It’s possible to produce a startlingly accurate psychological portrait of an individual based only on the manner and frequency with which he employs the superlative form of the adjective. It’s possible, I say. Precisely how, though, remains obscure. As in a plurality of cases, the work required to illustrate the hypothesis overwhelms any inclination to do so.
Asked offhandedly by an acquaintance what is my preferred mode of transportation, I answered that it’s walking. But only to a specific destination, I neglected to add. And preferably along a route lined with storefronts and other distractions. And with certain obvious stipulations about the weather.
That I failed to mention these several last caveats necessarily means that my response lacked precision. The other more positive result, however, is that I succeeded in not rendering myself a tremendous and inexhaustible burden.
It’s not uncommon to say of a young person who’s particularly cordial or dispassionate — that is, because he exhibits qualities which typically intensify with age — it’s not uncommon to say that he shows signs of “maturity.”
One finds, by this logic, a singular means by which to demonstrate a level of maturity unrivaled by even the most elderly among us — that is, to become a corpse.
“Does anyone still long for anything these days?” I asked myself that question this morning — and was immediately repulsed. “These days”: banal and imprecise. “Anyone” and “-thing”: banal and imprecise. The entire sentiment: banal and imprecise.
What I should have asked is, “Is anyone infested by the banal and imprecise these days?” Conveniently, the question answers itself.
Were it not for the sake of a tympanoplasty I received as an eight-year-old — a relatively new procedure, that, relative to the whole course of human endeavor — I’d be deaf in my left ear now. The field of ethical philosophy, meanwhile, has existed for roughly three-thousand years and yet, in most cases, has proved inadequate for contending with that series of horrors commonly referred to as life. What this suggests about the deficiency of the latter discipline, it’s hard to say precisely — except to conclude that it is, indeed, deficient.
Certain pleasures are rendered possible only by means of a brief excursion into the irrational. A confederacy exists among those understand this. As for those who don’t, the disgust appears mutual.
This university handbook, like most others, contains within it a statement regarding academic integrity which expressly forbids any act of plagiarism. On a basketball court, meanwhile, no one condemns that player who, while dribbling, produces an exact replica of Iverson’s crossover. Just the opposite, in fact: such a player is likely to be considered an asset to his team. The difference? In the latter case, the game offers both a clear end (to score) and a real impediment to that end (his opponent). Academic work frequently lacks both. As a result, novelty becomes an end in itself.
Perhaps there’s some virtue to that model. To effectively negotiate the horrors of life, however, one can’t be concerned with originality. Plagiarism — what might be called a sort of ethical plagiarism — is necessary.