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This week's 'inspirational' quote:

'Simply seek happiness and you are not likely to find it. Seek to create and love without regard to your happiness, and you will likely be happy much of the time.'
Dr M Scott Peck, 1936- , American psychiatrist
These are from the A4 week-to-view WHSmith desk diary, BTW.

The thinking behind the quote I can grasp - the concept of releasing one's obsessive quest in order to achieve that quest is a familiar one from both Arthurian myth cycles, especially that of Percival, and from the Taoist work I've been interested in over the last two years - but I find the expression a little trite. I dislike work which over-simplifies and uses the jargon of self-help. Obviously, the Taoists are also putting over generalized panacean ideas, but by putting it in a poetic or allegorical form, the reader is given something to consider. By working through the underlying meaning, the reader has undertaken a greater journey than by reading the message explicitly. Spiritual and or psychological progression doesn't come from obvious soundbites that can be quoted in a desk diary.

It seems Peck has come under some criticism, both from the realms of critical analysis, and from some more fervent Christians in the US. Peck revealed, in a Guardian interview that he was 'called' to write The Road Less Travelled.

Oddly, he also mentions that as a young man, he convinced a publisher to publish C.S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces which was the first novel I read after leaving home. One of the few other books I took in that first move - or collected from home in the first few months, I forget which - was a tattered copy of The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula Le Guin. One novel is from the perspective of a woman who did not believe in the gods and was proven wrong by a spiritual messenger. The other is from the perspective of a priestess, a believer, who is forced to confront her gods by a stranger and comes to doubt them. Tenar's journey out of the labyrinth - the thought processes that lead her from blind faith towards self-determination - remain more appealing to me than Orual's epiphany. Which comes back to my initial thoughts on Peck: that his aphorisms provide answers rather than encourage the seeking of knowledge.

Hmmm. I'm mildly bothered that the quotes so far have developed a religious theme, but at least I got a chance to link to PPH's lovely blog. And the Monkey Pow link in my fads blog shows Journeys to the West can just be an excuse for playing with flash animated kung fu grrls.

Posted @ 12:19 am on Tuesday, January 13, 2004
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