A Superfluous Labor of Verification

In youth, men are apt to write more wisely than they really know or feel, and the remainder of life may be not idly spent in realizing and convincing themselves of the wisdom which they uttered long ago. The truth that was only in the fancy then may have since become a substance in the mind and heart.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, preface from The Snow-Image, 1852.


One often makes a remark and only later sees how true it is.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Notebooks 1916-1916, 11 October 1914, translated by G. E. M. Anscombe.


Was I ignorant, then, when I was seventeen? I think not. I knew everything. A quarter-century’s experience of life since then has added nothing to what I knew. The one difference is that at seventeen I had no “realism.”

Yukio Mishima, Sun and Steel, translated by John Bester.


What I know at sixty, I knew as well at twenty. Forty years of a long, a superfluous labor of verification.

Emil Cioran, The Trouble with Being Born, translated by Richard Howard.