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36897suffering fools?

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  • George Walton
    Nov 30, 2005
      Emile Cioran from On the Heights of Despair:

      "I witness pain, old age and death, and I know that they cannot be overcome; but why should I spoil another's enjoyment with my knowledge? Suffering and the consciousness of its inescapabilty lead to renunciation; yet nothing would induce me, not even if I were to become a leper, to condemn another's joy. There is much envy in every act of condemnation."

      This is not necessarily a philosophy of life, of course. It is, perhaps, more a mere conjecture, a psychological snapshot, a story that might one day become a philosophy of life given the right [wrong] set of circumstances.

      It all depends on just how wide the gap is between what you endure and what you imagine another doesn't. And as with most things you may eventually reach a point where you change your mind.

      I ought to know. I have changed my own lots of times.

      And doesn't it invariably come down to what you imagine another is feeling joyful about? If, say, it revolves precisely around what is making you feel miserable the envy can easily transfigure into rage. Then all bets are off.

      Yet Cioran seems intent here to focus the beam on what we know. As though he is willing to spare others his nihilisitic bent...a philosophy of life that might desecreate or obviate their joy. Or their illusions. Perhaps however he was not aware that, regarding the overwhelming preponderance of men and women you will ever meet, nothing we can know philosophically could be more irrelevant to either sadness or joy.

      Or, instead, was that his point?

      In any event, it makes you wonder: are they the lucky ones?


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