Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Plague of Mediocrity

Reading Ayn Rand’s The Foundtainhead again after over a decade. It makes me wonder: When you consider the true greatness that is man’s potential—Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Monet’s “Waterlilies”, William Shakespeare’s “King Lear”—are you left with nothing but your measly existence and a festering contempt for your fellow man and for yourself? I mean, how can the mundane, pedestrian minutiae of our lives compare to the heights of Alexander the Great, Albert Einstein, and Virginia Woolf? I suppose that’s the rub in Hamlet’s discovery of Yorick’s skull: no matter what greatness one can achieve, at the end of the day, at the end of our days, we are nothing but worm food “stopping a bunghole”. But, alas, our work can outlive us. How many of us can claim that? How many of us want to? How many of us are afraid to?