Associate with the noblest people you can find, read the best books, live with the mighty, but learn to be happy alone.
The old continued to have one resurgence of foolishness after another, until the organism gave out altogether.
With one long breath, caught and held in his chest, he fought his sadness over his solitary life. Don't cry, you idiot! Live or die, but don't poison everything...
I see that I've become a really bad correspondent. It's not that I don't think of you. You come into my thoughts often. But when you do it appears to me that I owe you a particularly grand letter. And so you end in the warehouse of good intentions: Can't do it now. Then put it on hold. This is one's strategy for coping with old age, and with death--because one can't die with so many obligations in storage. Our clever species, so fertile and resourceful in denying its weaknesses.
He was looking for the Knight of Faith, the real prodigy. That real prodigy, having set its relations with the infinite, was entirely at home in the finite. Able to carry the jewel of faith, making the motions of the infinite, and as a result needing nothing but the finite and the usual. Whereas others sought the extraordinary in the world. Or wished to be what was gaped at.
There is no limit to the amount of intelligence invested in ignorance when the need for illusion runs deep.
Anything that just adds information you can't use is plain dangerous. Anyway, there's too much of everything of this kind, that's come home to me, too much history and culture to keep track of, too many details, too much news, too much example, too much influence, too many guys who tell you to be as they are, and all this hugeness, abundance, turbulence, Niagara Falls torrent. Which who is supposed to interpret? Me? I haven't got that much head to master it all. I get carried away. It doesn't give my feelings enough of a chance if I have to store up and become like an encyclopedia. Why, just as a question of time spent in getting prepared for life, look! a man could spent forty, fifty, sixty years like that inside the walls of his own being. And all high conversation would take place within those walls. And all achievement would stay within those walls. And all glamour too. And even hate, monstrousness, enviousness, murder, would be inside them. This would be only a terrible, hideous dream about existing. It's better to dig ditches and hit other guys with your shovel than die in the walls.
If you could arrange to avoid that routine job-world, you were an intellectual or an artist. Too restless, tremorous, agitated, too mad to sit at a desk eight hours a day, you needed an institution - a higher institution.
For instance? Well, for instance, what it means to be a man. In a city. In a century. In transition. In a mass. Transformed by science. Under organized power. Subject to tremendous controls. In a condition caused by mechanization. After the late failure of radical hopes. In a society that was no community and devalued the person. Owing to the multiplied power of numbers which made the self negligible. Which spent military billions against foreign enemies but would not pay for order at home. Which permitted savagery and barbarism in its own great cities. At the same time, the pressure of human millions who have discovered what concerted efforts and thoughts can do. As megatons of water shape organisms on the ocean floor. As tides polish stones. As winds hollow cliffs. The beautiful supermachinery opening a new life for innumerable mankind. Would you deny them the right to exist? Would you ask them to labor and go hungry while you yourself enjoyed old-fashioned Values? You—you yourself are a child of this mass and a brother to all the rest. or else an ingrate, dilettante, idiot. There, Herzog, thought Herzog, since you ask for the instance, is the way it runs.
But then why shouldn't he write the dead? He lived with them as much as with the living - perhaps more; and besides, his letters to the living were increasingly mental, and anyway, to the Unconscious, what was death? Dreams did not recognize it.
The challenge of modern freedom, or the combination of isolation and freedom which confronts you, is to make yourself up. The danger is that you may emerge from the process as a not-entirely-human creature.
As the wicked flee when none pursueth, so does the middle-class wrestle when none contendeth. They cried out for freedom, it came down on them in a flood. Nothing remains but a few floating timbers of psychotherapy.
. . . Nietzche himself had a Christian view of history, seeing the present moment always as some crisis, some fall from classical greatness, some corruption or evil to be saved from.
He didn't ask Where will you spend eternity? as religious the-end-is-near picketers did but rather, With what, in this modern democracy, will you meet the demands of your soul?
No true individual has existed yet, able to live, able to die. Only diseased, tragic, or dismal and ludicrous fools who sometimes hoped to achieve some ideal by fiat, by their great desire for it. But usually by bullying all mankind into believing them.
The human being now simply can't close his elected garment about himself. Obligations to one's fellows perhaps prevent full buttoning by artists.
And this is the unwritten history of man, his unseen, negative accomplishment, his power to do without gratification for himself provided there is something great, something into which his being, and all beings can go. He does not need meaning as long as such intensity has scope. Because then it is self-evident; it is meaning.
History, memory - that is what makes us human, that, and our knowledge of death: 'by man came death'. For knowledge of death makes us wish to extend our lives at the expense of others. And this is the root of the struggle for power.
More commonly suffering breaks people, crushes them, and is simply unilluminating. You see how gruesomely human beings are destroyed by pain, when they have the added torment of losing their humanity first, so that their death is a total defeat...
You have to have the power to employ pain, to repent, to be illuminated, you must have the opportunity and even the time.
I discovered, however, in the early days of our marriage that, in having her way, she put my interests ahead of her own.
Moses loved his relatives quite openly and even helplessly . . . It was childish of him; he knew that. He could only sigh at himself, that he should be so undeveloped on that significant side of his nature.
In every community there is a class of people profoundly dangerous to the rest. I don't mean the criminals. For them we have punitive sanctions. I mean the leaders. Invariably the most dangerous people seek the power. While in the parlors of indignation the right-thinking citizen brings his heart to a boil. (p. 51)
Well, there is a piece of famous advice, grand advice even if it is German, to forget what you can't bear. The strong can forget, can shut out history. Very good. Even if it is self-flattery to speak of strength--these aesthetic philosophers, they take a posture, but power sweeps postures away. Still, it's true you can't go on transposing one nightmare into another, Nietzsche was certainly right about that. The tender-minded must harden themselves. Is this world nothing but a barren lump of coke? No, no, but what sometimes seems a system of prevention, a denial of what every human being knows. I love my children, but I am the world to them, and bring them nightmares. I had this child by my enemy. And I love her. The sight of her, the odor of her hair, this minute, makes me tremble with love. Isn't it mysterious how I love the child of my enemy? But a man doesn't need happiness for himself. No, he can put up with any amount of torment--with recollections, with his own familiar evils, despair. And this is the unwritten history of man, his unseen, negative accomplishment, his power to do without gratification for himself provided there is something great, something into which his being, and all beings can go. He does not need meaning as long as such intensity has scope. Because then it is self-evident; it is meaning.
Society is what beats me. Alone I can be pretty good, but let me go among people and there’s the devil to pay.
Some people embrace their gifts with gratitude. Others have no use for them and can think only of overcoming their weaknesses. Only their defects interest and challenge them. Thus those who hate people may seek them out. Misanthropes often practice psychiatry. The shy become performers. Natural thieves look for positions of trust. The frightened make bold moves.
And everything soon must change. Men would set their watches by other suns than this. Or time would vanish. We would need no personal names of the old sort in the sidereal future, nothing being fixed. We would be designated by other nouns. Days and nights would belong to the museums. The earth a memorial park, a merry-go-round cemetery. The seas powdering our bones like quartz, making sand, grinding our peace for us by the aeon. Well, that would be good - a melancholy good.
Everybody wants to have intimate conversations, but the smart fellows don't give out, only the fools. The smart fellows talk intimately about the fools, and examine them all over and give them advice.
Oh, God,” Wilhelm prayed, “Let me out of my trouble. Let me out of my thoughts, and let me do something better with myself. For all the time I have wasted I am very sorry. Let me out of this clutch and into a different life. For I am all balled up. Have mercy.
All human accomplishment has this same origin, identically. Imagination is a force of nature. Is this not enough to make a person full of ecstasy? Imagination, imagination, imagination! It converts to actual. It sustains, it alters, it redeems!
I am willing without further exercise in pain to open my heart. And this needs no doctrine or theology of suffering. We love apocalypses too much, and crisis ethics and florid extremism with its thrilling language. Excuse me, no. I've had all the monstrosity I want.
I venture to say Kierkegaard meant that truth has lost its force with us and horrible pain and evil must teach it to us again, the eternal punishments of Hell will have to regain their reality before mankind turns serious once more. I do not see this. Let us set aside the fact that such convictions in the mouths of safe, comfortable people playing at crisis, alienation, apocalypse and desperation, make me sick. We must get it out of our heads that this is a doomed time, that we are waiting for the end, and th rest of it, mere junk from fashionable magazines. Things are grim enough without these shivery games. People frightening one another--a poor sort of moral exercise. But, to get to the main point, the advocacy and praise of suffering take us in the wrong direction and those of us who remain loyal to civilization must not go for it. You have to have the power to employ pain, to repent, to be illuminated, you must have the opportunity and even the time.
Just then his state of being was so curious that he was compelled , himself, to see it -- eager, grieving, fantastic, dangerous, crazed and, to the point of death, comical. It was enough to make a man pray to God to remove this great, bone-breaking burden of selfhood and self-development, give himself, a failure, back to the species for a primitive cure.