Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for March 18th, 2017

The imprisonment of the actual

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Conviction, were it never so excellent, is worthless till it convert itself into conduct. Nay properly conviction is not possible till then; inasmuch as all speculation is by nature endless, formless, a vortex amid vortices, only by a felt indubitable certainty of experience does it find any center to revolve round, and so fashion itself into a system. Most true is it, as a wise man teaches us, that “Doubt of any sort cannot be removed except by action.” On which ground, too, let him who gropes painfully in darkness or uncertain light, and prays vehemently that the dawn may ripen into day, lay this other precept well to heart, which to me was of invaluable service: “Do the duty which lies nearest thee,” which thou knowest to be a duty! Thy second duty will already have become clearer…

The situation that has not its duty, its ideal, was never yet occupied by man. Yes here, in this poor, miserable, hampered, despicable actual, wherein thou even now standest, here or nowhere is thy ideal: work it out therefrom; and working, believe, live, be free. Fool! The ideal is in thyself, the impediment too is in thyself: thy condition is but the stuff thou art to shape that same ideal out of: what matters whether such stuff be of this sort or that, so the form thou give it be heroic, be poetic? O thou that pinest in the imprisonment of the actual, and criest bitterly to the gods for a kingdom wherein to rule and create, know this of a truth: the thing thou seekest is already with thee, “here or nowhere,” couldst thou only see…

I too could now say to myself: Be no longer a chaos, but a world, or even worldkin. Produce! Produce! Were it but the pitifullest infinitesimal fraction of a product, produce it, in God’s name! ‘Tis the utmost thou hast in thee: out with it, then. Up, up! Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy whole might. Work while it is called today; for the night cometh, wherein no man can work.

Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus

Written by nevalalee

March 18, 2017 at 7:30 am

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