It’s axiomatic, and therefore wrong, that to be good at breaking rules we must first learn to follow them. You can spot the mistake, because the advocates of the rules describe it as “paying one’s dues”. When they say ‘rules’, they merely mean the consensus of opinion, with which they happen or have chosen to agree. But where we don’t don’t ask for or accept rules of that kind in the first place, both breaking and keeping them are accidental and incidental. Likewise, being good at something does not require knowing anything at all about what another thinks one *should* do with it; this confuses one’s own ability to form judgments and choose criteria with the persuasion and force of other people’s restrictions. Goodness at something is neither objective nor subjective (which in this sense is a false dichotomy) but can appear as either, being the seamless totality of an individual’s personal preferences. Goodness, in other words, is absolute in the sense that it’s the singularity of one’s own judgement, and simultaneously relative in its entirety to one’s own personal goals. Conclusively, then, rules – and goodness at following them – are a denial in principle of the individual person. Where we have used the phrase “my own rules”, it’s merely a concession to language – an attempt to explain the expression of individual personhood to minds that relentlessly recontextualize it with reference to the conclusions of everyone else. One’s own rules are really the interior consistency of a free mind doing what it wills.

— Asher's Maxim 642

Asher Black

Asher Black is a former literary and review editor who writes, thinks, reads, listens, and is interested in the interior darkness of the soul.

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