Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Commonplace Book

Here are some quotes from today's reading:

"Pleasures are more beneficial than duties because, like the quality of mercy, they are not strained, and they are twice blest. There must always be two to a kiss, and there may be a score in a jest; but wherever there is an element of sacrifice, the favour is conferred with pain, and, among generous people, received with confusion. There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy. By being happy, we sow anonymous benefits upon the world, which remain unknown even to ourselves, or when they are disclosed, surprise nobody so much as the benefactor."

—Robert Louis Stevenson, "An Apology for Idlers"

("Score" in this quotation refers to the number twenty, which I didn't find immediately apparent.)

Reading this today reminded me of those times when others have mistaken me for a cheery and upbeat guy. In Korea I was surprised on several occasions when somebody would be talking to me and refer to me as such a happy person, so enthusiastic and all that. I would immediately contradict them, to which they would respond with equal confusion. Eventually I discovered that although I saw myself as a very reticent and even melancholy person, to others I appeared quite joyful. It boggled my mind that I could be so unaware that I was happy. I thought it was just a result of the recent changes in my life, but it's even happened quite recently.

The first sentence is a gem as well. It reminds me that reading and writing—two things I espouse as major pursuits—should be first and foremost enjoyable. School (often) stinks.

"The captivating sisters displayed all their talents, and I own they excel in almost every accomplishment.—I have seldom seen a finer figure, taken altogether, than the younger sister, and indeed, your description of the personal beauty of both, was not an exaggeration.—To their acquirements, I have already done justice: yet, I am convinced, that, with all these advantages, my heart, were it totally free from every other impression, would never become devoted to either.

"It would be nonsense to pretend to give reasons for this.—With these caprices of the imagination, and of the heart, you have allowed that Reason has very little to do."

—Charlotte Smith, Desmond

I really couldn't say this better, and it's nice to know people knew it way back in 1792. Funny that it's that way in the first place.

1 comment:

Club Narwhal said...

it's looking like iowa. well, ok, definitely iowa. it just hasn't sunk in yet...yikes.

by the way, the new balance picture = magical.