I try, in these essays, to formulate and develop ideas that cross my mind. It is a hard process because a thought may be perfect but the expression of it will almost inevitably be imperfect. “Ideas often flash across our minds more complete than we could make them after much labour.”
These wise words were written more than three hundred and fifty years ago in France, by La Rochefoucauld, who wrote many wise words. It is through the expression of a perfect thought that we can communicate those thoughts. Communication is the keystone not only of all artistic endeavour but of all human relationships, intercourse and society, and without communication civilisation is not possible; life becomes mere existence.
The distinguishing factor of human society from a herd of cattle, gently grazing in the fields, or a pack of wolves searching for food, is that our society attempts to concern itself with much more than survival of us and our lineage. Our civilisation attempts to perfect enjoyment and well-being of us and our lineage through more than the mere necessity of self-protection and finding food. We seek to improve (not progress) ourselves as individuals and we can only improve through communication of ideas, discerning by that process of communication the good from the bad ideas.
Every religion has sought to do this but has never succeeded perfectly; the ideas have flashed across the minds more accurately than our communications could ever express.
Just as a wise person will make more opportunities than he could ever exploit, so will a wise mind create more ideas than he could ever express. But perhaps the perfect expression of those minds is in poetry, music and art.