BY ALEX P. VIDAL
Politicians just come and go, but writers will continue to propagate ideas and pass them on for all generations, help educate mankind and liberate their minds from demagogues and merchants of enslavement and ignorance.
In our lunch date last July 20 at Chowking where I turned over the book by best-selling author Dr. Robert Hoyk entitled “The Ethical Executive” I promised to give him last year, my friend philosopher-lawyer Ernesto “Ernie” Dayot, the Socrates of Iloilo, exhorted this writer to “avoid politics as much as possible and continue writing wherever you are.”
I told the Ilonggo philosopher I was lucky to be granted with a one-on-one interview with Dr. Hoyk by the author himself in Laguna Beach, California last year where he gave me the hard bound copy of that book with his signature inside.
“Let’s continue to toss the torch of knowledge to others even in our own private capacity,” Dayot stressed, suppressing his voice so as not to disrupt customers taking their lunch in other tables. “We have no property or power to share to society; we have no economic and political influence except our write-ups.”
Age slowing him down a bit physically but not mentally, Dayot, 80, whose father Luis Roces was the youngest mayor of Dingle, Iloilo at 23, urged this writer to “reassert our ideas and we must continue to activate old philosophical and spiritual values amid the internet revolution.”
Unlike some politicians devoid of wisdom and legacy who fade away and are forgotten easily when they are no longer in power, Dayot said “we writers will be remembered by generations because we are the harbingers and conveyors of ideas, wisdom, and knowledge.”
What will keep all writers young, he added, “is our inspiration to convey ideas that are valuable and rational.”
“People will respect us because of our works– our philosophical and spiritual ideas and, like soldiers, we don’t die but only fade away and resurrect through our printed ideas,” Dayot explained.
He cited German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who only printed seven copies of his book “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” and yet became a classic. Nietsche gave the two copies to his trusted but uncaring friends who didn’t value the books. The five remaining copies survived and gave him fame and stardom until this generation.
Described by Nietzsche himself as “the deepest ever written,” the book is a dense and esoteric treatise on philosophy and morality, featuring as protagonist a prophet descending from his mountain retreat to mankind, Zarathustra in a fictionalized account. A central irony of the text is that Nietzsche mimics the style of the Bible in order to present ideas which fundamentally oppose Christian and Jewish morality and tradition.
As writers, we must also continue to gather and read great books, he suggested. Great books are those that contain the best materials on which the human mind can work in order to gain insight, understanding, and wisdom.
Each in its own way raises the recurrent basic questions which men must face. Because these questions are never completely solved, these books are the sources and monuments of a continuing intellectual tradition.
We both agreed that the kind of books that should be called “great” are those that never have to be written again. They are the rare, perfect achievements of sustained excellence. Their beauty and clarity show that they are masterpieces of the fine as well as of the liberal arts. Such books are justifiably called great whether they are books of science, poetry, theology, mathematics, or politics.
Before we parted, I bade goodbye to Dr. Hoyk’s book with a souvenir photo together with it’s new owner, the “Socrates of Iloilo.”