Prose on the art of eulogy
“Almost all of our sorrows spring out of our relations with other people,” says Schopenhauer.
The pessimist always experiences a perverse joy in having his worldview confirmed, especially if he is gifted with a penchant for self-doubt. He is scoured down by his own selective despisings and rendered mute when confronted by the miseries of the world which he has proven so intent on discovering. Alas, he forgets his attention is selective.
And at the last his body is as old as his mind was in youth: he has never liked the world, nor seen in it any purpose save the biological. At every mention of the word “spiritual” he cocks his head and laughs in the company of his inferiors. He is near death and reminds himself that, as a body on a locomotive satellite, he has along with the children of the species hovered always near death.
His is a mindset which the ancient world would have revered. Now, however, since survival has been democratized and the old, it is said, deserve no especial respect merely for being old—it is no accomplishment if it is common—the pessimist finds himself as alone as he always said he was. Life proves to him to have been the endless trauma of his earliest conception. His formula edifies him. He is proud of himself for one thing alone: he has not acted on the veneered psychopathy which he considers fundamental to the species, rather than a personal trait he has well hidden. He, a calm predator in a pack of predators, has saved face.
He dies an adolescent, a very old one. True to form, as the pastor opens his bible, the few people who attend his funeral out of propriety think collectively, “The art of eulogy is the height of wishful thinking.”