Friday, July 3, 2009

In Praise of Old Tricks

"When he learned about his son's acquisition of the chateau it struck him as a transgression against limits all the more sacred for not being legally defined, and he rebuked his son even more bitterly than on the many previous occasions he had found it necessary to do so, almost in terms of prophesying a bad end of which this purchase was the beginning. The basic premise of his life was affronted. As with many men who achieve distinction, this feeling was far from self-serving but consisted in a deep love of the general good above personal advantage — in other words, he sincerely venerated the state of affairs that had served him so well, not because it was to his advantage, but because he was in harmony and coexistent with it, and on general principles. This is a point of great importance: even a pedigreed dog searches out his place under the dining table, regardless of kicks, not because of canine abjection but out of loyalty and faith; and even coldly calculating people do not succeed half so well in life as those with properly blended temperaments who are capable of deep feeling for those persons and conditions that happen to serve their own interests."

— Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities Vol. 1, trans. Sophie Wilkins, 10