Yet hence arises a grave mischief. The sacredness which attaches to the act of creation, the act of thought, is instantly transferred to the record. The poet chanting was felt to be a divine man. Henceforth the chant is divine also. The writer was a just and wise spirit. Henceforward it is settled the book is perfect; as love of the hero corrupts into worship of his statue. Instantly the book becomes noxious. The guide is a tyrant. We sought a brother, and lo, a governor. The sluggish and perverted mind of the multitude, always slow to open to the incursions of Reason, having once so opened, having once received this book, stands upon it, and makes an outcry if it is disparaged. Colleges are built on it. Books are written on it by thinkers, not by Man Thinking, by men of talent, that is, who start wrong, who set out from accepted dogmas, not from their own sight of principles. Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it their duty to accept the views which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon, have given; forgetful that Cicero, Locke and Bacon were only young men in libraries when they wrote these books.
Emerson, The American Scholar
Every time I read this I’m shaken to my core. I adore books, I worship them. I am the meek library man.
And yet if it weren’t for this book I’d never wrestle with this truth, which Emerson understands. The books are only a vehicle, at best a medium for inspiration. I need to remember that and start opening myself up to nature’s voice beyond printed text. Aikido is reminding me of this. It is not an art that can be learned by reading, only by practice with fellow students and instructors.