On Surviving With One’s Soul Intact

You do not have to like or choose any of them. You can dislike, distrust, and reject them all. It is not your duty to choose. It is your duty to think.

“Opinion is for the many, truth for the few. Therefore, the truth seeker has an obligation not to publicly corrupt or undermine the opinions on which society depends.” This principle or quasi-rule of the thinking life presupposes a societal context in which the preeminent opinions are salutary, or at least not catastrophically harmful. When such a condition no longer applies, the rule itself no longer applies; or perhaps a different rule applies.

There is a line beyond which one cannot go in the name of “saving the appearances” without effectively sacrificing the essential in favor of the appearances. The failure to recognize this line, and to avoid crossing it, may reveal a soul that has become duped by its own mask and finally submitted, unwittingly, to the false goods of safety, acceptance, and getting along. Another way to say this: Appearances that occur naturally, and as the sense impression of unchanging realities, are worth saving, whereas appearances that result from social filters or indoctrinated blinders intended to blur or obscure the na├»ve apprehension of reality, are not.

“If you are not one of us, you must be one of them.” Such thinking (which may indeed be an accurate characterization of most people today, as a practical matter of fact) seems eminently reasonable to those for whom belonging is the primary aim of human life, and one’s essence therefore defined by group membership. The proper answer to this judgment: I am one. I am “of” this or that only as perceived by others, who require such categorizations to make sense of the unknown. Man is a categorizing animal, which is to say a simplifying animal. What cannot be simplified is disturbing to men, and must therefore be forced into categories against its will, so to speak, in order for men to feel comfortable with it. Anything without a readily available category becomes a source of discomfort or even fear. The longer it remains uncategorizable, the more likely it is to become an object of hatred.

Advice to all souls wishing to remain intact: Be prepared to be hated.

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