I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

February 06, 2014 - 5:15 p.m.

Happiness is ...

Captain's log supplementary: In response to yesterday's post, Ridiculous to Sublime Allison commented:

oh look at me, reading your blog almost daily! Have had a lot of discussions lately about what "happy" means. Is it the same thing as "content"? Is it a state or a trait?
I promised to write it up today. I did not have the time or space to do it before so here's a bonus edition of Wise Madness.

The nature of happiness has been a running theme of Wise Madness from the start. The nature of happiness, what makes us happy, and what we can do to make ourselves happy have been frequent topic of discussion. At the top of the page the Cabell quote is my favorite word on the subject. As in the future that might not actually be on the top of the page I'll repeat it here.

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught methat everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matterexcept to show how very dull we are,
I'm not sure how I'd stay happy without that and it leads right to Allison's question. I've rarely been content, certainly not at all since I lost my apartment. Even before then there was so much that I wanted but didn't have. But I'm a cheerful hobbit and have spent most of my time happy. One of the surest ways for me to make myself feel good is dreaming of getting the things I want. "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?" Of late I have not been in a good place emotionally. Part of it was I found I couldn't do what I usually can, imagine so vividly that I can feel it, getting my heart's desire. I've always been able to summon that at will but I couldn't. Was that a symptom of my unhappiness or the cause? It's both. A slight change in circumstances was enough to change my state. So yes It's a state but a character trait of mine is that I can feel happy under circumstances where many others couldn't. As I have often said I look and find the exquisite wonderfulness. It is always there.

You can be content without being happy. You can accept the life of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits as your lot. No one ever achieved great things thinking like that. "May you be content" is a curse to creative people. It's seeing that things can be better that gets people to make them better. The happiness comes from conceiving and enacting the changes.

Not sure exactly how it all fits in but as soon as I started planning this I thought of another quote by Cabell.

The comedy is always the same. In the first act the hero imagines a place where happiness exists. In the second he strives towards that goal. In the third he comes up short or what amounts to the same thing he achieves his goal only to find that happiness lies a little further down the road.
Appropriately enough the character that says it in The High Place is Horvendile. You can get a lot of happiness just imagining the place where happiness exists.

Some other views on happiness.

I'll never argue against Dave Carter.
Happytown (All Right With Me) by Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer on Grooveshark

I liked answering Allison's question. Is there anything you'd like me to write about? Let me know in comment, email, or message. No promises of course. I have to have something to say on the matter but I have to feed the beast every day and it might be fun to get some outside help.






Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
Late to Bed and Late to Rise - September 30, 2017
On Your Feet or On Your Knees - September 29, 2017
Why Life Doesn't End on Closing Day - September 28, 2017
Anna and King of I Am - September 27, 2017



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Horvendile February 06, 2014
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