When we're interested in something, everything around us appears to refer to it (the mystics call these phenomena "signs," the sceptics "coincidence," and psychologists "concentrated focus," although I've yet to find out what term historians should use).
From its abstractionist posture, intellectualism typically conveys the impression that it is chiefly or only from passion that rationality can suffer; the folk-wisdom among rationalists is that emotion is the primary pollutant obstructing rational processes. But it is also, and far more pertinently in our age, from apathy that rationality suffers: when people do not care enough to think about received opinions, when they have no inherent drive to dissociate themselves from the dogmas and biases of their age, when their own freedom and the transcendence of the truth mean so little to them that they will not endure the painful task of self-reflection, when the very scale or profundity of problems the modern age has generated invite a defeatist attitude, then indeed it is truer than ever what Kierkegaard wrote a century and a half ago: "What the age needs is passion," not barbaric but sublimated energy. Hegel's truism about history--that "nothing great is ever accomplished without passion"--explains a great deal about our effete culture, our sterile education and stagnant politics. Like Marx and Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and Hegel wrote out of a prodigious reservoir of passion that did not in the least prevent them from being critical and rational. In our present era--wracked by a morbid boredom and an unshakeable conviction that there is nothing worth learning and preserving--I believe the lesson is clear. Difficult and risky as it may be, heat as well as light is called for.
There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time. This expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it.
It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.
No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.
When spirit took the leap from formlessness to form, from nothing to something, from being to becoming, it emerged from emptiness as the creative impulse—the urge to become, the desire to exist. This creative impulse expresses itself at all levels of the human experience. Any human being can locate it at the lowest level of their being—at the gross physical level—as the sexual impulse, which is really the presence or movement of the big bang as a biological imperative. But at higher levels of being, humans are the only life forms we know of that are compelled to innovate and to create. We can see this especially in individuals who are pioneers in their fields, whether they are great philosophers, musicians, artists, politicians, or poets. Most individuals who are deeply talented are driven by a sense of urgency, an ecstatically urgent sense that “I must bring into life this potential that I see and experience in the depths of my own being. This must come through me.” If we get to know them, we will usually find that truly great human beings are driven by a passion that transcends their separate self-sense. And in the way I understand it, the highest expression of this creative impulse is the urge to evolve at the level of consciousness itself.