You know: in a foolish, undiscriminating way, I've been happy these last few months. I don't know why. I just am. I love my friends; I love my pupils; I love what I read; I -- dammit -- love my thoughts. I love the taste of oranges.
Thornton Wilder in a letter to Gertrude Stein, Aug 14, 1936

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Certain things are within one's control at first, whereas the subsequent stages carry us along with a force all their own and leave us no way back. People who have jumped off a cliff retain no independent judgment and cannot offer resistance or slow the descent of their bodies in freefall: that irrevocable leap strips away all deliberation and regret, and they cannot help but arrive at an outcome they would have been free to reject at the outset. Just so, once the mind has submitted to anger, love, or the other passions, it's not allowed to check its onrush: its own weight and the downward-tending nature of vices must -- must -- carry it along and drive it to the depths.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, On Anger, 7(4)
Translated by Robert A. Caster
University of Chicago Press

1 comment:

  1. That's a problematic analogy between gravity and emotion. Perhaps Seneca should have listened to Artemidorus.

    It's amazing that there was no emotional taxonomy of the facial muscles until the 1960's. Emotions are difficult to control, but not in the same way gravity is.