Remedy For The Present

John Addington Symonds

'What is left for us modem men? We cannot be Greek now. The cypress of knowledge springs, and withers when it comes in sight of Troy; the cypress of pleasure likewise, if it has not died already at the root of cankering Calvinism; the cypress of religion is tottering. What is left? Science, for those who are scientific. Art for artists; and all literary men are artists in a way. But science falls not to the lot of all; Art is hardly worth pursuing now. What is left? Hashish, I think: Hashish of one form or another. We can dull the pangs of the present by living the past again in reveries or learned studies, by illusions of the fancy and a life of self-indulgent dreaming. Take down the perfumed scrolls; open, unroll, peruse, digest, intoxicate your spirit with the flavor. Behold, here is the Athens of Plato in your narcotic visions; Buddha and his anchorites appear; the raptures of St Francis and the fire-oblations of St Dominic; the phantasms of mythologies; the birth-throes of religion, the neurotism of chivalry, the passion of past poems; all pass before you in your Maya world of hashish, which is criticism.'

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