There are three distinct kind of judges upon all new authors or productions; the first are those who know no rules, but pronounce entirely from their natural taste and feelings; the second are those who know and judge by rules; and the third are those who know, but are above the rules. These last are those you should wish to satisfy. Next to them rate the natural judges; but ever despise those opinions that are formed by the rules.
I always say that you could publish trading rules in the newspaper and no one would follow them. The key is consistency and discipline. Almost anybody can make up a list of rules that are 80 percent as good as what we taught people. What they couldn't do is give them the confidence to stick to those rules even when things are going bad.
Those who live as though God sets the rules are not going by their own rules. That is the self-sacrifice, or selflessness, that peace more often than not requires. Those who insist on going by their own rules cannot make that sacrifice. They are the steady adherents of (global) conflict because they are forever fighting both themselves and others to do whatever they think that they want to do.
In my own field, x-ray crystallography, we used to work out the structure of minerals by various dodges which we never bothered to write down, we just used them. Then Linus Pauling came along to the laboratory, saw what we were doing and wrote out what we now call Pauling's Rules. We had all been using Pauling's Rules for about three or four years before Pauling told us what the rules were.
I used to think that when I grew up there wouldn't be so many rules. Back in elementary school there were rules about what entrance you used in the morning, what door you used going home, when you could talk in the library, how many paper towels you could use in the rest room, and how many drinks of water you could get during recess. And there was always somebody watching to make sure. What I'm finding out about growing older is that there are just as many rules about lots of things, but there's nobody watching.
I spent most of my teen years trying to figure out the rules of life, theories for why things happened, why people behaved as they did, and mostly I came to the conclusion that either there were no rules, or the rules sucked. Reading science fiction wasn't about imagining myself into some more exciting life filled with adventure, it was about finding a world where things worked the way I wanted them to.
When you depart from standard usage, it should be deliberate and not an accidental lapse. Like a poet who breaks the rules of poetry for creative effect, this only works when you know and respect the rule you are breaking. If you have never heard of the rules you are breaking, you have no right to do so, and you are likely to come off like a buffoon or a barbarian. Breaking rules, using slang and archaic language can be effective, but it is just as likely to give you an audience busy with wincing.
Now, I'm not saying that we don't need rules in society. But the question of who makes the rules and on what basis becomes supremely important. Will the rule-making flow from the matrix of voluntary exchange based on the ethic of serving others through private enterprise? Or will the rules be made and enforced by people wearing guns and bulletproof vests with a license to shock or kill based on minor annoyances?
I'm an untrained musician. Untrained musicians don't really have any music theory, they don't have a lot of rules. We break the rules, but it's mostly because we don't know what the rules are. It's easy for us to go to certain places, so I'm not surprised that a lot of people were amused by my songwriting style.
<< previousnext >>