Sunday, July 26, 2009


"If any man wish to write in a clear style, let him be first clear in his thoughts; and if any would write in a noble style, let him first possess a noble soul." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Anonymous said...

I’m not sure where to find people who are fortresses of perfect moral clarity and nobility, and never made a dumb mistake of one kind or another. Or who never treated a person with less compassion than she or he deserved. There may be a few souls like that around, but I think most of us are a bit more flawed. I’ll turn the focus on myself here, just as an example. At some points in my life I have acted in a wise and noble fashion; at other times I’ve acted like a total moron – or at least, total goofball, to put it more gently. I think that the worst failing in this life is not to make mistakes, but to refuse to admit them. Well, alright – that might depend how horrific the “mistake” was. Not: “Oops, I accidentally axe-murdered someone!” But I’m not talking about terrible, vicious sins here. I’m talking about relatively garden variety, foolish mistakes, such as, oh, I don’t know… maybe falling in love too hard with the wrong person, who doesn’t love you back – and then having trouble getting over it? That could be an example of a foolish mistake. The kind that would lead a person to shake her head and say, “Lord, what fools these mortals be.”

And see, if I were the consummate, wanky scholarly type, I would remember which Shakespearean character even uttered those words, or what play it was in. I don’t, and it is too humid in my room right now for me to feel bothered with looking it up. (NOLA being not the only city that grows humid at times). Maybe it was in fact the court jester/ fool character who uttered the phrase.
-Spirulina Noodlebake

Lord David said...

You sure said a mouthful.
I notice that in doing so, you attach things to the term 'noble', like:
"moral clarity and nobility" &
"wise and noble".

I also notice that you seem to confuse day to day behavior with Goethe's remark about 'a noble soul'.

I personally don't think I would trust people who claimed to be
"fortresses of perfect moral clarity and nobility". It just sounds so judgemental.

I think that what he was getting at is that there is within us all a flickering light of nobility; we know it well when we chance to look upon it.
His term, 'possess' suggests that such a thing can come & go, according to our desire or ability to hold on to it.

The very statements you make here, that most of us are flawed, that you admit acting follishly, tells me that nobility in your self is but a finger tips distance away at any moment. How else could one see their own missteps so clearly, unless they held inside a measure of truth with which to make comparison?

I offer you another quote, then, from Oscar Wilde, this time, as it offers the same encouragement, but perhaps in a way less difficult for any of us to identify with:

"All of us are in the gutter. Some of us are looking at the stars."

Thnaks for taking the time to comment and share your thoughts.
That, in itself, is a noble deed.