27 March, 2007


I've recently been reading another novel by my favorite author, Robert Heinlein. This one, titled "To Sail Beyond The Sunset," is rather interesting. It's the account of one Maureen Smith's life. At least, that's what it has been so far. Considering that I'm about 2/3 through the book, I think it may well continue along this line. Anyhow, it's quite interesting to me as I've already read several of his other books, and this is giving me quite a bit of background and insight into some of the past of his worlds, his timelines and his characters.

But none of that is really the point I'm getting at here. In reading this book, I found a very interesting quote. I had to read it over at least three times before I really got it. And it really made sense.

"Gratitude": An imaginary emotion that rewards an imaginary behavior, "altruism." Both imaginaries are false faces for selfishness, which is a real and honest emotion. Long ago Mr. Clemens demonstrated in his essay "What Is Man?" that every one of us acts at all times in his own interest. Once you understand this, it offers a way to negotiate with an antagonist in order to find means to cooperate with him for mutual benefit. But if you are convinced of your own "altruism" and you try to shame him out of his horrid selfishness, you will get nowhere.
Damn, he's right. I've never been terribly interested in reading Mr. Clemens' works in the past... but the more references I pick up from Robert Heinlein's works (and they are plentiful,) the more I'm intrigued. He sounds like as much of a cynical bastard as myself. Perhaps more... that's a scary thought. Either way, I think I may need to get ahold of some of his writings. Especially this particular essay, "What Is Man?"

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