Saturday 16 February 2019

Francis Berger discovers William Arkle

Regular reader can imagine how delighted I was to find that Francis Berger has, like me, found reading William Arkle to be a formative experience.

FB uses his initial response of “If I had discovered William Arkle earlier, I would be so much wiser today.” as the basis for a reflection on hindsight - distinguishing bewteen when hindsight is a valuable (perhaps essential) mode of learning, and when it is little more than an unreal fantasy.

But here is the final section on William Arkle:

To conclude, I had to accept the following – I had not engaged with William Arkle because I had not been ready to do until now. As much as I would like to regret not discovering Arkle sooner, I must realize I have nothing to regret, and that engaging with him now rather than earlier in my life indicates good luck rather than bad luck. In essence, I had to understand that I have basically lost nothing and stand to gain much by not discovering William Arkle until now.

Thus, I had to recognize the fantasy contained in my original thought regarding Arkle, and reformulate the thought in the following manner:

“If I had read William Arkle earlier, I would have read William Arkle earlier.”

This is the only true hindsight 20/20 statement I can make about not discovering William Arkle earlier in my life. Notice how it lacks any description of value; and I am almost certain that is exactly what I would have received in value terms had I encountered the man’s ideas in the past.

Thankfully, I have found an amazing amount of value in reading Arkle now, which supports the notion that I was, perhaps, not meant to discover William Arkle until this moment in time.

If I have it right, this is what William Arkle himself would have referred to as The Will at work.

The regret I experienced for not reading Arkle sooner might be considered an example of my Will Power trying to exert itself in the world – on an unreal situation to create an unprovable present, no less!

Lesson learned? Renouncing Will Power and embracing the Will truly is crucial in life; even, it appears, in matters of hindsight.

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