1) from Schopenhauer's On the Suffering of the World
If the immediate and direct purpose of our life is not suffering then our existence is the most ill-adapted to its purpose in the world.
This is also consistent with the fact that as a rule we find pleasure much less pleasurable, pain much more painful than we expected.
A quick test of the assertion that enjoyment outweighs pain in this world, or that they are at any rate balanced, would be to compare the feelings of an animal engaged in eating another with those of the animal being eaten.
The most effective consolation in every misfortune and every affliction is to observe others who are more unfortunate than we: and everyone can do this. But what does that say for the condition of the whole?
Not least of the torments which plague our existence is the constant pressure of time . . . It ceases to persecute only him it has delivered over to boredom.
With man sexual gratification is tied to a very obstinate selectivity which is sometimes intensified into a more or less passionate love. Thus sexuality becomes for man a source of brief pleasure and protracted suffering.
In our early youth we sit before the life that lies ahead of us like children sitting before the curtain in a theatre, in happy and tense anticipation of whatever is going to appear. Luckily we do not know what will really appear.
You can also look upon our life as an episode unprofitably disturbing the blessed calm of nothingness.
Would each of us not rather have felt so much pity for the coming generation as to prefer to spare it the burden of existence, or at least not wish to take it upon himself to impose that burden upon it in cold blood?
Even if Leibniz's demonstration that this is the best of all possible worlds were correct, it would still not be a vindication of divine providence. For the Creator created not only the world, he also created possibility itself: therefore he should have created the possibility of a better world than this one.
The conviction that the world, and therefore man too, is something which really ought not to exist is in fact calculated to instill in us indulgence towards one another: for what can be expected of beings placed in such a situation as we are? [This] reminds us of what are the most necessary of all things: tolerance, patience, forbearance and charity, which each of us needs and which each of us therefore owes.
2) On the Glowing of Kensington
Evening, dark, cold-ish, very clear. The last night of November. I've put down my large wokful of 10-Superfood stir fry and but become aware that the non-native is restless tonight. I bundle up and trundle out, zigzagging through the dark and leafy and be-cobblestoned back alleys of Kensington, south of the High Street. Under a high archway, down a narrow bush-walled path, back into an full-sized, but trafficless, road. There I pass my erstwhile local, the Builders Arms W8; the tables and leather couches within, behind bright glass, are thronged with the social and the tippling.
Finally I emerge onto Kensington Road, across from Kensington Gardens, which is chained and dark at this hour. (This hour is only about 8pm; but, this time of year, this latitude, it begins to get dark around 3:30pm.) I turn east, the park on my left, heading toward the Albert Memorial and Royal Albert Hall both of which I know will be lit up inspiringly. Along the way, I begin to pass Christmas lights white and bright and thick and lovely and festive. I begin to whistle "It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas". I love to whistle that at this time of year.
It's cold, in a nice way. The lights work well in it. I'm thinking how great this is. I'm thinking how silly I've been for giving up evening walks lately. I'm thinking that, for once, this right here is what I'm actually meant to be doing what I'm in London for. What could be better than taking an evening stroll in Kensington on a clear night looking at Christmas lights? Doing it with agreeable company, I suppose . . .
The Albert Memorial comes into view with a quite pregnant moon behind it. It, and Royal Albert Hall, grand as they are, seem less striking than the more quotidian sights along the way. I reverse course, turn south down Queens Gate, and pop into the Gore Hotel. They've got Belvedere at the bar. I have one, with tonic. It is hugely tasty and warming.
I walk home.