Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Let's Do Something Different for a Change

That's tempting.

I'm tempted.

Don't tempt me.

Perhaps this will tempt you.

That's tempting Fate.

The fulcrum is reason or, if you will, caution.  Wishing is at one side of the plank, fantasy is at the other.  Ought to be a place in there for experience, another still for the optimism vs. pessimism genome.

Try encourage vs. discourage.

Whether we realize it or not, we chose characters for their apparent moral probity and courage, then create a war with the opponent being the smoldering seethe of vulnerability to the temptation.  Let others worry if they'd given into the temptation only to be caught.  Nathaniel Hawthorne gave us in Hester a splendid fulcrum.  If we came upon her at the right age, we could have learned something from her other than what we did.  We learned that she had the strength to rise above her circumstances, emerge several plateaus above Dimsdale.  It took at least a second, later reading for us to see her real triumph, which was her understanding of her inner workings and her ability to take the consequences of her inner self without bitterness.  We learned things about labeling and hypocrisy and double standards.

We have etymologically associated temptation with wrong or evil, equated it with dire consequences,even guilt.  It is a word of our Abrahamic traditions, Jew, Christian, Muslim.  It is a controlling word and concept, a reminder to stay in line, not to succumb to the second slab of pie, even regretting our having taken the first one.

Temptation is abstinence personified, daring to say no to instincts, being not merely careful but rather fearful of fantasy.  It is pardoning ourselves in advance for any perception of a weakness we cannot control, recognizing the spirited inner child who dances with the social contract but knows when to dance alone, respectful of the social contract but not a slave to it.

Too much moral probity produces consequential ripples wherein every attraction is a temptation rather than a flower to be admitted. It is better, we argue, to suffer the regret of not having acted on the temptation than to experience the guilt of having taken the step, the why-not step into a future we had not planned.

If it is tempting, it is so because there is some risk.  The artist--writer, dancer, musician, photographer, painter--understands the risk of risk, and governs her response to each new project with measured focus.  Failure to take risk is as fraught as taking it; we stay where we are, we fall behind, or for a few moments, we move ahead.  This is a world where staying where we are has the same valence as falling behind.

Being tempted is looking at the world with an expectation of fresh vision.  Being tempted is courting change.  Turning away from temptation, particularly with a sense of having achieved the moral high ground in so doing is turning one's back on the future.      

Post a Comment