Much self-condemnation, thus, is a cloak for arrogance. Those who think they overcome pride by condemning themselves could well ponder Spinoza’s remark, ‘One who despises himself is the nearest to a proud man’. In ancient Athens, when a politician was trying to get the votes of the working class by appearing very humble in a tattered coat with big holes in it, Socrates unmasked his hypocrisy by exclaiming, ‘Your vanity shows forth from every whole in your coat’.

I closed my eyes and turned my face into the cold wind. When I felt it swept along my skin there was no past. No future. Just now.

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