When you are asked what you are thinking about, you can normally answer. You believe you know what goes on in your mind, which often consists of one conscious thought leading in an orderly way to another.
Evidently I was not in his target audience.
They were aware of themselves, yes. They were thinking, yes. But they were more than thinking. They were feeling. They were feeling the connection of themselves to the galaxies and stars. They were grasping the beauty and depth of their existence and then expressing that experience in musical harmonies and rhythms. And in paintings. In metaphors, and words. In dance. In symbiotic transference. They imagined the cosmos beyond their own bodies. They imagined.
‘Are you worthy?’ said the woman.
‘What sort of question is that to ask a stranger?’
‘An interesting and possibly revealing one. Do you think the world is a better place with you in it, and would you do me the courtesy of actually thinking about your answer rather than pulling one off the “affronted” rack? I’m afraid there’s far too much of that these days. People believe that acting and thinking are the same thing.’
The act of composition, or creation, disciplines the mind; writing is one way to go about thinking, and the practice and habit of writing not only drain the mind but supply it, too.
The more thought enters into our representation of things, the less do they retain their naturalness, their singularity and immediacy. The wealth of natural forms, in all their infinitely manifold configuration, is impoverished by the all-pervading power of thought, their vernal life and glowing colours die and fade away. The rustle of Nature’s life is silenced in the stillness of thought; her abundant life, wearing a thousand wonderful and delightful shapes, shrivels into arid forms and shapeless generalities resembling a murky northern fog.
* This passage is from the zusatz following §246; I’ve read that these Zusätze are editors’ additions of notes students took from Hegel’s lectures, in which he expanded on the topics from the main text.