Thursday, July 21, 2005

Wisdom of Folly

Just have to share this quote I read in Erasmas' Praise of Folly recently. The entire book is a monolog by the Goddess Folly so Folly is speaking here:

'They all owe a great deal to me, especially any who blot their
pages with unadulterated rubbish. But people who use their
erudition to write for a learned minority and are anxious to have
either Persius or Laelius pass judgment don't seem to me favoured
by fortune but rather to be pitied for their continuous self-torture.
They add, change, remove, lay aside, take up, rephrase, show to
their friends, keep for nine years and are never satisfied. And their
futile reward, a word of praise from a handful of people, they win at
such a cost--so many late nights, such loss of sleep, sweetest of all
things, and so much sweat and anguish. Then their health
deteriorates, their looks are destroyed, they suffer partial or total
blindness, poverty, ill-will, denial of pleasure, premature old age
and early death, and whatever remaining disasters there may be. Yet
the wise* man believes he is compensated for everything if he wins
the approval of one or another purblind scholar.'

Oh dear, I think I am suitably chastised. Tho for me I don't think it is the approval of the modern equivalent of Persius or Laelius that I crave. It is some standard of perfection that I have constructed from a pastiche of sources and an attitude I have acquired by osmosis from encounters with authorities of various stripes and tribes. It is faceless or worse composed of a morphing face that can never be appeased.

This admonition adds weight to an impulse I had recently but so far resisted: To stop holding back my 'better' stuff from my on-line web sites to protect their future money-making potential. Since I have not yet found other ways to insure the survival of my electronic and hardcopy files if something were to happen to both this computer and what is left of my paper portfolio simultaneously--say a fire in this trailer house, posting, if only to password protected files, on Joywrite was beginning to look like the best interim option I have. To make matters worse, I have been unable to print hardcopies for at least eight months as something went wrong with the printer, possibly the paper feed, just after the warranty expired and my husband cannot get his hands on a tech manual for it. But after pondering Folly's scornful portrait of a miserly word-wright, I am reconsidering the option of just putting it all out there and letting the chips fall. The point right now is to cultivate an audience--which is after all the other half of the equation. A creative work is incomplete without an observer. And for the creator and observer to be one and the same--well that is about the most incestuous concept imaginable. Even God could not bear it.

* 'wise' is not a complement on the lips of Folly.

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