Self-annihilation, No?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Dear Maud,

‘If the good man had foreknowledge of what would happen, he would cooperate toward his own sickness and death and mutilation, since he knows that these things are assigned to him according to the universal arrangement.’

Well, Maud – what are we to make of that!

Nothing for now; consider, first, its speaker, the slave-cum-sage Epictetus, who cannot be accused of not putting his money (of which he had little) where his mouth is. For, as it is written, ‘when his master was twisting his leg, Epictetus only smiled and noted calmly, “You will break it,” and when it was broken, “I told you so.”’

Not for nowt is he known as a Stoic!

Which brings me (or ought to) to my point, Maud, which is moot: having sought and gained selfhood, why now do we seek to extinguish it?

Do we, you wonder. Well, yes – take last night, for a start. Queenless, this right royal fool half-watched four films, all of them gloriously bad. Self-annihilation, no? (Stupidity, you mutter.)

To prove – or obscure? – my point, I cite Goethe’s Young Werther: ‘Dear God in heaven, was this the Fate Thou hast ordained for Man: that he should only be happy before he has yet attained his reason, or after he has lost it again?’

Werther lost it, of course, when he blasted out his brains.

Fortunately, Maud, I am not he; whereas Werther lacked ‘sour dough in [his] life to set it working and rising’, I have leavened my life – this morning, at least – with two golden bars of home-baked bread.

No number of unwholesome ruminations can keep a good loaf down!

Yours etc.