Tuesday, 19 January 2010

740 - Clive James on Real Adventure

A lovely, long, inspiring quote about what makes a fine life, from his book, Cultural Amnesia (but what to do when every other sentence is worth quoting?):
The usual division [in social life] is to treat our daily job as the adventure and our cultural diversions as a mere mechanism of renewal and repose. But the adventurous jobs are becoming more predictable all the time, even at the level of celebrity and conspicuous material success. Could there be anything less astonishing than to work day and night on Wall Street to make the millions that will buy the Picasso that will hang on the wall of our Upper East Side apartment to help convince us and our guests that we are lucky to know each other? I have been in that apartment, and admired the Picasso, and envied its owner: I especially envied him his third wife, who had the same eyes as Picasso's second mistress, although they were on different sides of her nose. But I didn't envy the man his job. In the same week, I was filming in Greenwich Village, and spent an hour of down-time sitting in a cafe making my first acquaintance with the poetry of Anthony Hecht. I couldn't imagine living better. The real adventure is no longer in the job. In the job we can have a profile written about us, and be summed up: all the profiles will be the same, and all the summaries add up to the same thing. The real adventure is in what we do to entertain ourselves, a truth which the profile writers concede by trying to draw us out on our supposed addictions to shark fishing, fast cars, extreme skiing and expensive young women. But even the entertainment can no longer be adventurous if it serves a purpose. It will be adventurous only if it serves itself. In other words, it will not be utilitarian. It has always been a part of the definition of humanism that true learning has no end in view except its own furtherance.

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