Then a women said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow. And he answered:
Your joy is sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth, you are weeping for that which has been your delight. Some of you say, ‘Joy is greater than sorrow,’ and others say, ‘Nay, sorrow is the greater.’ But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sites alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Khalil Gibran (1923) The Prophet
More than nine-tenths of all literate men and women certainly read nothing but newspapers, and consequently model their orthography, grammar and style almost exclusively on them and even, in their simplicity, regard the murdering of language which goes on in them as brevity of expression, elegant facility and ingenious innovation; indeed, young people of the unlearned professions in general regard newspaper as an authority simply because it is something printed. […] The art of not reading is a very important one. It consists in not taking an interest in whatever may be engaging the attention of the general public at any particular time. When some political or ecclesiastical pamphlet, or novel, or poem is making a great commotion, you should remember that he who writes for fools always finds a large public. – A precondition for reading good books is not reading bad ones: for life is short.
Arthur Schopenhaur (1851) On Books and Writing
If the immediate and direct purpose of our life is not suffering then our existence is the most ill-adapted to its purpose in the world: for it is absurd to suppose that the endless affliction of which the world is everywhere full, and which arises out of the need and distress pertaining essentially to life, should be purposeless and purely accidental. Each individual misfortune, to be sure, seems an exceptional occurrence; but misfortune in general is the rule. […] A quick test of the assertion that enjoyment outweighs pain in this world, or that they are at any rate balanced, would be to compare the feelings of an animal engaged in eating another with those of the animal being eaten.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1850) On the Suffering of the World
In todays existence we are surrounded by an economic monoculture; which has driven hedonistic values as the norm. Our (western) societies are continually pushing for instant gratification, always on, always connected, and focused solely on the ultimate pleasure. In amongst the theme where the only intrinsic good is pleasure, we forget that misfortune and pain goes hand in hand with pleasure, and that it is in fact, good. Without pain and suffering, we never grow, we stagnate. If we follow hedonism we never really experience life as it should be. Our society spends all of its efforts to extend life, and to bring everlasting life to our species – which only reduces the value of life itself. If we know we are going to live (forever?), we place little value on each moment, tragedy or joy, and fail to see life for what it is. Death has become taboo; or atleast the acceptance that death is part of the natural order. Without it, life has no meaning. In this context, the same needs to be applied to suffering and misfortune, it is natural and required to give life, the moments of joy and pleasure, meaning.
A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying. He must not merely cling to life, for then he will be a coward, and will not escape. He must not merely wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape. He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine.
G.K. Chesterton (1908) Orthodoxy
For the past few weeks or so, due to staff shortages at work, I have become somewhat of a slave to the machine. Having only just returned from work tonight (albeit at 2am), this has been a common trend for the past few weeks. In the lack of having kind of personal life, or existence outside of work, I have not had the chance to write much. I do however have some work on the back burner, with topics ranging from Aaron Swartz and the liberation of human knowledge, to why we shouldn’t look to the United States when analyzing the ‘normal’ human behavioral response and psychology.
To live life without restraints, on your own terms, to be liberated with each passing moment; moments that aren’t fleeting but recurring, longing and everlasting. To be uplifted, and see passion and character in all facets of life. To live as if your dreaming, to dream as if your always asleep. This is life, nothing less, only more.
(found in my notebook, dated 27 October 2012.)