ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Miscellany

It is a fond thought that literature, in giving us pleasures that are miscellaneous - rather than the satisfaction of the deep integrities of scientific and philosophical thought - is like life itself. It is natural to think that the pleasures of life are indeed miscellaneous, more like those of literature than of philosophy because literature is an outgrowth of life while philosophy is an abstraction from it. But if literature is inherently miscellaneous, and if miscellany depends on singular objects tied to qualities that pre-empt obsolescence, then life all around us seems to resist any resemblance to literature.

The notion of a miscellany fetches no particular interest, except in the light of its contrasting ideal of integrity. I do not mean integrity in the moral sense – a person’s action in keeping faith with her principles – but in the stricter sense of things being of a piece, being integrated rather than miscellaneous.

The intellectual pleasures offered by l iterature tend to be inherently miscellaneous, while science and philosophy are marked by a drive towards integrity, towards eliminating the element of miscellany. For someone given to both literature and philosophy, as I have been from an early age, each of these contrasting satisfactions can provide a sort of relief and release from the other.

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