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Old 05-14-2008   #11
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

Quote Originally Posted by Daisy View Post

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:
And in 1670, Blaise Pascal, in his Pensees, anticipates Swift, preferring the term diversion:

"Being unable to cure death, wretchedness and ignorance, men have decided, in order to be happy, not to think about such things."

"The only good thing for men therefore is to be diverted from thinking of what they are, either by some occupation which takes their mind of it, or by some novel and agreeable passion which keeps them busy, like gambling, hunting, some absorbing show, in short by what is called diversion. That is why gaming and feminine society, war and high office are so popular." To this list of diversions, I would add: posting with my fellow Ligottians on TLO, not to mention solving Ligottian crossword puzzles (nod of the head to G.S. Carnivals).

And who hasn't felt like this: "I feel that it is possible that I might never have existed, for my self consists in my thought; therefore I who think would never have been if my mother had been killed before I had come to life; therefore I am not a necessary being. I am not eternal or infinite either..." [and here is where Monsieur Pascal and I part company] "...but I can see that there is in nature a being who is necessary, eternal, and infinite." Bah! And here we realize, my friends, that we have been taken for a ride, that what we thought was pessimism, was in fact a ruse... How few writers fail to betray their readers! In dejection I turn once more to the journal of J.P. Drapeau... "Ahhh, the music of graveyards..."

"Reality is the shadow of the word." -- Bruno Schulz
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