The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.[Le seul moyen d’affronter un monde sans liberté est de devenir si absolument libre qu’on fasse de sa propre existence un acte de révolte.]
How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people – first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy.
After the bare requisites to living and reproducing, man wants most to leave some record of himself, a proof, perhaps, that he has really existed. He leaves his proof on wood, on stone or on the lives of other people. This deep desire exists in everyone, from the boy who writes dirty words in a public toilet to the Buddha who etches his image in the race mind. Life is so unreal. I think that we seriously doubt that we exist and go about trying to prove that we do.
You should divide your existence into two parts: live like a bourgeois, and think like a demigod.[Qu’il faut faire dans son existence deux parts: vivre en bourgeois et penser en demi-dieu.]
When we survey our lives and endeavors we soon observe that almost the whole of our actions and desires are bound up with the existence of other human beings.
What should I have known or written had I been a quiet, mercantile politician or a lord in waiting? A man must travel, and turmoil, or there is no existence.
What is significant in one’s own existence one is hardly aware, and it certainly should not bother the other fellow. What does a fish know about the water in which he swims all his life?
To be well fitted for the tragedy of existence (intellectual existence), one must have a working philosophy, a synthesis of things.
There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.
The one way of tolerating existence is to lose oneself in literature as in a perpetual orgy.[Le seul moyen de supporter l’existence c’est de s’étourdir dans la littérature comme dans une orgie perpétuelle.]
The burden of existence does not weigh on our shoulders when we are composing. It is true that the fatigue and the feeling of desertion that follow are all the more terrible. Let it be so, however.[La lassitude de l’existence ne nous pèse pas aux épaules quand nous composons. Il est vrai que les moments de fatigue et de délaissement qui suivent n’en sont que plus terribles, mais tant pis.]