Jul 19, 2023Liked by Richard Partridge

Love this quote! Where did it come from?

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A favourite poem of mine by Yeats : He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

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Isn't it so true. We never know how our words may lift or destroy another. The gift of permission can be subtle, but universally life saving . . .

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This was a vignette & a peek into a drama. The message is that you shouldn't always plan too far ahead, that's what I came away with.

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I don't, unlike Yeats, request gentle treading on my dreams, but I do ask gentle treading upon my beliefs. If belief is a product of my heart, then so are dreams, and perhaps the request comes to the same thing.

Not dreams, but beliefs. Not loves, but friendships. Not oaths, but resolves. Did Horatio love Hamlet?

Dreams are belief, in the moment. Friendship is love, in the moment. An oath is resolve, in the moment. Horatio did love Hamlet. In the moment.

And whether it was for ever more or just for the moment doesn't matter. In the moment.

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I've been working with the idea of "beliefs" for awhile. Seems so "mental". I guess I'm a "feeling" gal. So guess I would say dreams are feelings that when trampled on break one's heart . . .

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Perhaps the while for which you've been working on them is the same while for which I have myself. When so little of the world I inhabit lies within my control, however, belief is one thing - if there be no other - that I have concluded lies within my control. And yet, it doesn't.

Belief is often construed to mean but one thing. But the word itself isn't constrained to that one thing. If you cared to take a look, there are some essays about what I think it is, in relation to that one thing, which may potentially be worthy of extrapolation to other things. I wanted initially to cross-reference a piece I did on oaths, as well, but, out of deference to Richard, didn't want to put up a poster of myself. I'm being no less deferential, now that I do.

https://endlesschain.substack.com/p/charles-iii-we-love-you-yeah-yeah on oaths.

https://endlesschain.substack.com/p/superstition-and-photography on belief

https://endlesschain.substack.com/p/superstition-and-electricity, er, on belief

https://endlesschain.substack.com/p/on-plausible-deniability on, er, a bit more belief, oh, and

https://endlesschain.substack.com/p/blessed-are on Joan Baez.

There may be more, but I can't recall them all right here and now. Comment is of course free.

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Thank you for the reply! I'm curious and will drop in. And in the meantime, another impression as "belief" sits on my tongue. It feels stationary to me. Beliefs are hard lines that are used to divide one from the other. But feelings are fluid and intersectional. I wonder what it would be like to insert "feel" on any sentence where "belief" was used. Like this, "I believe that forests have sovereign rights." Or, "I feel that forests have sovereign rights." They land differently. Even "I know that forests have sovereign rights." is more intersectional than belief, somehow?

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Dear Lori, I think what you raise is a question of degree. I recently responded to a social media post in which someone asked: "There's a natural element to confidence but I think the more we know in our prospective fields gives a confidence as well, because it’s more based on merit. If you do your homework you're not concerned with the test. Could someone's natural, earned confidence be worn away from being around the wrong group of people?"

Here's what I replied:

"Where does confidence come from? Confidence is like love, hatred, caution, faith. It arises outside the intellect: we feel it, even if we can't explain it. If we can explain it, that needn't explain why we feel it. It is "visceral". You ask: can something that is visceral be depleted by the influence of others?

Confidence built on a conviction within the self differs from that which relies on outside confirmation of what one's confident of. We can reason that we love someone, so we can conjure confidence - as Maria did in The Sound of Music. But Thomas More's wasn't conjured. He died for it. Unshakeably. Any form of visceral faith springs from self-belief. I won't assert that self-belief can't be undermined, but consider these 2 things:

(1) an extrovert (who sources energy in others' affirmations) will be less resilient to 3rd parties than an introvert (for whom their confirmation is less relevant); and

(2) if the analysis of confidence is correct, and it is visceral, that which is worn away cannot have ever been confidence, regardless of what it was called.

Exposing confidence to others' doubt tests the mettle of the confidence, just as litmus paper tests acidity."

The question there was about confidence, a sentiment that approximates to belief or feeling. It dived in at the point at which one questions whether the sentiment, whatever we call it, is permanent, ephemeral, or insubstantial in its nature.

When we talk of belief, we like to speak as though what it is that we believe in is a permanent state. I once raised the question: can one really change one's religion? Can what was formerly a stated avowal then be rescinded? What happens to oaths sworn before the prior deity, prior to its being evicted from the conscience? Is there a deific clearing house, an account transfer mechanism, such as when you change banks? The question I asked was related to the Spanish language, which has two verbs "to be", one of passing state (for the time being) and one of permanence (identity): unsurprisingly, Spanish uses the permanent verb, "ser", for religious conviction. In Spain, one is not ephemerally Roman Catholic.

Richard's piece, which got me to this point, has been important, thank you, Richard, in sparking the idea within me that the permanence of certain things and their eternal quality as ever true, ever right, ever for ever, may be fundamentally flawed: and that commitment is only ever given in, and FOR the moment. Commitment is oxymoronic. If we never knew the concept of promise, we'd never have needed the concept of betrayal. Commitment can be given; but it is only a statement of future intent in that moment in which it's given. The aleatory nature of the future is not in fact changed one iota by the commitment (as 33% of those who've ever been married know only too well). Commitments abound in legal contracts, which, in incorporating them, in fact, are a far cry from applying some common or garden, everyday notion of a thing's enduring existence; in fact contracts establish their enduring quality as a construct, every bit as artificial as "the meeting of the minds" that they purport to embody. "The rights enshrined herein shall endure until the date of termination hereof. Until when, the parties shall devote belief to their contract; on the day thereafter, all belief will be deemed dispelled, whether it be so de facto or not."

If nothing is permanent, why do we seek to preserve it? And if belief, confidence and feeling are but gradations on a scale, which end of that scale is the true expression of our sentiments in any one situation? How we construe the word we use, and its construction in the ears of others, will help answer that. But one thing remains in question, nonetheless: whether the word that expresses the end of the scale we deem to be "permanence" is not simply a Fata Morgana.

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