Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov (Love of Life)

“…I was just sitting here, and you know what I was thinking to myself? “Take away my belief in life, my trust in a good woman, destroy my faith in the order of things, convince me that everything is a disorderly, damnable, and perhaps devil-ridden chaos, drive me to despair at the thought of losing all earthy hope – I’ll still want to go on living and, having put this goblet to my lips, I would not tear them away until I had drained it! At thirty, though, I’ll probably throw the goblet away even if I haven’t emptied it, and turn away… where, I don’t know. But until I am thirty, I know that my youth will triumph over everything – every disillusionment, every disgust with life, everything. I’ve asked myself many times whether there is any despair on earth that could extinguish this frenzied, perhaps even indecent, thirst for life in me, and I’ve decided that there isn’t, at least not before I am thirty, and then I’ll probably lose it, or so I think. Some driveling, snivelling moralists – poets especially – often call this thirst for life base. This thirst for life, it’s true, it’s a typical Karamazov trait – in spite of everything you have it too – but why is it base? There’s a very strong centripetal force on our planet, Alyosha. I want to live, and I go on living in spite of all logic. Though I may not believe in the order of the universe, but I love the sticky little leaves as they open in spring, I love the blue sky, I love one or two people – though for the life of me I sometimes really wonder why. I love the occasional great deeds of men, and even though I’ve long ceased to believe in them, I can’t help respecting them… I want to travel to Europe, Alyosha, I’ll set off from here. I know  I’ll only be going to a graveyard, but it’s a most precious graveyard, that’s what it is! Precious are the dead that lie there, every stone over them speaks of such a burning life in the past, of such passionate faith in their achievements, their truth, their struggles and their learning, that I know I’ll fall on the ground and kiss those stones and weep over them – though I know in my heart that it’s long been nothing but a graveyard. And I won’t weep from despair, but simply out of happiness that I’m shedding tears. I’ll be intoxicated by my own emotions. I love the sticky leaves in spring, the blue sky – that’s all it is. There’s no sense in it, no logic, it’s instinct, it’s a gut feeling; one loves one’s first youthful impulses… Do you understand anything of my nonsense, Alyosha?” Ivan laughed suddenly.

– Book V: Pro And Contra, Chapter 3 – The Brothers Make Friends


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