A Well-Made Self by Jacques Barzun

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© Mike O’Donnell at courtsketcher.com

“…. when the will to self-searching has you by the throat, there is immense value in being able to find a Self: that is to say, a solid entity that you can trust, because you have made it yourself, and made it well. A well-made Self is not a haphazard collection of habits and prejudices, of notions and fancies: it is an ordered set of reflections, conclusions and convictions. Now the task of continually bringing these elements together and putting some order among them requires an outside stimulus and a discipline. This stimulus may be of the regrettable kind, such as a grave illness or a great sorrow; or it may be a strong and sustained religious faith. But for most people, the stimulus and discipline are deliberately chosen. They take the form of getting outside one’s routine and filling the mind with vicarious experiences. This is best done through reading.”

Jacques Barzun, An American Commencement (1987), in A Jacques Barzun Reader, Harper Collins, 2002:511-2


The Keynes CentreA Well-Made Self by Jacques Barzun