Ludwig Preyßinger, Astronomic Picture Atlas (Germany, 1851)
When someone proclaims that they find, say, a tree or a poem beautiful … the force of the conviction underlying the judgment tends to channel our attention to the sheer event of her having found it so. This is why it can be so strangely difficult to respond to someone’s passionated declaration that something is beautiful… .
In contrast, when someone feels compelled to make public his evaluation of an object as interesting, we are compelled to immediately ask, Why? Here, aesthetic evaluation seems no longer finalized by the act of making an aesthetic claim but rather to have just gotten on its way. Somehow facilitated by the very features that at first glance seem to disqualify the interesting as an aesthetic evaluation … it is as if the judgement of interesting solicits a why from others precisely in order to create an occasion for the judge to make her reasons public.
kristienvan asked: How do I stop wasting being 17?
The only way it is possible to waste being 17 is to wish that you were 18.
When you’re very young, the world is full of atmospheres instead of objects. Think about what memories of childhood are like. They’re memories of how things felt, rather than records of what happened. The red and white dimples that carpet pile presses into your bare knees. How burps smell after you’ve accidentally swallowed pool water. The static electricity that hisses and ticks as you drag your finger across the screen of a television tube. These grains of experience evaporate into the aura of what it was like to be a kid.
Then you get older. The cloud you lived in as a kid starts to fall as hail. Think about how the act of picking a movie changes. When you’re seven, the aura and excitement of WATCHING A MOVIE creeps like a fog into the act of picking one out and it almost doesn’t matter which you choose. Ten years later and you’re weighing this film against that film, comparing tenths of an IMDb star, noticing how Lindsay Lohan doesn’t look like a scuffed Barbie in it, etc.
Life starts to turn dry. The grains of experience no longer evaporate. Instead they collect into little drifts. Lots of people get stuck here. For them the drifts turn into dunes and the dunes turn their lives into a desert of happenstance.
These are the people who need a form to give their life a shape. The same way you pack beach sand into a bucket and flip it over to turn out a cylinder. (It goes without saying that this is what’s happening when you get excited after you’ve bought something.)
The point is that growing up is all too often growth in the wrong direction.
But which other way is there?
About two years before he died, Wittgenstein was talking to somebody who asked him how he could admire a person like (Cardinal) John Henry Newman, who believed in miracles (specifically the miracle of Napoleon being defeated at Moscow because the Pope had excommunicated him three years earlier.) Anyway, the thing Wittgenstein says in response is your answer—
Wittgenstein: Twenty years ago I would have regarded Newman’s action as incomprehensible, perhaps even insincere. But no more…
Somebody: But what changed in you that you no longer think so?
W.: I came gradually to see that life is not what it seems.
[very long silence]
W.: It’s like this: In the city, streets are nicely laid out. And you drive on the right and you have traffic lights, and so on. There are rules. When you leave the city, there are still roads, but no traffic lights. And when you get far off, there are no roads, no lights, no rules, nothing to guide you. It’s all woods. And when you return to the city you may feel that the rules are wrong, that there should be no rules.
S.: I still don’t understand.
W.: It comes to something like this—If you have a light, I say: Follow it. It may be right. Certainly life in the city won’t do.
After her capture in the castle of Beaurevoir and at Arras, Joan was charitably advised many times by nobles and distinguished persons, men and women, to abandon men’s attire and to wear clothes that are seemly and befitting her sex. But she absolutely refused and, as stated, steadfastly refuses to carry out other tasks proper to her sex, in all things behaving more like a man than a woman.
With regard to this article, Joan says that she was in fact advised to wear women’s clothing at Arras and in the castle of Beaurevoir; she refused then and still does. As for the other womanly tasks, she says there are enough other women to do them.
Asked whether she had not said before Paris: “Surrender this town to Jesus!” she said no, she had said: “Surrender it to the king of France.”
from The Trial of Joan of Arc (trans. Daniel Hobbins):
Asked what members of her party caught butterflies using her standard before Château-Theirry,* she said her party had never done that—the other side had invented it.
* (Endnote) Late July 1429. This incident has never been satisfactorily explained.
"Joan of Arc," Jules Bastien-Lepage (1879)