Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Turn Back Now, Ye Faint-Hearted!

The following passage from Josiah Royce’s magnificent essay, "The One, the Many, and the Infinite" appended to Volume One of The World and the Individual might well serve as an extended introductory warning to readers of (at least some of the posts in) this weblog:

But now, at this point, let any weary reader who my lectures [posts] may already have disheartened, – but who nevertheless may kindly have proceeded so far, – turn finally back. When you enter the realm of Mr. Bradley’s Absolute, it is much as it is at the close of Victor Hugo’s Toilers of the Sea, after the ship that carries away the lady has sunk below the horizon, and after the tide has just covered the rock where the desolate lover had been watching. "There was nothing," says the poet, in his last words, "there was nothing now visible but the sea." As for me, I love the sea, and am minded to find in it life, and individuality, and explicit law. And I go upon that quest. Whoever is not weary, and is not yet disheartened, and is fond of metaphysical technicality, is welcome to join the quest. But in the sea there are also, as Victor Hugo explained to us, very strange monsters. And Mr. Bradley, too, in his book, has had much to say of the "monsters," philosophic and psychological , that the realm of Appearance contains, even in the immediate neighborhood of the Absolute. We shall meet some such reputed "monsters" in the course of this discussion. Let him who fears such trouble also turn back.

It is too bad that people nowadays have little patience with writing of this sort. They dismiss it as flowery and baroque. They don’t have time, or at least they won’t make time or take the time to savor it. They want the point served up pre-masticated on a silver platter. They are too much impressed by Orwell’s rules for good writing. To them I say: Slow down and enjoy the moment!