Sunday, January 05, 2014

Complexity, Anxiety, Happiness

Two observations from Cyril Connolly's Unquiet Grave:

"Angst is inherent in the uncoiling of the ego, the tapeworm, the ver solitaire. It dwells in the Lacrimæ Rerum, in the contrasting of the Past with the present. It lurks in old loves and old letters or in our despair at the complexity of modern life" (Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave, 1944, p.43).

"Everything is a dangerous drug to me except reality, which is unendurable. Happiness is in the imagination. What we perform is always inferior to what we imagine; yet day-dreaming brings guilt; there is no happiness except through freedom from Angst and only creative work, communion with nature, and helping others are anxiety-free." (p. 37-8)


Presskorn said...

I've grown somewhat suspecious of the philosophical fetich for 'anxiety'. As if anxiety (the experience of the abyss of my freedom) was somehow more real than fear (the dog who wants to bite me)....

Thomas said...

All I can say is that Connolly makes a good case. He can at least convince me that for some people anxiety is a very important, necessary, inexorable condition of their existence.

It is, of course, precisely because, if we are to be honest about, there is nothing to fear, that anxiety presents itself as a concern for modern, Western, wealthy, bourgeois man?

How rarely we meet a dog that wants to really bite us? And when we do, Connolly would probably suggest we are "communing with nature", and therefore anxiety-free!