You Still Have a Chance to Be Very Original – Free Ebook

The problem with libraries is that they can
be so large, impressive, and filled with knowledge

that they unwittingly embed in us an idea
that everything worth registering, everything

valuable and true, must lie ‘out there’,
must already have been classed on a shelf

with an index number to await our discovery
the moment we cease to be so preoccupied with

ourselves.

But what this modest, respectful and quietly
self-hating conclusion disguises is that each

one of us is an unparalleled and superlative
center of knowledge in and of ourselves; our

minds have more ideas stored in them than
are to be found in the collective catalogues

of the Biblioteca Geral da Universidade de
Coimbra, the Pierpont Morgan Library in New

York and the British library in London; we
have vaults filled with a greater number of

moving and beautiful scenes than those of
the world’s greatest museums put together.

We are just failing to wander the stacks and
galleries as often as we should; we are failing

to notice what we have seen.

So convinced are we that insights of worth
lie beyond us, we have omitted to consult

the treasury of thoughts and visions generated
every hour by our endlessly brilliant, fatefully

unexplored minds.

The American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson
once remarked: ‘In the minds of geniuses,

we find – once more – our own neglected thoughts.’

In other words, geniuses don’t have thoughts
that are in the end so very different from

our own; they have simply had the confidence
to take them more seriously.

Rather than imagining that their minds are
only a pale shadow of the minds of infinitely

greater thinkers who lived and died elsewhere
long ago, they have been respectful enough

of their existence to conceive that one or
two properly valuable ideas might plausibly

chose to alight in the familiar aviary of
their own intelligences.

Thinking is – in a way we generally refuse
to imagine – a truly democratic activity.

We all have very similar and very able minds;
where geniuses differ is in their more confident

inclinations to study them properly.