Friday, 20 June 2014

Bootstrapping in a void

To set down such choice experiences that my own writings may inspire me–and at least I may make wholes of parts.
Certainly it is a distinct profession to rescue from oblivion and to fix the sentiments and thoughts which visit all men more or less generally... 
Each thought that is welcomed and recorded is a nest egg–by the side of which more will be laid. Thoughts accidentally thrown together become a frame–in which more may be developed and exhibited.
Perhaps this is the main value of a habit of writing–of keeping a journal. That so we remember our best hours–and stimulate ourselves. My thoughts are my company–They have a certain individuality and separate existence–aye personality.
Having by chance recorded a few disconnected thoughts and then brought them into juxtaposition–they suggest a whole new field in which it was possible to labor and to think. Thought begat thought.

Henry David Thoreau. Journal. Jan 22 1852

At first glance this seems quite an inspiring idea - to record 'choice experiences' in a journal, and then feed off them to develop more - as thought begets thought... The artist as hero of his own quest. 
But on reflection it is an attempted autonomy - a solipsism - that must surely lead to despair: to depend upon oneself alone... This is an early inkling of the modern nightmare in which (supposedly) each man is an artist creating his own meaning and purpose - and hope is bootstrapped from the void. 
If the mind falters for a moment - then everything collapses - all meaning and purpose: all hope. And to realize that all meaning and purpose depend utterly on not faltering is certainly enough to make it falter.