Priceless Wisdom

If you've never read Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning, I could not recommend it more highly. I bought it on the recommendation of Dennis Prager, who said it is one of the top five books that has most impacted his life. I might readily agree as far as the affect it's had on me.

Frankl writes of his time in German concentration camps, not for the sake of another horrific account of what happened, but from the perspective of a psychologist observing the affects the experience had on him and his fellow Jews. It's unbelievably moving.

I'm reading it slowly, so I'm about halfway through the skinny book, but I had to share one of the most profound exerpts I've come across so far.

"We who lived in a concentration camp can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms--to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

I'm convinced that one of the greatest reasons that we haven't had some truly amazing authors with insight such as this in some time is that we're so comfortable, so spoiled here. It's a blessing, but it also produces academic, spiritual and intellectual laziness. Those words above would mean virtually nothing coming from some of the more popular writers of our day. Sure, they'd be true. But what weight it carries coming from the pen of one who'd seen the most gruesome horrors inflicted upon man by other men.

The other day, one of my dear friends and I wrestled with the question, "Can you be as deep a thinker, as profound an influence, as Dostoevsky, Frankl, and the myriad others who've suffered and live to write about it, but come from our safe environment?" I'm still not sure.

UPDATE/CORRECTION: Apparently my memory is already failing me. Mike, or Captoe, or the guy who blogs InedibleInk has ever so subtly reminded me that he was probably the first to suggest the Frankl book. Portia Rediscovered hereby issues this official correction. We hope that the Mr. Captoe is gracious in receiving it and will not pursue further litigation.

Posted by Portia at January 18, 2006 12:31 PM | TrackBack


Posted by: Captoe at January 18, 2006 09:24 AM

Posted by: Captoe at January 18, 2006 09:27 AM

Well, of course I figured YOU'VE read it. I mean, would you be on my blogroll otherwise? :)

Posted by: Portia at January 18, 2006 09:35 AM

I mean to imply that my introduction, which was a reply to YOUR meme tag might actually predate the recommendation from Prager.

Posted by: Captoe at January 18, 2006 11:08 AM

You're probably right. Give me one second...

Posted by: Portia at January 18, 2006 01:36 PM

Grovelling accepted. Arise and grovel no more.

Posted by: Captoe at January 18, 2006 01:51 PM

Thank you, good sir. Did I spell "grovelling" wrong on your site? Oh great.

Posted by: Portia at January 18, 2006 02:41 PM

dangit. a blog fight and I missed it.

Posted by: MacStansbury at January 19, 2006 10:15 AM