The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives

ex silentio

Mine heart began to weep within my breast, silently, very bitterly: but the crowds which came in and the crowds which went out were ignorant of my grief. To the genuinely aggrieved, there is nothing more distracting (and consoling) than the knowledge that he is keeping his grievance to himself.

Don Tarquinio, chapter iii, p. 26.

There’s that notion again, that ‘genuine’ grievance receives a sort of relish when set in silence, the disjunction between the bustling externals (always, for some reason, imagined as more contented than oneself, though doubtless they too have their hidden troubles) and the artificial calm of supposedly silent self-pity. In this way one may (given a stoic’s, a martyr’s, an epicure’s temperament) become a connoisseur of wretchedness, doling out only so much as might better reflect one’s own state and enhance it — acquiring in the meantime the aura of (dis)respectability dependent not on how well or ill one bears suffering, but on the supposed reasons one has for ‘hiding’ it.

‘True’ happiness, on the other hand, cannot be hid; one glows, and one’s more wretched neighbors long to kick you in the shins for being happier than they.


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