Saturday, June 12, 2004

Quotes of the day: on desperation and despair.

"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things." -- Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

"... But to become fantastic in this way, and thus to be in despair, does not mean, although it usually becomes apparent, that a person cannot go on living fairly well, seem to be a man, be occupied with temporal matters, marry, have children, be honored and esteemed -- and it may not be detected that in a deeper sense he lacks a self. Such things do not create much of a stir in the world, for a self is the last thing the world cares about and the most dangerous thing of all for a person to show signs of having. The greatest hazard of all, losing the self, can occure very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss -- an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. -- is sure to be noticed." -- S. Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death, 1849.

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