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Maybe one of the hardest things is to see beyond your own society, to step out of the collective consciousness of your time, but it teaches you about things as nothing else does. You begin to see your own age not with understanding, perhaps, but with compassion. You see the weakness and smallness of things which are now great or powerful. Sights which might at other times have filled me with contempt now moved me to pity, such as the overdressed women with their jewels and their expensive clothes in the Caffè Greco, the pity you might feel for bones found in an ancient tomb, a priceless ring on each fingerbone. I pity them their deaths in a way that they do not pity themselves, and I pity them for their faith in frail mortal things, for not knowing that there will be nothing left but weeds and broken stones.
Deirdre Madden, Remembering Light and Stone (Faber and Faber, 1992)
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Suppressing the fear of death makes it all the stronger. The point is only to know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that “I” and all other “things” now present will vanish, until this knowledge compels you to release them — to know it now as surely as if you had just fallen off the rim of the Grand Canyon. Indeed, you were kicked off the edge of a precipice when you were born, and it’s no help to cling to the rocks falling with you. If you are afraid of death, be afraid. The point is to get with it, to let it take over — fear, ghosts, pains, transience, dissolution, and all.
Alan Watts, The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
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When Kleinzeit opened the door of his flat Death was there, black and hairy and ugly, no bigger than a medium-sized chimpanzee with dirty fingernails.
Not all that big, are you, said Kleinzeit.
Not one of my big days, said Death. Sometimes I’m tremendous.
Russell Hoban, Kleinzeit