What is the greatest thing you can experience? It is the hour of your greatest contempt. The hour in which even your happiness becomes loathsome to you, and so also your reason and virtue.

Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Why truth and not untruth? Why pursue an unpalatable reality over an accommodating delusion? The choice lies in the power of the will. If the will is too weak to face reality, if it lacks the strength to change its environment and resigns to its fate, then the untruth will be accepted in place of truth for it is the purpose of the untruth to help one come to terms with one’s situation, to accept a hardship by transforming it into something desirable – e.g. “we are poor and miserable but at least we are playing our part in the great struggle that one day will come to fruition”. When the will finds itself unable to transform reality, it turns back on itself, transforming its view of reality into something it can live with.

Where untruth is a soothing balm, truth is a dagger, but as it lunges forward and pierces deep into man’s spirit, it reveals to him the forces that push the blade. A will strong enough to bear the pain chooses to fight back, to push against the force, to transform it, and in turn, command it. Truth is at once a source of pain and the means to end it, the means to transform reality. The purpose of untruth is a coming to terms – making oneself a willing actor in a play the direction of which one has no say. The purpose of truth is a discovery of reality, however disagreeable it may be, and in turn, a means to change it. Untruth is atrophy and death. Truth is change and power.

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“For even falsehood, uttered by the tongue of man, seemed like truth and light before this hopelessly-deaf and unresponsive silence.”

My new book: a translation of selected short stories by Leonid Andreyev, the father of Russian Expressionism from the Silver Age of Russian literature. A piercing, pitiless glance into the heart of the human condition.

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Further Reading

Proust wrote that the true voyage of discovery is not to visit strange lands, but to possess other eyes, to behold a hundred universes that each of them beholds. Thus, in the words of Ruskin, what good books give us is not mere knowledge, but sight.

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