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Old 05-13-2008   #11
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

Thanks, Matthew, for launching “Pessimistic Passage of the Day.” May this thread continue to expand! Reading through the passages here is like viewing scattered family snapshots . . . Though they are randomly assembled and belong to different eras, they reveal undeniable resemblances and, taken together, constitute a lineage.

As TL points out in The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, this lineage can be traced back to the eighteenth century, to writers like La Rochefoucauld and the Marquis de Sade. To these I would add Jonathan Swift. In this excerpt from A Tale of A Tub (published 1704), Swift anticipates Peter Wessel Zapffe, who identifies distraction as the means through which we maintain our illusions and keep the darkness at bay:

Those Entertainments and Pleasures we most value in Life, are such as Dupe and play the Wag with the Senses. For, if we take an Examination of what is generally understood by Happiness, as it has Respect, either to the Understanding or the Senses; we shall find all its Properties and Adjuncts, will herd under this short Definition: That, it is a perpetual Possession of being well Deceived.
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hopfrog (12-21-2008), Ligeia (05-30-2009)


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