We believed once in the victory of truth; but we do not now. We believed in our fellow men; but we do not now. We believed in goodness; but we do not now. We were zealous for justice; but we are not so now. We trusted in the power of kindness and peaceableness; we do not now. We were capable of enthusiasm; but we are not so now. To get through the shoals and storms of life more easily we have lightened our craft, throwing overboard what we thought could be spared. But it was really our stock of food and drink of which we deprived ourselves; our craft is now easier to manage, but we ourselves are in decline.

–Albert Schweitzer

And this is the simple truth—that to live is to feel oneself lost—he who accepts it has already begun to find himself, to be on firm ground.

Instinctively, as do the shipwrecked, he will look round for something to which to cling, and that tragic, ruthless glance, absolutely sincere, because it is a question of his salvation, will cause him to bring order into the chaos of his life.

These are the only genuine ideas; the ideas of the shipwrecked. All the rest is rhetoric, posturing, farce.

He who does not really feel himself lost, is without remission; that is to say, he never finds himself, never comes up against his own reality.


The Cage in Search of a Bird, by Robert Pack

My destiny is not my own
Said the cage in search of a bird.
I am defined by what I do,
And when I’m empty, I’m absurd.
So I will find a willing bird
Who knows the limit of the skies
With wings that feel the chain his song
Must hold him in until he dies.
And he will make my bars his home
Beyond all vistas of the air,
And sing his song to me alone
Inside the echoes of despair.
And if some other bird should stop
While flying south and look and spin
About and say, “You can’t get out,”
He would reply, “You can’t get in.”

“One of the reasons that knowledge is in a state of useless overproduction is that it is strewn all over the place, spoken in a thousand competitive voices. Its insignificant fragments are magnified out of proportion, while its major and world-historical insights lie around begging for attention. There is no throbbing center. …There has to be revealed the harmony that unites many different positions, so that the ‘sterile and ignorant polemics’ can be abated.

“I have had the growing realization over the past few years that the problem of man’s knowledge is not to oppose and to demolish opposing views, but to include them in a larger theoretical structure.”

–Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death, 1973

In a Dark Time, by Theodore Roethke

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;   
I hear my echo in the echoing wood—
A lord of nature weeping to a tree.
I live between the heron and the wren,   
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

What’s madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day’s on fire!   
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.   
That place among the rocks—is it a cave,   
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,   
And in broad day the midnight come again!   
A man goes far to find out what he is—
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,   
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.   
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,   
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.   
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,   
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

Stop faking once you’ve made it.

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