“It would be an exaggeration to say I’m not afraid of death but I’m not afraid of what comes after, because I’m not a believer.”
Christian de Duve, 1974 Nobel Prize winner, who died of euthanasia. [NY Times]
According to his doctor, de Duve was “suffering from a number of health problems” and “he wanted to make the decision while he was still able to do it and not be a burden.” Euthanasia is legal in Belgium.
“The majority of men … live and die under the impression that life is simply a matter of understanding more and more, and that if it were granted to them to live longer, that life would continue to be one long continuous growth in understanding. How many of them ever experience the maturity of discovering that there comes a critical moment where everything is reversed, after which the point becomes to understand more and more that there is something which cannot be understood.”
“…the filth and mire of the world, the worst, lowest, most lifeless part of the universe, the bottom story of the house.”
“I am not “sincere,” I am not “provocative,” I am not “satirical.” I am neither a didacticist nor an allegorizer. Politics and economics, atomic bombs, primitive and abstract art forms, the entire Orient, symptoms of “thaw” in Soviet Russia, the Future of Mankind, and so on, leave me supremely indifferent.”
— Vladimir Nabokov, from the introduction to his novel “Bend Sinister” in 1947.
“Thank you for your letter. I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject — which should be sufficient. I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.”
“I am not afraid of death — I am privileged to have been able to work for so long. If I die tomorrow or in a year, it is the same — it is the message you leave behind you that counts, and the young scientists who carry on your work.”