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The world disappears when you go into it. –Heidegger

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To those who consider themselves on the safe side of belief, she teaches the uncomfortable truth that the unbelief of many atheists is closer to a true love of God and a true sense of his nature than the easy faith which, never having experienced God, hangs a label bearing his name on some childish fantasy or projection of the ego. Like Kierkegaard, she preached the paradox of its being easier for a non-Christian to become a Christian than for a “Christian” to become one. To those who believe in a single Revelation, and enjoy the warm sensation of being saved in a cozy circle of friends, she expounded the doctrine of a gospel spread in many languages, or a divine Word shared among rival myths… For those to whom religion means comfort and peace of mind, she brings the terrible reminder that Christ promised not peace but the sword, and that his own last words were a cry of absolute despair, the “My God! My God! Why hast thou forsaken me!” which is the true glory of Christianity. To the unbeliever who has rather smugly despised the churchgoer for seeking an easy consolation, she reveals the secret of his own cowardice, suggesting that his agnosticism may itself be only an opiate, a dodge to avoid facing the terror of God’s reality and the awful burden of his love.

–Leslie A. Fiedler, 1951

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There are certain eras which are too complex, too deafened by contradictory and intellectual experiences, to hear the voice of sanity. Sanity becomes compromise, evasion, a lie. Ours is an age which consciously pursues health, yet only believes in the reality of sickness. The truths we respect are those born of affliction. [Writers such as Simone Weil] have their authority with us because of their air of unhealthiness. Their unhealthiness is their soundness, and is what carries conviction. …No one who loves life would wish to imitate her dedication to martyrdom nor would wish it for his children nor for anyone else whom he loves. Yet so far as we love seriousness, as well as life, we are moved by it, nourished by it. In the respect we pay to such lives, we acknowledge the presence of mystery in the world—and mystery is just what the secure possession of the truth, an objective truth, denies.

–Susan Sontag, 1963

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over the hills, and far away
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