Thursday, May 22

"Yossarian Lives"... (Part II)

“BUT HOW DO WE KNOW THEY ARE MISERABLE? Who is to say? I see it all the time. Very old people in nursing homes who many think are worthless and have no value to their lives...but who are we to say? Maybe they don’t see themselves as worthless. Maybe life still has some value for them, after all; or, they wouldn’t cling to it tooth and nail ... To be alive at all! Can that ever be totally worthless? Can life ever cease to be a gift? No matter even if one is conscious of it mostly through pain!”

And if one is not conscious of it at all — what then? An unprofitable line of thinking which leads nowhere — or precisely to the kind of state of affairs so common nowadays and which makes it so difficult to make a moral claim. Man is not a worm, nor are his values that of a worm. (And even a worm must find at least some value to its life — which it doubtlessly has — and no doubt clings to it “tooth and nail.”) Man creates his own “value.” He defines who he is and who he is not, and what it is to be a man and what is not. And it is not about the body and about living forever. It is about living well, virtuously, without fear, and overall in such a manner that wherever one goes people cry out, “Ecce homo!

Even at that hour when the grey sky of St. Petersburg is shrouded in total darkness and all its race of officials have dined and sated the...