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Flight without end
> An instrument of your body is also your little reason, my brother, which you call “spirit”—a little instrument and toy of your great reason.
It seems to me that men still have their feet on the ground, the whole of their lower portion is of the earth, but from their hands upwards they no longer live in an earthly atmosphere. Each exists of two halves. In each case the upper half is ashamed of the lower. Each considers his hands as better than his feet. Each leads two lives. Eating drinking and loving is carried out by the lower, the inferior, parts, professional life by the upper.1
We walk in a world which has been forgotten. Minds float above leaving bodies below. All despise that burden of which we cannot rid ourselves. The whole is conducted instead by hands and tongues, better else be left besides. How onerous to be held to our lower selves. These the flotsam of ancient times, debris denied as best we can.
The mind operates immediate but below, then the slower stage proceeds above; it is this that we identify as ourselves. The lower self, in contrast, is felt ever as an embarrassment. We say a thing then think otherwise, feel the latter our true selves; thus we reject the shadow, all blood and guts and hidden things.
There is this messiness to the lower self, that all there rejects the clean categories we would impose. All such serves to show up the lie of our higher selves. We see here that the tidy lines drawn by hands are found false by our behinds. The same is so when death comes, that here the latent lower leaps and drags us down.
Some seek overcome all this, would fly into the wires. These are those that wish reject the other powers which each lurks within. The way here is that of the city, that we build block away and bar the other world. These few would slip the coil, shed the form which brought them here and waits for their return.
The only presence within the wires is that which we have placed, whence we inherit that sense of arbitrariness which colours our contempt for the lower world. Here at last the world is as we would have it made—a world where God is dead.
“If I am successfully understood, my listener will have acquired the benefit that his life will have been made significantly more difficult for him than ever before, and therefore I will not urge anyone to accept this invitation.”
Joseph Roth, Flight Without End.