March 22nd 2013
Vanity is certainly a failing, but you should be tolerant of those who are vain, for is it not their need to be noticed that drives them to do things, even splendid things? True, they are splendid mainly for others, who benefit from them. It is often much less profitable for them. How many have worn themselves out and ruined themselves! The vain give of themselves, exert themselves, are generous, and even if their motives are not disinterested, even if they simply want to be liked by others, to be seen and gain approval and admiration, we cannot really hold it against them. Artists, actors and musicians in particular all have a vain side… and so much the better. They give others such happiness, such joy, when they give a concert or put on a show! They themselves might be ill at the time, or feel discouraged or anxious, but they perform, and the public does not realize their distress. They are truly heroic. Obviously, I am not going to encourage you to cultivate vanity, but it has to be said that humanity owes a great deal to the vain. And not just to artists, but also to all those who have undertaken great works so that their name would not be forgotten by history.