TITLE: "So Little of the Great to Conceal" AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: April 25, 2016 1:26 PM DESC: ----- BODY: In a recent post, Clive Thompson quotes a short passage from Carlo Rovelli's Seven Brief Lessons on Physics in which Rovelli notes that genius hesitates when it comes upon great ideas. Einstein introduced quantum theory with "It seems to me...", and Darwin demurred even in his own notebooks on natural selection with "I think...". Thompson writes:
It's not a bad litmus test for the people around us in everyday life. The ones who are proposing genuinely startling and creative ideas are liable to be ... careful about it. It's the ones with small ideas who are shouting them from the rooftops.
These thought brought to mind a wonderful passage from Okakura Kakuzo's The Book of Tea:
Perhaps we reveal ourselves too much in small things because we have so little of the great to conceal.
Those who encounter a great idea are most willing to let their uncertainty show. Those who express no uncertainty often have no greatness to conceal. Earlier in the book, Okakura writes another line that I see quoted often:
Those who cannot feel the littleness of great things in themselves are apt to overlook the greatness of little things in others.
This passage takes on a different flavor for me when considered in the light of Rovelli's observation. -----