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Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Mr Antolini's advice

"...I think that 1 of these days, you're going to have to find out where you want to go. And then you've got to start going there. But immediately. You can't afford to lose a minute. Not you. 
And I hate to tell you, but I think that once you have a fair idea where you want to go, your first move will be to apply yourself in school. You'll have to. You're a student- whether the idea appeals to you or not. You're in love with knowledge. And I think you'll find, once you get past all the Mr Vinsons, you're going to start getting closer and closer- that is, if you want to, and if you look for it and wait for it- to the kind of information that will be very, very dear to your heart. Among other things, you'll find that you're not the 1st person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behaviour. You're by no means alone on that score, you'll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You'll learn from them- if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn from you. It's a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn't education. It's history. It's poetry. 
I'm not trying to tell you that only educated and scholarly men are able to contribute something valuable to the world. It's not so. But I do say that educated and scholarly men, if they're brilliant and creative to begin with- which, unfortunately, is rarely the case- tend to leave infinitely more valuable records behind them than men do who are merely brilliant and creative. They tend to express themselves more clearly, and they usually have a passion for following their thoughts through to the end. And- most important- 9 times out of 9 they have more humility than the unscholarly thinker. 
Something else an academic education will do for you. If you go along with it any considerable distance, it'll begin to give you an idea what size mind you have. What it'll fit and, maybe, what it won't. After a while, you'll have an idea what kind of thoughts your particular size mind should be wearing. For 1 thing, it may save you an extraordinary amount of time trying on ideas that don't suit you, aren't becoming to you. You'll begin to know your true measurements and dress your mind accordingly." 
Taken from the conversation between Mr Antolini and Holden Caulfield in "The catcher in the rye". Holden's replies and descriptions of their actions are, of course, removed. 

I will not go into details, but if you want to know the truth, the reason I put this up on my blog is that (if you notice I don't really have to say it) for a long while now I've been in Holden Caulfield mood. I can predict what adjectives my former classmates in particular or my peers in general might use to describe me, just as they've said about Holden Caulfield, and in my case it might even be less acceptable because I'm already 19 and a university student. Still lost and confused, you see. 
I hope this passage also means something for you, wakes up something in you. I hope it does. 

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