I Take Fright

“When I consider the brief span of my life absorbed into the eternity which precedes and will succeed it—memoria hospitis unius diei praetereuntis—the small space I occupy and which I see swallowed up in the infinite immensity of spaces of which I know nothing and which know nothing of me, I take fright and am amazed to see myself here rather than there: there is no reason for me to be here rather than there, now rather than then. Who put me here? By whose command and act were this place and time allotted to me?”

— Pascal



n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

— John Koenig, from his 2012 Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Live Dangerously

The secret to harvesting the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment from existence is to live dangerously! Build your cities on the slope of Vesuvius! Send your ships into uncharted seas! Live in war with your equals and with yourselves! ... The time will soon be past when it will be enough for you to live like shy deer hiding in the woods. Eventually knowledge will stretch out her hand to take what is due to her.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

A wondrous and beauteous object

Interest there [in academic medicine] centers upon anatomical processes by which the anxiety condition comes about. We learn that the medulla oblongata is stimulated, and the patient is told that he is suffering from a neurosis of the vagal nerve. The medulla oblongata is a wondrous and beauteous object. I well remember how much time and labor I devoted to the study of it years ago. But today I must say I know of nothing less important for the psychological comprehension of anxiety than a knowledge of the nerve-paths by which the excitations travel.

- Sigmund Freud (from his General Introduction to Psychoanalysis)