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Being a Description of the World

By Eli Siegel


Courage is the belief that the way things are is not against oneself, and therefore that these things should not be gone away from.

    Courage, also, is a kind of accuracy. If we meet things knowing that they can do us harm, or are so strong at the time that they will win over us, what we'd have would not be courage, but imprudence, foolhardiness, perhaps stubbornness.

     Courage, however, quite plainly, is not flight, faint-heartedness, hesitation. So it is an accurate point between faint-heartedness and foolhardiness, hesitation and stubbornness. It is a rhythm, and a rhythm implies here, as elsewhere, a profound accuracy.

     Courage is an organic like of the facts, making for a wish to know them. Wherever courage does not have the facts with it, it is unformed, and therefore either superfluous, or excessive, or headstrong, or ungraceful; that is, it is not courage, that much. Real courage, which wishes to be graceful, is always after the facts. Courage is a love of the external, and a belief in it, even when we fight it. For to know that we can fight something beautifully is to love that which enables us to fight beautifully. Courage, in the very deepest sense, is intellect.


© 1945 by Eli Siegel

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