Saturday, January 24, 2009

From the Brother in Law

Actually, it is the ex-brother in law.  But since he led to such things as Braudel and has excellent taste in fiction, I usually listen to him.

Here is an Adam Smith quote that I heard this morning on Christa
Tippett's "Speaking of Faith" radio program, which caused me to pause
mid-shave and ponder. Very relevant to you recent blog posts I'd say. I
copied the quote from the "Speaking of Faith" web page linked below.
I had to look up the word OPEROSE, an adjective meaning "wrought with
labor; requiring labor; hence, tedious; wearisome".

"The poor man's son, whom heaven in its anger has visited with ambition,
when he begins to look around him, admires the condition of the rich.
... It appears in his fancy like the life of some superior rank of
beings, and, in order to arrive at it, he devotes himself for ever to
the pursuit of wealth and greatness. ... Through the whole of his life
he pursues the idea of a certain artificial and elegant repose which he
may never arrive at, for which he sacrifices a real tranquillity that is
at all times in his power, and which, if in the extremity of old age he
should at last attain to it, he will find to be in no respect preferable
to that humble security and contentment which he had abandoned for it.
... Power and riches appear then to be, what they are, enormous and
operose machines contrived to produce a few trifling conveniencies to
the body, consisting of springs the most nice and delicate, which must
be kept in order with the most anxious attention, and which in spite of
all our care are ready every moment to burst into pieces, and to crush
in their ruins their unfortunate possessor. They are immense fabrics,
which it requires the labour of a life to raise, which threaten every
moment to overwhelm the person that dwells in them, and which while they
stand, though they may save him from some smaller inconveniencies, can
protect him from none of the severer inclemencies of the season. They
keep off the summer shower, not the winter storm, but leave him always
as much, and sometimes more exposed than before, to anxiety, to fear,
and to sorrow; to diseases, to danger, and to death."

--Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments 1759

1 comment:

Mayberry said...

Exellent quote, and my sentiments exactly! Heh heh, my "fancy" stuff always "springs to pieces", but the simple stuff lives on...