Passage 21. Two Ways of Thinking of History
There are two ways of thinking of history.
There is, first, history regarded as a way of looking at other things,
really the temporal aspect of anything,
from the universe to this nib with which I am writing.
Everything has its history.
There is the history of the universe,if only we knew it
—and we know something of it, if we do not know much.
Nor is the contrast so great,when you come to think of it,
between the universe and this pen-nib.
A mere pen-nib has quite a considerable history.
There is, to begin with, what has been written with it,
and that might be something quite important.
After all it was probably only one quill-pen or a couple that wrote Hamlet.
Whatever has been written with the pen-nib is part of its History.
In addition to that there is the history of its manufacture:
this particular nib is a “Relief“ nib, No. 314,
made by R. Esterbrook and Co. in England,
who supply the Midland Bank with pen-nibs, from whom I got it—a gift, I may say.
But behind this nib there is the whole process of manufacture....
In fact a pen nib implies universe,and the history of it implies its history.
We may regard this way of looking at it—history—as the time-aspect of all things:
a pen-nib, the universe,the fiddle before me as I write,
as a relative conception of history.
There is, secondly, what we might call a substantive conception of history,
what we usually mean by it, history proper as a subject of study in itself.
Passage 22. On the Feeling of Immortality in Youth
No young man believes he will ever die.
It was a saying of my brother’s, and a fine one.
There is a feeling of Eternity in youth,which makes us amend for everything.
To be young is to be as one of the Immortal Gods.
One half of time indeed is flown
—the other half remains in store for us with all its countless treasures,
for there is no line drawn, and we see no limit to our hopes and wishes.
We make the coming age our own —
The vast, the unbounded prospect lies before us.
Death, old age, are words without a meaning that pass by us
like the idea air which we regard not.
Others may have undergone,or may still be liable to them—we“bear a charmed life“,
which laughs to scorn all such sickly fancies.
As in setting out on delightful journey,we strain our eager gaze forward
—Bidding the lovely scenes at distance hail!
And see no end to the landscape, new objects presenting themselves as we advance.
So, in the commencement of life, we set no bounds to our inclinations,
nor to the unrestricted opportunities of gratifying them.
We have as yet found no obstacle,no disposition to flag;
and it seems that we can go on so forever.
We look round in a new world,full of life, and motion, and ceaseless progress,
and feel in ourselves all the vigor and spirit to keep pace with it,
and do not foresee from any present symptoms how we shall be left behind
in the natural course of things, decline into old age, and drop into the grave.
It is the simplicity, and as it were abstractedness of our feelings in youth,
that (so to speak) identifies us with nature,
and (our experience being slight and our passions strong)
deludes us into a belief of being immortal like it.
Passage 23. Of Studies
Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability.
Their chief use for delight, is in privateness and retiring;
for ornament, is in discourse;
and for ability, is in the judgement and disposition of business.
For expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of particulars, one by one;
but the general counsels, and the plots and marshalling of affairs,
come best from those that are learned.
To spend too much time in studies is sloth;
to use them too much for ornament,is affectation;
to make judgement wholly by their rules, is the humour of a scholar.
They perfect nature, and are perfected by experience:
for natural abilities are like natural plants,that need pruning by study;
and studies themselves do give forth directions too much at large,
except they be bounded in by experience.
Crafty men contemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them;
for they teach not their own use;
but that is a wisdom without them, and above them, won by observation.
Read not to contradict and confute;
nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse;
but to weigh and consider.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed,and some few to be chewed and digested;
that is, some books are to be read only in parts;
others to be read, but not curiously;
and some few to be read wholly,and with diligence and attention.
Some books also may be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others;
but that would be only in the less important arguments, and the meaner sort of books;
else distilled books are, like common distilled waters, flashy things.
Reading makes a full man； conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.
And therefore,if a man write little，he had need have a great memory;
if he confer little, he had need have a present wit;
and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know that he does not.
Histories make men wise; poets witty; the mathematics subtle;
natural philosophy deep; moral grave;
logic and rhetoric able to contend.
Passage 24. Of Media
International media such as TV network and magazine
always give people in an information age mixed feelings.
Like many other things, media is double-edged.
As primary channels of information,
TV and magazine are convenient and economic sources of information for knowledge, entertainment, and shopping.
Interestingly,sometimes the same piece of information varies considerably
in its influences on audiences of different age.
For example,in a TV commercial,a beautiful lady promotes a certain brand of perfume,
which supposablely makes girls more attractive to boys.
For potential grown-up buyers,
the ad is useful because they might be spending time searching for such products.
We save time in shopping and making decision by making use of such advertisements.
However, a teenage girl might get the wrong idea about the concept of perfume.
She could get money from her parents to buy the advertised product.
Worse yet, she might use the appeal strategy employed in the commercial
to get ahead in the future.
This is classic bad influence of media for young people’s overspending
and inappropriate behaviors.
However, we find it very difficult to weigh between merits and problems of media
because they are often tightly incorporated.
For instance, violent scenes in movies are believed to be
partially responsible for violence-related crimes,
particularly those committed by young people.
But on the contrary,such movies also give people a channel to release their anger,anxiety, and pressure.
Moreover,these movies show us bad and evil as well as punishments for wrongdoings.
Imagine we live in a world whose media is completely clean in such sense.
The dark side of media does not disappear just because we do not talk about it.
Nevertheless certain kinds of information such as porn are better kept away from young people.
In conclusion, media should not be seen simply as bad or good
because we need to use information properly to the best of our ability.
But for certain segments of viewers,
we should be very careful with regard to the content of information
and take measures to keep viewers from possible harmful influences of media.
Passage 25. How to Be Ture to Yourself
My grandparents believed you were either honest or you weren’t.
There was no in between.
They had a simple motto hanging on heir living-room wall:
“Life is like a field of newly fallen snow;
where I choose to walk every step will show.“
They didn’t have to talk about it—they demonstrated the motto by the way they lived.
They understood instinctively that integrity means
having a personal standard of morality and ethics
that does not sell out to selfishness and that is not relative to the situation at hand.
Integrity is an inner standard for judging your behavior.
Unfortunately,integrity is in short supply today—and getting scarcer.
But it is the real bottom line in every area of society.
And it is something we must demand of ourselves.
A good test for this value is to look at what I call the Integrity Trial,
which consists of three key principles:
Stand firmly for your convictions in the face of personal pressure.
When you know you’re right, you can’t back down.
Always give others credit that is rightfully theirs.
Don’t be afraid of those who might have a better idea
or who might even be smarter than you are.
Be honest and open about who you really are.
People who lack genuine core values rely on external factors
—their looks or status—in order to feel good about themselves.
Inevitably they will do everything they can to preserve this appearance,
but they will do very little, to develop their inner value and personal growth.
So be yourself.
Don’t engage in a personal cover-up of areas that are unpleasing in your life.
When it’s tough, do it tough. In other words,
face reality and be adult in your responses to life’s challenges.
Self-respect and a clear conscience are powerful components of integrity
and are the basis for enriching your relationships with others.
Integrity means you do what you do because it’s right
and not just fashionable or politically correct.
A life of principle, of not giving in to the seductive sirens of easy morality,
will always win the day.
It will take you forward into the 21st century
without having to check your tacks in a rearview mirror.
My grandparents taught me that.