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And the mercy seat is waiting

And I think my head is burning

And in a way I'm yearning

To be done with all this measuring of truth.

An eye for an eye

A tooth for a tooth

And anyway I told the truth

And I'm not afraid to die.
Nick Cave, The Mercy Seat
"We trouble life by the care of death, and death by the care of life. The one torments us, the other frightens us. It is not against death that we prepare, that is too momentary a thing. A quarter of an hour's suffering, without consequence, and without damage, does not deserve special precepts. To say the truth, we prepare ourselves against the preparations of death. Philosophy ordains us to always have death before our eyes, to see and consider it before the time, and then gives us rules and precautions to provide that this foresight and thought do us no harm. Just so do doctors who throw us into diseases in order to have whereon to employ their drugs and their art. If we have not known how to live, it is injustice to teach us how to die, and make the end difform from all the rest. If we have known how to live firmly and quietly, we shall know how to die too. They may boast as much as they please: Tota philosophorum vita, commentatio mortis est.[1] But I fancy that, though it be the end, it is not the aim of life; it is its end, its extremity, but nevertheless not its object. It ought itself to be its own aim and design; its true study is to order, govern, and suffer itself. Among several other offices that the general and principal chapter of knowing how to live comprehends, there is this article of knowing how to die, and one of the lightest too, did not our fears give it weight."
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Essays, book III chap. 12 "Of Physiognomy"

Notes

  1. "The whole life of the philosopher is a preparation for death." (Cicero)
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