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A Moralist Examines His Own Face in a Mirror by Lamplight

Horace said that the poet holds the mirror up to nature. So he held the mirror up and turned it in all directions in the court of Caesar Augustus, and around the streets of Rome. In that mirror appear every variation of vice and folly. Diogenes sought the honest man by carrying a pottery lamp around town in broad daylight. Had Diogenes borrowed Horace's mirror, holding his own lamp up to see more clearly - what would have looked back at him smiling? In this line of work, this moral tutorial business, the more you hold the mirror up to catch the vice and folly of others, the longer grow your own ass's ears, and your own donkey-like tail. Beware the earnest moralist, as you would a rabid dog! Diogenes knew this, as did Horace, Rabelais, Erasmus, Shakespeare, Swift, Gay, Sterne, Diderot, Wilde, Joseph Heller, and Kundera, to name a few. You could say they were "acting out."

Such were the words I spoke in my own defense last night to Dr. Amrit Chadwallah, after he got off work, teaching English as a Second Language in Wealth Bondage. He said, "Leave literature and critical theory to the professionals, Phil; you teach values-based planning for the affluent. Have you thought about getting a chair endowed in Critical Philanthropic Studies? Then you could blog all you want and get paid. Meanwhile, stick to business." Good advice, I am off to read up on charitable tax facts.

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