Sunday, March 18, 2007

lax on wisdom, part three (survival)

knowing how to stay alive & healthy (well-fed & with adequate air and sleep) is also part of wisdom.

the wisdom of survival.

wisdom for survival.

he who is imbued with the wisdom of survival is not only fit for “survival” himself, but for teaching it to others. (even to generations of others.)

“The survival of the fittest” – not of the fiercest, not of the fastest – the fittest, among men, may, after all, be the wisest.

not every place in the world, at every time and in every condition would be a good school for wisdom. but wisdom is a “culture” (as yoghurt is) and where it begins to grow it develops regularly. wise generations, for a while at least, follow the generations of the wise.

wisdom and moderation certainly have something to do with each other. he who does not know how to moderate an action (to moderate, in fact, all his actions) cannot be wise.

pan metron ariston say the greeks; every good thing in measure (wise words from the ancients.)

not too little, and not too much: the meaning of moderation.

most refusals to do this or that, to eat or drink this or that, in Greece, have to do with moderation: the observance of a clearly perceived (if seldom verbalized) inner law.

to live among greeks (and especially, perhaps, among kalymnians) is to live in an atmosphere of wisdom.

where among kalymnians is the greatest degree of wisdom to be observed: I think, almost certainly, among the fishermen.

what are the wise things they say and the wise things they do? only to be living among them, watching them carefully, listening attentively can one learn from them gradually.

learn to be a fisherman? learn slowly, to be wise.

to live among wise people is to learn wisdom gradually. can wisdom be learned? can all men learn wisdom? I think almost all men can gain somewhat in wisdom and can gain more in wisdom by living among the wise.

for wisdom is a language, and he would learn something of their language. he might not learn to use it with great ability, but every year for a while he would learn a little, if by nature, he was incapable of learning more.

what is the value of wisdom? many values, but perhaps the most obvious, the most nearly tangible: the value of survival.

is survival, too, a matter of dubious value? it may be for some, (I doubt that it is for the wise.)

- Robert Lax, July 22, 1969, from the “A Greek Journal” published in the book “Love Had A Compass”, pp. 216-217
[See: lax on wisdom, part two (under water)
and lax on wisdom, part one]

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