Manners and Morals

Manners and Morals

All things are now at their peak

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

By Pendar

This blog is part of the series Not So Ancient Wisdom, based on Baltasar Gracián’s The Pocket Oracle and Art of Prudence.

Aphorism # 1:

All things are now at their peak, above all being a true individual. It takes more today to make one sage than seven in years gone by, and more to deal with a single person than an entire nation in the past.

Gracián often talks about things being “at their peak.” I wonder what he means by that.

He wrote during the “peak” of Spanish power and world domination. Perhaps that kind of historical time does feel like a particularly privileged moment and perhaps all attributes of that time are amplified to people experiencing them. (Reminds me of Dickens in The Tale of Two Cities and the thought that everyone speaks of their particular “times” in the “superlative degrees of comparison only” – as in best of times and worst of times, etc.)

But this aphorism certainly rings true of our time. In our time the individual itself is amplified more than any time before. And if we go by Gracián’s estimation it probably takes even longer now to make a “sage” than “seven years gone by.”

A true individual? Hmmm… that takes a long time. Educators please note.


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