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Old 01-31-2015   #541
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

Our life's a sideshow attraction;
We do our best to please.
Our life is a sideshow attraction:
Death, decay, and disease.

—The Tiger Lillies, “Roll Up”
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Old 02-04-2015   #542
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

- "Have you ever visited the church of St. Marie at Lubeck, or the cathedral of Strasbourg? . . . You will doubtless remember that they both contain clocks of extraordinary historical interest. These sixteenth-century clocks are not limited to telling the time; they indicate the date and tell you the day of the week and the name of the month. But that is nothing to what they do. These clocks give us the position of the earth in relation to the signs of the zodiac. They show us the phases of the waxing and waning moon and mark the changes in the heights of the tides. They do not overlook leap year. Besides this they provide a delightful concert on the stroke of the hours, and to accompany the filigree of tinkling music they stage attractive episodes, such as the procession of the apostles, or a tourney between two rival knights in armor; at the end comes Death himself, armed with a tibia with which, on his resounding silver sickle, he strikes the inexorable hour. I spare you many other details of these monstrous mechanical prodigies. It is quite obvious that if we consider these clocks we shall never admit that their origin is due to pure change; our minds will naturally try to find the marvelous clockmakers who devoted a whole life's activity to the creation of these imperishable toys.
To go a step farther, why should we admit that this planet of ours, which keeps its proper distance from the sun; that the moon, whose fluctuations depend entirely on the moon; that the seasons, which are periodically brought round by forces which constitute an even more perfect mechanism than that of the clocks - why should we admit that all this is due to chance? Ought we not rather to search for the great clockmaker who conceived our solar system and laid down the eternal laws that govern it?
But - and this is what I wanted to come to. . .the two clockmakers who put together the masterpieces at Lubeck and Strasbourg have been dead for centuries. In spite of that, their prodigious toys continue to indicate with faultless accuracy the hour of the day, the height of the tide, the signs of the zodiac, the phases of the moon. And now I will confide to you my very inmost thought, the frightful secret which plunges me in despair. God is dead. And we live on a piece of mechanism which continues to afford us all the marvels that He had imagined in His wisdom so long as His power to create endured.
The faithful in the temples, the synagogues, the churches, and the mosques admire the divine wisdom because they see the flowers of spring transformed into the fruits of autumn, and the snows of winter making way for the first blades of corn. They venerate and admire this god for the wisdom revealed in every flower and fruit, in every drop of rain and every ray of sunshine; but they do not know the appalling truth. God is dead, and what they take to be the divinity is nothing but the terrifying mechanism which continues to subsist after its creator has disappeared."
I felt a shiver come over me and I clung to my chair as though trying to regain a lost equilibrium; it seemed to me as if the principle of gravity had just been abolished all around me. And for an instant I had a vision of all the peoples of all the nations entering all the temples and the churches, trying in all their services, with the help of all the ceremonials and the hymns, with incense and with music, to capture the favors of a god who was inaccessible not because of His immensity, as they thought, but in reality because He no longer exists. . .
"There sir. That is why the strong oppress the weak, why our prayers remain unanswered, why the good are sacrificed; there you have the origin of all the wars and all the atrocities in the world. We commit actions which henceforth are neither good nor bad, because they are committed under an empty sky which will never hear the trumpets of the last judgement."

(from 'On the Verge', Maurice Sandoz)

"When a man is born. . .there are nets flung at (his being) to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets." - James Joyce

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Old 02-05-2015   #543
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

"Diddy, not really alive, had a life. Hardly the same. Some people are their lives. Others, like Diddy, merely inhabit their lives. Like insecure tenants, never knowing exactly the extent of their property or when the lease will expire. Like unskilled cartographers, drawing and redrawing erroneous maps of an exotic continent.
Eventually, for such a person, everything is bound to run dow. The walls sag. Empty spaces bulge between objects. The surfaces of objects sweat, thin out, buckle. The hysterical fluids of fear deposited at the core of objects ooze out along the seams. Deploying things and navigating through space becomes laborious. Too much effort to amble from kitchen to living room, serving drinks, turning on the hi-fi, pretending to be cheerful . . .
Everything running down: suffusing the whole of Diddy's well-tended life. Like a house powered by one large generator in the basement. Diddy has an almost palpable sense of the decline of the generator's energy. Or, of the monstrous malfunctioning of that generator, gone amok. Sending forth a torrent of refuse that climbs up into Diddy's life, cluttering all his floor space and overwhelming his pleasant furnishings, so that he's forced to take refuge. Huddle in a narrow corner. But however small the space Diddy means to keep free for himself, it won't remain safe. If solid material can't invade it, then the offensive discharge of the failing or rebellious generator will liquefy; so that it can travel everywhere, spread like a skin. The generator will spew forth a stream of crude oil, grimy and malodorous, that coats all things and persons and objects, the vulgar as well as the precious, the ugly as well as what little still remains beautiful. Befouling Diddy's world and rendering it unusable. Uninhabitable.
This deliquescent running-down of everything becomes coexistent with Diddy's entire span of consciousness, undermines his most minimal acts. Getting out of bed is an agony unpromising as the struggles of a fish cast up on the beach, trying to extract life from the meaningless air. Persons who merely have a life customarily move in a dense fluid. That's how they're able to conduct their lives at all. Their living depends on not seeing. But when this fluid evaporates, an uncensored, fetid, appalling underlife is disclosed. Lost continents are brought to view, bearing the ruins of doomed cities, the sparsely fleshed skeletons of ancient creatures immobilized in their death throes, a landscape of unparalleled savagery. "

- (Death Kit, Susan Sontag)

"When a man is born. . .there are nets flung at (his being) to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets." - James Joyce

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Old 02-10-2015   #544
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

Have you looked at yourself in the mirror when nothing stood between you and death? Have you questioned your eyes? And by looking into them, have you then understood that you cannot die? Your pupils dilated by conquered terror are more impenetrable than the Sphinx. From their glassy immobility a certitude, strangely tonic in its brief mysterious form, is born: you cannot die. It comes from the silence of our gaze meeting itself, the Egyptian calmness of a dream facing the terror of death. Each time the fear of death grabs you, look in the mirror. You will then understand why you can never die. Your eyes know everything. For in them there are specks of nothingness, which assure you that nothing more can happen.

--Tears and Saints, Emil Cioran.

"Tell me how you want to die, and I'll tell you who you are. In other words, how do you fill out an empty life? With women, books, or worldly ambitions? No matter what you do, the starting point is boredom, and the end self-destruction. The emblem of our fate: the sky teeming with worms. Baudelaire taught me that life is the ecstasy of worms in the sun, and happiness the dance of worms."
---Tears and Saints, E. M. Cioran
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Old 02-23-2015   #545
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

Taking a heavy stick from the rack in the corner he approached the mantlepiece, and with a heavy shattering blow he smashed the clock to pieces. The glass fell in shivering atoms.
“Cease your lying voice for ever,” he said, in a curiously still, even tone. “There is no such thing as time!”
He took the watch from his pocket, swung it round several times by the long gold chain, smashed it into smithereens against the wall with a single blow, and then walked into his laboratory next door, and hung its broken body on the bones of the skeleton in the corner of the room.
“Let one damned mockery hang upon another,” he said smiling oddly. “Delusions, both of you, and cruel as false!”
He slowly moved back to the front room. He stopped opposite the bookcase where stood in a row the “Scriptures of the World,” choicely bound and exquisitely printed, the late professor’s most treasured possession, and next to them several books signed “Pilgrim.”
One by one he took them from the shelf and hurled them through the open window.
“A devil’s dreams! A devil’s foolish dreams!” he cried, with a vicious laugh.


Blackwood, The Man Who Found Out

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Old 02-23-2015   #546
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

Michel Houellebecq - Anything can happen in life, especially nothing.

"Every Rousseau leads to Donatien Alphonse François" / "Every man for himself and God against all"
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Old 02-24-2015   #547
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

"We are as forlorn as children lost in the woods. When you stand in front of me and look at me, what do you know of the griefs that are in me and what do I know of yours. And if I were to cast myself down before you and weep and tell you, what more would you know about me than you know about Hell when someone tells you it is hot and dreadful? For that reason alone we human beings ought to stand before one another as reverently, as reflectively, as lovingly, as we would before the entrance to Hell."

-Franz Kafka, Letter to Oskar Pollak, November 8, 1903

"Tell me how you want to die, and I'll tell you who you are. In other words, how do you fill out an empty life? With women, books, or worldly ambitions? No matter what you do, the starting point is boredom, and the end self-destruction. The emblem of our fate: the sky teeming with worms. Baudelaire taught me that life is the ecstasy of worms in the sun, and happiness the dance of worms."
---Tears and Saints, E. M. Cioran
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Old 02-25-2015   #548
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

"Death, in many guises, is one of the by-products of neoliberalism: when people have nothing further that can be taken from them, whether resources or labor power, they are quite simply disposable. However, the current increase in sexual slavery and the growing traffic in organs and body parts suggest that the outer limit of disposability can be profitably enlarged to meet the demands of new market sectors."

- Jonathan Crary, 24/7
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Old 02-26-2015   #549
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

"I think the notion that the species can be improved in some way, that everyone could live in harmony, is a really dangerous idea. Those who are afflicted with this notion are the first ones to give up their souls, their freedom. Your desire that it be that way will enslave you and make your life vacuous."--Cormac McCarthy on the Perfectibility of Man.
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Old 02-26-2015   #550
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

Quote Originally Posted by Druidic View Post
"I think the notion that the species can be improved in some way, that everyone could live in harmony, is a really dangerous idea. Those who are afflicted with this notion are the first ones to give up their souls, their freedom. Your desire that it be that way will enslave you and make your life vacuous."--Cormac McCarthy on the Perfectibility of Man.
Brilliant quote.

Forgive my arrogance, but I feel like adding something I wrote some time ago, which I feel examines the same notion:

My mortal nature guarantees a downwards trajectory towards death and dissolution. Yet surprisingly and simultaneously to the ideas of the ruined and the terrible, mortality invites the counter-intuitive notion of an ascent towards perfectibility. Life is seen as a path, as a project, as an exercise in becoming. And it does not matter whether the goal is the Overman or the Imitatio Christi, for these ideas and all other similar ones are supported by the fundamental assumption that a human being can transcend his present conditions and limits and die something essentially more and better than what was born in the first place.

There is a concept of self-improvement as duty that pierces human history like a skewer; but like a skewer all it ultimately succeeds in accomplishing is holding meat over fire until the moment of consumption.

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