Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Like a doornail

The French writer Voltaire (Francois-Marie Arouet) died on this day in 1788. On his deathbed, he supposedly said to a priest who was urging him to renounce Satan:

"My good man, now is no time to be making enemies."

Of real enemies, Voltaire had many. Here is how one of them reacted to his death:

"The godless arch-scoundrel Voltaire is dead! Dead like a dog, like a beast!" -- Mozart.

Also on this day, in 1431, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake for heresy.

From George Orwell:

"It is too readily assumed that 'non-attachment' is not only better than a full acceptance of earthly life, but that the ordinary man only rejects it because it is too difficult; in other words, that the average human being is a failed saint. It is doubtful whether this is true.

"Many people genuinely do not wish to be saints, and it is probable that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never felt much temptation to be human beings.

"If one could follow it to its psychological roots, one would, I believe, find that the main motive for 'non-attachment' is a desire to escape from the pain of living."