Octave MirbeauOctave Mirbeau, (1848-1917) French journalist, art critic, pamphleteer, novelist, and playwright

Octave Mirbeau Quote

“You're obliged to pretend respect for people and institutions you think absurd. You live attached in a cowardly fashion to moral and social conventions you despise, condemn, and know lack all foundation. It is that permanent contradiction between your ideas and desires and all the dead formalities and vain pretenses of your civilization which makes you sad, troubled and unbalanced. In that intolerable conflict you lose all joy of life and all feeling of personality, because at every moment they suppress and restrain and check the free play of your powers. That's the poisoned and mortal wound of the civilized world.”

Octave MirbeauOctave Mirbeau
~ Octave Mirbeau

Torture Garden, "The Mission," Chapter 8 (1899 - Le Jardin des supplices)

Ratings and Comments

J Carlton, Calgary

Excellent observation. Very easy to relate to in todays society with all of its trumped up laws of compliance (not justice) and its institutions (some of) which are in place to control and rob you blind.

jim k, Austin

The first line of this quote sums it up and Carlton, as usual, nailed it.

Waffler, Smith

Interesting and thought provoking. Not true or universal all of the time. He wrote this in 1899 so what society was he referring to? American life is now and has ever been known for its social mobility, freedom, and its free flowing social and cultural change. Completly opposite to what he describes here. Anyone who feels oppressed in America just ain't doing something right! The psychological profile he descrbes reminds me of the misfit murderer in Dostoevsky's novel Crime and Punishment who took out his societal frustrations at being "no body" by robbing and murdering a little 70 year old lady. His desires to be somebody and lack of respect for any and ever thing led him to his heinous crime.

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RBESRQ    1/18/10

There are two sides to this coin with regards to the civilized world those who serve and those who are being served. You can die blissfully with the dagger in your heart or painfully with the dagger in your back.

D, Fort Worth

An ill chosen quotation with questionable relevance.

Ken, Allyn, WA

There's no greater tyrant than the majority, the same majority than brings you affirmative action, and Equal Opportunity Commissions; a society where everyone has to walk on eggshells or not look at someone for more than 1.5 seconds or risk being accused of racism or harassment. Be careful of the words you say. Say "stingy" instead of "niggardly" or you'll be accused of racism. Don't stare at the ugly girl because she looks like a train wreck in progress, or you'll be accused of sexual harassment. Absurd indeed.

Dr. J. Arbury deLong, Datil, New Mexico

I think this explains why I am so attuned to Kahlil Gibran's "The Tempest". I am not a part of this world, I am merely a distant observer, enjoying my solitude on the mountain, above and removed from the driveling, sniveling, whining populace. May they go there way and enjoy themselves in their misery.

Waffler, Smith

Dr J an Ken never forget (if you believe in the Golden Rule) that each one of the sniveling, whining populace have the same right to look upon you in the same way that you or we look upon them, ie. as a part of the snivleing whining populace. Looking upon people that way is a sin called the "pride of life" I believe.

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Anon    3/14/10

They shove their way of government down your throat and then can't understand why you're not happy about it.

Mike, Norwalk

Great observation ! ! !  Personally, I separate the person from the person's actions and the whole of the personage (be and do) from the office as well as, the office as to what it is in fact from what it has become. I don't pretend to respect the occupying statist theocracy infesting this land as an institution or the actions of its patrons. I do respect servants that serve to protect and expand, liberty, inalienable rights and personal sovereignty.

E Archer, NYC

Explains my youth to a tee.  Like trying to squeeze a square peg into a round hole.

Fredrick William Sillik, Anytown

This negative attitude is immature. There is no pretending anything. You are to genuinely respect all that lives. The proper attitude is realize the civilization is in its infancy and needs cultivation and tender care. Being kind to most heinous is not cowardly. It's actually the professional in their most refined disciplined state, and quite courageous. The obstacles present themselves and with that observed we must try and try to advance developmentally.


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