Evil, and mischief, and misery, and confusion, and vanity, and vexation of spirit, and death, and disease, and assassination, and war, and poverty, and pestilence, and famine, and avarice, and selfishness, and rancour, and jealousy, and spleen, and malevolence, and the disappointments of philanthropy, and the faithlessness of friendship, and the crosses of love—all prove the accuracy of your views, and the truth of your system; and it is not impossible that the infernal interruption of this fall downstairs may throw a colour of evil on the whole of my future existence.
There’s a dark lantern of the spirit,
Which none see by but those who bear it,
That makes them in the dark see visions
And hag themselves with apparitions,
Find racks for their own minds, and vaunt
Of their own misery and want.
Samuel Butler quoted in Thomas Love Peacock, Nightmare Abbey
Apollon, qui pleurait le trépas d’Hyacinthe,
Ne voulait pas céder la victoire à la mort.
Il fallait que son âme, adepte de l’essor,
Trouvât pour la beauté une alchimie plus sainte.
Donc, de sa main céleste il épuise, il éreinte
Les dons les plus subtils de la divine Flore.
Leurs corps brisés soupirent une exhalaison d’or
Dont il nous recueillait la goutte de l’Absinthe!
Aux cavernes blotties, aux palais pétillants,
Par un, par deux, buvez ce breuvage d’aimant.
Car c’est un sortilège, un propos de dictame;
Ce vin d’opal pale avortit la misère,
Ouvre de la beauté l’intime sanctuaire
— Ensorcelle mon cœur, extasie mon âme!
Apollo, who mourned at Hyacinthe’s demise,
Refused to concede this victory to Death.
Much better that the soul, adept in transformation,
Had to find a holy alchemy for beauty.
Thus with his celestial hand he drained and crushed
The subtlest harvest of the garden goddess,
The broken bodies of the herbs yielding a golden essence
From which we measure out our first drop—of Absinthe!
In lowly hovels and in glittering courts,
Alone, in pairs, drink up this potion of desire!
For it is sorcery—as one might say—
When the pale opal wine ends all misery,
Opens beauty’s most intimate sanctuary—
—Bewitches my heart, and exalts my soul in ecstasy!
Werner Herzog talks about the jungle. From Burden of Dreams, about the making of Fitzcarraldo. [HT Erik Davis]
“Nature here is violent, base. I wouldn’t see anything erotical here. I would see fornication and asphyxiation and choking and fighting for survival and growing and, just, rotting away. Of course there is a lot of misery, but it is the same misery that is all around us. The trees here are in misery. The birds are in misery. I don’t think they sing. They just screech in pain.
It’s a unfinished country. It is prehistorical. The only thing that is lacking is the dinosaur, yeah. It is like a curse laying on the entire landscape. And whoever goes too deep into this, has his share of that curse. So, we are cursed with what we are doing here. It’s a land that God, if he exists, has created in anger. It’s the only land where creation is unfinished yet. Taking a close look at what’s around us, there is some sort of a harmony. It is the harmony of overwhelming and collective murder. And we, in comparison to the articulate vileness and baseness and obscenity of all this jungle, we in comparison to that enormous articulation, we only sound and look like badly pronounced and half-finished sentences out of a stupid suburban novel, a cheap novel. And we have to become humble in front of this overwhelming misery and overwhelming fornication and overwhelming growth and overwhelming lack of order. Even the stars, the stars appear in the sky, look like a mess. There is no harmony in the universe. We have to get acquainted to this idea that there is no real harmony as we have conceived it. But, when I say this, I say this all full of admiration for the jungle. It is not that I hate it. I love it. I love it very much. But, I love it against my better judgement.”
“I passed, confounded, lifeless as the clay,
Somewhere I knew not. Many a dismal league
Of various terror wove me its intrigue,
And many a demon daunted: day by day
Death dogged despair, and misery fatigue.” [via]
The Great Dictator by Charlie Chaplin
“I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an Emperor, that’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another, human beings are like that. We all want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone.
The way of life can be free and beautiful. But we have lost the way.
Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate;
has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.
We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in:
machinery that gives abundance has left us in want.
Our knowledge has made us cynical,
our cleverness hard and unkind.
We think too much and feel too little:
More than machinery we need humanity;
More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness.
Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.
The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me I say “Do not despair”.
The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress: the hate of men will pass and dictators die and the power they took from the people, will return to the people and so long as men die liberty will never perish …
Soldiers: don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you, who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder.
Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines. You are not cattle. You are men. You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don’t hate, only the unloved hate. Only the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers: don’t fight for slavery, fight for liberty.
In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written:
“The kingdom of God is within man”
Not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men; in you, the people.
You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy let’s use that power, let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfill their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfill that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.
Soldiers! In the name of democracy, let us all unite!”