Monday, November 26, 2012

My Schopenhauer Epiphany

When I was in school there was a run I did regularly.  I would leave the apartment and head down Fulton Street.  At Leconte Elementary I would start winding my way up to Alta Bates Medical Center, across from which I lived in a house on Regent Street my freshman year.  From there I would head up to Benvenue Avenue, and then back across Ashby and back home.  Google Mapping it now I am encouraged to see that round trip the run is a 5K.  I -- we (when running with friends) -- used to do it in around 20 minutes and change.

On the back end of the run one summer afternoon, on Ellsworth Street between Haste and Channing Way, I had a realization that Arthur Schopenhauer was right.  How exactly he was right, what in his philosophy it was at that moment that I incandescently accepted as truth, I can't say for sure.  I was reading a lot of Schopenhauer and Thomas Hardy that summer, trying to finish a paper for a graduate seminar on adultery in the 19th century novel.  Well, I say I was reading a lot of Schopenhauer.  I was reading snippets of The World as Will and Representation and attempting to read from start to finish Schopenhauer's first book, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason.  But mostly I read, and read thoroughly, Bryan Magee's The Philosphy of Schopenhauer.

So while I can't remember the exact content of my Schopenhauer epiphany, over the years I have come to regard it and occasionally retell it as my acceptance of the necessity of the extirpation of the will, or, to put it another way (from Kerouac's Vanity of Duluoz) -- "The wheel of life stops with me."

No comments:

Post a Comment