Saturday, 30 June 2018

Daughters and Sons by Ivy Compton-Burnett


Let me offer a theory about matriarchy probably one which you’ve seen before but I wouldn’t know, I don’t keep up. It is the natural rule of large families with property, status, and longevity that most precious hoarding which gathers up the jetsam of the predeceased. Mrs. Sabine Ponsonby aged 84, born 1810,is such a one with her own special chair in every room. And she sits at the head of the table. The family of her son an author widower is quartered on her. They comprise Clare, France(s), Chilton, Victor, Muriel and their ages range from 26 to 11 with large difference in age due to infant deaths. There is a governess called Miss Bunyan appointed to educate Murial who is introduced to us as ‘gapy-mouth’, a yawn or involuntary dismay at her position as an object of notice. Chilton (18) mocks Victor (17). Clare (26) wants to escape and France (26) is herself a writer who has just completed her first novel. This is to be adapted as a play for the village. As in all Compton-Burnett books there is almost nothing but dialogue. You must fill in the country house ambience yourself, the gravel drive, the aspidistra, brown architrave, high gravy coloured skirting and a library with uniform volumes.

"Frances does see him rather as the Almighty,” said Clare.

“The Almighty never had a daughter,” said her sister, “ He did not risk feminine insight. I see Father as a toiling companionable man, oppressed by Grandma,” .

“We all share that bond,”.

Father is a moderately successful author who lives up in London with his sister Hetta a spinster who acts as his secretary and general manager. There are at least three unmarried women who live with their brothers or uncles or if without resources become governesses. Families were more extended then and the secrets better kept.

....... It is always the fault of men that the other people in the world are women. But he does want to know the family secrets; he has a morbid curiosity about them. Though I don’t know why curiosity is often morbid. I expect this is ordinary curiosity....

Don’t think for a moment that the atmosphere of this novel is a fog of repression. There are rifts of hilarity. It’s a very funny book, Wildean in its paradoxes and inversions. Further analysis would leave me open to the charge of misplaced seriousness. The story is not the point, don’t expect scaffolding with frequent narrative putlocks. It’s flimsy and risky and only genius could manage it.

Miss Charity Marcon a neighbour of the Ponsonbys lives with her twin brother Stephen. He is unmarried and Sabine’s doctor. She is a writer of biographies:

She began to speak in her deep, dry monotone.

“I have been up in London to get the book I am writing, out of the British Museum. I have got a lot of it out, and I shall go again presently to get some more; and when I have got it all, there will be another book.” She slung a strap of notebooks off her arm, and advanced to the fire with the smooth, unswaying motion of a figure drawn on wheels. “So many people were there getting out their books. It doesn’t seem to matter everything’s being in books already: I don’t mind it at all. There are attendants there on purpose to bring it to you. This is how books are made, and it is difficult to think of any other way. I mean the kind called serious: light books are different. Mine ought to be quite a success. It will be just like the ones I am getting it out of, and they are standard books. I put things from several into another, and then it is called a biography. What have you done today?"

Compton-Burnett’s books are one offs.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Mary McAleese Moral Miles Award


Tell-truths in the service of falsehood we find everywhere, of various names and various occupations, from the elderly young women that discuss the love affairs of their friends and acquaintances at the village tea-tables, to the anonymous calumniators of literary merit in reviews, and the more daring malignants who dole out discontent, innovation, and panic, in political journals: and a most pernicious race of liars they are ! 
(from The Friend - Essay VI. Vol1 by S.T. Coleridge)

Mary McAleese (ex-president of Ireland) is essentially a media person who likes being the story herself. She worked in RTE for years. Leadership roles come naturally to her which makes her position as a professional Catholic frustrating. At the very least she should be a Bishop. Her mission of the moment is changing the Church’s mind on homosexuality, the active sort. Her son is homosexual and like the mother watching the passing out parade said ‘everyone is out of step except my Johnny’. That’s understandable and it got her barred from the Vatican - not the name of a pub. Why though did she vote Yes in the abortion referendum; ‘with a heart and a half’? It was the Savita case, a lie that is impervious to evidence. If it was a clear case of the Eight having a ‘chilling effect’ then why were nine doctors disciplined?

I’m living near Galway and I was on a what’s app chat of a No canvas crew. They met two Indian nurses, presumably citizens, who work in the hospital where Savita died. They were going to vote No. Maybe they know more than the media about the mismanagement of Savita’s sepsis: Maybe Katie Holland of the Irish Times who put out the Savita story originally is not a reliable witness? She herself has had two abortions one of which she regrets.

I think McAleese gets the most moral miles award. ( from the journey metaphor that pols used to describe how they had evolved from a pro-life position) You can see her pro-life videos from 1983 on youtube. Will that make any difference to her credibility or will the liberal media nurture her as a useful idiot until she is no longer handy? Why am I asking so many rhetorical questions?





Thursday, 21 June 2018

Belloc's The Servile State, Wright's Anticapitalism


I read Hilaire Belloc’s short book The Servile State (pub. 1912) over a couple of days this week. He felt then that the Capitalist economy was doomed because of its inherent instability and contradictions. Socialism or Collectivism seemed then to be the escape route. Putting it all in the hands of political masters would change little for the common worker and would likely ameliorate the effects of price fixing cartels and trusts. This was surely rational but the problem was that it had never been tried and the inevitable expropriation would cause variance. Oh! Belloc looked back to what had been tried and had been the way out of general slavery and serfdom. This he called the Distributist model as exemplified in the 16th.Century organisation of peasant proprietors, guilds, and orders. His book is not about how we might transition from the present stage of wage slavery i.e. the servile state in which the masses work for a bare subsistence. That evolution he recognised to be even more complex and difficult to manage than the socialist. The taming of Capitalism through minimum wage negotiation and national insurance he did not agree with as it was a submission to the lowly proletarian status that was an affront to human dignity. Very likely he would have regarded the creation of the welfare state as total capitulation.

It is an interesting book. One may question its excessive doctrinaire rigour and wonder whether the Pinko Popes would have approved.
(Distributism )

If Belloc thought that Capitalism was on its last legs he was wrong. It discarded the old ones and grew new globalist ones. We now are advised to applaud the accentuation of contradictions. Belloc said that too.

This morning I read an article in Jacobin. (ironic title one hopes)
anticaptitalism
Erik Olin Wright offers some ideas about the subversion of Capitalism by building alternatives within its structures. Some of them seem to bear an uncanny resemblance to Distributist strategy. His section on Real Utopias is good. One factor he didn’t mention which is informal and pervasive is the black economy or ‘the private sector’.

Some quotes from both writers:

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A society thus constituted cannot endure. It cannot endure because it is subject to two very severe strains: strains which increase in severity in proportion as that society becomes more thoroughly Capitalist. The first of these strains arises from the divergence between the moral theories upon which the State reposes and the social facts which those moral theories attempt to govern. The second strain arises from the insecurity to which Capitalism condemns the great mass of society, and the general character of anxiety and peril which it imposes upon all citizens, but in particular upon the majority, which consists, under Capitalism, of dispossessed free men. (Belloc)

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In the strongest versions of the theory, there are even underlying tendencies in the “laws of motion” of capitalism for the intensity of such system-weakening crises to increase over time, so that in the long-term capitalism becomes unsustainable; it destroys its own conditions of existence. (Wright)
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A man has been compelled by law to put aside sums from his wages as insurance against unemployment. But he is no longer the judge of how such sums shall be used. They are not in his possession ; they are not even in the hands of some society which he can really control. They are in the hands of a Government official. " Here is work offered you at twenty-five shillings a week. If you do not take it you certainly shall not have a right to the money you have been compelled to put aside. If you will take it the sum shall still stand to your credit, and when next in my judgment your unemployment is not due to your recalcitrance and refusal to labour, I will permit you to have some of your money: not otherwise." 
(Belloc)


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Three clusters of state policies in particular significantly counteracted the harms of capitalism: serious risks — especially around health, employment, and income — were reduced through a fairly comprehensive system of publicly mandated and funded social insurance. (Wright)
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Monday, 18 June 2018

Bide a While with Samuel Taylor Coleridge


Here is one of the most intelligible and longest sentences in the English language. In Barbara Rooke’s edition she has a footnote - (J. Wordsworth Marginalia) “This sentence particularly pleased Wordsworth for its architecture.” My own observations will follow. Do take a deep breath:

As long therefore as I obtrude no unsupported assertions on my readers ; and as long as I state my opinions, and the evidence which induced or compelled me to adopt them, with calmness and that diffidence in myself, which is by no means incompatible with a firm belief in the justness of the opinions themselves ; while I attack no man's private life from any cause, and detract from no man's honours in his public character, from the truth of his doctrines, or the merits of his compositions, without detailing all my reasons and resting the result solely on the arguments adduced ; while I moreover explain fully the motives of duty, which influenced me in resolving to institute such investigation ; while I confine all asperity of censure, and all expressions of contempt, to gross violations of truth, honour, and decency, to the base corrupter and the detected slanderer ; while I write on no subject which I have not studied with my best attention, on no subject which my education and acquirements have incapacitated me from properly understanding; and above all while I approve myself, alike in praise and in blame, in close reasoning and in impassioned declamation, a steady friend to the two best and surest friends of all men, truth and honesty ; I will not fear an accusation of either presumption or arrogance from the good and the wise. I shall pity it from the weak, and welcome it from the wicked.
(from Essay IV: Vol.1 1818 edition)

Here S.T.C. is leaping through the billows dolphin like. Each ‘while’ breaks up the whole into sentence like semantic units functioning like is a catenary of propositions. However in the following long sentences from Essay VII and Essay XI vol. 3 he sounds the depths of understanding like a whale in a single plunge. You breach with him, astonished.

 The naturalist, who can not or will not see, that one fact is often worth a thousand, as including them all in itself, and that it first makes all the other facts; who has not the head to comprehend, the soul to reverence, a central experiment or observation (what the Greeks would perhaps have called a protophaenomenon; will never receive an auspicious answer from the oracle of nature.
(from Essay VII Vol. 3)

or this Platonic utterance:

Meditate on the nature of a Being whose ideas are creative, and consequently more real, more substantial than the things that, at the height of their creaturely state, are but their dim reflexes ; and the intuitive conviction will arise that in such a Being there could exist no motive to the creation of a machine for its own sake; that, therefore, the material world must have been made for the sake of man, at once the high-priest and representative of the Creator, as far as he partakes of that reason in which the essences of all things co-exist in all their distinctions yet as one and indivisible. 
(from Essay XI. Vol.3)

Find The Friend in Two Volumes at Internet Archive:
Vol.1: Vol 1
Vol.2: Vol 2

The Friend edited by Barbara Rooke in 2 vols. pub. Princeton University Press.








Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Egregiously Genteel


It’s strange how words lose their richness and become much less than they were. I think of two that have become impoverished, that have fallen into decline. Both are genteelisms- epithet and egregious. The first has declined from being a significant and singular appellation eg. The Iron Duke (Wellington), The Iron Lady (Thatcher), Frederick the Great and so forth. Now it has become merely a derogatory adjective characteristically applied.

Egregious (ex grex - above the herd) has also slumped to an indefinite term of disapprobation, flagrant in some manner. That’s the usage and we can’t argue with it but I ask ‘what herd does he stand out from’? Is he an egregious liar, an egregious bounder, an egregious bully, what?

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope (II)


Feeling the need of a bracing moral universe rather than one in which politicians earn moral miles on their personal journeys I took to reading novels. If I were to characterise Victory by Conrad in pop terms it would be World of Moral Warcraft. Framley Parsonage by Trollope would be Can’t Pay, We’ll take it Away. Compare and Contrast. Just writing that creates a sinking feeling; tourbillons of chalk dust rise and afar off the snicker snack of the bar mower in the far field lays down stripes of grass.

From a craft point of view ‘Framley’ is the better novel, the story moves along smoothly with just enough of incident to show and of analysis to tell. That balance is hard to achieve. Of all the Trollope that I have read this is the one in which his mastery of clerical intrigue, snobbery, genteel poverty, and political duplicity is displayed at its finest. Of course I haven’t read all of Trollope, I’d have had to start from a boy for that, yet there does seem to me troughs and peaks in the oeuvre. Recently I started on The Duke’s Children and that cutting didn’t strike. In this novel though the variety of scenes as we move from squirearchy to hierarchy never sinks into longueurs. The blank beauty Griselda Grantly and aptly named Lord Dumbello: will they marry? Certainly, if barbarian eugenics, pace Arnold, are to flourish. Will the delightful, sparky Lucy Robarts find true love with Lord Lufton. He is beyond her station and mother Lufton does not approve. Mark Robarts has been silly and gone guarantor for Sowerby M.P.. £900 is a serious sum and there’s the riding to hunt which Parson Crawley upbraids him for. Even then bailiffs were apologetic but firm.

Parson Crawley is a proud ascetic who would starve his family rather that succumb to worldly manoeuvres. The parish of Hogglestock is not a rich one. £130 a year is all he gets which leaves him and his family worse off than their brickmaker parishoners.

And sometimes he was prostrate—prostrate in soul and spirit. Then would he complain with bitter voice, crying out that the world was too hard for him, that his back was broken with his burden, that his God had deserted him. For days and days, in such moods, he would stay within his cottage, never darkening the door or seeing other face than those of his own inmates. Those days were terrible both to him and her. He would sit there unwashed, with his unshorn face resting on his hand, with an old dressing-gown hanging loose about him, hardly tasting food, seldom speaking, striving to pray, but striving so frequently in vain. And then he would rise from his chair, and, with a burst of frenzy, call upon his Creator to remove him from this misery.
And then, don’t laugh, typhus strikes.

An excellent novel. Humour, tragedy, pathos, ordinary everyday evil and bungling and a cast of well drawn and credible characters. You could do worse this summer.





Sunday, 10 June 2018

Abandonment to Divine Providence by Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade


Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade seems to be addressing himself to persons in holy orders and that may give a wrong impression. You may think that their daily routine is strictly timetabled and running on the rails of obedience. That is true but the book is also relevant for the looser scheduled. We have to make decisions for ourselves and therefore the distortion of ego can impinge. To overcome this the presence of God in the heart must be cultivated so when we act it is under that discipline. He writes:

 There are, then, prescribed duties to be fulfilled, and necessary duties to be accepted, and further there is a third kind which also forms part of active fidelity, although it does not properly belong to works of precept. In this are comprised inspired duties; those to which the spirit of God inclines the hearts that are submissive to Him. The accomplishment of this kind of duty, requires a great simplicity, a gentle and cheerful heartiness, a soul easily moved by every breath of directing grace; for there is nothing else to do but to give oneself up, and to obey its inspirations simply and freely. So that souls may not be deceived, God never fails to give them wise guidance to indicate with what liberty or reserve these inspirations should be made use of. The third kind of duty takes precedence of all law, formalities, or marked-out rules. It is what, in saints, appears singular and extraordinary; it is what regulates their vocal prayer, interior words, the perception of their faculties, and also all that makes their lives noble, such as austerities, zeal, and the prodigality of their self-devotion for others. As all this belongs to the interior rule of the Holy Spirit, no one ought to try to obtain it, to imagine that they have it, to desire it, nor to regret that they do not possess the grace to undertake this kind of work, and to practise these uncommon virtues, because they are only really meritorious when practised according to the direction of God. If one is not content with this reserve one lays oneself open to the influence of one’s own ideas, and will become exposed to illusion.

Find an e version in all formats at:
abandonement

Friday, 8 June 2018

Henri Bergson and the Phonograph


A good mind can make out more than a fair one on a particular topic though the latter may be infinitely more supplied with information. One of the strengths of philosophy is this getting back to first principles and asking the simple questions that can give a fundamental orientation to research. Bergson's impugning of the theory amounting to a doctrine, of mind brain identity proceeds on the simple query:

Impressions made by external objects are supposed to subsist in the brain as it were on a sensitive plate or a phonographic disk. But, when we look more closely, we see how fallacious these comparisons are. If, for example, the visual recollection of an object were really an impression left by that object on the brain, there would not be one recollection of an object, there would be thousands or even millions of them; for the simplest and most stable object changes its form, its size and its shade of colour, according to the point of view from which it is perceived. Unless, then, I condemn myself to a position absolutely fixed when looking at it, unless my eye remains immovable in its socket, countless images in no way superposable will be outlined successively on my retina and transmitted to my brain. And what must the number of the images be if the visual image is of a person, whose expression changes, whose body is mobile, whose clothing and environment are different each time I see him ? Yet it is unquestionable that my consciousness presents to me a unique image, or, what amounts to the same, a practically invariable recollection of the object or person ; evident proof that there is something quite different here from mechanical registration.
(from: The Soul and the Body in Mind-Energy by Henri Bergson)

Please note that the phonograph was the killer app of the day, April 12th. 1912. We now of course have the computer but the objection still stands. Memory in shellac or silicon is just not human memory. In spite of all the variety of sensible impressions it remains singular. My memory of our garden is not that of an abounding variety of plants that each day presents, it is just 'the garden'.








Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Argumentum ad Populum Meum


The genuflection at the altar of right thinking orthodoxy is a feature of blog communication. You must assure those who take all of a minute to read your post that your heart is in the right place and moreover that you are not likely to cause hurt and dismay to your tender readers.

Instead of conducting such a careful and thoughtful inquiry in to the nature of our egos, it seems the culture of philosophy is intent on imitating the Catholic priesthood, and having a competition to see who is the best at pointing the finger of blame and shame etc. The evidence might inform us that 2,000 years of such blaming and shaming has not cured us of the urge to say inconvenient words, nor our passion for claiming the all important fantasy victim status when we voluntarily read those words.
(from:
epithets comment )

I’ve always felt that it is the business of swamis, priests, muftis, and monks to give witness by their words and deeds to the core teachings that they confess. If they stay silent they are dammed for cosy temporisers, if vocal, dismissed as interfering in the inward workings of private conscience.

Philosophers are being urged not to follow their idle prating but this futility has not been demonstrated. In fact a mild acquaintance with history would indicate a contrary view. How was slavery brought to an end if not by the agitation of Quakers and Evangelicals?

There’s no argument here, merely the waving of a little priestcraft pennant. It makes palatable the self contradictory ‘you’re all going to hell in a handcart’ lesson which follows. On the contrary both priests and philosophers should speak up. Cry fire if there is a fire and clear the building.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Victory: An Island Tale by Joseph Conrad


Conrad’s favourite theory of morality is privative. The being of the good attracts the forces of nihilism who will eliminate and void it. Despite the grand guignol, the horror, the horror and the spatter of purple prose he can portray genuine evil and psychopathology. Ordinary people of good character, living on the moral inheritance of decency will be as chaff before a storm. Axel Heyst is the son of a philosopher and a Swedish baron and a drifter amongst the islands which ‘enchant’ him. This is a tale of those islands, Borneo, Timor, Sumatra, Java, The Celebes: Lord Jim country. Axel is drifting and aloof from the colonial world of merchant trading and exploitation. In philosophical terms he alternates between being ‘Enchanted’ Heyst and ‘Hard Facts’ Heyst, the Continental and the Analytic as it were. This changes when he rescues Captain Morrison from the clutches of Portugee customs men who have impounded his boat on the pretext of unpaid fees. He pays the fee, the boat is released and in return Morrison brings Heyst with him on his trading trips which are not very profitable due to his kind foregiving of debts. Together they form a plan to set up a series of coaling stations on islands with mines. We are at the point in shipping history when sail is being supplanted. Naturally this good plan fails and Heyst now has withdrawn to Samburan with his father’s books and favourite furniture that had been in storage for 14 years.

From the first he had selected Samburan, or Round Island, for the central station. Some copies of the prospectus issued in Europe, having found their way out East, were passed from hand to hand. We greatly admired the map which accompanied them for the edification of the shareholders. On it Samburan was represented as the central spot of the Eastern Hemisphere with its name engraved in enormous capitals. Heavy lines radiated from it in all directions through the tropics, figuring a mysterious and effective star—lines of influence or lines of distance, or something of that sort. Company promoters have an imagination of their own. There's no more romantic temperament on earth than the temperament of a company promoter. Engineers came out, coolies were imported, bungalows were put up on Samburan, a gallery driven into the hillside, and actually some coal got out.

On one of his trips away from Samburan to Sourabaya he rescues Lena from Schomberg a hotel keeper who wants to make her his mistress. She is a young member of a travelling ladies orchestra on a tour of the East Indies. He brings her back to Samburan to live with him in the company bungalow in a clearing in the jungle. They are attended by Wang a Chinese coolie who has settled down with a native woman. He acts as butler, houseboy, general yard man and insclutable music hall turn:

Wang immediately appeared in front, and, squatting on his heels, began to potter mysteriously about some plants at the foot of the veranda. When Heyst and the girl came out again, the Chinaman had gone in his peculiar manner, which suggested vanishing out of existence rather than out of sight, a process of evaporation rather than of movement. They descended the steps, looking at each other, and started off smartly across the cleared ground; but they were not ten yards away when, without perceptible stir or sound, Wang materialized inside the empty room. The Chinaman stood still with roaming eyes, examining the walls as if for signs, for inscriptions; exploring the floor as if for pitfalls, for dropped coins. Then he cocked his head slightly at the profile of Heyst's father, pen in hand above a white sheet of paper on a crimson tablecloth; and, moving forward noiselessly, began to clear away the breakfast things.
Though he proceeded without haste, the unerring precision of his movements, the absolute soundlessness of the operation, gave it something of the quality of a conjuring trick. And, the trick having been performed, Wang vanished from the scene, to materialize presently in front of the house. He materialized walking away from it, with no visible or guessable intention; but at the end of some ten paces he stopped, made a half turn, and put his hand up to shade his eyes. The sun had topped the grey ridge of Samburan. The great morning shadow was gone; and far away in the devouring sunshine Wang was in time to see Number One and the woman, two remote white specks against the sombre line of the forest. In a moment they vanished. With the smallest display of action, Wang also vanished from the sunlight of the clearing.

Schomberg is furious and continues to spread vile gossip about Heyst. At this point the evil trio of Jones, Ricardo and Pedro enter and take up residence at the hotel. Their chief occupation there is gambling, cardsharping, and rooking the Dutchmen. They are also up for a little light murder and theft. Schomberg fears them and the trouble for his business so he sets them on Heyst and the supposed riches that he has on the island. He gives them a sail boat and sets them off supplied. Ricardo is an experienced sailor.

Heyst, his moral sense and active response enervated by perspective may not be the man for that trio. He is after all the son of a philosopher. By the way don’t read the author’s note at the start of the book unless you want judgements foisted on you. Read the book, it is much more than an exotic yarn.







Friday, 1 June 2018

Joy/Ananda/Anantam


There are two definitions offered of the absolute by the advaitin. There is Sat Chit Ananda Brahma and Satyam jnanam anantam Brahma. The former is the one that is usually met with, the latter is in the Taittiriya Upanisad and the subject of a profound commentary by Shankara.

The knower of Brahman attains the highest. Here is a verse uttering that very fact: "Brahman is truth, knowledge, and infinite. He who knows that Brahman as existing in the intellect, lodged in the supreme space in the heart, enjoys, as identified with the all-knowing Brahman, all desirable things simultaneously.

From that Brahman, which is the Self, was produced space. From space emerged air. From air was born fire. From fire was created water. From water sprang up earth. From earth were born the herbs. From the herbs was produced food. From food was born man. That man, such as he is, is a product of the essence of food: Of him this, indeed, is the head; this is the southern side; this is the northern side; this is the Self; this is the stabilising tail.
Tai Up. II.i.1

Satyam, jnanam, anantam - truth, knowledge, infinite (an anta / without boundaries).
Sat, Chit, Ananda - Being, Consciousness, Bliss.


I am going to focus on Ananda/Anantam in this note.
What is it that gives bliss? It is primarily the freedom from the trammels of contingency and the limits of a conditioned individuality. The state of liberation is defined as the unconditioned. We escape from what the Buddhists call 'causes and conditions'. This is achieved by a resolution back into our true nature in a reversal of the order given in the latter half of the sutra quoted. Freedom is also the knowledge of necessity because here we are stuck within a range of possibilities. The non-liberated/realised individual can get a sense of moving past his limitations through creativity.

Philosophers who have speculated on the meaning of life and on the destiny of man have failed to take sufficient notice of an indication which nature itself has given us. Nature warns us by a clear sign that our destination is attained. That sign is joy. I mean joy, not pleasure. Pleasure is only a contrivance devised by nature to obtain for the creature the preservation of its life, it does not indicate the direction in which life is thrusting. But joy always announces that life has succeeded, gained ground, conquered. All great joy has a triumphant note. Now, if we take this indication into account and follow this new line of facts, we find that wherever there is joy, there is creation; the richer the creation, the deeper the joy. The mother beholding her child is joyous, because she is conscious of having created it, physically and morally. The merchant developing his business, the manufacturer seeing his industry prosper, are joyous, — is it because money is gained and notoriety acquired? No doubt, riches and social position count for much, but it is pleasures rather than joy that they bring; true joy, here, is the feeling of having started an enterprise which goes, of having brought something to life. Take exceptional joys,— the joy of the artist who has realized his thought, the joy of the thinker who has made a discovery or invention. 
(from the essay Life and Consciousness in the collection Mind Energy by Henri Bergson (1920).