One of the most beautiful passages of Rousseau is that in the sixth book of the Confessions, where he describes the awakening in him of the literary sense. An undefinable taint of death had clung always about him, and now in early manhood he believed himself smitten by mortal disease. He asked himself how he might make as much as possible of the interval that remained; and he was not biassed by anything in his previous life when he decided that it must be by intellectual excitement, which he found just then in the clear, fresh writings of Voltaire. Well! we are all condamnes (condemned) as Victor Hugo says: we are all under sentence of death but with a sort of indefinite reprieve--les hommes sont tous condamnes a mort avec des sursis infefinis: we have an interval, and then our place knows us no more. Some spend this interval in listlessness, some in high passions, the wisest, at least among "the children of this world" in art and song. For our one chance lies in expanding that interval, in getting as many pulsations as possible into the given time. Great passions may give us this quickened sense of life, ecstasy and sorrow of love, the various forms of enthusiastic activity, disinterested or otherwise, which come naturally to many of us. Only be sure it is passion--that it does yield you the fruit of a quickened, multiplied consciousness. Of such wisdom, the poetic passion, the desire of beauty, the love of art for its own sake, has most. For art comes to you posing frankly to give nothing but the highest quality to your moments as they pass, and simply for those moments' sake.
Ef þið komust yfir ,,taint of death" án þess að hlæja einsog flón þá eruði eflaust betri manneskjur en ég. Í það minnsta alvarlegri.