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437 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1923
I felt a shudder run through me at the vision of all that acid, but immediately afterwards I had a somewhat happier vision of life: I didn’t like lemons, but if they were to give me the liberty to do what I should do or wanted to do without suffering harm, freeing me from every other restraint, I would consume those countless lemons myself. Complete freedom consists of being able to do what you like, provided you also do something you like less. True slavery is being condemned to abstinence: Tantalus, not Hercules.
Late one night I had come home and, rather than go to bed, I had entered my little study and turned on the gas. In the light a fly began to torment me. I managed to give it a tap – a light one, however, to avoid soiling my hand. I forgot about it, but then I saw it in the center of the table as it was coming to. It was motionless, erect, and it seemed taller than before, because one of its little legs was paralyzed and couldn’t bend. With its two hind legs it assiduously smoothed its wings. It tried to move, but turned over on its back. It righted itself and stubbornly resumed its assiduous task.
Natural law does not entitle us to happiness, but rather it prescribes wretchedness and sorrow. When something edible is left exposed, from all directions parasites come running, and if there are no parasites, they are quickly generated. Soon the prey is barely sufficient, and immediately afterwards it no longer suffices at all, for nature doesn’t do sums, she experiments.