Tag Archives: Clarence Darrow

What is life, anyway?*

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What is life, anyway? For that is a practical question. What is it that we should prize it so highly? Do any of you dare tell the truth to yourselves? There is not a person in this audience that dares tell himself the truth about life. Do you remember the story- I believe it came from Homer- about some shipwrecked mariners who were cast upon an island. And, in that island was a great giant with one eye, and that eye had been put out. But, somehow or other, he managed to get all these people into an iron cage, and; every morning he would come out for breakfast, run his arms into the iron cage and feel this one and that one to see which was the fattest, take him off and cook him for breakfast. No one knew whose turn would come next. Each one knew that his time was near, that he might be next. That is life, isn’t it? A great insane, purposeless, uncontrolled, uncontrollable, hand, reaching down, without though or design or pity, taking this and that, as the case may be, inevitable, unfailingly, and yet we are optimists! Do you want to live your lives over, any of you! Would I want to? Would anybody want to? There might be vagrant parts of my life, strong sensations, pleasant memories. But barring those, the time I would want to live over, would be the time I was asleep- that is the time I was dead- that is all. And every weary person comes home at night happy in the thought that he can sleep. And if he cannot sleep without it, he takes dope to make him sleep, because forgetfulness is the best of all. Continue reading

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To whom all the roses nod and all the stars wink…*

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I remember reading a while ago a statement of Anatole France. He said that the chief business of life is “killing time.” And so it is. What is the difference if we gather all the facts of the universe into our brains for the worms to eat? They might give the worms indigestion. What matters it how much we get together? It lasts but a short time. It never brings what we expect. All we get from it is the self-forgetfulness that comes from gathering it. We get from the gleaning the loss of self-consciousness, which after all is the only thing that makes life tolerable to the ordinary person, or the extraordinary for that matter. One can imagine nothing more tiresome and profitless than sitting down and thinking of one’s self. If you are bound to work and cannot avoid work, and can be lost in the work, it is the most tolerable life after all that one can have. Now, I never was industrious. I could prove that by a number of people here tonight. Still, I have always worked. Some task is always waiting for me and someone always calling to me. And I could not avoid the task or ignore the call. So the sixty-one years of my life have slipped by and I have scarcely known it. Continue reading

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