Lev Shestov: All Things are Possible

Part I
  Zu fragmentarisch ist Welt und Leben. Too fragmentary is life and the world. 

1 The obscure streets of life do not offer the conveniences of the central thoroughfares: no electric light, no gas, not even a kerosene lamp-bracket. There are no pavements: the traveller has to fumble his way in the dark. If he needs a light, he must wait for a thunderbolt, or else, primitive-wise, knock a spark out of a stone. In a glimpse will appear unfamiliar outlines; and then, what he has taken in he must try to remember, no matter whether the impression was right or false. For he will not easily get another light, except he run his head against a wall, and see sparks that way. What can a wretched pedestrian gather under such circumstances? How can we expect a clear account from him whose curiosity (let us suppose his curiosity so strong) led him to grope his way among the outskirts of life? Why should we try to compare his records with those of the travellers through brilliant streets?

 2 The law of sequence in natural phenomena seems so plausible, so obvious, that one is tempted to look for its origin, not in the realities of actual life, but in the promptings of the human mind. This law of sequence is the most mysterious of all the natural laws. Why so much order? Why not chaos and disorderliness? Really, if the hypothesis of sequence had not offered such blatant advantages to the human intelligence, man would never have thought of raising it to the rank of eternal and irrefutable truth. But he saw his opportunity. Thanks to the grand hypothesis, man is forewarned and forearmed. Thanks to this master-key, the future is at his mercy. He knows, in order that he may foreknow: savoir pour prévoir. Here is man, by virtue of one supreme assumption, dictator henceforward of all nature. The philosophers have ever bowed the knee to success. So down they went before the newly-invented law of natural sequence, they hailed it with the title of eternal truth. But even this seemed insufficient. L’appétit vient en mangeant. Like the old woman in the fairy-tale about the golden fish, they had it in their minds that the fish should do their errands. But some few people at last could not stand this impudence. Some very few began to object...

 3 The comfortable settled man says to himself: "How could one live without being sure of the morrow; how could one sleep without a roof over one's head?" But misfortune turns him out of house and home. He must perforce sleep under a hedge. He cannot rest, he is full of terrors. There may be wild beasts, fellow-tramps. But in the long run he gets used to it. He will trust himself to chance, live like a tramp, and sleep his sleep in a ditch. ...


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