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The Autodiadact


-- The Sickness Unto Death, Kierkegaard, 1849 --

[Anti-Climacus]: "But to become fantastic in this way, and therefore be in despair, although usually obvious, does not mean that a person may not continue living a fairly good life, to all appearances be someone, employed with temporal matters, get married, beget children, be honoured and esteemed - and one may fail to notice that in a deeper sense he lacks a self. Such things cause little stir in the world; for in the world a self is what one last asks after, and the thing it is most dangerous of all to show signs of having. The biggest danger, that of losing oneself, can pass off in the world as quietly as if it were nothing; every other loss, an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife etc. is bound to be noticed."

-- The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus, 1942 --

[Albert Camus]: "It happens that the stage-sets collapse. Rising, tram, four hours in the office or factory, meal, tram, four hours of work, meal, sleep and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, according to the same rhythm - this path is easily followed most of the time. But one day the 'why' arises and everything begins in that weariness tinged with amazement. 'Begins' - this is important. Weariness comes at the end of the acts of mechanical life, but at the same time it inaugurates the impulse of consciousness. It awakeness consciousness and provokes what follows. What follows is the gradual return into the chair or it is the definitive awakening. At the end of the awakening comes, in time, the consequence: suicide or recovery."

[Albert Camus]: "Men, too, secrete the inhuman. At certain moments of lucidity, the mechanical aspects of their gestures, their meaningless pantomime makes silly everything that surrounds them. A man is talking on the telephone behind a glass partition; you cannot hear him, but you see his incomprehensible dumb show: you wonder why he is alive. This discomfort in the face of man’s own inhumanity, this incalculable tumble before the image of what we are, this “nausea,” as a writer of today calls it, is also the absurd. Likewise the stranger who at certain seconds comes to meet us in the mirror, the familiar and yet alarming brother we encounter in own photograph is also the absurd.

-- The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoyevsky, 1880 --

[The Elder Zosima]: "We are assured that the world is becoming more and more united, is being formed into brotherly communion, by the shortening of distances, by the transmitting of thoughts through the air. Alas, do not believe in such a union of people. Taking freedom to mean the increase and prompt satisfaction of needs, they distort their own nature, for they generate many meaningless and foolish desires, habits, and the most absurd fancies in themselves. They live only for mutual envy, for pleasure-seeking and self-display. To have dinners, horses, carriages, rank, and slaves to serve them is now considered such a necessity that for the sake of it, to satisfy it, they will sacrifice life, honour, the love of mankind, and will even kill themselves if they are unable to satisfy it."

[The old Grand Inquisitor]: "And this need for communality of worship is the chief torment of each man individually, and of mankind as a whole, from the beginning of the ages. In the cause of universal worship they have destroyed each other with the sword. They have made gods and called upon each other: 'Abandon your gods and come and worship ours, otherwise death to you and your gods!' And so it will be until the end of the world, even when all the gods have disappeared from the earth: they will still fall down before idols."

[Ivan Karamazov]: "But still, let me ask: do you really think that this whole Catholic movement of the past few centuries is really nothing but the lust for power only for the sake of filthy lucre?"

[Alyosha Karamazov]: "It's true, isn't it?' 'Oh Lise, it's not true at all, beacuse the letter is with me now, and it was with me then, too, in this pocket. Here it is.'"

-- Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevsky, 1866 --

[Raskolnikov]: "It is my view that if the discoveries of Kepler and Newton could not on any account, as a result of certain complex factors, have become known to people other than by means of sacrificing the life of one person, the lives of ten, a hundred or even more persons, who were trying to interfere with those discoveries or stand as an obstacle in their path, then Newton would have had the right, and would have even had been obliged ... to get rid of those ten or hundred persons, in order to make his discoveries known to all mankind."

-- Nausea, Sartre, 1938 --

[Antoine Roquentin]: "Tuesday: Nothing. Existed."

[Antoine Roquentin]: "'I was just thinking,' I tell him laughing, 'that here we are, all of us, eating and drinking to preserve our precious existence, and there's nothing, nothing, absolutely no reason for existing.'"