one wishes to create there is indeed satisfaction in its completion; but in the matter of getting a living there is no completion at all, for we have always to be getting a living - therefore the work of getting a living becomes a drudgery: something without end cannot have purpose, for the purpose is the end. If there be a purpose to existence it must, of necessity, involve the ending of existence. (This does not mean 'annihilation' - there is, of both logical and evidential necessitv, a state that does not involve existence - but it can only be understood, of course, by one who has attained it. (Just as the flavor of an orange can only be known by one who has tasted it. Though this does not mean that we can't know anything about the state - indeed quite a bit can be said about it, and especially how to attain it - but that is not the same as attaining it. The taste of an orange can also be well-described, but it's not the same as the taste itself.)

Another quote from K: 'The best proof for the wretchedness of existence is the proof that is derived from the contemplation of its glories.' A bit overdrawn, and written in a bitter moment, but the point is well-made. To wit, I haven't quit writing, but I am not close to finishing anything. This, however, does not mean that I am not creating: I'm creating within myself certain mental states and abilities which seem likely to become the most useful thing I have ever created: calmness, mindfulness, and a concentration which is directed and, thus, can be used as a powerful tool… K again: 'If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential.'

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