Reading a biography of Arthur Schopenhauer. He painted the world in shades of misery, but he suffered most from himself. His biting intelligence, monstrous pride and paranoia created a philosophy of acerbic denial, elegant justification for his contemptuous conduct. He wrote beautifully of non-attachment while maintaining a grim death grip on his talents, inherited wealth and habits.
The translation of the biography is stiff and clunky, unintentionally comical at times. Worth reading for the subject and those moments when the phrasing gets goofy. I like how Artie would hang out in cafes and annoy the shit out of people. A disagreeable person to the bitter end, but redeemable because of his wit and style. He has my vote for smoothest style of any philosopher. Nietzsche is more theatrical, more bombastic and thunderous, but Schopie knew how to make the pen glide. He would skate across the page.
I cherish his mockery of conceptual effrontery. He railed against the verbal excesses and pretensions of the philosophical spirit of his age. In a time when philosophy celebrated history, progress, human freedom and rationality, Schopenhauer exposed the dark, violent, irrational core of existence. There was no benevolent world spirit guiding the course of history, only a blind, senseless, eternally suffering and purposelessly striving will behind the world of representation and individuality.
There is no transcendence. No escape. There is only the clarity of understanding. The subject of knowing suspends the will in the realization that life is meaningless. The turmoil of clashing, illusory individuals gives way to the peace of comprehension. Did Schopenhauer ever feel that peace, did he ever know within himself the saintly calm that he put forth as an ideal? Or was he, like most of us, at war with himself and the world as he toiled to satisfy his vain desires?