Friday, 20 June 2014

Bootstrapping in a void

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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
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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. 
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