scruta

Either you are sorting it out, or you are full of it.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

On Mediocrity

“History is, irremissibly, the rule of the mediocre. The only capital quality Humanity possesses is the “H” with which we adorn it typographically. The greatest genius is shattered against the unlimited force of vulgarity. The planet, apparently, is made for the average man to continually rule. The important thing, therefore, is for the median level to be elevated as high as possible. What makes a nation great is not primarily its great men, but the stature of its innumerable mediocre ones. Of course, in my opinion, the average level will never be elevated without the existence of superior examples, models who challenge the inertia of the multitudes and attract them toward lofty heights. That is why the role of the great men is only secondary and indirect. It is not they who are the historical reality, for it is possible for a nation to possess individual geniuses without the nation’s being worth the more for it. This always happens when the masses are indifferent to their examples, when they do not follow them and do not perfect themselves.”

-Jose Ortega y Gasset, “The Role of Choice In Love,” On Love: Aspects of A Single Theme, p. 118

Ferret
To be perfectly honest, I don’t know what to do with my life. I feel like I could have been really great at something, but I always lacked focus. First, it was trying to be an actor. I was interested in drama in general, writing, acting, directing mostly. I guess I’m still am. That’s really how I came to be interested in Plato. I was always into philosophy, too. I can remember going to parties in high school and engaging in those adolescent philosophical debates: Do I really exist? That kind of thing. When I discovered Plato, it was incredible. Here was somebody who was really engaging philosophy dramatically, that thought of philosophy as an active enterprise. So after I fell in love with Plato I found myself studying Classics, trying to really get a handle on what was going on. Of course, the more I got into it I realized the father away I was getting from producing works of drama and literature, performing like I always used to like to do.

Mors
Yeah, I know how you feel. I think guitar is the same way for me. I started doing Classics because I liked that feeling of the grammar, and the mythology, those great stories. But I realize if I could really do whatever I wanted, I would just play guitar all day long, but I’ve put so much time and money into Classics, that I’ve got to try and make it work now. It just kind’ve feels like, I could do this. I don’t love it, but I could do it.

Ferret
It’s funny you say that. A lot of older guys, I mean pushing 60 with families, the whole bit, have told me that’s how life worked out for them. They had dreams of things they’d try and do if they had all the money in the world, but that ultimately, they picked something that was just “okay.”

Mors
I think there’s something to that, man. That’s how it just happens.

Ferret
There is, but then there’s always those guys who refuse to do that, and they end up being the ones who live the life of kings, rolling on the waves of their dreams. I just wonder if they’ve had too much of a head start; they’ve been too focused. I realize I have a lot to bring to the table, and everyone seems to believe in me. Maybe I can do it still.

Mors
Why not? You can still give it a try.

Ferret
I think I’m going to.

Mors
Then there’s the fact that you don’t make it.

Ferret
Of course, not making it to rockstardom, I think that this is everyone’s assumption. The weird thing is that I don’t know anybody who has tried and failed. Maybe you don’t see that because people find out pretty quickly whether they have what it takes or not, and make a decision, and don’t really talk about it much. People don’t like to think about their failures. I suppose that that is a risk I have to take. I’m still young. I can hustle for two years, and if it doesn’t happen then, well… I guess it’s time to settle for mediocrity.

Mors
It’s not really settling though, is it? I mean, you do what you can with what you’ve got.

Ferret
I think that’s true. I’ve thought a lot about this, when it comes to something like activism, or making a difference. I’ve decided I don’t understand the appeal of trying to find a cause. This idea of doing something great or being something great isn’t really something that you TRY to do. It just happens. If I were in the position to help a lot of people, following my own desires, then I hope that I would. Looking for things doesn’t make sense to me.

Mors
I agree with you. It’s important to fight injustice when you are confronted with it, but you shouldn’t actively seek it out like superman or something.

Ferret
The problem is that I’m afraid that I’ve become complacent. I’m afraid that there may be injustices directly related to my life that I don’t see. I’m afraid that I’ve become blind.

Mors
Of course, what’s the price of seeing? Maybe it’s not worth it entirely.

Ferret
Maybe not. I think that’s another sick and sad part about “growing up.” There will be injustice in the world that you just have to accept. You will have to choose the second best. However, for you, that is the best. There’s just always this thing that I think sticks in the back of everyone’s head, that adolescent refusal to compromise or accept hypocrisy… it always says: “You didn’t grow up, you gave up.”

Mors
Heh, I don’t think you ever get away from that, but that’s a thought that I think sits with most people. A reason to drink, maybe?

Ferret
Indeed, cheers.

posted by ferret at 2:25 pm  

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