People who never think, frequently enquire of those who do think, what has been the use of philosophy?
Philosophy: A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.
[Ah, but] why is art beautiful? Because it’s useless. Why is life ugly? Because it’s all aims, objectives and intentions. All of its roads are for going from one point to another. If only we could have a road connecting a place no one ever leaves from to a place where no one goes! If only someone would devote his life to building a road from the middle of one field to the middle of another - a road that would be useful if extended at each end, but that would sublimely remain as only the middle stretch of road! The beauty of ruins? That they're no longer good for anything.
Imaginary View of the Grande Galerie in the Louvre in Ruins
All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusions is called a philosopher.
[Mais non!] The philosopher is a lover of wisdom and truth; to be a sage, is to avoid the senseless and the depraved... The sage is a physician of souls. He ought to bestow his remedies on those who ask them of him, and avoid the company of quacks, who will infallibly persecute him... He should at all times inculcate upon [the ignorant but well-meaning], that a hundred abstract dogmas are not of the value of a single good action, and that it is better to relieve one individual in distress, than to be profoundly acquainted with the abolishing and abolished.
Where is the citizen to be found among us who would deprive himself, like Julian, Antoninus, and Marcus Aurelius, of all the refined accommodations of our delicate and luxurious modes of living? Who would, like them, sleep on the bare ground? Who would restrict himself to their frugal habits? Who would, like them, march bare-headed and bare-footed at the head of the armies, exposed sometimes to the burning sun, and at other times to the freezing blast? Who would, like them, keep perfect mastery of all his passions? We have among us devotees, but where are the sages? where are the souls just and tolerant, serene and undaunted?
Marcus Aurelius Distributing Bread to the People
Never again shall I meet beings who swallow the nail of life.
Rembrandt van Rijn
Let us imagine a brutish state in which human corpses are left unburied as carrion for crows and dogs. Such bestial behavior clearly belongs to the world of uncultivated fields and uninhabited cities, in which people wandered like swine, eating acorns gathered amid the rotting corpses of their dead kin. This is why burials were rightly defined in a lofty Latin phrase as 'the covenants of the human race', foedera humani generis, and were characterized less grandly by Tacitus as 'exchanges of humanity', humanitatis commercia. Furthermore, all pagan nations clearly agree in the view that the souls of the unburied remain restless on the earth and wander around their corpses: which is to say, souls do not die with their bodies, but are immortal.
[Yes,] For the round suns that pass
are nothing next to the clubfoot,
of the vast articulation
of the old gangrenous leg,
old gangrenous ossuary leg,
ripening a shield of bones,
the warlike underground uprising
of the shields of all the bones.
What does this mean?
Capuchin Crypt, Rome
[That] thou art a little soul carrying around a corpse, as Epictetus used to say.
MICHEL de MONTAIGNE:
Archelaus… said that both men and beasts were made of a lacteous slime, expressed by the heat of the earth; Pythagoras says that our seed is the foam or cream of our better blood; Plato, that it is the distillation of the marrow of the back-bone...; Alcmeon, that it is part of the substance of the brain...; Democritus, that it is a substance extracted from the whole mass of the body; Epicurus, an extract from soul and body; Aristotle, an excrement drawn from the aliment of the blood, the last which is diffused over our members; others, that it is a blood concocted and digested by the heat of the genitals, which they judge, by reason that in excessive endeavors a man voids pure blood.
A Zed and Two Noughts
Time is everything, man is nothing; he is no more than the carcass of time.
'Tis but an hour ago since it was nine,
And after one hour more 'twill be eleven;
And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe,
And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;
And thereby hangs a tale.'