Friday, April 25, 2008

Inner Grace = Substance

"Adela de Otero closed her fan and raised it slowly, until it touched the scar on her mouth. 'You must be a very lonely man, Don Jaime.'

He looked at her hard. There was no amusement in his gray eyes now; his eyes had become opaque. 'I am' His voice sounded tired. 'But I am the only one to blame for that. Actually loneliness has a kind of fascination; it's a state of egotistical, inner grace that you can achieve only by standing guard on old, forgotten roads that no one travels anymore. Do I seem like an absurd old man to you?'"

~~"The Fencing Master" by Arturo Perez-Reverte

I often feel like this. Not egotistical, but with the inner grace of an old man still disappointed in teenagers and young adults that don't have some sort of educational habit in addition to the rest of their life. I continue to stand on this old, forgotten road because 1) I'm a nerd 2) this decline in reading is a major part of our societal downfall, not technology like others may suggest. Kids and adults alike may surround and isolate themselves in the latest technological gadgets (which ironically propose to form more social connections for them)*note below, but this is not technology's fault, but rather the users who use these things as ends, and not means to further the mental and spiritual culturing process that all humans should under go in some way.

The character in this novel, Don Jaime Astarloa, is a strict traditionalist and has made himself the complete embodiment of fencing, a dying art at a time when pistols and blunderbusses are replacing foils. On the bad side, I literally mean that he's made himself the complete embodiment. He's interested in nothing else, not politics, romance, sensual indulgences, nothing. Actually, he reads, but that's about it. He makes his living in 19th century Madrid, teaching thrusts, parries, counterparries, tierces and quartes (fencing) to the last few people of his world who want to learn it. He stands for fencing because it has order, it is the meaning of honor and the only thing a great teacher and friend of his taught him before dying.

Now, I don't agree that people should ideologically isolate themselves completely like this, but instead learn about the new and evolving world and find their place there. If they are to come across despair by finding (thus far) that he has no meaning in the new world (an emotion which pokes at Astarloa every now and then), they should reexamine their own existence and remember that everyone has meaning, i.e. everyone has something to offer to this world. I and W.E.B. DuBois (Yes, I say that like he's my best friend or something) believe that formal and informal education is how one would go about finding their true self, and learn how to offer it rationally and effectively to the world. But however one goes about it, the point still stands. The form of that offerance is something only certain people can perceive, but no one can deny that the offerance exists.

*note: I say isolate because people usually depend on one or two mediums (their T-Mobile Sidekick, or AIM or MySpace) to communicate to each other with, but these things alone cannot convey properly what people try to say to each other. No one or two mediums can. So, on top of today's people not even attempting to understand cultures other than their own, a person trying to speak their mind, put themselves out there and be understood never truly happens, and they are in the despairing position I spoke of in my first post. Furthermore, the English language is being slaughtered and imperialized by slang, which hampers the understanding process and generation gap further.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What's your beef, sports fan?