Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Yeasty Ferment

From regarding me curiously, he turned his head and glanced out over the leaden sea to windward. A bleakness came into his eyes, and the lines of his mouth grew severe and harsh.

“Then to what end?” he demanded abruptly, turning back to me. “If I am immortal—why?”

I halted. How could I explain my idealism to this man?

“What do you believe, then?” I countered.

“I believe that life is a mess,” he answered promptly. “It is like yeast, a ferment, a thing that moves and may move for a minute, an hour, a year, or a hundred years, but that in the end will cease to move.”

“But the hopelessness of it,” I protested.

“I agree with you,” he answered. “Then why move at all, since moving is living? Without moving and being part of the yeast there would be no hopelessness. But—and there it is—we want to live and move, though we have no reason to, because it happens that it is the nature of life to live and move. It is because of this life that is in you that you dream of your immortality. The life that is in you wants to go on being alive for ever. Bah!”

--Jack London, The Sea-Wolf

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