Let us face ourselves. We are Hyperboreans; we know very well how far off we live. “Neither by land nor by sea will you find the way to the Hyperboreans” … Beyond the north, ice, and death – our life, our happiness. We have discovered happiness, we know the way, we have found the exit out of the labyrinth of thousands of years. Who else has found it? Modern man perhaps? “I have got lost; I am everything that has got lost,” sighs modern man.
This modernity was our sickness: lazy peace, cowardly compromise, the whole virtuous uncleanliness of the modern Yes and No. This tolerance and largeur of the heart, which “forgives” all because it “understands” all, is sirocco for us. Rather live in the ice than among modern virtues and other south winds!
We were intrepid enough, we spared neither ourselves nor others; but for a long time we did not know where to turn with our intrepidity. We became gloomy, we were called fatalists. Our fatum – the abundance, the tension, the damming of strength. We thirsted for lightning and deeds and were most remote
from the happiness of the weakling, “resignation.” In our atmosphere was a thunderstorm; the nature we are became dark – for we saw no way. Formula for our happiness: a Yes, a No, a straight line, a goal.
~ Friedrich Nietzsche
The One Thing Needful
One thing is needful. — To “give style” to one’s character– a great and rare art! It is practiced by those who survey all the strengths and weaknesses of their nature and then fit them into an artistic plan until every one of them appears as art and reason and even weaknesses delight the eye. Here a large mass of second nature has been added; there a piece of original nature has been removed — both times through long practice and daily work at it. Here the ugly that could not be removed is concealed; there it has been reinterpreted and made sublime. Much that is vague and resisted shaping has been saved and exploited for distant views; it is meant to beckon toward the far and immeasurable. In the end, when the work is finished, it becomes evident how the constraint of a single taste governed and formed everything large and small. Whether this taste was good or bad is less important than one might suppose, if only it was a single taste!
It will be the strong and domineering natures that enjoy their finest gaiety in such constraint and perfection under a law of their own; the passion of their tremendous will relaxes in the face of all stylized nature, of all conquered and serving nature. Even when they have to build palaces and design gardens they demur at giving nature freedom.
Conversely, it is the weak characters without power over themselves that hate the constraint of style. They feel that if this bitter and evil constraint were imposed upon them they would be demeaned; they become slaves as soon as they serve; they hate to serve. Such spirits — and they may be of the first rank — are always out to shape and interpret their environment as free nature: wild, arbitrary, fantastic, disorderly, and surprising. And they are well advised because it is only in this way that they can give pleasure to themselves. For one thing is needful: that a human being should attain satisfaction with himself, whether it be by means of this or that poetry or art; only then is a human being at all tolerable to behold. Whoever is dissatisfied with himself is continually ready for revenge, and we others will be his victims, if only by having to endure his ugly sight. For the sight of what is ugly makes one bad and gloomy.
~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Man is in a state of servitude. He frequently does not notice he is a slave, and sometimes he loves it. It would be a mistake to think that the average man loves freedom. A still greater mistake would be to suppose that freedom is an easy thing.
~ N. Berdyaev
This world is so ordered that we must, in a material sense, lose everything we have and love, one thing after another, until we ourselves close our eyes upon the whole. It is hard for the natural man to bear this thought, but experience forces it upon him if he has the capacity of really learning anything. We should not set our hearts, then, on a material possession of anything, but our happiness should be made to lie in this, that whatever we possess for a time should reveal the ideal good to us and make us better in ourselves. The truly unfortunate are those persons who have never known anything worth living for, any noble and natural characters, any true happiness, or any beautiful thoughts and things. But those who have known such things and grown like them can never be truly unhappy because they carry the sweetness and truth within themselves which alone make a happiness worth having.
~ George Santayana
Opposite to the coast of Celtic Gaul there is an island in the ocean, not smaller than Sicily, lying to the North — which is inhabited by the Hyperboreans, who are so named because they dwell beyond the North Wind. This island is of a happy temperature, rich in soil and fruitful in everything, yielding its produce twice in the year. Tradition says that Latona was born there, and for that reason, the inhabitants venerate Apollo more than any other God. They are, in a manner, his priests, for they daily celebrate him with continual songs of praise and pay him abundant honours.
In this island, there is a magnificent grove of Apollo, and a remarkable temple, of a round form, adorned with many consecrated gifts. There is also a city, sacred to the same God, most of the inhabitants of which are harpers, who continually play upon their harps in the temple, and sing hymns to the God, extoling his actions. The Hyperboreans use a peculiar dialect, and have a remarkable attachment to the Greeks, especially to the Athenians and the Delians, deducing their friendship from remote periods. It is related that some Greeks formerly visited the Hyperboreans, with whom they left consecrated gifts of great value, and also that in ancient times Abaris, coming from the Hyperboreans into Greece, renewed their family intercourse with the Delians.
It is also said that in this island the moon appears very near to the earth, that certain eminences of a terrestrial form are are plainly seen in it, that Apollo visits the island once in a course of nineteen years, in which period the stars complete their revolutions, and that for this reason the Greeks distinguish the cycle of nineteen years by the name of “the great year”. During the season of his appearance the God plays upon the harp and dances every night, from the vernal equinox until the rising of the Pleiades, pleased with his own successes. The supreme authority in that city and the sacred precinct is vested in those who are called Boeadae, being the descendants of Boreas, and their governments have been uninterruptedly transmitted in this line.
The ethical view of the universe involves us at last in so many cruel and absurd contradictions, where the last vestiges of faith, hope, charity, and even of reason itself seem ready to perish, that I have come to suspect that the aim of creation cannot be ethical at all. I would fondly believe that its object is purely spectacular; a spectacle for awe, love, adoration, or hate, if you like, but in this view — and in this view alone– never for despair!
Those visions, delicious or poignant, are a moral end in themselves. The rest is our affair –the laughter, the tears, the tenderness, the indignation, the high tranquillity of a steeled heart, the detached curiosity of a subtle mind– that’s our affair!
And the unwearied self-forgetful attention to every phase of the living universe, reflected in our consciousness may be our appointed task on this earth–a task in which fate had perhaps engaged nothing of us except our conscience, gifted with a voice in order to bear true testimony to the visible wonder, the haunting terror, the infinite passion, and the illimitable serenity; to the supreme law and the abiding mystery of the sublime spectacle.
~ Joseph Conrad
The art of life is first to be alive, secondly to be alive in a satisfactory way, and thirdly to acquire an increase in satisfaction. … the function of Reason [is] the promotion of the art of life.
~ A. N. Whitehead
It is better to think a strong, clear thought with conviction than it is to entertain, in swift succession, any number of indifferent thoughts. The man who can control his thought can control his destiny; the man who can control his thought can control his environment; the man who can control his thought can control his own mental, spiritual, and physical reactions to life. Our trouble is that in some cases we desire to hold or control our thoughts, and in others we do not. We naturally desire to have those things which we want, but we are not always willing to stop believing in the things we do not want. There seems to be a certain instinctive morbidity in us, a certain minor strain which, of course, comes out of the gloom, as it were, of the universal disappointment and fear of the race mind.
~ Ernest Holmes
In that moment I lost completely the illusion of time and space: the world unfurled its drama simultaneously along a meridian which had no axis. In this sort of hair-trigger eternity I felt that everything was justified, supremely justified; I felt the wars inside me that had left behind this pulp and wrack; I felt the crimes that were seething here to emerge tomorrow in blatant screamers; I felt the misery that was grinding itself out with pestle and mortar, the long dull misery that dribbles away in dirty handkerchiefs. On the meridian of time there is no injustice: there is only the poetry of motion creating the illusion
of truth and drama. If at any moment anywhere one comes face to face with the absolute, that great sympathy which makes men like Gautama and Jesus seem divine freezes away; the monstrous thing is not that men have created roses out this dung heap, but that, for some reason or other, they should want roses. For some
reason or other man looks for the miracle, and to accomplish it he will wade through blood. He will debauch himself with ideas, he will reduce himself to a shadow if for only one second of his life he can close his eyes to the hideousness of reality. Everything is endured — disgrace, humiliation, poverty, war, crime, ennui — in the belief that overnight something will occur, a miracle, which will render life tolerable. And all the while a meter is running inside and there is no hand that can reach in there and shut it off.
Somehow the realization that nothing was to be hoped for had a salutary effect upon me. For weeks and months, for years, in fact, all my life I had been looking forward to something happening, some extrinsic event that would alter my life, and now suddenly, inspired by the absolute hopelessness of everything, I
felt relieved, felt as though a great burden had been lifted from my shoulders.
~ Henry Miller