This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

Thought is work

All men work, but not all men are called to work in the same way or to the same type of productive labor, which is proper due to the diversity of aptitudes and their corresponding vocations. Thought, contrary to the prejudices of a materialistic industrial civilization, is also a category of work. It is a very real labor that is taxing to those who set themselves to it in a serious way. Mental work, as a lifelong pursuit, is a very particular vocation. In fact, we could say that it is the highest vocation in the sense that thought must precede any form of exterior activity. This is why the vocation of contemplation was the most esteemed vocation in all traditional societies. In the present, where industry and ‘production’ and material comforts are esteemed above all else, the primacy of thought is ignored and even denied altogether, despite the absurdity this denial implies.

This is natural in a democracy, which draws its attitudes from the ‘average’ and what is normal is whatever most people happen to prefer. Most people you will meet are completely averse to mental activity. This is not an insult to them—it is natural. Nor does it represent a moral failing for such individuals, since they cannot be expected to desire what is not in accordance with their nature. Mental labor is the calling of a minority in the same sense that surgery is the calling of a specific few and not general population. The mass of individuals you meet on the street are averse to subtle thought in the same way that carpenter might be averse to computer programming. Such is the truth about the human condition, which will be explored in much greater depth elsewhere. The problem only begins when those who are averse to thinking refuse to acknowledge their own aversion and, unwilling to admit that they prefer to let others think for them, just as most people prefer to let others handle their carpentry, they pretend to be competent in a difficult activity in which they scarcely, if ever, participate. This is because they have been led to believe that thinking is not like other vocations, and that anyone and everyone should be capable of solving the same problems and perceiving the same concepts with the same lucidity, which is just as absurd as claiming that everyone everywhere has the capacity to compose music of the same complexity as Bach.

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