XXXIV. on Schopenhauer and pessimism

Certain it is that work, worry, labour and trouble, form the lot of almost all men their whole life long. But if all wishes were fulfilled as soon as they arose, how would men occupy their lives? What would they do with their time? If the world were a paradise of luxury and ease, a land flowing with milk and honey, where every Jack obtained his Jill at once and without any difficulty, men would either die of boredom or hang themselves; or there would be wars, massacres, and murders; so that in the end mankind would inflict more suffering on itself then it has now to accept at the hands of Nature.

I think about these lines — or this concept — often. Pessimism has, in the mainstream, & even amongst many philosophers, come to be synonymous with unhappiness, with glumness, & with nihilism; that to be a pessimist is to be a weak person, to give up your hands to Fate. I think it has in it this implication: because there are many things that should make a man unhappy, I will be unhappy.

Schopenhauer’s passage is the traditional starting point of Pessimism (capital “P” for emphasis); it is only stating truths, and drawing no conclusions other than those which are clear from Nature and experience (we know of the mouse utopia). But from there he can make all the assumptions and jumps he needs, & there is little argument for how well he makes them. Appealing to the brute’s way of life, having children only as a thoughtless act…. Pessimism is (and should be) a great way to embrace the struggles in life, and once the strife is accepted, & you understand that you have to work, worry, labour and trouble, you can find allconsuming happiness (however fleeting) in meaningful ways. Good as a positive, but also not as the absence of evil; we need not turn to God.

XXVII. on coffee and James Joyce — II.

Making my very—very, very—slow way through James Joyce’s Ulysses, & coming to a lot of conclusions (or I suppose they are tentatively putaside questions) about my own writing, & about life in general.

—History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to wake.
From the playfield the boys raised a shout. A whirring whistle: goal. What if that nightmare gave you a back kick?
—The ways of the Creator are not our ways, Mr Deasy said. All human history moves towards one great goal, the manifestation of God.
Stephen jerked his thumb towards the window, saying:
—That is God.
Hooray! Ay! Whrrwhee!
—What? Mr Deasy asked.
—A shout in the street, Stephen answered, shrugging his shoulders.

What is God? If there is no belief in Him—and there is, clearly, worldwide belief in Him, but I mean personally—then what do we strive for? I believe it is a form of human perfection that is only temporary in concept and likely impossible in form and matter, but the concept and the strife and the striving is important. we create ourselves; & in doing so our society, our history, our God. I do not believe in God, but I believe Joyce speaks truth. / I wish I had a greater understanding of this God.

XX. on coffee & James Joyce

Warm sunshine merrying over the sea. the nickel shavingbowl shone, forgotten, on the parapet. Why should I bring it down? Or leave it there all day, forgotten friendship?

Started reading Ulysses by James Joyce. Had to start at some point, regardless. It’s a long slog and joy ahead, but it’s been a while since I’ve struggled through any literature; I’ve been going rather easy on my brain. / Through this, even the literary complexity of my own writing has been dropping. Reading Joyce now, & skimming through writing of mine from not even eight months ago I am noticing techniques and turns of phrase that I used to use but had forgotten. / I usually avoid reading too much while I’m writing because there’s always the tendency to drift away from your own voice and lean into someone else’s, but perhaps that was a thing that I had also learnt through my formative years; maybe my voice is strong enough now to more easily resist someone else’s slipping into my work; can it stand on it’s own two feet? / I don’t know the truth in that, but I’d like to believe it. This should be easier, after all, the first time I read Joyce, — an old copy of his poetry and then Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man — I found our styles comparable, this happened also with Mervyn Peake and his Titus Groan books.

Does anyone else try to limit the amount they read when they write? / Or conversely, does anyone feel that reading another person’s writing enlightens their own, & affects it as inspiration?

XI. on Jakob Wassermann’s My First Wife

I’m reading My First Wife by Jakob Wassermann and enjoying it! I haven’t based my writing off it as I usually do, but it has made me a much more intelligent writer. I recommend it. / It also touches on the theme which most terrifies me; — but also sates my most morbid fascination — insane women. it touches on it and doesn’t go the whole way. / before I read this I read Play it as it Lays by Jean Didion, at the behest of one of my favourite ever people, which also touches on it but doesn’t go the whole way. / this fascination comes from my mother and from my first real relationship. / it is the reason that Polanski’s Repulsion is one of the worst (and one of the best) experiences I’ve ever had.

anyway, Ganna is a communist shitlord.