Monday, September 02, 2013

Emily Bronte, Ideas, and Scarcity

This is another one of those half verses that has stuck in some corner of my mind for the past 25 or so odd years.

It's from a poem by Emile Bronte which was in a book in high school and the only bit I remembered was ....[the world] servile insincere, but worst to look inside myself and find the same....

I've been googling this for a few years and finally found it. Turns out I remembered it a bit wrong. It isn't "look inside myself" but "trust to my own mind", though the meaning and implication is the same.

Here's the verse:

'Twas grief enough to think mankind
All hollow servile insincere
But worse to trust to my own mind
And find the same corruption there



This was written in the 1830s. I came across it in the late 1980s and it just sat there in some corner of my mind for all these years until I felt compelled to find it again.

It is amazing how an idea can survive through centuries. Without the internet, without Facebook, or Twitter, or Reddit, or anything, the great ideas of centuries have survived; outliving their authors, outliving their generations, outliving several generations in fact. 

Such survival was perhaps born out of scarcity. There was so little committed to paper and print that it was treasured, collated, and passed on. I wonder what the abundance of today will reap ? In a world where we produce and archive millions of texts and passages everyday, will anything survive in 200 years ?


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