The Thin Line between Genuineness and Spuriousness

The post is aptly named thus, inspired from this monologue from a play:

“They are not beautiful: they are only decorated.

They are not clean: they are only shaved and starched.

They are not dignified: they are only fashionably dressed.

They are not educated: they are only college passmen.

They are not religious: they are only pewrenters.

They are not moral: they are only conventional.

They are not virtuous: they are only cowardly.

They are not even vicious: they are only “frail.”

They are not artistic: they are only lascivious.

They are not prosperous: they are only rich.

They are not loyal, they are only servile;

not dutiful, only sheepish;

not public spirited, only patriotic;

not courageous, only quarrelsome;

not determined, only obstinate;

not masterful, only domineering;

not self-controlled, only obtuse;

not self-respecting, only vain;

not kind, only sentimental;

not social, only gregarious;

not considerate, only polite;

not intelligent, only opinionated;

not progressive, only factious;

not imaginative, only superstitious;

not just, only vindictive;

not generous, only propitiatory;

not disciplined, only cowed;

and not truthful at all—liars every one of them, to the very backbone of their souls.”

That fragment is from a play by George Bernard Shaw, titled “Man and Superman”, Third Act. The third act is often being cut-out as a single play due to its remote setting with the other acts, titled “Don Juan in Hell”. It’s full of philosophical dialogue about many things; but mostly it can be filtered between standpoint of Heaven as the place of reality (Steering) and Hell as the place for false reality (Drifting).

I’m not going to put much elaborate on the play, but if you want to enjoy it, listen to this. The reader is very qualified and very much in spirit with the play. I recommend it. What i really want to elaborate now however, is the thesis-antithesis coupling of the fragment above. As you can see, it’s really hard for discern between the first (Genuine) and the latter (Spurious) with just mere sight.

Elaborations: Being morale isn’t so much different visually with being conventional as conventions often put people in bounds morality. Morality comes from the heart; convention comes from social norms. Being generous implies that you give things truly for other’s sake, while being propitiatory implies a “strings-attached” generousity, that is giving something to others as a propitiatory in gaining something after it. Being intelligent means that you stand on your own mind and reasoning, based on extensive rigors of autodidactic study which pertains to originality. Being opinionated on the other hand, is simply about saying what others have said earlier without further scrutinity or filtering. The other couplings aren’t much different with what I just elaborated.

In short, the difference is that the first is driven by internal force while the latter is driven by external force. The first is there because the person simply desire to have such character, that he sees the invisible values of it and engorge upon the desired character. The latter, on the other hand simply be so just to have the visible benefit of the character, and thus are more shallow and short-lived. Not only that, it is a life of liars who fool themselves and the others.

Well, now I ask you, have you lived your life according to the values on the first, or have you lived your life according to the values on the latter? Do you live for inward bliss or do you live for outward bliss? The difference is very thin to discern. Truly, very thin.


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