It’s not often that I read something then feel compelled to immediately talk about it, but here’s something.
An excerpt from The Sad Fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton, by George Eliot.
“Indeed, what mortal is there of us, who would find his satisfaction enhanced by an opportunity of comparing the picture he presents to himself of his own doings, with the picture they make on the mental retina of his neighbours? We are poor plants buoyed up by the air-vessels of our own conceit: alas for us, if we get a few pinches that empty us of that windy selfsubsistence! The very capacity for good would go out of us. For, tell the most impassioned orator, suddenly, that his wig is awry, or his shirt-lap hanging out, and that he is tickling people by the oddity of his person, instead of thrilling them by the energy of his periods, and you would infallibly dry up the spring of his eloquence. That is a deep and wide saying, that no miracle can be wrought without faith—without the worker’s faith in himself, as well as the recipient’s faith in him. And the greater part of the worker’s faith in himself is made up of the faith that others believe in him.
Let me be persuaded that my neighbour Jenkins considers me a blockhead, and I shall never shine in conversation with him any more. Let me discover that the lovely Phoebe thinks my squint intolerable, and I shall never be able to fix her blandly with my disengaged eye again. Thank heaven, then, that a little illusion is left to us, to enable us to be useful and agreeable—that we don’t know exactly what our friends think of us—that the world is not made of looking-glass, to show us just the figure we are making, and just what is going on behind our backs! By the help of dear friendly illusion, we are able to dream that we are charming and our faces wear a becoming air of self-possession; we are able to dream that other men admire our talents—and our benignity is undisturbed; we are able to dream that we are doing much good—and we do a little.”
Illusion! the artifice of men’s minds to fool themselves and to convince themselves of their dreams. knowing that they are but dreams we hold on to the hope that reality is what we make of it, that when we impose our dreams on reality and attempt to live them out there will be some form of realization of what we have idealized. the future suddenly seems bright (or dark) and limitless and boundless but at the same time we know that dreams are but the stuff of the night, and don’t belong in the light of day. what then is a man to do when confronted by his dreams? when he is alert to the knowledge of illusion but still enamoured with the dream he possesses. but it is in the nature of the dream to cause one to start to believe and have faith despite knowing that dreams don’t come true – this human irrationality is the best and worst of all of us.
and how does illusion affect the way we look at things? the way we see each other? our own illusions overlap with those with which we conceive others to have, which then again layer over with the illusions they have about themselves and ourselves. layers and layers of camouflage cream over and over again, distorting features and changing the landscape of the face, mirroring the alternative emotional geography of the heart. in that case does the map of your own feelings depend on how the borders and mountains and seas of other people are charted? one cannot chart a course in a void. there must a something for the waves to crash against, a foreign destination, an empty horizon laden with promise. but beyond the horizon you can’t see what’s there – is it the illusion of promise or is it one of those ancient Greek legends which still hold some sort of primitive terror for us all? the legendary whirlpool at the end of world which threatens to suck everything into not nothingness, but a continual swirl of increasing violence to which we have no idea where we are going: that lack of final knowledge is what scares us.
what the pong i have no idea how i came up with all that but it’s there.