Once more with Russell’s Conquest today, and then it’s no more Happiness ’til 2017. All good things must pass, etc. But I agree with Russell,
“I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive. I am not young and I love life. But I should scorn to shiver with terror at the thought of annihilation. Happiness is nonetheless true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting. Many a man has borne himself proudly on the scaffold; surely the same pride should teach us to think truly about man’s place in the world. Even if the open windows of science at first make us shiver after the cosy indoor warmth of traditional humanizing myths, in the end the fresh air brings vigour, and the great spaces have a splendour of their own.” What I Believe
His final words in Conquest proclaim a happy transcendence (trans-end-dance, in Peter Ackroyd’s clever dissection) of death. A happy person
feels himself a citizen of the universe, enjoying freely the spectacle that it offers and the joys that it affords, untroubled by the thought of death because he feels himself not really separate from those who will come after him. It is in such profound instinctive union with the stream of life that the greatest joy is to be found.
The stream of life, the continuous human community, the river out of Eden… whatever you call it, it’s bigger than self, it’s life-affirming, and it’s immanent – all around us, our happy medium.
“There is no conclusion. What has concluded, that we might conclude in regard to it? There are no fortunes to be told, and there is no advice to be given.–Farewell!”
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