Mar 01, 11
Read in February, 2011
This book started off so promising for me -- I found myself getting sucked in to May's descriptions of the types of courage that exist — be they physical, social, moral or creative. His detailings of the creative process in Chapter Two I found equally fascinating....and yet, half-way through this slim novel, I started to struggle with the themes and lose focus. In fairness, I was attempting to read this when I was dog-tired, at home with extended family in between the trials of visitations and a funeral service for my recently deceased grandmother. So, perhaps, if I were to attempt the second half again with a refreshed brain, I'd get more out of it. Then again, perhaps not. Because May takes his book into a territory that is too foreign for me -- TOO psychological, TOO intellectual (this disenchantment begins with a chapter titled "The Delphic Oracle as Therapist" -- see? SEE WHAT I MEAN?)
That being said, there were a lot of great takeaways from this one....Here are a few worth sharing:
"Courage is not the absence of despair; it is, rather, the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair."
On social courage: "It is the courage to relate to other human beings, the capacity to risk one's self in the hope of achieving meaningful intimacy. It is the courage to invest one's self over a period of time in a relationship that will demand an increasing openness."
It is infinitely safer to know that the man at the top has his doubts, as you and I have ours, yet has the courage to move ahead in spite of these doubts.
A cool quote from German mathematician Gottfried Leibnitz: "I would walk 20 miles to listen to my worst enemy if I could learn something."
Genuine creativity is characterized by an intensity of awareness, a heightened consciousness....we become oblivious to things around us (as well as to the passage of time). We experience a lessening of appetite..... But what the artist or creative scientist feels is not anxiety or fear; it is joy. Joy defined as the emotion that goes with heightened consciousness, the mood that accompanies the experience of actualizing one's own potentialities.
(frame this one in the context that this book was first published in the 1970s): The danger always exists that our technology will serve as a buffer between us and nature, a block between us and the deeper dimensions of our own experience. Tools and techniques ought to be an extension of consciousness, but they can just as easily be a protection from consciousness.