P. Sloterdijk – You Must Change Your Life

A first enlightenment came about when the spiritual teachers showed that humans are not so much possessed by demons as controlled by automatisms. They are not assailed by evil spirits, but by routines and inertias that force them to the ground and deform them. What impair their reason are not chance errors and occasional errors of perception – it is the eternal recurrence of the cliches that render true thought and free perception impossible.

Next to Gautama Buddha, Plato was the first epidemiologist of the spirit: he recognized everyday opinion, the doxa, the pestilence that does not kill, but does occasionally poison entire communities. Empty phrases that have sunk down into the body produce ‘characters ‘. They mould humans into living caricatures of averageness and turn them into incarnated platitudes.

T. Pynchon – Sloth: Nearer, My Couch, to Thee

It is of course precisely in such episodes of mental traveling that writers are known to do good work, sometimes even their best, solving formal problems, getting advice from Beyond, having hypnagogic adventures that with luck can be recovered later on. Idle dreaming is often of the essence of what we do. We sell our dreams.

 

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Byron – Cain

Souls who dare use their immortality—

Souls who dare look the Omnipotent tyrant in

His everlasting face, and tell him that

His evil is not good! If he has made,

As he saith—which I know not, nor believe—

But, if he made us—he cannot unmake:

We are immortal!—nay, he’d have us so,

That he may torture:—let him! He is great—

But, in his greatness, is no happier than

We in our conflict! Goodness would not make

Evil; and what else hath he made? But let him

Sit on his vast and solitary throne—

Creating worlds, to make eternity

Less burthensome to his immense existence

M. Proust – Swann’s Way

…she concluded with the wisdom invariably shewn by people who, not being in love themselves, feel that a clever man ought to be unhappy only about such persons as are worth his while; which is rather like being astonished that anyone should condescend to die of cholera at the bidding of so insignificant a creature as the common bacillus.

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