seriousness for seriousness’s sake

masterding

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Quote from Natalie Portman Harvard Commencement Speech :
“ I realized that seriousness for seriousness’s sake was its own kind of trophy, and a dubious one, a pose I sought to counter some half-imagined argument about who I was. There was a reason I was an actor: I loved what I do. And I saw from my peers and mentors, not only was that an acceptable reason, it was the best reason. ”
Two questions:
1. What does ' seriousness for seriousness’s sake ' mean here?
2.Does "saw" not need to be folllowed by an object —i.e. ,saw something from my peers and mentors?
Thank you so much.
 

BobK

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Quote from Natalie Portman Harvard Commencement Speech :
“ I realized that seriousness for seriousness’s sake was its own kind of trophy, and a dubious one, a pose I sought to counter some half-imagined argument about who I was. There was a reason I was an actor: I loved what I do. And I saw from my peers and mentors, not only was that an acceptable reason, it was the best reason. ”
Two questions:
1. What does ' seriousness for seriousness’s sake ' mean here?
2.Does "saw" not need to be folllowed by an object —i.e. ,saw something from my peers and mentors?
Thank you so much.

There's something wrong with the first sentence. I thought at first that it could be fixed by the addition of 'with which' after 'a pose', but that doesn't help much. You're still left with the 'argument'. If it's something that can be countered, it must be one sort of argument; but if it's 'about' something, it's another sort. So, generally, I wouldn't expect much meaning to survive this writing style. ;-)

On your specific queries:

1 seriousness for seriousness’s sake: Adopting a serious demeanour just because you want to look like a person with gravitas
2 No it doesn't; it implies a <something> - their manner/behaviour/reactions...

b
 

Claritas

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Although it's most likely not part of any dictionary definition, the idea of being "serious" generally connotes that a truly serious person is serious about something. For instance, someone who is serious about learning a discipline or engaging in activism for a cause has genuine seriousness. Without an aim, goal, or theme, then, seriousness becomes a bit of a hollow mockery of itself, a false attitude projected for no real purpose. If someone constantly behaved in an intense and somber way, but had no reason for this attitude, their seriousness might seem to be rather pointless and immature. It would be seriousness for seriousness's sake, rather than for the sake of some worthy purpose.

Regarding your second question, the sentence may be clearer with a few additions:
"And I saw, from my peers and mentors, that not only was that an acceptable reason, it was also the best reason."

"Saw" here is figurative, meaning "realized" or "observed." As a result, its object is really "the fact that this 'reason' is acceptable." The sentence would be clearer if the relative pronoun "that" had been included in the original, but it still makes sense without it. It's comparable to the clauses "I saw [that] there was a solution to the problem" and "I saw [that] I had been making a mistake," which are intelligible without the relative pronoun, but much improved by its addition.

(Not a teacher)
 

masterding

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Thank you so much ,Claritas and Bobk. Because 'Thank & Like' function still doesn't work for me , I have to do it manually in the reply.
Thanks again.
 
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