[Look back and see that the aeons of eternity before we were born have been nothing to us.]
Wherever your life ends, there all of it ends. The usefulness of living lies not in duration but in what you make of it. Some have lived long and lived little. See to it while you are still here. And, if it is a relief to have company, is not the whole world proceeding at the same pace as you are?
Omnia te vita perfuncta sequentur
[All things will follow you when their life is done.]
Does not everything move with the same motion as you do? Is there anything which is not growing old with you? At this same instant that you die hundreds of men, of beasts and of other creatures are dying too.
[No night has ever followed day, no dawn has ever followed night, without hearing, interspersed among the wails of infants, the cries of pain attending death and sombre funerals.]
Why do you pull back when retreat is impossible? You have seen cases enough where men were lucky to die, avoiding great misfortunes by doing so: but have you ever seen anyone for whom death turned out badly? And it is very simple-minded of you to condemn something that you have never experienced either yourself or through another. Why do you complain of me or of Destiny? Do we do you wrong? Should you
grow up counting on the fact that we are the tiniest particle of Great Time That Does Not End.
God created death and afterward he could never repair it or abolish it...
The desire to die is the desire to know; it is not the desire to disappear, and it is not suicide; it is the desire to enjoy.
As Kafka said:
You keep talking about death, and yet you do not die. And yet I shall die. I am just saying my swan-song. One man's song is longer, another man's song is shorter. But the difference can never be the matter of a few words.
This is our inner discourse. We have to be two to say that to ourselves: I the living one and I the dying one. Human beings desire this paradoxical duplicity, which decently shouldn't be expressed, which people like Kafka and Clarice express. There is an absolute difference between me and the dying one. But the author wants to die. Because it is over there that it happens. He or she envies, he or she is jealous, he or she loves the dying and the dead. It's a desire I have had to formulate for myself less clearly than Kafka did. I have never said to myself: What, you're not dying? Because I don't believe that I am going to die. Why don't I, H.C., die and why does he die? One of us shall die. I don't die because you are the dead one. This is my life schema. Kafka's father was such that Kafka could say: I'm the one who will die. Mine, such that I can only say: why not me?
So, after all, the desire to die is only the desire to taste the fruits of the tree of Good and Evil. To be able to want to taste the fruits of the tree of Good and Evil, contrary to what the Bible says, one has to be mortal. It's very difficult if one isn't mortal. Not everyone is mortal. Not everyone has this difficult fortune. I myself don't have it.
I have always loved the writers whom I call writers of extremity, those who take themselves to the extremes of experience, thought, life.
has been taught, mortification of the self, pity, even negation of life. All these are the values of the exhausted.
Prolonged reflection of the physiology of exhaustion forced me to ask to what extent the judgments of the exhausted had penetrated the world of values.
My result was as surprising as possible, even for me who was at home in many a strange world: I found that all of the supreme value judgments all that have come to dominate mankind, at least that part that has become tame can be derived from judgments of the exhausted.
Under the holiest names I pulled up destructive tendencies; one has called God what weakens, teaches weakness, infects with weakness. I found that the "good man" is one of the forms in which decadence affirms itself.
That virtue of which Schopenhauer still taught that it is the supreme, the only virtue, and the basis of all virtues precisely pity I recognized as more dangerous than any vice. To cross as a matter of principle selection in the species and its purification of refuse that has so far been called virtue par excellence.
One should respect fatality that fatality that says to the weak: perish!
One has called it God that one resisted fatality, that one corrupted mankind and made it rot. One should not use the name of God in vain.
The race is corrupted not by its vices but by its ignorance; it is corrupted because it did not recognize exhaustion as exhaustion: mistakes about physiological states are the source of all ills.
Virtue is our greatest misunderstanding.
Problem: How did the exhausted come to make the laws about values? Put differently: How did those come to power who are the last? How did the instinct of the human animal come to stand on its head?
from 34 (Opacity Series # 2)
text above taken from page 34 of the following books:
The Essays: A Selection by Michel de Montaigne; 1580.
Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing by Hélène Cixous; 1993.
The Will to Power by Friedrich Nietzsche; 1901.
© Mike Schertzer, 2003