Faith and a Sense of Truth | An Actor Prepares | Constantin Stanislavski (Part 2)

Faith and a Sense of Truth | An Actor Prepares | Constantin Stanislavski (Part 2)

 

Faith and a Sense of Truth

An Actor Prepares

Constantin Stanislavski

 

After we had gone over the same exercise once more the Director said:

“Now that you have created the body of the role we can begin to think about the next, even more important, step, which is the creation of the human soul in the part.

“Actually this has already happened inside of you, without your knowing it. The proof is that when you executed all the physical actions in the scene just now you did not do it in a dry, formal way, but with inner conviction.”

“How was this change brought about?”

“In a natural way: because the bond between body and soul is indivisible. The life of the one gives life to the other. Every physical act, except simply mechanical ones, has an inner source of feeling. Consequently, we have both an inner and outer plane in every role, inter-laced. A common objective makes them akin to one another and strengthens their bonds.”

The Director had me go over the scene with the money. As I was counting it I happened to look at Vanya, my wife’s hunchback brother, and for the first time, I asked myself: why is he forever hanging around me? At this point, I felt I could not go on until I had clarified my relations with this brother-in-law of mine.

 

Faith and a Sense of Truth

 

This is what I, with the Director’s help, concocted as a basis for the relationship: the beauty and health of my wife had been bought at the price of the deformity of this, her twin brother. At their birth, an emergency operation had to be performed and the boy’s life was jeopardized to save the mother and her baby girl. They all survived, but the boy became a half-wit and hunchback. This shadow has always lain on the family and made itself felt.

This invention quite changed my attitude towards the unfortunate moron. I was filled with a sincere feeling of tenderness for him and even some remorse for the past.

This gave life at once to the scene of the unhappy creature getting some joy out of the burning of the bank notes. Out of pity for him, I did silly things to amuse him. I tapped the packets on the table and made comic gestures and faces as I threw the colored wrappers off them into the fire. Vanya responded to these improvisations and reacted well to them. His sensitiveness instigated me to go on with more of the same type of inventions. A wholly new scene was created; it was lively, warm, and gay.

There was an instant response to it from the audience. This was encouraging and drove us on. Then came the moment to go into the next room. To whom? To my wife? Who is she? And there was another question to be solved. I could not go on until I knew all about this person to whom I am supposed to be married. My story about her was extremely sentimental. Nevertheless, I really felt that if the circumstances had been what I imagined them to be, then this wife and child would have been infinitely dear to me.

In all this new life imagined for an exercise, our old methods of playing it seemed unworthy.

How easy and pleasant it was for me to watch the baby in his bath! Now I did not need to be reminded about the lighted cigarette.

I took great care to put it out before I left the living room.

My return to the table with the money is now both clear and necessary. This is work that I am doing for my wife, my child, and the unfortunate hunchback.

The burning of the money acquired a totally different aspect. All I needed to say to myself was: what should I do if this really happened? I am horror-stricken at the prospect of my future; public opinion will brand me not only as a thief, but also as the murderer of my own brother-in-law. Moreover, I shall be looked upon as an infanticide! No one can restore me in the eyes of the public. Nor do I even know what my wife will think of me after my having killed her brother.

All during these conjectures it was absolutely necessary for me to remain motionless, but my immobility was full of action.

The next scene, the attempt to revive the dead boy, went off quite by itself. This was natural, in view of my new attitude towards him.

Now the exercise, which had become rather a bore to me, aroused lively sensations. The method of creating both the physical and the spiritual life of a part seemed remarkable. I did feel, however, that the whole basis of the success of this method lay in the magic ifs and given circumstances. It was they that produced the inner impulse in me, not the creation of physical details. Why would it not be simpler to work straight from them, instead of putting so much time on physical objectives?

I asked the Director about this, and he agreed.

“Of course,” he said, “and that is what I proposed that you should do over a month ago when you first played this exercise.”

“But then it was difficult for me to arouse my imagination and make it active,” I remarked.

“Yes, and now it is wide awake. You find it easy not only to invent fiction but to live them, to feel its reality. Why has that change taken place? Because at first, you planted the seeds of your imagination in barren ground. External contortions, physical tenseness, and incorrect physical life are bad soil in which to grow truth and feeling. Now you have a correct physical life. Your belief in it is based on the feelings of your own nature. You no longer do your imagining in the air or in space, or in general.

It is no longer abstract. We gladly turn to real physical actions and our belief in them because they are within reach of our call.

“We use the conscious technique of creating the physical body of a role and by its aid achieve the creation of the subconscious life of the spirit of a role.”

In continuing the description of his method the Director illustrated his remarks today by an analogy between acting and traveling.

“Have you ever made a long journey?” he began. “If so, you will recall the many successive changes that take place both in what you feel and what you see. It is just the same on the stage. By moving forward along physical lines we find ourselves constantly in new and different situations, moods, imaginative surroundings, and the externals of production. The actor comes into contact with new people and shares their life.

“All the while his line of physical actions is leading him through the ins and outs of the play. His path is so well built that he cannot be led astray. Yet it is not the path itself that appeals to the artist in him. His interest lies in the inner circumstances and conditions of life to which the play has led him. He loves the beautiful and imaginative surroundings in his part, and the feelings which they arouse in him.

 

 

“Actors, like travelers, find many different ways of going to their destination: there are those who really, physically, experience their part, those who reproduce its external form, those who deck themselves with stock tricks and do their acting as though it were a trade, some who make a literary, dry lecture of a part, and those who use the part to show themselves off to advantage before their admirers.

“How can you prevent yourself from going in the wrong direction? At every junction, you should have a well-trained, attentive, disciplined signalman. He is your sense of truth that co-operates with your sense of faith in what you are doing, to keep you on the right track.

“The next question is: what material do we use for building our track?

“At first it would seem that we could not do better than to use real emotions. Yet things of the spirit are not sufficiently substantial. That is why we have recourse to physical action.

“However, what is more, important than the actions themselves is their truth and our belief in them. The reason is: Wherever you have truth and belief, you have feeling and experience. You can test this by executing even the smallest act in which you really believe and you will find that instantly, intuitively, and naturally, an emotion will arise.

“These moments, no matter how short they may be, are much to be appreciated. They are of greater significance on the stage, both in the quieter parts of a play and in places where you live through high tragedy and drama.

You have not far to go to find an example of this: what were you occupied with when you were playing the second half of that exercise? You rushed to the fireplace and pulled out a packet of bank notes: you tried to revive the moron, you ran to save the drowning child. That is the framework of your simple physical actions, inside of which you naturally and logically constructed the physical life of your part.

“Here is another example:

“With what was Lady Macbeth occupied at the culminating point of her tragedy? The simple physical act of washing a spot of blood off her hand.”

Here Grisha broke in because he was not willing to believe “that a great writer like Shakespeare would create a masterpiece in order to have his heroine wash her hands or perform some similar natural act.”

“What a disillusion indeed,” said the Director ironically. “Not to have thought about tragedy! How could he have passed up all of an actor’s tenseness, exertion, ‘pathos,’ and ‘inspiration’! How hard to give up all the marvelous bag of tricks and limit oneself to little physical movements, small truths, and a sincere belief in their reality!

“In time you will learn that such a concentration is necessary if you are to possess real feelings. You will come to know that in real life also many of the great moments of emotion are signalized by some ordinary, small, natural movement. Does that astonish you? Let me remind you of the sad moments attendant on the illness and approaching death of someone dear to you.

With what is the close friend or wife of the dying man occupied? Preserving quiet in the room, carrying out the doctor’s orders, taking the temperature, applying compresses. All these small actions take on critical importance in a struggle with death.

“We artists must realize the truth that even small physical movements, when injected into ‘given circumstances’, acquire great significance through their influence on emotion. The actual wiping off of the blood had helped Lady Macbeth to execute her ambitious designs. It is not by chance that all through her monologue you find in her memory the spot of blood recalled in connection with the murder of Duncan. A small, physical act acquires an enormous inner meaning; the great inner struggle seeks an outlet in such an external act.

“Why is this mutual bond all-important to us in our artistic technique? Why do I lay such exceptional stress on this elementary method of affecting our feelings?

“If you tell an actor that his role is full of psychological action, tragic depths, he will immediately begin to contort himself, exaggerate his passion, ‘tear it to tatters,’ dig around in his soul and do violence to his feelings. But if you give him some simple physical problem to solve and wrap it up in interesting, affecting conditions, he will set about carrying it out without alarming himself or even thinking too deeply about whether what he is doing will result in psychology, tragedy, or drama.

“By approaching emotion in this way you avoid all violence and your result is natural, intuitive, and complete. In the writings of great poets even the simplest acts are surrounded by important attendant conditions and in them lie hidden all manner of baits to excite our feelings.

“There is another simple and practical reason for approaching delicate emotional experiences and strong tragic moments through the truth of physical actions. To reach the great tragic heights an actor must stretch his creative power to the utmost. That is difficult in the extreme. How can he reach the needed state if he lacks a natural summons to his will? This state is brought about only by creative fervour, and that you cannot easily force.

If you use unnatural means you are apt to go off in some false direction and indulge in theatrical instead of in genuine emotion. The easy way is familiar, habitual and mechanical. It is the line of least resistance.

“To avoid that error you must have hold of something substantial, tangible. The significance of physical acts in highly tragic or dramatic moments is emphasized by the fact that the simpler they are, the easier it is to grasp them, the easier to allow them to lead you to your true objective, away from the temptation of mechanical acting.

 

Action An Actor Prepares | Constantin Stanislavski

 

“Come to the tragic part of a role without any nervous twinges, without breathlessness and violence, and above all, not suddenly. Arrive gradually, and logically, by carrying out correctly your sequence of external physical actions, and by believing in them. When you will have perfected this technique of approach to your feelings, your attitude towards the tragic moments will change entirely, and you will cease to be alarmed by them.

“The approach to drama and tragedy, or to comedy and vaudeville, differs only in the given circumstances which surround the actions of the person you are portraying. In the circumstances lie the main power and meaning of these actions. Consequently, when you are called upon to experience a tragedy do not think about your emotions at all. Think about what you have to do.”

When Tortsov had finished speaking there was silence for a few moments until Grisha, ready as always to argue, broke in:

“But I think that artists do not ride around on the earth. In my opinion, they fly around above the clouds.”

“I like your comparison,” said Tortsov with a slight smile. “We shall go into that a little later.”

In today’s lesson, I was thoroughly convinced of the effectiveness of our method of psycho-technique. Moreover, I was deeply moved by seeing it in operation. One of our classmates, Dasha, played a scene from Brand, the one with the abandoned child. The gist of it is that a girl comes home to find that someone has left a child on her doorstep. At first, she is upset, but in a moment or two, she decides to adopt it. But the sickly little creature expires in her arms.

The reason why Dasha is so drawn to scenes of this sort, with children, is that not long ago she lost a child, born out of wed-lock. This was told to me in confidence, as a rumor. But after seeing her play the scene today no doubt remains in my mind about the truth of the story. All during her acting the tears were coursing down her cheeks and her tenderness completely transformed for us the stick of wood she was holding into a living baby. We could feel it inside the cloth that swaddled it.

When we reached the moment of the infant’s death the Director called a halt for fear of the consequences of Dasha’s too deeply stirred emotions.

We all had tears in our eyes.

Why go into an examination of lives, objectives, and physical actions when we could see life itself in her face?

“There you see what inspiration can create,” said Tortsov with delight. “It needs no technique; it operates strictly according to the laws of our art because they were laid down by Nature herself. But you cannot count on such a phenomenon every day. On some other occasion they might not work and then . . .”

“Oh, yes, indeed they would,” said Dasha.

Whereupon, as though she were afraid that her inspiration would wane she began to repeat the scene she had just played. At first, Tortsov was inclined to protect her young nervous system by stopping her, but it was not long before she stopped herself, as she was quite unable to do anything.

“What are you going to do about it?” asked Tortsov. “You know that the manager who engages you for his company is going to insist that you play not only the first but all the succeeding performances equally well. Otherwise the play will have a successful opening and then fail.”

“No. All I have to do is to feel and then I can play well,” said Dasha.

“I can understand that you want to get straight to your emotions. Of course, that’s fine. It would be wonderful if we could achieve a permanent method of repeating successful emotional experiences. But feelings cannot be fixed. They run through your fingers like water. That is why, whether you like it or not, it is necessary to find more substantial means of affecting and establishing your emotions.”

But our Ibsen enthusiast brushed aside any suggestion that she used physical means in creative work. She went over all the possible approaches: small units, inner objectives, and imaginative inventions. None of them was sufficiently attractive to her. No matter where she turned, or how hard she tried to avoid it, in the end, she was driven to accept the physical basis and Tortsov helped to direct her.

He did not try to find new physical actions for her. His efforts were to lead her back to her own actions, which she had used intuitively and brilliantly.

This time she played well, and there was both truth and belief in her acting. Yet it could not be compared to her first performance. The Director then said to her:

“You played beautifully, but not the same scene. You changed your objective. I asked you to play the scene with a real live baby, and you have given me one with an inert stick of wood wrapped in a tablecloth. All of your actions were adjusted to that. You handled the stick of wood skilfully, but a living child would necessitate a wealth of detailed movements which you quite omitted this time.

The first time, before you swaddled the make-believe baby, you spread out its little arms and legs, you really felt them, you kissed them lovingly, you murmured tender words to it, you smiled at it through your tears. It was truly touching. But just now you left out all these important details. Naturally, a stick of wood has neither arms nor legs.

“The other time, when you wrapped the cloth around its head you were very careful not to let it press on the baby’s cheeks. After he was all bundled up you watched over him, with pride and joy.

“Now try to correct your mistake. Repeat the scene with a baby, not a stick.”

After a great deal of effort, Dasha was finally able to recall consciously what she had felt unconscious the first time she played the scene. Once she believed in the child her tears came freely. When she had finished playing the Director praised her work as an effective example of what he had just been teaching. But I was still disillusioned and insisted that Dasha had not succeeded in moving us after that first burst of feeling.

“Never mind,” said he, “once the ground is prepared and an actor’s feelings begin to rise he will stir his audience as soon as he finds an appropriate outlet for them in some imaginative suggestion.

“I do not want to wound Dasha’s young nerves but suppose that she had had a lovely baby of her own. She was passionately devoted to him, and suddenly, when only a few months old, he died. Nothing in the world can give her any solace, until suddenly fate takes pity on her and she finds, on her doorstep, a baby even more lovely than her own.”

 

The First Test | An Actor Prepares | Constantin Stanislavski

 

The shot went home. He had barely finished speaking when Dasha began to sob over the stick of wood with twice as much feeling as even the very first time.

I hurried to Tortsov to explain to him that he had accidentally hit upon her own tragic story. He was horrified and started towards the stage to stop the scene, but he was spell-bound by her playing and could not bring himself to interrupt her.

Afterward, I went over to speak to him. “Isn’t it true,” I said, “that this time Dasha was experiencing her own actual personal tragedy? In that case, you cannot ascribe her success to any technique, or creative art. It was just an accidental coincidence.”

“Now you tell me whether what she did the first time was art?” countered Tortsov.

“Of course, it was,” I admitted.

“Why?”

“Because she intuitively recalled her personal tragedy and was moved by it,” I explained.

“Then the trouble seems to lie in the fact that I suggested a new if to her instead of her finding it herself? I cannot see any real difference,” he went on, “between an actor’s reliving his own memories by himself and he’s doing it with the aid of another person. What is important is that the memory should retain these feelings, and, given a certain stimulus, bring them back! Then you cannot help believing in them with your whole body and soul.”

“I agree to that,” I argued, “yet I still think that Dasha was not moved by any scheme of physical actions but by the suggestion that you made to her.”

“I do not for a moment deny that,” broke in the Director. “Everything depends on imaginative suggestion. But you must know just when to introduce it.

Suppose you go to Dasha and ask her whether she would have been touched by my suggestion if I had made it sooner than I did, when she was playing the scene the second time, wrapping up the stick of wood without any display of feeling at all, before she felt the foundling’s little arms and legs, and kissed them before the transformation had taken place in her own mind and the stick had been replaced by a lovely, living child.

I am convinced that at that point the suggestion that that stick with a grimy rag around it was her little boy would only have wounded her sensibilities. To be sure she might have wept over the coincidence between my suggestion and the tragedy in her own life. But that weeping for one who is gone is not the weeping called for in this particular scene where sorrow for what is lost is replaced by joy in what is found.

“Moreover, I believe that Dasha would have been repelled by the wooden stick and tried to get away from it. Her tears would have flowed freely, but quite away from the property baby, and they would have been prompted by her memories of her dead child, which is not what we needed nor what she gave us the first time she played the scene. It was only after she made the mental picture of the child that she could weep over it again as she had at first.

“I was able to guess the right moment and throw in the suggestion that happened to coincide with her most touching memories. The result was deeply moving.”

There was, however, one more point I wanted to press, so I asked:

“Wasn’t Dasha really in a state of hallucination while she was acting?”

“Certainly not,” said the Director emphatically. “What happened was not that she believed in the actual transformation of a wooden stick into a living child, but in the possibility of the occurrence of the play, which, if it happened to her in real life, would be her salvation. She believed in her own maternal actions, love, and all the circumstances surrounding her.

“So you realize that this method of approach to emotions is valuable not only when you create a role but when you wish to relive a part already created. It gives you the means to recall sensations previously experienced. If it were not for them the inspired moments of an actor’s playing would flash before us once and then disappear forever.”

 

 

Our lesson today was taken up by testing the sense of the truth of various students. The first to be called on was Grisha. He was asked to play anything at all he liked. So he chose his usual partner, Sonya, and when they had finished the Director said: “What you have just done was correct and admirable from your own point of view, which is that of exceedingly clever technicians, interested only in the external perfection of performance.

“But my feelings could not go along with you, because what I look for in art is something natural, something organically creative, that can put human life into an inert role.

“Your make-believe truth helps you to represent images and passions. My kind of truth helps to create the images themselves and to stir real passions. The difference between your art and mine is the same as between the two words seem and be. I must have the real truth. You are satisfied with its appearance. I must have a true belief. You are willing to be limited to the confidence your public has in you. As they look at you they are sure that you will execute all the established forms with perfection.

They rely on your skill as they do on that of an expert acrobat. From your standpoint, the spectator is merely an onlooker. For me he involuntarily becomes a witness of, and a party to, my creative work; he is drawn into the very thick of the life that he sees on the stage, and he believes in it.”

Instead of making any argument in reply, Grisha caustically quoted the poet Pushkin as having a different point of view about truth in art:

“A host of lowly truths is dearer

Then fictions which lift us higher than ourselves.”

“I agree with you and with Pushkin as well,” said Tortsov, “because he is talking about fictions in which we can believe. It is our faith in them that lifts us. This is a strong confirmation of the point of view that on the stage everything must be real in the imaginary life of the actor. This I did not feel in your performance.”

Whereupon he began to go over the scene in detail and correct it just as he had done with me in the exercise of the burnt money. Then something happened which resulted in a long and most instructive harangue. Grisha suddenly stopped playing. His face was dark with anger, and his lips and hands trembled. After wrestling with his emotions for some time, finally, he blurted out:

“For months we have been moving chairs around, shutting doors, lighting fires. That’s not art; the theatre is not a circus. Their physical actions are in order. It is extremely important to be able to catch your trapeze or jump on a horse. Your life depends on your physical skill. But you cannot tell me that the great writers of the world produced their masterpieces so that their heroes would indulge in exercises of physical actions. Art is free! It needs space and not your little physical truths.

We must be free for great fights instead of crawling on the ground like beetles.”

When he had finished the Director said:

“Your protest astonishes me. Up to now, I have always considered you an actor distinguished for your external technique. Today we find suddenly, that your longings are all in the direction of the clouds. External conventions and lies—that is what clips your wings. What soars is: imagination, feeling, and thought. Yet your feelings and imagination seem to be chained right down here in the auditorium.

“Unless you are caught up in a cloud of inspiration and whirled upwards by it you, more than any other here, will feel the need of all the groundwork we have been doing. Yet you seem to fear that very thing and look upon exercises as degrading to an artist.

“A ballerina puff blows, and sweats, as she goes through her necessary daily exercises before she can make her graceful flights in the evening’s performance. A singer has to spend his mornings bellowing, intoning through his nose, holding notes, developing his diaphragm, and searching for new resonance in his head tones if, in the evening, he is to pour out his soul in song. No artists are above keeping their physical apparatus in order by means of necessary technical exercises.

“Why do you set yourself up as an exception? While we are trying to form the closest kind of direct bond between our physical and spiritual natures, why do you try to get rid of the physical side altogether? But nature has refused to give you the very thing you long for: exalted feelings and experiences. Instead, she has endowed you with the physical technique to show off your gifts.

“The people who talk most about exalted things are the very ones, for the most part, who have no attributes to raise them to high levels. They talk about art and creation with false emotions, in an indistinct and involved way. True artists, on the contrary, speak in simple and comprehensible terms. Think about this and also about the fact that, in certain roles, you could become a fine actor and a useful contributor to art.”

 

 

After Grisha, Sonya was tested. I was surprised to see that she did all the simple exercises extremely well. The Director praised her and then he handed her a paper-cutter and suggested that she stab herself with it. As soon as she smelled tragedy in the air she got up on her stilts and at the climax, she brought out such a tremendous amount of noise that we laughed.

The Director said to her:

“In the comedy part you wove a delightful pattern and I believed in you. But in the strong, dramatic places you struck a false note. Evidently, your sense of truth is one-sided. It is sensitive to comedy and unformed on the dramatic side. Both you and Grisha should find your real place in the theatre. It is extremely important, in our art, for each actor to find his particular type.”

 

 

Today it was Vanya’s turn to be tested. He played the exercise of the burnt money with Maria and me. I felt that he had never done the first half as well as this time. He amazed me by his sense of proportion and convinced me again of his very real talent.

The Director praised him, but he went on:

“Why,” said he, “do you exaggerate the truth to such an undesirable degree in the death scene? You have cramps, nausea, groans, horrible grimaces, and gradual paralysis. You seem, at this point, to be indulging in naturalism for its own sake. You were more interested in external, visual memories of the dissolution of a human body.

“Now in Hauptmann’s play of Hannele, naturalism has its place. It is used for the purpose of throwing the fundamental spiritual theme of the play into high relief. As a means to an end, we can accept that. Otherwise, there is no need of dragging things out of real life onto the stage which had much better be discarded. “From this, we can conclude that not every type of truth can be transferred to the stage. What we use there is truly transformed into a poetical equivalent by creative imagination.”

“Exactly how do you define this?” asked Grisha, somewhat bitterly.

“I shall not undertake to formulate a definition for it,” said the Director. “I’ll leave that to scholars. All I can do is to help you feel what it is. Even to do that requires great patience, for I shall devote our whole course to it. Or, to be more exact, it will appear by itself after you have studied our whole system of acting and after you yourselves have made the experiment of initiating, clarifying, and transforming simple everyday human realities into crystals of artistic truth.

This does not happen all in a minute. You absorb what is essential and discard whatever is superfluous. You find a beautiful form and expression, appropriate to the theatre. By doing this with the aid of your intuition, talent, and taste you will achieve a simple, comprehensible result.”

The next student to be tested was Maria. She played the scene that Dasha did with the baby. She did it both beautifully and quite differently.

At first she showed an extraordinary amount of sincerity in her joy at finding the child. It was like having a real live doll to play with. She danced around with it, wrapped it up, unwrapped it, kissed it, caressed it, forgetting entirely that all she held was a stick of wood. Then suddenly the baby ceased to respond.

At first, she looked at him, fixedly, for a long time, trying to understand the reason for it. The expression on her face changed. As surprise was gradually replaced by terror, she became more concentrated and moved farther and farther away from the child. When she had gone a certain distance she turned to stone, a figure of tragic suspense.

That was all. Yet how much there was in it of faith, youth, womanliness, true drama! How delicately sensitive was her first encounter with death!

“Every bit of that was artistically true,” exclaimed the Director with feeling. “You could believe in it all because it was based on carefully selected elements taken from real life. She took nothing wholesale. She took just what was necessary. No more, no less. Maria knows how to see what is fine and she has a sense of proportion. Both of these are important qualities.”

 

 

When we asked him how it was that a young, inexperienced actress could give such a perfect performance his reply was:

“It comes mostly from natural talent but especially from an exceptionally keen sense of truth.”

At the end of the lesson, he summed up:

“I have told you all that I can, at present, about the sense of truth, falseness, and faith on the stage. Now we come to the question of how to develop and regulate this important gift of nature.

“There will be many opportunities, because it will accompany us at every step and phase of our work whether it be at home, on the stage, at rehearsal, or in public. This sense must penetrate and check everything that the actor does and that the spectator sees. Every little exercise, whether internal or external, must be done under its supervision and approval.

“Our only concern is that all we do should be in the direction of developing and strengthening this sense. It is a difficult task because it is so much easier to lie when you are on the stage than to speak and act the truth. You will need a great deal of attention and concentration to aid the proper growth of your sense of truth and to fortify it.

“Avoid falseness, avoid everything that is beyond your powers as yet and especially avoid everything that runs counter to nature, logic, and common sense! That engenders deformity, violence, exaggeration, and lies. The more often they get innings, the more demoralizing it is for your sense of truth. Therefore avoid the habit of falsifying. Do not let the reeds choke the tender flow of truth. Be merciless in rooting out of yourself all tendency to exaggerated, mechanical acting: dispense with throes.

“A constant elimination of these superfluities will establish a special process which is what I shall mean when you hear me cry: Cut ninety per cent.!”

 

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