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Old 05-13-2008   #21
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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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Old 05-13-2008   #22
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

From Marcel Proust's 'In Search of Lost Time' about Bergotte the writer:

Thus he went on growing steadily colder, a tiny planet offering a prophetic image of the greater, when gradually heat will withdraw from the earth, then life itself. Then the resurrection will have come to an end, for, however far forward into future generations the works of men may shine, there must none the less be men. If certain species hold out longer against the invading cold, when there are no longer any men, and if we suppose Bergotte’s fame to have lasted until then, suddenly it will be extinguished for all time. It will not be the last animals that will read him, for it is scarcely probable that, like the Apostles at Pentecost, they will be able to understand the speech of the various races of mankind without having learned it.

In the months that preceded his death, Bergotte suffered from insomnia, and what was worse, whenever he did fall asleep, from nightmares which, if he awoke, made him reluctant to go to sleep again. He had long been a lover of dreams, even bad dreams, because thanks to them, thanks to the contradiction they present to the reality which we have before us in our waking state, they give us, at the moment of waking if not before, the profound sensation of having slept. But Bergotte’s nightmares were not like that. When he spoke of nightmares, he used in the past to mean unpleasant things that happened in his brain. Latterly, it was as though from somewhere outside himself that he would see a hand armed with a damp cloth which, rubbed over his face by an evil woman, kept trying to wake him; or an intolerable itching in his thighs; or the rage -- bešause Bergotte had murmured in his sleep that he was driving badly -- of a raving lunatic of a cabman who flung himself upon the writer, biting and gnawing his fingers. Finally, as soon as it had grown sufficiently dark in his sleep, nature would arrange a sort of undress rehearsal of the apoplectic stroke that was to carry him off.

EDIT: I have put longer Proustian passages about Bergotte here:
http://weirdmonger.blog-city.com/prousts_bergotte.htm
Including probably the most beautiful passage I have ever read (the one that includes a yellow patch on the wall).

MY WEBSITE: www.nemonymous.com
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Old 05-13-2008   #23
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

Quote Originally Posted by Nemonymous View Post
I invented the Toilet Mythos, Viva.
Another early entry in des' Toilet Mythos is his story "A Tale of Two Todgers" which first appeared in Crypt of Cthulhu. This one even makes Mr. Ligotti's "The Night School" seem antiseptic and safe. "A Tale of Two Todgers" also lurks somewhere here at The Weirdmonger Wheel:
http://weirdmonger.mindsay.com/reinvented_wheel.mws
I would have posted a direct link to the story, but I think it is important that the uninitiated get acquainted with the true angular and labyrinthine ways of the Wheel.

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

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Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 05-13-2008   #24
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

"Now in the thirty-first year of my dark pilgrimage on this earth and knowing less than I ever knew before, having learned only to recognize merde when I see it, having inherited no more from my father than a good nose for merde, for every species of #### that flies - my only talent - smelling merde from every quarter, living in fact in the very century of merde, the great ####house of scientific humanism where needs are satisfied, everyone becomes an anyone, a warm and creative person, and prospers like a dung beetle, and one hundred percent of people are humanists and ninety-eight percent believe in God, and men are dead, dead, dead; and the malaise has settled like a fall-out and what people really fear is not that the bomb will fall but that the bomb will not fall - on this my thirtieth birthday, I knowing nothing and there is nothing to do but fall prey to desire."
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 05-13-2008   #25
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

"A full life is, in the best of cases, merely an equilibrium of drawbacks."
--E.M. Cioran, The New Gods (trans. Richard Howard)
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Old 05-13-2008   #26
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

"The second fundamental contention of this book [Nihil Unbound] is that nihilism is not ... a pathological exacerbation of subjectivism, which annuls the world and reduces reality to a correlate of the absolute ego, but on the contrary, the unavoidable corollary of the realist conviction that there is a mind-independent reality, which, despite the presumptions of human narcissism, is indifferent to our existence and oblivious to the 'values' and 'meanings' which we would drape over it in order to make it more hospitable. Nature is not our or anyone's 'home', nor a particularly beneficent progenitor. Philosophers would do well to desist from issuing any further injunctions about the need to re-establish the meaningfulness of existence, the purposefulness of life, or mend the shattered concord between man and nature. Philosophy should be more than a sop to the pathetic twinge of human self-esteem. Nihilism is not an existential quandary but a speculative opportunity. Thinking has interests which do not coincide with those of living; indeed, they can and have been pitted against the latter. It is this latter position that this book attempts to investigate."

--Ray Brassier, from the preface to Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction

Last edited by gveranon; 05-14-2008 at 12:26 AM..
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Old 05-13-2008   #27
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

Quotes attributed to Samuel Beckett:

Birth was the death of him.

No, I regret nothing, all I regret is having been born, dying is such a long tiresome business I always found.

Personally I have no bone to pick with graveyards, I take the air there willingly, perhaps more willingly than elsewhere, when take the air I must.

They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it's night once more.

You're on earth. There's no cure for that.

Nothing is funnier than unhappiness, I grant you that. Yes, yes, it's the most comical thing in the world.

My mistakes are my life.

I tried to groan, Help! Help! But the tone that came out was that of polite conversation.

To him who has nothing it is forbidden not to relish filth.

Yes, in my life, since we must call it so, there were three things, the inability to speak, the inability to be silent, and solitude, that’s what I’ve had to make the best of.
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Old 05-13-2008   #28
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

Quotes attributed to Gustave Flaubert:

I go from exasperation to a state of collapse, then I recover and go from prostration to fury, so that my average state is one of being annoyed.

Happiness is a monstrosity! Punished are those who seek it.

The future is the worst thing about the present.

To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost.
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Old 05-13-2008   #29
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

"Some people--and I am one of them--hate happy ends. We feel cheated. Harm is the norm. Doom should not jam. The avalanche stopping in its tracks a few feet above the cowering village behaves not only unnaturally but unethically." -- Vladimir Nabokov, Pnin

"Reality is the shadow of the word." -- Bruno Schulz
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Old 05-13-2008   #30
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

Here is some cheery stuff, from Thomas Bernhard's novel-length prose poem On the Mountain (trans. R. Stockman, ellipsis is mine):

...my dog asks me questions, but I'm much too dull, after all, to be able to answer the questions my dog asks me, regarding suicide: it's not remotely a question of the few procedures, but because suicide is one of those crimes that are to be rejected unequivocally: to shut the door behind you that you've torn open: that's out of the question: just keep going, dying little by little, growing numb, and dying little by little...

...our life is nothing, after all, but a constantly quivering, unsightly mass that reveals itself in fantastic colours: morning and evening, day and night...

...everybody's poised above the abyss: but some people are always managing to shove others over the edge: you can't postpone your being shoved over until you've finished living, that isn't permitted, that would be a lie, that would be impertinent, that would be idiotic,

it's the abyss that keeps us all alive, only the abyss...

, , and

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