Distilled for perfection

There are many times when I despair of ever having a worthy thought, much less of expressing it well. Often when reading someone else’s writing I come across a paragraph or even a sentence that so well distills an idea that I doubt any more ever needs to be said about it by anyone. I copy these passages into my journal and lament the knowledge that though I can appreciate what was said, I will never rise to the level that I can say them, or even think like that, myself.

Here is the most recent passage I copied into my journal. It is from Iris Murdoch’s novel The Good Apprentice. (I think I’ve mentioned here that I’m working my way through her novels in the order they were published. Only a few more left, and then I can start all over at the beginning.)

This is a reflection by the behind-the-scenes puller-of-strings character, a character type that appears in much of her fiction and, in this novel, is a force for good. He is a psychiatrist.

“Where the individual mind is concerned the light of science could reveal so little; and the mismash of scientific ideas and mythology and literature and isolated facts and sympathy and love and appetite for power which was known as psychoanalysis, and which of course did sometimes ‘help people’, could make the most extraordinary mistakes when it left the paths of the obvious. Wild guesses, propelled by the secret wishes of the guesser, could initiate long journeys down wrong tracks.”

And then the most interesting part of the reflection:

“The person he found most puzzling was himself.”

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