Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Faustian Memory.

Alas, what am I, if I can
Not reach for mankind's crown which merely
Our senses' craving like a star?

You're in the end -- just what you are!
Put wigs on with a million locks
And put your foot on ell-high socks,
You still remain just what you are.

I feel, I gathered up and piled up high
In vain the treasures of the human mind:
When I sit down at last, I cannot find
New strength within -- it is all dry.
My stature has not grown a whit,
No closer to the Infinite.

-- Lines 1803-1815, The First Part of the Tragedy, Faust

Faust and Mephistopheles in the Harz Mountains - Eugene Delacroix, Lithograph, 1828

I was reminded today of this conversation between Faust and Mephisto from Goethe's Faust. I'd read it many years ago, but it came back to me as an epiphany of sorts. In the discussion, Mephisto explains to Faust in a round-about way that the truth always finds a way to be seen. No matter how many masks you wear, nor how much wealth you acquire, you shall still be who you are. Much to Faust's chagrin, he comes to realize that his lofty pursuits are all for naught. Mephisto taught him an invaluable lesson. Faust is still the man he always was.

In a similar manner, I was humbled today. No matter how far I advance and how much fortune I obtain, I'm still a man whom came from meager means. I came from a home filled with anger, contempt and sadness. These same elements I have carried into my own adult life; I am my own master. Ultimately, it's up to me as to what man I want to be. Attempting to cover it up is merely a temporary fix. These cancerous bits must be excised.

If I want to be compassionate and understanding, then I must embody those concepts in my life. My tongue must be bound if it wishes to sting others when I am cross. Speaking in anger is never the answer.

In modern English... Don't be abominable to others, especially those that genuinely care for you.

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