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Osservazioni e ascolti

domenica 22 giugno 2014

Lev Tolstoy sulla disperazione esistenziale e sulle strategie per contrastarla

I found that for people of my circle there were four ways out of the terrible position in which we are all placed. The first was that of ignorance. It consists in not knowing, not understanding, that life is an evil and an absurdity. 

From [people of this sort] I had nothing to learn – one cannot cease to know what one does know.

The second way out is epicureanism. It consists, while knowing the hopelessness of life, in making use meanwhile of the advantages one has, disregarding the dragon and the mice, and licking the honey in the best way, especially if there is much of it within reach… 


That is the way in which the majority of people of our circle make life possible for themselves. Their circumstances furnish them with more of welfare than of hardship, and their moral dullness makes it possible for them to forget that the advantage of their position is accidental … and that the accident that has today made me a Solomon may tomorrow make me a Solomon's slave. 

The dullness of these people's imagination enables them to forget the things that gave Buddha no peace – the inevitability of sickness, old age, and death, which today or tomorrow will destroy all these pleasures.

The third escape is that of strength and energy. It consists in destroying life, when one has understood that it is an evil and an absurdity. A few exceptionally strong and consistent people act so. Having understood the stupidity of the joke that has been played on them, and having understood that it is better to be dead than to be alive, and that it is best of all not to exist, they act accordingly and promptly end this stupid joke, since there are means: a rope round one's neck, water, a knife to stick into one's heart, or the trains on the railways; and the number of those of our circle who act in this way becomes greater and greater, and for the most part they act so at the best time of their life, when the strength of their mind is in full bloom and few habits degrading to the mind have as yet been acquired…

The fourth way out is that of weakness. It consists in seeing the truth of the situation and yet clinging to life, knowing in advance that nothing can come of it. People of this kind know that death is better than life, but not having the strength to act rationally – to end the deception quickly and kill themselves – they seem to wait for something. 


This is the escape of weakness, for if I know what is best and it is within my power, why not yield to what is best? … The fourth way was to live like Solomon and Schopenhauer – knowing that life is a stupid joke played upon us, and still to go on living, washing oneself, dressing, dining, talking, and even writing books. 

This was to me repulsive and tormenting, but I remained in that position.

Da Confession, via Brain Pickings.

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