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March 30th, 2019
We love sound-bites, quotes, jokes, maxims, axioms and all manner of adage, for they simplify the world for us. Beyond this, the brief, but thought-provoking phenomenon of such mimetic morsels is a pleasure. Literally a pleasure. Such statements do not evoke wise behavior in those who hear such Yoda-like statements.
Even a kid can pick out which of Yoda’s sentences are probably the wisest and most profound.
If this disconnect between recognizing a wise statement and being a wise person weren’t so profound, then there would be far wiser people walking and talking. Alas, our ubiquitous balking, squawking and bad-faith finger-pointing indicates that we’re far from a more enlightened state as a species.
In other words, recognizing wisdom does not make a person wise.
This is much like beauty. We can recognize beauty, something that has been crafted with thoughtfulness and deft skill, but this does not mean that we can immediately do the same thing.
In the case of an artist, aesthetics of this sense is not just a matter of recognition, but a matter of practice. The artist practices a skill and seeks to recognize beauty in the result. A beauty that can uniformly be recognized by those who do not practice in the same way.
What practice of a skill does in this case is build a context. Like the wide life that we experience, an artist’s cannon of work is a generative work that the artist not only creates but also experiences in much the same way a spectator would. The artist functions in two ways whereas the spectator only functions in one.
With regards to wisdom, it does not take much observation of life to recognize a wise action or statement. Merely living in the world is the only prerequisite for gaining the context for statements that can be phrased more simply in other words. But to evoke wise behavior within one’s self requires a practice much like the artist who develops a skill.
In other words, it’s not enough to recognize wisdom, one must experience it, and this takes practice.
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