On the mind


In Musil’s very readable book, the man without qualities, he writes thus of the mind, and which I find both quite interesting and to provide some pause for though

[…] It analyses a substance and notes that it is a poison in large quantities, a stimulant in smaller ones….. To the mind, good and evil, above and below, are not skeptical, relative concepts, but terms of a function, values that depend on the context they find themselves in. The centuries have taught it that vice can turn into virtues and virtues into vices, so the mind concludes that basically only ineptitude prevents the transformation of a criminal into a useful person within the space of a lifetime.

It doesn’t accept anything as permissible or impermissible, since everything may have some quality that may someday make it part of a great new context. It secretly detests everything with pretentions to permanence, all the great ideals and laws and their little fossilized imprint, the well adjusted character. It regards nothing as fixed, no personality, no order of things; because our knowledge may change from day to day, it regards nothing as binding; everything has the value it has only until the next act of creation, as a face changes with the words we are speaking to it.

And so the mind is the great opportunist, itself impossible to pin down, take hold of, anywhere; one is tempted to believe that all of its influence nothing is left but decay. Man feels dangerously close to repeating the fate of those gigantic primeval species that perished because of their size; but he cannot stop himself.

Ulrich, the man without qualities, sees this whole thing in a comical light and concludes

there is certainly an abundance of mind around, the only thing wrong was that mind itself was devoid of mind.

Happy weekend everyone.

 

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

4 thoughts on “On the mind

  1. renudepride says:

    Very interesting excepts, my Kenyan brother! A happy weekend back to you! ๐Ÿ™‚ Naked hugs!

    Like

  2. Swarn Gill says:

    I really connect with those words. A person asked me once, what are my faults? I couldn’t think of any. Before you laugh, I then said, but I also can’t think of really any strengths either. I feel that my qualities lie on a spectrum, in which all of them maybe good qualities, that need tweaking, or maybe they are all strengths in the right context and faults in the wrong one. Maybe it is best that I live a life that fits my qualities. I don’t know, but I really like the fluidity in what you’ve quote from Musil.

    Like

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