Every fury on earth has been absorbed in time, as art, or as religion, or as authority in one form or another. The deadliest blow the enemy of the human soul can strike is to do fury honor. Swift, Blake, Beethoven, Christ, Joyce, Kafka, name me a one who has not been this castrated. Official acceptance is the one unmistakable symptom that salvation is beaten again, and is the one surest sign of fatal misunderstanding, and is the kiss of Judas.
- James Agee, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
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Read Agee. Your life will be set on fire.
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There is this: either you are awake to your own genius, or you sleepwalk; either you are the author of your days, or you are a character in someone else's book; either you can live without anyone's approval save your own, or you are forever on your back foot awaiting acceptance that should it ever come will always be less than you hoped for. There is no grey area here. The only part that is muddied, unclear is your willingness to live this out day in and day out. Our spirit flags and we need time to recover, but none of that changes the foundational prerogative that you either master your days or are a slave to them.
And remember, this is a timed test. Pencils down at any moment.
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I cannot advocate for anger, but fury I'm good with. Anger is base, dissolute, easily spent and easily stoked. Fury is of a different order. It permeates, informs, drives, lifts; it is the will to sit in a chair and type out books; it is the will to work late into the night, to miss meals, to reject the status quo, to speak truth to power, to draw inspiration from the fact you draw breath and there is work for you to do. Not employment, but work. Fury is the genius you have left untapped. Fury is the force that drives the green fuse, that inflames a life so it might pursue justice, or beauty, or solace, or love, or redemption. It is the full expression of a life - its soul laid bare: unashamed, unapologetic, fierce with love.
Thus is fury. Thus is a life unfucked.
You are the only authority that matters. You are the the only one who can decide what shape and color your life is to have. No guru, no method, no teacher matters. Only you do. There is inside you a life that is not yet lived. Forget the trials of past. Let them be. They are dead and they are gone. You still live. Will you bring the dead with you? Will you be limited by those things that cannot be changed, or will you embrace this one moment to torch up your life, to accept the unique fury that is inside you and give it room to express itself? Will you? The world doesn't need another doctor or lawyer or salesman. It needs people who have come alive, who are lit from within and live accordingly.
Look around you. Is your life happier, better, more complete because did as you were told, or as you decided?
It is a lonely thing at first. No one quite understands and the judgments come swift and unkind. No one likes to see someone separate from the herd and be happy. It reminds them of all they have hedged and compromised and it stings. But let your fury be your guide. There is genius in it because unlike anger, fury is sustaining because it always sees work to do, places it can go to complete the task in front of itself: helping you be the author of your life.
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Swift, Blake, Beethoven, Christ, Joyce, Kafka - they paid dearly for their genius, their fury and in time that genius was subsumed into polite conversation, a place in the canon, history's high regard. Fuck that. You cannot read or hear their works and be as you were before. They are transformative exactly because they were subversive, their lives a rebuke to the status quo and the death that cloaks it. It was only after their deaths that acceptance found them.
You must be the genius you are and forego acceptance in exchange for the fury that will carry you until the end.
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You can add James Agee to that list as well.
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