Thursday, December 05, 2013

Strindberg: Life is a punishment!


September 3rd. 1904

Life is so horribly ugly, we human beings so abysmally evil, that if a writer were to describe all that he had seen and heard no one could bear to read it. I can think of people I have known, good, respectable, popular people, who have said or done things that I have crossed out, things I can never bring myself to mention and that I refuse to remem­ber. Breeding and education seem to do no more than mask the beast in us, and virtue is a disguise. Our highest achieve­ment is the concealment of our vileness.
life is so cynical that only a swine can be happy in it, and anyone who can see this hideous life as beautiful is a swine!

Sure enough, life is a punishment! A hell. For some a pur­gatory, for none a paradise.

We are absolutely forced to do evil and to torment our fellow men. It is all sham and delusion, lies, faithlessness, falsehood and self-deception. 'My dear friend' is my worst enemy. Instead of 'My beloved' one should write 'My hated'.


August Strindberg, From an Occult Diary, Penguin Books, 1979, translated from the French by Mary Sandbach

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