Tuesday, December 30, 2008
By Richard E. Noble
Matthew Arnold and Ernest Hemingway both are agreed on how to become the best ... read the best, they advise. So in my process of self education, I have been trying to do just that. But nevertheless, I have to be discriminating because as Carl Sagan points out, there are just too many books and not enough time. So one method I have of discriminating is to read a little on a person's personal life before I dive into their philosophy or advice. If the man seems 'reasonably' sane, or insane in an understandable way, I pursue his writings.
Immanuel Kant? I fear, little Immue, if he came into my little place of business he would never have left. The reason being, that he could never have made up his mind. In his, "Critique of Pure Reason" he explains in a modest eight hundred pages that the existence and or nature of God is beyond human reason and understanding. When all of the religious community jumped down his throat, he had a sudden change of heart and wrote another eight hundred page book in which he says basically that, "Old Lampe" his simple hearted and simple minded servant needs a God to believe in, as all other simple minded people do or they can never be happy ... and therefore there must be a God, and if there really isn't, for God's sake don't get all bent out of shape over it.
He decided that masturbation was an even greater sin than suicide, and thus he begrudgingly decided to marry. But while he was tabulating the cost of his future bride in terms of silver spoons, chinaware, and new bedroom sheets, she left town and married someone else. In later life he comments, "When I needed a wife, I couldn't afford one, and when I could afford one, I didn't need one." A statement of pure logic understood by every man, but nearly incomprehensible to most women.
Immanuel was frail, sickly and besides being very, very short, terribly afraid of sweating. Whenever he felt a sweat coming on, he immediately stopped in his tracks and waited breathlessly until it passed. He was so skinny that he couldn't keep his socks up. He invented an apparatus where by, through a system of metal boxes containing springs which he kept in his pants pockets, he attached strings from the springs through holes in his pockets to the tops of his socks.
He was a serious hypochondriac. He developed a method of breathing through his nose, and would talk to no one in the street on his five o'clock afternoon walk. The neighborhood set their watches by him. He had a couple of sisters, who lived in the next county whom he didn't talk to for over twenty-six years. He felt them to be too stupid to bother with, and my God don't visit him at tea time, unless you don't mind sitting to his back in a corner or in some closet.
Immanuel Kant, I think was a poor little man who was horrified of the possibility of losing his steady job at the University. Despite all his efforts, he did finally die. His last words were, "It is good." And once again we are left to wonder, was he talking about life, or death?