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A Human Strategy, Matt Berry, aphorism 252

252 Talking about control and having control are as different as giving a sermon is from passing the collection plate around.


A Human Strategy ** The Mechanics of Virtue ** Post-Atheism


what it is to be human, A Human Strategy, Matt Berry, aphorism 254

254 Truth is what it is to be human.  If something is True, then it already belongs to us.  If it belongs to us from the beginning it cannot be plagiarized.  We should reserve the word “plagiarism” for those non-Me facts certified by others and which we paste together “with originality,”imitating a very precise method of association with another’s genius, all to secure our authority by appeasing those who have secured it themselves, in exactly the same way ... but in its stead we find the word “scholarship” and assign it to those who are ashamed of their own naked thought but somehow manage nonetheless to stand before us confidently, wearing only their caps of authority.


A Human Strategy ** The Mechanics of Virtue ** Post-Atheism


the greater school for life, A Human Strategy, Matt Berry, aphorism 253

253 Which is the greater school for life, to enjoy privileges or to suffer deprivation?  I do not know the answer, but I do know this at least, that I must learn from life as it presents itself.  And in what other way could I learn this than to grip whatever good or bad luck falls into my hand.  But in either pampering or adversity to complain — “Why precisely this?”  — is to drop the most valuable gem in life: our direct relationship with reality.  Real life begins only after we shout boldly and firmly, “Even this!”



A Human Strategy ** The Mechanics of Virtue ** Post-Atheism


petty revenge, The Mechanics of Virtue, Matt Berry, aphorism 79

79 It is impossible in this awareness to pity – with sincerity – an enemy who actually craves our sympathy for his misfortune.  We can no longer indulge in the petty revenge of looking down on another through the label, “sympathy.”  And on the other hand we are not built to refuse our sympathy without ourselves suffering from an unavoidable sense of inhuman behavior.  But now this unfortunate soul, in craving a sympathy that we withhold, believes we are cruel precisely where we sought magnanimous behavior Hypocrisy here is not so much the best as it is the only course of action.  And for this hypocrisy, the unfortunate yields us his gratitude!  It is either him or us ... at first glance anyway.  We looked again and found a symbiotic arrangement.



A Human Strategy ** The Mechanics of Virtue ** Post-Atheism


the intelligent and dignified rival, The Mechanics of Virtue, Matt Berry, aphorism 80

80 With the intelligent and dignified rival, all is well.  For his misfortune we refuse to pity out of our sincerest compassion, and for this we have both his gratitude and our own reprieve from a petty dilemma, and for which he has our gratitude as well.


A Human Strategy ** The Mechanics of Virtue ** Post-Atheism


When the proud suffer misfortune, The Mechanics of Virtue, Matt Berry, aphorism 81

81 When the proud suffer misfortune: Grace and peace of mind are nearly impossible for one who places a high value on self-sufficiency but who is suddenly found in a dependent position. Consequently, it is our own complacency and is not a truly magnanimous gesture to throw upon the unfortunate the burden of having to accept our generosity, for he cannot be both polite and refuse us – that is, if he places the same value on magnanimous and self-reliant behavior as we do ourselves.  He now is in the excruciating predicament of having to forgive us magnanimously – yetfrom a position which has already precluded natural magnanimity.  His conduct is the result of a calculated gesture, not a behavioral response.  Our behavior, on the other hand, lacked accurate calculation.  That is, where he is in the nervous position of being forced into the heartless gesture of magnanimity, we indulge naturally, but crudely.  
If we were skillfully magnanimous, we would not have been so obvious with our ge…

real progress, A Human Strategy, Matt Berry, aphorism 255

255 Before, I could not stomach existence and had an appetite only for reading.  Now I cannot keep a single word down.  Books sit before me and I must talk myself into their value or my eyes will not move.  
I consider this real progress.



A Human Strategy ** The Mechanics of Virtue ** Post-Atheism


our own ethic of sympathy, The Mechanics of Virtue, Matt Berry, aphorism 82

82 Others may use their own victimization or weakness to enlist our services.  We do not step in as a benefactor; rather their necessity lords it over us.  Theyexploit and even cultivate their disadvantage, and we now serve them with the same sort of dedication that a butler serves his master.  
We are hooked by our own ethic of sympathyWe hold to a moral standard by which we cannot endure the sight of ourselves as “scoundrels” ... “brutes” ... and nor can we endure the awareness that our “virtues” are only a pretext for serving a different sort of master.


A Human Strategy ** The Mechanics of Virtue ** Post-Atheism


a historical “graffiti,”, A Human Strategy, Matt Berry, aphorism 256

256 1)Arguments that are built upon names, dates and places are held by people wandering, as it were, through a labyrinth.  There are conflicting signs, a historical “graffiti,” strewn upon the walls, and it is up to the arguers to refute some of the signs and support some of the others, and through this method find their way from room to room.  Of course, it goes without saying that for every passageway “correctly understood” there is an authoritative stamp which one might add to one’s portfolio.   How do two such arguers proceed?  At first we ourselves, as we listen and evaluate, are lost in the labyrinth of ideas, and so we cannot quite discern a method.  However, if we were to conduct a small experiment and stop up our ears, while at the same time trusting only in our observations of human behavior, we would then discover their very simple method: the first task of two such arguers is to open their portfolios immediately and compare stamps. 2)If, on the other hand, the arguers ha…

conceptual geometry, The Mechanics of Virtue, Matt Berry, aphorism 83

83 Gratitude ought to extend beyond sufficiency. The less one needs,the weaker the grip that resentment ought to have on us.  One needs very little, has quite a bit, and consequently, there should be very little resentment and much gratitude. This is however conceptual geometry, not physiological consequence. Resentment does not emerge from an awareness of insufficiency.  Thirst wants the water and does not first seek its revenge on the one who withholds it.  Only after quenching its thirst is an overwhelming resentment possible.  Resentment whines and pleads, not for that extravagantly rich dessert others are obviously enjoying, but for their rank and for which the enjoyment is only a badge.  It is not so much food but worthiness that is withheld. Resentment thus wants morethan sufficiency could ever provide.  Usually, it only wants this little pleasure of revenging a slight, however costly the diversion or ugly the behavior.
Gratitude does not hold to the awareness that sufficiency …

our approach to a great mind, A Human Strategy, Matt Berry, aphorism 257

257 The true benefit of our approach to a great mind is in our subsequent breaking away.



A Human Strategy ** The Mechanics of Virtue ** Post-Atheism


To be dissatisfied with sufficiency, The Mechanics of Virtue, Matt Berry, aphorism 84

84 To be dissatisfied with sufficiency is a very human tendency against private happiness but for the advance of civilization.



A Human Strategy ** The Mechanics of Virtue ** Post-Atheism


between my sovereignty and my dependency, A Human Strategy, Matt Berry, aphorism 258

258 I must dust off this line between my sovereignty and my dependency every day.  And I will not let others tell me to “be reasonable” with an encroachment, for it is always their encroachment that demands “reasonable behavior,” while my every move toward independence serves as an excuse for their “retribution”: conquest and the expulsion of my right to myself.  “Be reasonable?”  Let us recall the history of our borders.  I met their external force with my force.  They pressed all points of my sphere inward.  I ceded much, but what I lost in size, I gained in force — until our opposing forces equalized.  This point, where we both stopped, became our border.  But “Be reasonable?”  I have won what little force I have by ceding much too much already.  I won this ground and not by the laws of debate.  I do not claim it by the laws of their institutions, but have it by the laws of nature.  But “Be reasonable?”  What?  Without first examining the behavior of reasoning? I will not surrende…

lending something that we want back, The Mechanics of Virtue, Matt Berry, aphorism 85

85 We lend something instead of making a gift of itbecause we desire it in our possession ... but lending something that we want back really ought to go by name of “borrowing.”  The desire itself inverts the transaction so that the other has lent us our dignity.  Then of course he refuses to return the item.  He had lent us our dignity, and now he wants it back....


A Human Strategy ** The Mechanics of Virtue ** Post-Atheism


Life itself prepares, A Human Strategy, Matt Berry, aphorism 259

259 Life itself prepares, but not all “preparing” encourages life.  To see this clearly one must know that what we must do often opposes what we should do ... and if one is to have the scales tip toward life one must remove enough of the “shoulds” from the other side.


A Human Strategy ** The Mechanics of Virtue ** Post-Atheism


What one borrows for dignity, The Mechanics of Virtue, Matt Berry, aphorism 86

86 What one borrows for dignity is also borrowed from it. What one lends for dignity is also borrowed from it. 
There is no such thing as Dignity in the marketplace.  Dignity is not transacting.  It gives or refuses to give.It is joined at birth to self-sufficiency and cannot sever itself and live.


A Human Strategy ** The Mechanics of Virtue ** Post-Atheism