David Rieff – Mute Statistics (World Affairs Journal)

David Rieff. “Mute Statistics,” World Affairs Journal, February 12, 2010

"The words are Chekhov’s, Chekhov who believed that the happy and the well-off (to the extent he thought the latter separable from the former) could only enjoy their easy serenity because, he wrote, “the unhappy bear their burdens in silence, and without that silence happiness would be impossible.” He meant it as a general rule, of course: For an exception to it, he needed look no further than the face reflected back in his shaving mirror every morning. Nonetheless, his is not a bad rule of thumb. Imagine that one lived one’s life all the time acutely aware, rather than merely knowing, just how much suffering there really is in the world. In all probability, the truth of it would not set one free but drive one mad, or at least turn one into a person unfit for conviviality, let alone eros, in the manner of Kierkegaard or Simone Weil."

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