Reflections on Aphorisms #78

Been getting a lot done recently. If I had been worried whether or not I was on the right track, I could at least claim to be more certain now.

Of course, what can any of us truly know?

At the very least, I can hope to be on the right track, and devote myself to noble pursuits.

Aphorism 116

Neither the sun nor death can be looked at without winking.

François de La Rochefoucauld

Interpretation

The sublime Empyrean resides above us, the depths of Hell below.

We have the potential to work toward either, but both are metaphysical. They cannot be expressed or contemplated strictly within our mortal framework.

What Rouchefoucauld gets at here is the notion that there are things that we cannot bear directly, both in terms of our comprehension and our psychological ability to handle things.

The sun–metaphorically understood as God–and death–the negative counterpart of life–are both things that we cannot directly confront, but so is the axiomatic and ultimate nature of good and evil itself.

The greatest things in life are blessings that we cannot hope to comprehend. This is true across time and cultures. A faithful child, a loyal spouse, and a noble leader all embody the closest thing one can have to a movement toward the divine in worldly affairs.

The worst things in life are are set in direct opposition to the good: the faithless, the disloyal, the corrupt.

But, of course, in reality there is always nuance. There is none who can claim to be purely good, none who can be condemned as wholly evil.

Even the worst butcher is driven by something extrinsic, while even the saints are held down by the intrinsic flaws of their nature.

This conflict between the external and the internal is why we fear both good and evil, and why we cannot come to a balance between both. It is not that one or the other is purely good or evil, but the balance between all things is constantly in flux.

The only permanence is the divine, and to our perceptions even that seems inconstant. Of course, this is due to our inability to develop a perfectly accurate picture of reality (which is not a good reason not to try) and appreciate the full consequences and merits of our actions.

So we blink, voluntarily closing our eyes to the things around us before they transfigure us. The words of Nietzsche ring true. One who gazes too long into the abyss is met with a return.

Resolution

Do not expect perfection.

Contemplate the good constantly.

Accept the being of evil, then work against it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.