Delight Springs

Friday, June 9, 2017

Worms at core and root

The dogs were at the door too early again this morning, we were out and roaming the neighborhood in the unseasonably chilly pre-dawn. I'm forcibly re-learning the lesson Richard Powers' character Peter Els learned "way too late in life":
Els learned that the time to concentrate yourself was right before sunrise. His greatest art now was to walk two hours before the neighborhood woke. Moving his legs left him blissful. Had he discovered the routine in young adulthood, he might have long ago amassed a portfolio of playful, exuberant creations that pleased him and gave delight to others.
So, I concentrated myself this morning on another Mill-James connection: William James, I've often noted, bemoaned "the worm at the core of all our usual springs of delight..." Can it be a coincidence that his hero Mill had also tracked, in his Autobiography, a nefarious nematode? 

Noting that a too-intent fixation on habits of intellectual analysis can impair our spontaneity and delight in feeling, Mill wrote that such habits feed "a perpetual worm at the root both of the passions and of the virtues; and, above all, fearfully undermine all desires, and all pleasures..."

James and Mill could have learned from Els. Walk away from the worms every morning, habitually, and feel better. Save the melancholy metaphysics for sundown.

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