“But most of them believe that it is only by constraint they can get any good out of themselves, and so they live in a state of psychological distortion. It is his own self that each of them is most afraid of resembling. Each of them sets up a pattern and imitates it; he doesn’t even choose the pattern he imitates; he accepts a pattern that has been chosen for him. And yet I verily believe there are other things to be read in man. But people don’t dare to- they don’t dare to turn the page. Laws of imitation! Laws of fear, I call them. The fear of finding oneself alone- that is what they suffer from- and so they don’t find themselves at all. I detest such moral agoraphobia- the most odious of cowardice, I call it. Why, one always has to be alone to invent anything- but they don’t want to invent anything. The part in each of us that we feel is different from other people is just the part that is rare, the part that makes our special value- and that is the very thing people try to suppress. They go on imitating. And yet they think they love life.
“Do you know the reason why poetry and philosophy are nothing but dead-letter nowadays? It is because they have severed themselves from life. In Greece, ideas went hand in hand with life; so that the artist’s life itself was already a poetic realization, the philosopher’s life a putting into action of his philosophy; in this way, as both philosophy and poetry took part in life, instead of remaining unacquainted with each other, philosophy provided food for poetry, and poetry gave expression to philosophy- and the result was admirably persuasive. Nowadays beauty no longer acts; action no longer desires to be beautiful; and wisdom works in a sphere apart.”
Taken from The Immoralist,André Gide-1902