In reading the introduction to Once and Future Myths by Phil
Cousineau, he makes the statement that "the everyday mind can't seem to
reconcile mortal souls with immortal acts."
This would explain our tendency to legendize great people. It
bothers us deeply when some scholar reveals that Jefferson had affairs with
his slaves, or that JFK had prostitutes sent to his room. We don't like
that. We prefer the legend to the reality.
And if we lack details… well, we'll just make them up. We especially love
those "Stories of Promise" we invent about the childhood of our heroes.
Granted, that story about Washington and his cherry tree are as lame as
those stories invented during the Middle Ages about the childhood of Jesus.
I concur with Cousineau's conclusion that this tendency may explain our
"rhapsodies on a theme from Faust" that shows up over and over… two
choices: like Mozart, God gives you a gift, or like Robert Johnson, you
make a pact with the devil. Same thing. I think we have a word for this…
However, I think we can accept these "immortal acts" more easily in others
than we can in ourselves… and even less from members of our family.
This seems very illogical. But we all have stories from our childhood of
unsupportive parents or siblings that couldn't accept greatness from a
person who peed on the floor when they were two years old. But I believe
that enlightenment and salvation is inside every person.
I've got another idea as well… I think the devil, God, or a muse only
visits you a few times in your life. Cousineau quoted Albert Camus, who
said, "A man's work is nothing but the slow trek to rediscover, through the
detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose
presence his heart first opened."
The road of art is littered with the graves of men who's life's struggle
was to surpass a single moment of greatness when they were younger. And
yet, there are others who struggle for years and get their moment of gift
on their death-bed. Yes, the gods enjoy their game of dice.
My point? Ah, you should know me by now. I simply prefer contemplation.
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