Will be Damned

Portrait by Ludwig Sigismund Ruhl (1815)

Arthur Schopenhauer (born 22 February 1788)

Rather do we freely acknowledge that what remains after the entire abolition of will is for all those who are still full of will certainly nothing; but, conversely, to those in whom the will has turned and has denied itself, this our world, which is so real, with all its suns and milky ways – is nothing.”

Arthur lived in shadowlands;

His hated mother washed her hands

Of him, and his suicidal Dad’s

Echo – so he read Upanishads

And Kant, forming a new world-view

As bleak as stout, and yet he grew

Into determined sybarite,

The hope of Plato set in flight.

Not for him the hackneyed motto:

“quod approbo non reprobo,”

His fresh ‘gospel of resignation’*

The World as Will and Representation

Called the Will the thing-in-itself,

Put optimism on the shelf,

The Will is all, and always Evil:

Fight against that worldly Devil

And ultimately, welcome death: –

Dispensing with the shibboleth

Against its seeking, somehow thought

By Arthur to be tip-top sport.

Death will launch with its black sails

Whilst we repose on a bed of nails.

We doubt our sources more and more;

Senses, facts and qualms ignore:

And so, we remit, to Will

The life un-lived without the thrill.


(image by Tomruen)

[*Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy (1946), p. 785.]


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