[ExI] Two literary quotations

Robert Masters rob4332000 at yahoo.com
Fri Nov 20 15:42:11 UTC 2009

I found myself back in the sepulchral city resenting the sight of people hurrying through the streets to filch a little money from each other, to devour their infamous cookery, to gulp their unwholesome beer, to dream their insignificant and silly dreams.  They trespassed upon my thoughts.  They were intruders whose knowledge of life was to me an irritating pretense, because I felt so sure they could not possibly know the things I knew.  Their bearing, which was simply the bearing of commonplace individuals going about their business in the assurance of perfect safety, was offensive to me like the outrageous flauntings of folly in the face of a danger it is unable to comprehend.  I had no particular desire to enlighten them, but I had some difficulty in restraining myself from laughing in their faces, so full of stupid importance.  I daresay I was not very well at that time.  I tottered about the streets--there were various affairs to settle--grinning
 bitterly at perfectly respectable persons.  I admit my behavior was inexcusable, but then my temperature was seldom normal in these days....

		--Joseph Conrad, HEART OF DARKNESS

Again and again I am brought up against it, and again and again I resist it: THE VAST MAJORITY LACK AN INTELLECTUAL CONSCIENCE; indeed, it often seems to me that to demand such a thing is to be in the most populous cities as solitary as in a desert.  Everyone looks at you strangely and goes on working his scales, calling this good, that evil; nobody blushes for shame when you remark that the weights he is using are giving short weight--but nobody is annoyed with you either: perhaps they laugh at your doubts.  What I mean to say is: the VAST MAJORITY do not find it contemptible to believe this or that, and to live in accordance with this belief WITHOUT first being aware of the ultimate and securest reasons for and against it and without afterwards even taking the trouble to discover such reasons--the most gifted men and the noblest women are still among this 'vast majority'.  But what is good-heartedness, refinement and genius to me if the person
 possessing these virtues tolerates in himself slack feelings with respect to belief and judgement, if the DEMAND FOR CERTAINTY is not his innermost desire and profoundest need.... 

		--Nietzsche, THE GAY SCIENCE (Book One, section 2)

Rob Masters


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