10 December 2008

"the exhortation to live in the present & not worry about the future does not preclude thought of death, however contradictory this may seem. death for tolstoy is the ultimate destruction of the earthly individual personality & the completion of the uncovering of the spiritual self which has been in process since birth. the purpose of life is the ongoing process of overcoming the personality & revealing the spiritual self, & so in order to live rightly, the final accomplishment of this task should be kept in mind: 'the foundation of a reasonable, religious understanding of life is memento mori, the mindfulness of death, or not so much the mindfulness of death as the understanding of the brevity & fleetingness of life.' neither should one be so fixated on death that one loses the ability or the desire to live."

- quote from an article in the modern language review, i used it in my presentation today for my russian lit class. i talked on the theme "death as a catalyst for change" in the book 'war and peace' by tolstoy and ive been thinking about how true this sentiment expressed above is all day.