What is the purpose of writing music? One is, of course, not dealing with purposes but dealing with sounds. Or the answer must take the form of a paradox: a purposeful purposeless or a purposeless play. This play, however, is an affirmation of life-not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the very life we're living, which is so excellent once one gets one's mind and one's desires out of its way and lets it act of its own accord.
What is the purpose of writing music? One is, of course, not dealing with purposes but dealing with sounds. Or the answer must take the form of a paradox: a purposeful purposeless or a purposeless play. This play, however, is an affirmation of life--not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the very life we're living, which is so excellent once one gets one's mind and one's desires out of its way and lets it act of its own accord.
Men, discouraged by their failure to accomplish exactly what they desire, often speak of their lives as purposeless, but it is idle talk, for, in fact, no intelligent life which concerns itself vigorously and properly with the things about it can be said to be purposeless. Such a life adheres, automatically, to the law of progression, and therefore moves toward a great destiny of supreme power and accompanying joys. The only purposeless life is the one that does not use its faculties. It matters little what tasks men perform in life, if only they do them well and will all their strength. In the eternal plan they are given progressive value. In an infinite universe, one cannot possibly learn all or do all, at once. A beginning must be made somewhere and corner by corner, department by department, space by space, all will be known and conquered. In the end, all must be explored, and whether one begins in the east or the west cannot matter much. The big concern is the extent to which a man offers himself, mind and body, to his worthwhile work. Upon that will growth depend.
John Andreas Widtsoe
Try to relax, and you will find out that you feel more tense than ever. Try harder and you will feel more tense and more tense. Relaxation is not a consequence, is not a result of some activity; it is the glow of understanding. This is the first thing I would like to relate to you: life is purposeless. It is very hard to accept it. And why is it so hard to accept that life is purposeless? It is hard because without purpose the ego cannot exist. It is hard to conceive that life has no goal because without any goal being there, there is no point in having a mind, in having an ego.
The right art, " cried the Master, "is purposeless, aimless! The more obstinately you try to learn how to shoot the arrow for the sake of hitting the goal, the less you will succeed in the one and the further the other will recede. What stands in your way is that you have a much too willful will. You think that what you do not do yourself does not happen.
Man is the result of a purposeless and materialistic process that did not have him in mind. He was not planned. He is a state of matter, a form of life, a sort of animal, and a species of the Order Primates, akin nearly or remotely to all of life and indeed to all that is material.
George Gaylord Simpson
Intelligence may indeed be a benign influence creating isolated groups of philosopher-kings far apart in the heavens... On the other hand, intelligence may be a cancer of purposeless technological exploitation, sweeping across a galaxy as irresistibly as it has swept across our own planet.
American housewives have not had their brains shot away, nor are they schizophrenic in the clinical sense. But if ... the fundamental human drive is not the urge for pleasure or the satisfaction of biological needs, but the need to grow and to realize one's full potential, their comfortable, empty, purposeless days are indeed cause for a nameless terror.
As soon as I arrived I made an attempt to find my host but the two or three people of whom I asked his whereabouts stared at me in such an amazed way and denied so vehemently an knowledge of his movements that I slunk off in the direction of the cocktail table--the only place in the garden where a single man could linger without looking purposeless and alone.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
It is purposeless to tell Negroes they should not be enraged when they should be. Indeed, they will be mentally healthier if they do not suppress rage, but vent it constructively and use its energy peacefully but forcefully to cripple the operations of an oppressive society. Civil disobedience can utilize the militance wasted in riots to seize clothes or groceries many do not even want.
Martin Luther King
In my opinion instruction is very purposeless for such individuals who do no want merely to collect a mass of knowledge, but are mainly interested in exercising (training) their own powers. One doesn't need to grasp such a one by the hand and lead him to the goal, but only from time to time give him suggestions, in order that he may reach it himself in the shortest way.
Carl Friedrich Gauss
A marriage...makes of two fractional lives a whole; it gives to two purposeless lives a work, and doubles the strength of each to perform it; it gives to two questioning natures a reason for living, and something to live for; it will give a new gladness to the sunshine, a new fragrance to the flowers, a new beauty to the earth, and a new mystery to life.
Whatever change you desire for the world, create that change in your own life. You are here for a purpose. Seek it out. Hunt it down. The greatest misery is to be purposeless. The great depression of our age is not economic, but spiritual. Our spiritual poverty is rooted in our purposelessness.
I was happy as a child with my toys in my nursery. I been happier every year since I became a man. But this interlude of school makes a somber grey patch upon the chart of my journey. It was a unending spell of worries that did not then seem petty, and of toil uncheered by fruition; a time of discomfort, restriction and purposeless monotony.
One of the truly bizarre things about our current cultural situation is that the leading figures of the scientific establishment seem genuinely amazed that the citizens do not accept finch-beak variation as proof of the claim that humans, like all animals and plants, are accidental products of a purposeless universe in which only material processes have operated from the beginning.
Phillip E. Johnson
Nature is purposeless. Nature simply is. We may find nature beautiful or terrible, but those feelings are human constructions. Such utter and complete mindlessness is hard for us to accept. We feel such a strong connection to nature. But the relationship between nature and us is one-sided. There is no reciprocity. There is no mind on the other side of the wall.
Neurotics, who cause less distress to themselves and their neighbours than those in the other category, are at war with their own natures. Their right hands are in conflict with their left. Psychotics, and it is those who commit purposeless crimes and prefer death to life, are at war with their environment. Right and left hands strike against the womb that carries them.
A universe without purpose should neither depress us nor suggest that our lives are purposeless. Through an awe-inspiring cosmic history we find ourselves on this remote planet in a remote corner of the universe, endowed with intelligence and self-awareness. We should not despair, but should humbly rejoice in making the most of these gifts, and celebrate our brief moment in the sun.
Lawrence M. Krauss
Every relationship has one or the other motive behind it. Friendship or enemity are not purposeless.Oneness of motive is turned into friendship. While diversity of motive cause enemity. Royal relationships also depend uypon one or theother purpose. But such relatins ar mainly for the welfare of the state.
For the first time in his life, Mont Blanc for a moment looked to him what it was - a chaos of anarchic and purposeless forces - and he needed days of repose to see it clothe itself again with the illusions of his senses, the white purity of its snows, the splendor of its light, and the infinity of its heavenly peace. Nature was kind; Lake Geneva was beautiful beyond itself, and the Alps put on charms real as terrors.
If we make up our minds that this is a drab and purposeless universe, it will be that, and nothing else. On the other hand, if we believe that the earth is ours, and that the sun and moon hang in the sky for our delight, there will be joy upon the hills and gladness in the fields because the Artist in our souls glorifies creation. Surely, it gives dignity to life to believe that we are born into this world for noble ends, and that we have a higher destiny than can be accomplished within the narrow limits of this physical life.
We are all models; in piousness or impiousness and we all do possess our own strengths and weaknesses. Our weaknesses give purposeful people the reasons to be purposeful and purposeless people the reasons to stay in wander. If there be anything worth being worked on, it should be our weaknesses
Ernest Agyemang Yeboah
If the immediate and direct purpose of our life is not suffering then our existence is the most Ill-adapted to its purpose in the world: for it is absurd to suppose that the endless affliction of which the world is everywhere full, and which arises out of the need and distress pertaining essentially to life, should be purposeless and purely accidental. Each individual misfortune, to be sure, seems an exceptional occurrence; but misfortune in general is the rule.
If I were to give a prize for the single best idea anybody ever had, I'd give it to Darwin for the idea of natural selection - ahead of Newton, ahead of Einstein - because his idea unites the two most disparate features of our universe: the world of purposeless, meaningless matter and motion, particles jostling on the one side, and the world of meaning and purpose, design on the other.
Many a scientist has patiently designed experiments for the purpose of substantiating his belief that animal operations are motivated by no purposes. He has perhaps spent his spare time in writing articles to prove that human beings are as other animals so that 'purpose' is a category irrelevant for the explanation of their bodily activities, his own activities included. Scientists animated by the purpose of proving that they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study.
Alfred North Whitehead
Ego brings unnatural desires in you; it drives you crazy. Life is simple, but to be simple one has to be purposeless. Any goal, and you can't be simple. Any goal and you can't be herenow. Any goal and the desire will rock you. Any goal, and you are on the way, again moving - you cannot enjoy this moment, the grace of this moment, the benediction of herenow.
A purposeless virtue is a contradiction in terms. Virtue, like harmony, cannot exist alone; a virtue must lead to harmony between one creature and another. To be good for nothing is just that. If a virtue has been thought a virtue long enough, it must be assumed to have practical justification - though the very longevity that proves its practicality may obscure it. That seems to be what happened with the idea of fidelity... Our age could be characterized as a manifold experiment in faithlessness, and if it has as yet produced no effective understanding of the practicalities of faith, it has certainly produced massive evidence of the damage and disorder of its absence. (pg.115-116, "The Body and the Earth")
Recall the metaphor I used in chapter 4 relating the random movements of molecules in a gas to the random movements of evolutionary change. Molecules in a gas move randomly with no apparent sense of direction. Despite this, virtually every molecule in a gas in a beaker, given sufficient time, will leave the beaker. I noted that this provides a perspective on an important question concerning the evolution of intelligence. Like molecules in a gas, evolutionary changes also move every which way with no apparent direction. Yet we nonetheless see a movement toward greater complexity and greater intelligence, indeed to evolution's supreme achievement of evolving a neocortex capable of hierarchical thinking. So we are able to gain an insight into how an apparently purposeless and directionless process can achieve an apparently purposeful result in one field (biological evolution) by looking at another field (thermodynamics).
Men would no longer be victims of nature or of their own largely irrational societies: reason would triumph; universal harmonious cooperation, true history, would at last begin. For if this was not so, do the ideas of progress, of history, have any meaning? Is there not a movement, however tortuous, from ignorance to knowledge, from mythical thought and childish fantasies to perception of reality face to face, to knowledge of true goals, true values as well as truths of fact? Can history be a mere purposeless succession of events, caused by a mixture of material factors and the play of random selection, a tale full of sound and fury signifying nothing? This was unthinkable. The day would dawn when men and women would take their lives in their own hands and not be self-seeking beings or the playthings of blind forces that they did not understand. It was, at the very least, not impossible to conceive that such an earthly paradise could be; and if conceivable we could, at any rate, try to march towards it. That has been at the centre of ethical thought from the Greeks to the Christian visionaries of the Middle Ages, from the Renaissance to progressive thought in the last century; and indeed, is believed by many to this day.
I have no idea how long Quisser was gone from the table. My attention became fully absorbed by the other faces in the club and the deep anxiety they betrayed to me, an anxiety that was not of the natural, existential sort but one that was caused by peculiar concerns of an uncanny nature. What a season is upon us, these faces seemed to say. And no doubt their voices would have spoken directly of certain peculiar concerns had they not been intimidated into weird equivocations and double entendres by the fear of falling victim to the same kind of unnatural affliction that had made so much trouble in the mind of the art critic Stuart Quisser. Who would be next? What could a person say these days, or even think, without feeling the dread of repercussion from powerfully connected groups and individuals? I could almost hear their voices asking, "Why here, why now?" But of course they could have just as easily been asking, "Why not here, why not now?" It would not occur to this crowd that there were no special rules involved; it would not occur to them, even though they were a crowd of imaginative artists, that the whole thing was simply a matter of random, purposeless terror that converged upon a particular place at a particular time for no particular reason. On the other hand, it would also not have occurred to them that they might have wished it all upon themselves, that they might have had a hand in bringing certain powerful forces and connections into our district simply by wishing them to come. They might have wished and wished for an unnatural evil to fall upon them but, for a while at least, nothing happened. Then the wishing stopped, the old wishes were forgotten yet at the same time gathered in strength, distilling themselves into a potent formula (who can say!), until one day the terrible season began. Because had they really told the truth, this artistic crowd might also have expressed what a sense of meaning (although of a negative sort), not to mention the vigorous thrill (although of an excruciating type), this season of unnatural evil had brought to their lives. ("Gas Station Carnivals")
Were these boys in their right minds? Here were two boys with good intellect, one eighteen and one nineteen. They had all the prospects that life could hold out for any of the young; one a graduate of Chicago and another of Ann Arbor; one who had passed his examination for the Harvard Law School and was about to take a trip in Europe,-another who had passed at Ann Arbor, the youngest in his class, with three thousand dollars in the bank. Boys who never knew what it was to want a dollar; boys who could reach any position that was to boys of that kind to reach; boys of distinguished and honorable families, families of wealth and position, with all the world before them. And they gave it all up for nothing, for nothing! They took a little companion of one of them, on a crowded street, and killed him, for nothing, and sacrificed everything that could be of value in human life upon the crazy scheme of a couple of immature lads. Now, your Honor, you have been a boy; I have been a boy. And we have known other boys. The best way to understand somebody else is to put yourself in his place. Is it within the realm of your imagination that a boy who was right, with all the prospects of life before him, who could choose what he wanted, without the slightest reason in the world would lure a young companion to his death, and take his place in the shadow of the gallows?... No one who has the process of reasoning could doubt that a boy who would do that is not right. How insane they are I care not, whether medically or legally. They did not reason; they could not reason; they committed the most foolish, most unprovoked, most purposeless, most causeless act that any two boys ever committed, and they put themselves where the rope is dangling above their heads... Why did they kill little Bobby Franks? Not for money, not for spite; not for hate. They killed him as they might kill a spider or a fly, for the experience. They killed him because they were made that way. Because somewhere in the infinite processes that go to the making up of the boy or the man something slipped, and those unfortunate lads sit here hated, despised, outcasts, with the community shouting for their blood... I know, Your Honor, that every atom of life in all this universe is bound up together. I know that a pebble cannot be thrown into the ocean without disturbing every drop of water in the sea. I know that every life is inextricably mixed and woven with every other life. I know that every influence, conscious and unconscious, acts and reacts on every living organism, and that no one can fix the blame. I know that all life is a series of infinite chances, which sometimes result one way and sometimes another. I have not the infinite wisdom that can fathom it, neither has any other human brain