Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Monday, February 14, 2005

"The Inner Ring" Considered

My first visit to Obsidian Wings in a little while was handsomely rewarded by Sebastian Holsclaw's wonderful posting of a long speech given by C.S. Lewis on, it would seem, some coming-of-age-ish occasion. As Holsclaw justly notes, Lewis's speech constitutes an incisive and thought-provoking rumination on the nature of peer pressure and on the pervasive role it plays in virtually all societies and at all phases of one's life. It's riveting stuff. Teaser:

I said I was going to give advice, and advice should deal with the future, not the past. I have hinted at the past only to awake you to what I believe to be the real nature of human life. I don't believe that the economic motive and the erotic motive account for everything that goes on in what we moralists call the World. Even if you add Ambition I think the picture is still incomplete. The lust for the esoteric, the longing to be inside, take many forms which are not easily recognizable as Ambition. We hope, no doubt, for tangible profits from every Inner Ring we penetrate: power, money, liberty to break rules, avoidance of routine duties, evasion of discipline. But all these would not satisfy us if we did not get in addition the delicious sense of secret intimacy. It is no doubt a great convenience to know that we need fear no official reprimands from our official senior because he is old Percy, a fellow-member of our ring. But we don't value the intimacy only for the sake of convenience; quite equally we value the convenience as a proof of the intimacy.

Holsclaw concludes: "This speech has done me more good than I can easily outline." And I'd have to agree: it is that good, and you should read it too.

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