Posted by: Ian Bruk | February 2, 2012

The Ideal Man, Citizen and Chief Bottle Washer

From “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”:

Thus the hero of the Odyssey is a great fighter, a wily schemer, a ready speaker, a man of stout heart and broad wisdom who knows that he must endure without too much complaining what the Gods send; and he can both build and sail a boat, drive a furrow as straight as anyone, beat the young braggart at throwing the discus, challenge the Phaecian youth at boxing, wrestling or running; flay, skin, cut up and cook an ox, and be moved to tears by a song. He is in fact an excellent all-rounder; he has surpassing arete.

Arete implies a respect for the wholeness or oneness of life, and a consequent dislike of specialization. It implies a contempt for efficiency – or rather a much higher idea of efficiency, an efficiency that exists not in one department of life but in life itself.

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