“ Somehow the realization that nothing was to be hoped for had a salutary effect upon me. For weeks and months, for years, in fact, all my life I had been looking forward to something happening, some extrinsic event that would alter my life, and now suddenly, inspired by the absolute hopelessness of everything, I felt relieved, felt as though a great burden had been lifted from my shoulders….
Nothing that had happened to me thus far had been sufficient to destroy me; nothing had been destroyed except my illusions. I myself was intact. The world was intact. Tomorrow there might be a revolution, a plague, an earthquake; tomorrow there might not be left a single soul to whom one could turn for sympathy, for aid, for faith. It seemed to me that the great calamity had already manifested itself, …that I could be no more truly alone than at this very moment. I made up my mind that I would hold on to nothing, that I would expect nothing….
Had one single element of man’s nature been altered, vitally, fundamentally altered, by the incessant march of history? By what he calls the better part of his nature, man has been betrayed, that is all. At the extreme limits of his spiritual being man finds himself again naked as a savage. When he finds God, as it were, he has been picked clean: he is a skeleton. One must burrow into life again in order to put on flesh. The word must become flesh; the soul thirsts….
My back is to the wall; I can retreat no further. As far as history goes I am Dead. If there is something beyond I shall have to bounce back. I have found God, but he is insufficient. I am only spiritually dead. Physically I am alive. Morally I am free. The world which I have departed is a menagerie. The dawn is breaking on a new world, a jungle world in which the lean spirits roam with sharp claws. If i am a hyena I am a lean and hungry one; I go forth to fatten myself. ”
Henry Miller : Tropic of Cancer
You taste like tear stains and coulda beens, but I love a good train wreck.
And with every kiss I resented you, because your feelings never got in the way.
(my favorite book)
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
The reason why I refuse to take existentialism as just another French fashion or historical curiosity is that I think it has something very important to offer us… I’m afraid we’re losing the real virtues of living life passionately in the sense of taking responsibility for who you are the ability to make something of yourself and feel good about life. Existentialism is often discussed as if it were a philosophy of despair, but I think the truth is just the opposite. Sartre, once interviewed, said he never felt once minute of despair in his life. One thing that comes out from reading these guys is not a sense of anguish about life so much as a real kind of exuberance, of feeling on top of it, it’s like your life is yours to create. I’ve read the post modernists with some interest, even admiration, but when I read them I always have this awful nagging feeling that something absolutely essential is getting left out. The more you talk about a person as a social construction or as a confluence of forces or as being fragmented of marginalised, what you do is you open up a whole new world of excuses. And when Sartre talks about responsibility, he’s not talking about something abstract. He’s not talking about the kind of self or souls that theologians would talk about. He’s talking about you and me talking, making decisions, doing things, and taking the consequences. It might be true that there are six billion people in this world, and counting, but nevertheless -what you do makes a difference. It makes a difference, first of all, in material terms, to other people, and it sets an example. In short, I think the message here is that we should never write ourselves off or see each other as a victim of various forces. It’s always our decision who we are.
Waking Life (2001)
“You see? Imagine a man his age risking what little life he has for something so absurd as a country.”
Nately was instantly up in arms again. “There is nothing so absurd about risking your life for your country!” He declared.
“Isn’t there?” Asked the old man. “What is a country? A country is a piece of land surrounded on all sides by unnatural boundaries. Englishmen are dying for England, Americans are dying for America, Germans are dying for Germany, Russians are dying for Russia.. Surely so many countries can’t ALL be worth dying for.”
“Anything worth living for,” said Nately, “is worth dying for.”
“And anything worth dying for,” answered the sacrilegious old man,”is certainly worth living for.”
(via “catch-22” by joseph heller)