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Old 05-18-2008   #61
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

From The Devil's Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce:


Achievement, n. The death of endeavor and the birth of disgust.

Decide, v.i. To succumb to the preponderance of one set of influences over another set.

Longevity, n. Uncommon extension of the fear of death.

Mausoleum, n. The final and funniest folly of the rich.

Once, adv. Enough.

Optimism, n. The doctrine, or belief that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly, everything good, especially the bad, and everything right that is wrong. It is held with greatest tenacity by those most accustomed to the mischance of falling into adversity, and is most acceptably expounded with the grin that apes a smile. Being a blind faith, it is inaccessible to the light of disproof -- an intellectual disorder, yielding to no treatment but death. It is hereditary, but fortunately not contagious.

Otherwise, adv. No better.

Patience, n. A minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.

Pessimism, n. A philosophy forced upon the convictions of the observer by the disheartening prevalence of the optimist with his scarecrow hope and his unsightly smile.

Pleasure, n. The least hateful form of dejection.

Self-esteem, n. An erroneous appraisal.

Zeal, n. A certain nervous disorder afflicting the young and inexperienced. A passion that goeth before a sprawl.
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Old 05-18-2008   #62
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

Quote Originally Posted by gveranon View Post

Self-esteem, n. An erroneous appraisal.
That is brilliant... But how would Bierce define the absence of self-esteem?

All this rampant negativity is making me disconcertingly happy. Thanks for keeping the thread going.

"Reality is the shadow of the word." -- Bruno Schulz
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Old 05-19-2008   #63
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

Quote Originally Posted by Bleak&Icy View Post
Quote Originally Posted by gveranon View Post

Self-esteem, n. An erroneous appraisal.
That is brilliant... But how would Bierce define the absence of self-esteem?
Meekness, n. Uncommon patience in planning a revenge that is worthwhile.
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Old 05-19-2008   #64
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce: available for free pdf download on manybooks.net. Volume IIX contains his nasty little epigrams. Here are two particularly prickly ones:

"We yearn to be, not what we are, but what we are not. If we were immortal we should not crave immortality."

"Those who most loudly invite God's attention to themselves when in peril of death are those who should most fervently wish to escape his observation."

"Reality is the shadow of the word." -- Bruno Schulz
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Old 05-19-2008   #65
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

I can't resist another two from A. Bierce:

"Persons who are horrified by what they believe to be Darwin's theory of the descent of Man from the Ape may find comfort in the hope of his return."

"Asked to describe the Deity, a donkey would represent him with long ears and a tail. Man's conception is higher and truer: he thinks of him as somewhat resembling a man."

"Reality is the shadow of the word." -- Bruno Schulz
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Old 05-19-2008   #66
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

Okay, I promise, last one:

"When God makes a beautiful woman, the devil opens a new register."

"Reality is the shadow of the word." -- Bruno Schulz
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Old 05-19-2008   #67
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

"So I said," Ulrich began, "that nobody would turn his dreams into realities even if he could....Is there anyone who would not be embarrassed if something he had passionately demanded all his life were suddenly to come true? If, for instance, the Kingdom of God were suddenly to burst on the Catholics, or the classless society of the future on the socialists? But perhaps this doesn't prove anything. We get used to demanding things and aren't quite ready to have our wishes realized; it's only natural, most people would say. Let me go on: Music must be the most important thing in the world to a musician, and painting to a painter, and probably even the building of cement houses to a cement specialist. Do you think that this will induce him to imagine God as a specialist in reinforced concrete and that the others will prefer a painted world, or a world blown on the bugle, to the real one? You'll call it a silly question, but what makes it serious is that we are expected to insist on just this kind of silliness!

"Now please don't think," he said, turning to her in all seriousness, "that all I mean by this is that everyone wants what is hard to get, and despises the attainable. What I mean is this: Within reality there is a senseless craving for unreality."

--Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities (trans. Sophie Wilkins and Burton Pike)
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Old 05-20-2008   #68
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

Quote Originally Posted by gveranon View Post
-Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities (trans. Sophie Wilkins and Burton Pike)
I love that book!
And I think Moosbrugger is one of the best characters in literature.
des

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Old 05-20-2008   #69
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

This is where pessimism is a sort of optimism & vice versa.

ALLEN GINSBERG:
Ai! ai! we do worse! We are in a fix! And you're out, Death let you out,
Death had the Mercy, you're done with your century, done with
God, done with the path thru it--Done with yourself at last--Pure
--Back to the Babe dark before your Father, before us all--before the
world--
There, rest. No more suffering for you. I know where you've gone, it's good.

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Old 05-20-2008   #70
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Re: Pessimistic Passage of the Day...

Quote Originally Posted by Nemonymous View Post
Quote Originally Posted by gveranon View Post
-Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities (trans. Sophie Wilkins and Burton Pike)
I love that book!
And I think Moosbrugger is one of the best characters in literature.
des
I've only read the first volume (of the two-volume Wilkins/Pike translation). I read it several years ago and was able to find the quote I posted because I had marked it with pencil at the time. It's interesting to look back through books I read in the past and see which passages my younger self (dumber or smarter?) chose to pencil-mark for some reason or other.

I'd like to read volume two, because I think I'm even more interested in the themes of the novel now than I was when I first read volume one. But I feel that I really ought to reread volume one before going on to volume two. Sigh.
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