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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

Lord 5 What is Man ?             17

Is Life Worth Living ?

This is a question for an embryo, not for a man.   [1883.]

Evacuations

There is a resemblance, greater or less, between the
pleasure we derive from all the evacuations. I believe
that in all cases the pleasure arises from rest—rest, that
is to say, from the considerable, though in most cases
unconscious labour of retaining that which it is a relief to
us to be rid of.

In ordinary cases the effort whereby we retain those things
that we would get rid of is unperceived by the central govern-
ment, being, I suppose, departmentally made; we—as
distinguished from the subordinate personalities of which
we are composed—know nothing about it, though the sub-
ordinates in question doubtless do. But when the desirability
of removing is abnormally great, we know about the effort
of retaining perfectly well, and the gradual increase in our
perception of the effort suggests strongly that there has
been effort all the time, descending to conscious and
great through unconscious and normal from unconscious
and hardly any at all. The relaxation of this effort is
what causes the sense of refreshment that follows all
healthy discharges.

All our limbs and sensual organs, in fact our whole body
and life, are but an accretion round and a fostering of the
spermatozoa. They are the real " He.'1 A man's eyes,
ears, tongue, nose, legs and arms are but so many organs
and tools that minister to the protection, education, increased
intelligence and multiplication of the spermatozoa; so that
our whole life is in reality a series of complex efforts in respect
of these, conscious or unconscious according to their com-
parative commonness. They are the central fact in our
existence, the point towards which all effort is directed.
Relaxation of effort here, therefore, is the most complete
and comprehensive of all relaxations and, as such, the supreme
gratification—the most complete rest we can have, short of
sleep and death.