"Now my charms are all o'erthrown,
And what strength I have is mine own,
Which is most faint."
In the Times Judith Lichtenberg examines altruism, in particular the fact that it seems impossible to isolate pure unselfishness, uncontaminated by all self-interested motives (even if only the often unconscious satisfaction of having done good). But she argues that altruism is no less desirable, individually and socially, for all its imperfections; indeed, a flawed, all-too-human altruism is the best we can hope for in this world, that is, at all.
It seems to me that the wish for unsullied altruism is parallel to the fantasy of an absolute free will, untrammeled by ambivalence, weakness, or material considerations. The totally free and altruistic act would, of course, be the act of God, not of human beings.
That seems like a fine note upon which to end this blog, which has now run for more than two years and 400 posts. A blog has no natural ending apart from the demise or sheer exhaustion of its author. I find that I have said all that I have to say in this format, and nothing would remain here but the recycling of old themes and, of course, gawking at the baubles of the Web as they flash by. I have arrived at that definite point marked not by ambivalence or by frustrated block, but by dispassion--it is time to move on.
If Emerson was right that life consists of what a man (sic) thinks about all day, then this blog has been a reasonable record of the past two years of my life. Many posts have been tossed off, but many have been thoughtful, carefully wrought and even alarmingly personal, especially to any perceptive readers out there. It has been a transitional time, befitting a blog I suppose.
Other projects await. I will need to prepare for a Grand Rounds presentation a few months hence (a late echo of the academic life), and I am getting closer, finally, to starting a private practice, which will take considerable doing. Any additional post here in the future would be a link to a possible different kind of blog, a more professionally discreet and decorous one that might support a practice.
Thanks to readers--be well.