Sunday, April 14, 2013

If I Quit My Hobby, Then What Would I Do?

Meng-hu:

What is our work on this earth? Is it a career, profession, busyness pursued for gain, idleness pursued for leisure? Is anyone obliged to pursue anything more than the work of the soul in discovering itself, in harmonizing itself (to God, to Nature, to the universe, to the planet)? Whatever form of work one has, that work must always be the work of enlightenment, or, to use a more modern diction, that of consciousness. What we do to buy food and pay rent is not work but social necessity. That which we do to enrich the soul is our work. Let us pursue it diligently.

Yes, let's. This reminds me of Bruce Ellis Benson's excellent book Pious Nietzsche, from which I'll present one of many equally worthy paragraphs:

To affirm the music of life —to practice music — is to cultivate one's creative vitality (which Nietzsche often calls the "will to power"). This rather broad conception of "practicing music" may seem strange to us (since we today define "music" in a relatively narrow sense), but it would have been perfectly sensible to Nietzsche, who would have had the ancient Greek sense of mousikê in mind. Practicing music for the ancient Greeks was much more than "playing" or "listening" to music. Indeed, as we will see, it also included any art that developed oneself or cultivated one's soul.

Listening to music isn't just entertainment for me; it's a way of harmonizing myself, as mentioned above. It's a way of tuning jangled thoughts and turbulent emotions, gaining inspiration, and facilitating restoration. Same goes for writing. What I do here is more like what Buddhists call their "practice", or what Benson in his book calls askêsis, a spiritual discipline. I'm not persuading anybody or expressing anything important. The goal is merely to become incrementally better at turning vivid perception into clear expression, possibly becoming a mousikos one day.