The Dedicated Life


One of my favorite works by Jose Ortega y Gasset is a small book called Meditations on Hunting.

In his opening remarks, he locates hunting as a meaningful diversion. He furthermore says that we too quickly set aside diversions as comfortable or easy past times. For Ortega y Gasset, hunting represents how diversion can be a decisive, dedicated occupation. 

I am posting this great quote not to recommend that we should all take up hunting. Rather, it is to elucidate how what we fundamentally do is hunt. 

What is the internet except a new great expanse through which we hunt and gather, in woods and valleys, upon plains and mountains, seeking after the information we need? 

A good reason for opposing how net providers are trying to rig the web for their monopolizing profit is that they are trying to turn it into a mere distraction rather than a profound diversion. They want to make us confined serfs rather than the wandering hunters of knowledge we should be. They want to take the open commons, put up boundaries, and turn them into a forbidden forrest… The difference between a wild wood and a forest is that the latter belongs to the King or the few in power. (The “rest”in the word derives from REX.)

So, I pass along to my fellow hunters something to think about…

…this word, diversion, usually indicates only comfortable situations, to the extent that, used carelessly, it connotes ways of life completely free of hardship, free of risk, not requiring great physical effort nor a great deal of concentration. But the occupation of hunting, as carried on by a good hunter, involves precisely all of those things. It is not a matter of his having to go into the field every once in a while with his rifle on his shoulder; rather, every good hunter has dedicated a part of his existence–it is unimportant how much–to hunting. Now this is a more matter. Diversion loses its passive character, it’s frivolous side, and becomes the height of activity. For the most active thing a man can do is not simply to do something but to dedicate himself to doing it. Other living beings simply live. Man, on the other hand, is not given the option of simply living; he can and must dedicate himself to living–which is to say that he must hand over his life, or parts of it, deliberately and under hi sun transferable responsibility, to specific occupations. Dedication is the privilege and torment of our species…

Jose Ortega y Gasset, Meditations on Hunting (19-20)

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