Rightly or wrongly, I came to the conclusion that I should never make self-evaluations. One may feel clever about this turn of phrase or that, and they will inevitably harbor the conviction that their point of view is special. Those are impulses which convince someone that something is worth writing down in the first place. But those impulses, if indulged, lead to dishonesty. I indulge them long enough to write, keep my own counsel (if my primary subject is myself), and leave judgments to posterity.
Also, that taboo may have been influenced by a bland observation: The least amusing people in my life have often said, “I’m hilarious” or, when it was in fashion, “Trust me, I’m hilarious.” It’s better to be thought (or be) ordinary than to be exposed as ordinary and conceited.
The Latin motto of my personal website is “Ars Ipsa Loquitur,” which translates to “Art Speaks for Itself.”
The word “ars” does some extra work for me on this front – Romans never made the modern-day distinction between “high art” and “low art,” as we do now. There were arts considered unfit for distinguished members of society. For example, Nero practiced music and composition rather than oratory after he took on the purple, and this was considered unbecoming. But everything that requires study or skill is an ars.
That extends to medicine, music, trivia, or even the “art of pay” (as Plato calls it). I find this liberating, democratic, and inclusive, so it’s a definition I’ve assumed.
Whatever my ars is, I want it to be an extension of my animus, my spirit. Whatever it achieves should be sincere. However people wish to receive it, that reception should be sincere. I confess to my ambitions and vanity (even the best of us have them), but they’re the enemy of truth.
This is a sacred rule for a secular fellow.