From Carlyle's "Characteristics," 1837--
"For men, in whom the old perennial principle of Hunger (be it Hunger of the poor Day-drudge who stills it with eighteenpence a-day, or of the ambitious Placehunter who can nowise still it with so little) suffices to fill-up existence, the case is bad; but not the worst. These men have an aim, such as it is; and can steer towards it, with chagrin enough truly; yet, as their hands are kept full, without desperation. Unhappier are they to whom a higher instinct has been given; who struggle to be persons, not machines; to whom the Universe is not a warehouse, or at best a fancy-bazaar, but a mystic temple and hall of doom."
Carlyle puts forth that people who are "hungry" -- that want something -- are happier and feel less desperate than people who do not.
Hunger at a low level would mean seeing the world as a warehouse. You work, you move stuff around, and in turn you get food and clothing. Because "their hands are kept full" they don't feel desperation.
People who have their base needs met, but feel unsatisfied and want to keep climbing in the world -- they too have their hands kept full. For them, the world is less a warehouse, and more a bazaar -- a place for shopping. Again, gain currency and exchange it for luxuries and symbols of status and gain, and desperation is warded off.
But what of people with a philosophical disposition, those "to whom a higher instinct has been given"? Those who "struggle to be persons, not machines"? Well, it's a harder lot for them... without hands kept full of chasing around commodities and luxuries, you're left to contemplate on the universe and philosophy. The world, then, isn't a simple warehouse or bazaar, but "a mystic temple and hall of doom."
Truly, I've been happiest when I was hungry and striving for particular things. Is that universal, that pure contemplation and philosophy seems to lead less to happiness for most contemplators and philosophers than to a sense of desperation? And the easiest way to ward it off would be to get busy wanting things and going and getting them?
And yet, there's so much good in philosophy. Perhaps the answer is to contemplate with purpose, with gain... to look at the broad strokes of the universe sideways. To contemplate, not for contemplating's sake, but for change, expansion, and gain. To contemplate, and do philosophy -- and stay hungry at the same time.
I see a lot of literature and a lot of history about people making desperate efforts and massively succeeding.
I started thinking, "Why does that kind of desperate effort work sometimes, while other times desperate people just remain... desperate?"
I think I figured it out.
The formula is: Desperation + Purpose
You can make a desperate, full out effort towards a clear goal or cause and you'll likely succeed.
Author: Matthew Reilly Year: 2001 Medium: eReader (converted from PDF; download from http://www.matthewreilly.com/resources)
The Mine is a short story by Australian action writer Matthew Reilly. It is one of many stories he has kindly made available on his website to download.
I've read a few of these before, but reading on computer screens is hard so as soon as I got my eReader I downloaded all the PDF stories and converted them. Having a set of quick, short stories seems like a really good use for an eReader.
For anyone who has read Reilly's novel Temple a lot of the story will be familiar - an archaeologist is approached by the US military to help them on a special project. They end up infiltrating an ancient temple and face traps and dangers within.