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Self-Assessment

March 12, 2014

Goethe, from his Italian Journey

I have had plenty of time here to discover two of my capital faults, which have pursued and tormented me all my life. One is that I could never be bothered to learn the mechanical part of anything I wanted to work on or should have worked on. That is why, though I have plenty of natural ability, I have accomplished so little. Either I tried to master it by sheer force of intellect, in which case my success or failure was a matter of chance, or, if I wanted to do something really well and with proper deliberation, I had misgivings and could not finish it. My other fault, which is closely related to the first, is that I have never been prepared to devote as much time to any piece of work as it required. I possess the fortunate gift of being able to think of many things and see their connexions in a short time, but, in consequence, the detailed execution of a work, step by step, irritates and bores me. Now it is high time for me to mend my ways. I am in the land of the Arts; let me study them really thoroughly, so that I may find peace and joy for the rest of my life and be able to go on to something else.

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