Direct self-observation is not necessarily sufficient for us to know ourselves: we need history, for the past flows on within us in a hundred waves; indeed, we ourselves are nothing but that which at every moment we experience of this continual flowing. Even here, when we want to step down into the flow of what appears to be our ownmost and most personal being, the dictum of Heraclitus is valid: one does not step twice into the same river.
What you are seeking is a better age, a more beautiful world. It was this world that you embraced in your friends; with them you were this world…. It was not human beings that you wanted, believe me, you wanted a world. The loss of all golden centuries, as you felt them compressed into a single glorious moment, the spirit of all spirits of better ages, the power of all heroes’ powers: those were to be replaced for you by a single human being!
Strange! I am dominated at every moment by the thought that my history is not only a personal one, that I am doing something for many people when I live like this and work on and write about myself this way. It is always as if I were a multiplicity, which I address in intimate, serious, and comforting terms.
Discipline was Sun Ra's preachment - his major preachment. You know, Michael Ray told me, when they - you know, they practiced every day and they all lived in the same house, so they could get up - and I've seen them do it, when I did that interview in 1966 - and I was talking to Ra, he was sitting at the keyboard, it's about noon, and guys start appearing in this little three-room apartment. I looked over there and here's a guy climbing out from under the grand piano, where he's been sleeping, and I look over there by the window and here's a guy coming off his mat on the window ledge, he's been sleeping there, and another guy's sleeping here, on the couch. They get up, you know, and walk in, have a bowl of cereal, and put on whatever they were putting on - a shirt, or whatever - and then they could come in and, as each came in, Sun Ra would tell them what they working on that day, and they would start working. And they did this every day.
Wayne Kramer, interviewed in Sun Ra: Interviews and Essays
My dear friend, I feel as though it has been ages since you wrote. Yet perhaps I deceive myself: the days are so long, I no longer know what I am supposed to do with them. All my 'interests' have gone missing. In the deepest part of me an immovable, black melancholy holds sway. Otherwise, weariness. Mostly in bed. Also it's the most rational thing to do for myself. I've lost a great deal of weight; people are amazed. Now I've found a good trattoria and will fatten myself up once more. However, the worst thing is this: I can no longer seize on any reason why I should live for another six months. I am deprived, and I suffer too much. Further, I've begun to grasp the imperfections, the mistakes, and the genuine calamities of my entire intellectual past, which are inconceivably vast. It is too late to make up for them; I won't be doing anything good anymore. why do anything at all! -
My existence is a terrible burden: I would have cast it off long ago if I hadn't been conducting the most instructive tests and experiments in the intellectual and ethical domains precisely during this period of illness and almost total deprivation - this joyfulness, thirsting after knowledge, brings me to heights where I triumph over all martyrdoms and all hopelessness. On the whole, I'm happier than ever before in my life. And yet! Constant pain, a feeling of being half-paralyzed, a condition closely related to seasickness, during which I find it difficult to speak - this feeling lasts several hours a day. For my diversion i have raging seizures (the most recent one forced me to vomit for three days and three nights; I thirsted after death). Can't read! Only seldom can I write! Can't deal with my follows! Can't listen to music!
I am at the end of my thirty-fifth year; the 'middle of life' they have called it now for a millennium and a half. Dante had his vision during this period; he speaks of it in the opening lines of his poem. And now in the very midst of life I am so 'surrounded by death' that it could seize me at any hour. Given the nature of my illness, I am forced to think of a sudden death, due to convulsions (although I would a hundred times prefer a slow, lucid death, during which one could still speak to friends, even if it should be a more painful one). Thus I now feel like the most ancient of men, also in the sense that I have fulfilled my life's work. a good drop of oil has been pressed from me, I know, and they will not forget that about me ...
Nietzsche, letter to Koeslitz, September 11th 1879