Listen to the newborn infant’s cry in the hour of birth- see the death struggles in the final hour- and then declare whether what begins and ends in this way can be enjoyment.
True enough, we human beings do everything as fast as possible to get away from these two points, hurry as fast as possible to forget the birth-cry and change it to delight in having given a being life. And when someone dies we immediately say: Softly and gently he slipped away, death is a sleep, a quiet sleep- something we do not say for the sake of the one who died, for out talking cannot help him, but for our own sake, in order not to lose any of the zest for life, in order to change everything to serve an increase in the zest for life during the interval between the birth-cry and the death-wail, between the mother’s shriek and the child’s repetition of it, when the child at some time dies.
Imagine somewhere a great and splendid hall where everything is done to produce joy and merriment- but the entrance to this room is a nasty, muddy, horrible stairway and it is impossible to pass without getting disgustingly soiled, and admission is paid by prostituting oneself, and when day dawns the merriment is over and all ends with one’s being kicked out again- but the whole night through everything is done to keep up and inflame the merriment and pleasure!
What is reflection? Simply to reflect on these two questions: How did I get into this and how do I get out of it again, how does it end? What is thoughtlessness? To muster everything in order to drown all this about entrance and exit in forgetfulness, to muster everything to re-explain and explain away entrance and exit, lost in the interval between the birth-cry and the repetition of this cry when the one who is born expires in the death struggle.