Of Books And Men

"We are an aperture through which the Universe is looking at itself."

Here's a piece of information we don't remember often enough:

In the dark velvet of space, there is more emptiness than matter. The probability of any one of us existing is 1 in 400 trillion, basically nonexistent...

And yet, on a grand scale of time , which is simply unfathomable for the human brain, magic did happen, and we find ourselves inhabiting a marvelous , self-sustaining , life-producing , living spaceship that we humans call Earth. Floating in the icy embrace of immediate void, we are all its crew. I wonder (if ever questioned by some intergalactic intelligence who has the curiosity and patience to ask) -what account would we give of our stewardship of our home, and furthermore - who can we trust to carry our message forward?...

Although we all carry the Divine in the same measure, it seems to me that only a few are habitually aware of this , and in that knowledge only, is one truly capable of comporting oneself in a superior manner.

But before we tackle the difficult task of trying to define the quintessence of a human being, or -how to be a Superior Person, let's remember what it is that we call a person.

As a mainstay dictionary would plainly put it, a person is "a human being regarded as an individual". But you might not have known that the word person, from the Latin persona, was originally the megaphone-mouthed mask used by actors in the open-air theaters of ancient Greece and Rome?- the mask through (per) which the sound (sonus) came.

Could it be that the definition of a true person is that of a genuine fake?

“Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.”

Alan Watts

Existential questions arise: if life is a play, and all of us actors on a stage, are we entitled to choose our role? Can we change it in mid-play or are we compelled to fulfill a destiny that seems hostile to our temperament? And probably the most important question of all - Is it serious? What will happen when the curtain falls; who will we find behind the mask we've so masterfully fashioned throughout our tenure on this wondrous dimension we call "reality"? We have to investigate these questions deep within ourselves, to be ever vigilant , lest we forget it"s a game. Like "hide-and-seek", we are forever looking for something,... something to feed our emptiness. What are we all so desperately looking for?

The answer lives beneath the mask.**

But, we care deeply about our superficial image in the world, our genuine masks take an expansive investment of time and energy. And that's OK. We all need a hobby.

Circumstantial events , genetic inheritance and the company we keep ,all contribute to what we call "I", "me". Everyday, we are different than yesterday. Our cells and tissues perpetually die and are reborn, so that in 7 years from now, our body is completely anew. Constant experience and flow of information also update our personality and library of knowledge, our minds evolving (or de-evolving, as is the case) everyday; so that in effect, what we call our personality ,or Ego, is essentially a collection of choices and memories. Fact of supreme importance; it means you can choose your path at every moment; it is a matter of choice: Do I watch TV or do I read a book?, do I have a salad or a pizza for lunch? , do I have the moxie to face the moment like the only thing that truly exists or I fall into some maudlin mood where I fantasize about what could've been and what ghastly things might come?

A person is a collection.

I like to thing of my person as an eclectic collection of ideas ,memories and predilections, which I like to keep updated with invaluable gems all the time. One way to improve my person everyday , I found, is to read books. What with all this modernism, and mass-media, and television, and the modern "culture", I can't help thinking that books have fallen into desuetude with the recent generations ...Books make life a better place, expanding views and limitations, allowing the mind to flower into a world of magic, an exotic getaway from itself.

Here's a wonderful insight from the late Carl Sagan- distinguished cosmologist, astronomer and science popularizer , on the subject of books:

“What an astonishing thing a book is! It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs.

Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic."

Some months ago, a fortuitous book jumped into my lap , cleverly titled:

"The Superior Person's Book of Words". Intrigued, I peeked inside, and it had me from the dust jacket blurb:

" A dictionary for those who perceive a difference, a handbook for Superior Persons who love words." Well, if I'm not a Superior Person yet, just wait until I'm done with this book, methinks...

" Are you a rasorial* searcher after words? Are nouns your bread? Adjectives your butter? Verbs your little salad? Adverbs your house dressing?", my eyes widening in veritable interest to devour more :

"Well, then, this is the book to shiver your futtocks*! Put an end to fopdoodly* speech; amaze your friends, baffle your enemies, write interoffice memos to end all discussion! Peter Bowler will teach you the practical riches of saying it well with good words, neglected words, precise words for vocabular exultation."

In this funny, useful, and elevating little book, we learn that a Superior Person is not defined by income, class, or sex. A Superior Person uses Superior speech.

Facetiously so-called I assume, because not many would have the aplomb to appoint themselves as Superior, why that would be just vain ! Besides, self-proclaimed Superior people tend to be spurious anyway...

I have searched my whole life for a guide to ease my transition through society with the confidence of knowing how to "wriggle out of sticky debates, deal with obnoxious dinner guests", "verbigerate* my friends and gorgonize* my enemies".

You would love this book.

In the hands of a person with much better memory, wit and sangfroid than the present writer, The Superior Person's Book of Words can turn into a force of persuasion, revolution, or just plain ol' good humor ready to entertain ! So it might prove advantageous if each of us should arm ourselves with a decent arsenal of words to carry our message forward with dignity and eloquence .

A rich vocabulary may pave the path to social success, while mental acuity, wit and composure are the virtual prerequisites for becoming an Excellent Being. (but that's a topic for another time).

If you enjoyed this article, drop me a line, I would greatly enjoy that ! Subscribe to my newsletter to get the latest news (I promise not to flood your e-mail), and share it with your friends on your social media!

I decided to reveal the meaning of some tropical words I've peppered this account with, so enjoy; and until next time, may the rhetoric be with you!


* futtock n. A particular wooden component-the exact nature of which is unknown to the author-in the structure of a ship.

fopdoodle n. An insignificant fool.

gorgonize v. To petrify or paralyze, as if by the gaze of the Gorgon Medusa. 'Mormons at the door, Charlotte - up you get and gorgonize them , quick, before they get started!'

rasorial a. Constantly scratching around in search of food, like a fowl(or a sister's boyfriend)

verbigerate v. To speak repetitively in totally meaningless language. A symptom of certain types of mental illness. And of readers who take this book too seriously.

*definitions excerpts from The Superior Person's Book of Words and The Completely Superior person's Book of Words

** what a rich subject! and not one to be tackled at this time.

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