Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pío Baroja on Don Quixote

From the dialogue between Andrés and Iturrioz in Part Four of El árbol de la ciencia (1911):

The more one understands the less one desires. This is logical, and furthermore can be proved in reality. The appetite to know is awoken in those individuals who are at the end of a process of evolution, when the desire to live becomes languid. Man, whose necessity is to know, is like the butterfly that breaks out of the chrysalis in order to die. The healthy individual, the individual who is strong and truly alive, does not see things as they are because it is not agreeable to him. He is inside a hallucination.

Don Quixote, whom Cervantes wished to appear foolish, is a symbol of the affirmation of life. Don Quixote lives more than all the sane people around him, and with more intensity than the others. The individual or nation who wish to live envelop themselves in clouds like the ancient gods when they appeared to mortals. The vital instinct needs to invent fictions in order to sustain itself. So then knowledge, the critical instinct, the instinct of inquiry must confront an essential truth: that lies are necessary for us in order to go on living.

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