Thursday, August 18, 2005

what are we chasing?



there are so many things we chase in our life, but few that bring a profound sense of satification and wholeness. when i was in paris, as i was reading through victor hugo's book: les miserables, i found a treasure box of rich paragraphs.

the context of this next paragraph was that vitor hugo was describing monseigneur bienvenu - a very humble priest who cared deeply about others and had a healthy sense of self forgetfulness. he was one who didn't run after the same things that the crowds chased, namely the shallowness of contemporary admiration. listen to how he puts it:

"Beyond the five or six exceptions, the wonders of their age, contemporary admiration is nothing but shortsideness. Gilt to gold. To be a chance comer is no drawback, provided you have improved your chances. The common herd is an old Narcissus, who adores himself and applauds the common. That mighty Genius, by which one becomes a Moses, an Aeschylus, a Dante, a Michelangelo, or a Napoleon, the multitude attributes at once and by acclamation to whoever succeeds in his object, whatever it may be. Let a notary rise to be a deputy; let a sham Corneille write "Tiradate"; let a eunuch come into the possession of a harem; let a military Prudhomme accidently win the decisive battle of an era; let a pharamist invent cardboard soles for army shoes and put aside, by selling this cardboard as leather for the army of the Sambre-et-Meuse, four hundred thousand livres in income; let a peddler marry usury and have her bear seven or eight million, of which he is the father and she is the mother; let a preacher become a bishop by talking platitudes; let the steward of a good house become so rich that on leaving service he is made Minister of Finance - men call that Genius, just as they call the face of Mousqueton, Beauty, and the bearing of Claude, Majesty. They confuse heaven's radiant stars with a duck's footprint left in the mud."

2 Comments:

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At 1:31 PM, Blogger Michael Durand said...

i love hugo, he does really have some beautiful paragraphs. thanks for posting that one...

 

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