Tuesday, May 6, 2014

“This alone is to be alive”

All that a man has to say or do that can possibly concern mankind, is in some shape or other to tell the story of his love ― to sing; and, if he is fortunate and keeps alive, he will be forever in love. This alone is to be alive to the extremities. It is a pity that this divine creature should ever suffer from cold feet; a still greater pity that the coldness so often reaches to his heart. I look over the report of the doings of a scientific association and am surprised that there is so little life to be reported; I am put off with a parcel of dry technical terms. Anything living is easily and naturally expressed in popular language. I cannot help suspecting that the life of these learned professors has been almost as inhuman and wooden as a rain-gauge or self-registering magnetic machine. They communicate no fact which rises to the temperature of blood-heat. It doesn?t amount to one rhyme
—From the Journal of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), May 6, 1854.


Well, I don’t altogether agree with Thoreau here. Oh yes, to sing is to live! That is my life. But Thoreau’s perspective is so limited …. What constitutes a song?
And is not the song of each person a unique creation, and an outpouring of The calculations of the engineer, the pigment of the painter, the rhythm of the kneading baker, the measurements and repetitions of the scientist – all these are songs, equally majestic, equally heated and inspiring, equally true and valid. Thoreau seems  tone-deaf to any song but his own.

Let's balance Thoreau with a little Maslow:

A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What one can be, one must be.
—Abraham Maslow, psychologist (1908-1970)

 Take that, Thoreau!

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