Ett liv i enkelhet och stramhet

Lord Russell njuter av sin pipa

Lord Russell njuter av sin pipa

Bertrand Russell berättar om sin barndom i Portraits from Memory:

When I was a child the atmosphere in the house was one of puritan piety and austerity. There were family prayers at eight o’clock every morning. Although there were eight servants, food was always of Spartan simplicity, and even what there was, if it was at all nice, was considered too good for children. For instance, if there was apple tart and rice pudding, I was only allowed the rice pudding. Cold baths all the year round were insisted upon, and I had to practice the piano from seven-thirty to eight every morning although the fires were not yet lit. My grandmother never allowed herself to sit in an armchair until the evening. Alcohol and tobacco were viewed with disfavor although stern convention compelled them to serve a little wine to guests. Only virtue was prized, virtue at the expense of intellect, health, happiness, and every mundane good.

En hemsk typ av tillvaro! Jag ser inget som helst egenvärde i stramhet, stränghet, enkelhet och asketism. Tvärtom anser jag livets mål och mening vara lycka (inspirerad som jag är av bl.a. Hume, Camus, Baulder och Mencken). Det innebär inte att man inte åläggs och ålägger sig viss behärskning ibland — mumsade man i sig söta desserter dagarna i ända skulle man inte må bra — men enbart för att maximera den ”totala” lyckan i livet, inte för att lycka är fel eller fult. Tänka sig en regel att man enbart får sitta i en fåtölj framåt kvällningen. Absurt!