Richard Pierce

Richard Pierce – author, poet, painter

Life, Writing

Day 202

During therapy yesterday afternoon, and afterwards, several things coalesced in mind.

The first, that I don’t really belong in this world at this time. I am too naïve. I take things at face value. I do not expect people to bend the truth, to manipulate the truth, do not expect them to lie, expect and assume that I am always being told the truth. Unfortunately, it’s not like that. I just don’t know who’s telling the truth and who isn’t. I belong in more innocent days.

The second, that words are the root of our unhappiness and misfortune, or, more precisely, the abuse of words, and the formalised use of words. It is when we try to formalise what we think the meaning of life is that we descend into unhappiness. Philosophy is a science, not an art, and the precision – and dogma – of Philosophy is what makes us unhappy. What’s the point of putting our thoughts on life, and the meaning of life, into narrow compartments, of trying to define so precisely, and to the exclusion of exceptions and fluctuations, what life is? What’s the point of categorising them in descriptors such as determinism, idealism, realism, nihilism, existentialism, stoicism, hedonism, logical positivism, relativism etc etc? I remember a poem (though not the author) I read in my youth that included the line “Love is lost the moment ’tis possessed,” and this could easily apply here, in paraphrase: the meaning of life (and happiness) is lost the moment it is defined.

Philosophy puts blinkers on people, much like formalised religion. We need to live without trying to formalise, without thinking there are boundaries between certain ways of feeling and thinking. We need to stop creating obstacles to happiness, to living peacefully. The meaning of life is to live it; it’s as simple as that. Perhaps that’s what Aggie is all about. But only perhaps. I don’t know yet where she’s going, and she probably doesn’t either.

I might even go so far as to say that it is Philosophy which breeds lies. Let’s just live.


I wrote the above at lunch time. I’ve been pondering it ever since. And reading more of Zorba The Greek which seems to play into this in one way or another. Maybe it’s what set me off on this train of thought, the fact that Zorba says the “pen pushers” write about life but don’t live it. Maybe I need to temper slightly what I said. I should perhaps have said it’s the formalisation of philosophy into Philosophy (two deliberately different spellings) which breeds lies. I watched one of the cats walk across the brown lawn this afternoon, and it struck me there, too. Does a cat think about placing its back paw in exactly the same place it did its front paw? Has its gait become formalised to such an extent that it considers how it places its feet when it walks? I don’t think so. It just does it. There.




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