Reflections on the Human Condition, Eric Hoffer, 1973.
183 "reflections", ranging from the philosophical one-liner to full-page expositions.

"There is a spoiled-brat quality about the self-consciously alienated. Life must have a meaning, history must have a goal, and everything must be in apple-pie order if they are to cease being alienated. Actually, there is no alienation that a little power will not cure."

Three books collide in my mind and make me reflect on the human condition. Please excuse me.

1. T.S. Eliot wrote that April is the cruellest month because it reminds us of renewal; once, long ago, a woman asked the gods for immortality but forgot to ask for eternal youth. She begs to die and the renewal of spring in April taunts her.

2. Jorge Luis Borges, who was undoubtedly intimately familiar with Eliot's masterpiece, wrote that no one is anyone, a single immortal man is all men. We can so easily reverse his words and realise that all men are a single immortal man. The tragedy of the immortal woman is the tragedy of all.

3. Milan Kundera recalls Nietzche's nightmare in which a demon tells him that the universe repeats itself eternally, so that every action is repeated infinite times. Kundra wonders about the optimist who must believe that though the universe is eternally recurring, it is forever improving. The pessimist must believe the opposite.

Everything comes together. A single woman who is all women suffers for eternity. The curse of spring is the curse of mankind: it is the human condition; having found life but needing relief from it. Come April we have only two choices:

The optimist can believe that given innumerable cycles of the universe, given their vital yet insignificant role in an insignificant world, one day the woman who is all men will remember to ask for youth as well.

The pessimist's only hope is that one day she will forget to ask for immortality.

This is the human condition.

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