I hope my loyal readers will forgive me just a bit of pretentiousness in this particular (and fairly unfamiliar) Latin title, given that it relates to a book I am reading and my own observations of my own life and those people around me. As I am still reading a biography on a somewhat well-known diarist named Samuel Pepys, the quote and its appearance there had a great deal of personal relevance to me and my own writing as well as the circumstances of my own world. Therefore, with hopefully an indulgent pardon for my interest in obscure Latin phrases, I hope that what I write today might be of interest and worth.
First, let us look at what “mens cujusque is est quisque” means. We should note that that this phrase is a bit of Latin poetry, with a rhyme between cujusque and quisque, which makes it a melodic and poetic phrase for those at least somewhat familiar with Latin. It means: “As is the mind, so is the man.” For an obscure Latin phrase, this is a concept that most of us are familiar with. That which is inside of us, whether good or bad, will eventually find their way outside of us. Our character and contradictions will make themselves obvious in some fashion, either for our benefit and others or for our shame. Whether our nature is consistent and fairly straightforward or whether it is more complicated, that nature will become obvious in our lives as we react to the way we are inside.
This is not only true for myself but it is also true for those I watch. We are all greatly influenced by the pressures going on inside of us. We act and react when situations pit parts of ourselves against other parts, such as our own longings and our own desires to respect and honor others. To the extent that we are governed by motives of respect for others (even when they act in ways that may be harsh), and by a concern for the long-term happiness and well-being of others rather than the gratification of our immediate desires, that nobility of character will eventually be seen, because no matter how awkward or inarticulate as we are about such matters, our behavioral patterns will eventually show both the better and worse aspects of our nature.
So, who did a diarist like Samuel Pepys use this quote as his own personal motto and how does it relate to me in the first place? Samuel Pepys was a diarist, and if you are not familiar with diarists, or with the diary of Samuel Pepys in particular, that means that a diarist is someone who feels compelled with writing their record of their thoughts, feelings, and experiences for others. Between the ages of 14 and 28, I was a daily diarist myself, spilling my thoughts and feelings and reflections into more than twenty volumes of large journals of material that has largely shaped my approach to life, whether it is my use of poetry as a shorthand way of describing emotions (I hope that my poems cause less offense now than they did as a teenager, but I’m not always sure that is the case), or whether it is my compulsive need to subject my life to analysis. As a diarist myself (and this blog, to be honest, serves many of the functions of a diary, aside from the major liability of being somewhat more public than is ideal), the same sort of concern that Samuel Pepys had as a very painfully honest writer of his own life and behavior, his own justifications of shortcomings and his own high ideals, is the same sort of concern I have in my own work. For as is the mind, so is the man. I cannot take credit for it, but I suppose I must, like everyone else, own up to my responsibility for it.