21 August 2013

"They Won't Keep Pace with Life, but Want to Go Faster"




"Look at you folk at Sellanraa, now; looking up at blue peaks every day of your lives; no new-fangled inventions about that, but fjeld and rocky peaks, rooted deep in the past—but you've them for companionship. There you are, living in touch with heaven and earth, one with them, one with all these wide, deep-rooted things. No need of a sword in your hands, you go through life bareheaded, barehanded, in the midst of a great kindliness. Look, Nature's there, for you and yours to have and enjoy. Man and Nature don't bombard each other, but agree; they don't compete, race one against the other, but go together. There's you Sellanraa folk, in all this, living there. Fjeld and forest, moors and meadow, and sky and stars—oh, 'tis not poor and sparingly counted out, but without measure. Listen to me, Sivert: you be content! You've everything to live on, everything to live for, everything to believe in; being born and bringing forth, you are the needful on earth. 'Tis not all that are so, but you are so; needful on earth. 'Tis you that maintain life. Generation to generation, breeding ever anew; and when you die, the new stock goes on. That's the meaning of eternal life. What do you get out of it? An existence innocently and properly set towards all. What you get out of it? Nothing can put you under orders and lord it over you Sellanraa folk, you've peace and authority and this great kindliness all round. That's what you get for it.

[...]

“Tis not money the country wants, there's more than enough of it already; 'tis men like your father there's not enough of. Ay, turning the means to an end in itself and being proud of it! They're mad, diseased; they don't work, they know nothing of the plough, only the dice. Mighty deserving of them, isn't it, working and wasting themselves to nothing in their own mad way. Look at them—staking everything, aren't they? There's but this much wrong with it all; they forget that gambling isn't courage, 'tis not even foolhardy courage, 'tis a horror. D'you know what gambling is? 'Tis fear, with the sweat on your brow, that's what it is. What's wrong with them is, they won't keep pace with life, but want to go faster—race on, tear on ahead, driving themselves into life itself like wedges. And then the flanks of them say: here, stop, there's something breaking, find a remedy; stop, say the flanks! And then life crushes them, politely but firmly crushes them. And then they set to complaining about life, raging against life! Each to his own taste; some may have ground to complain, others not, but there's none should rage against life. Not be stern and strict and just with life, but be merciful to it, and take its part; only think of the gamblers life has to bear with!”

Excerpt From: Hamsun, Knut. “Growth of the Soil.”

Don't worry, dulac, it's the last one; maybe you should reread Brideshead.

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