Concluding Unscientific Postscript
I had been a student for a half-score of years. Although never lazy, all my activity was nevertheless only a sort of brilliant inactivity, a kind of occupation for which I still have a great partiality, and in respect of which I perhaps even have a little genius. I read much, spent the remainder of the day loafing and thinking, or thinking and loafing, but that was it; the creative germ in me went in everyday use and was consumed in its first greening. An inexplicable persuasive power held me constantly in check, as strong as it was subtle. This power was my indolence. It is not like the impetuous craving of love, or the intense incitement of enthusiasm; rather it is like a wedded wife who keeps one in check and with whom one gets on very well, in this case so well that it never occurs to one to want to marry. And this much at least is certain, that although I am not otherwise unacquainted with the comforts and conveniences of life, indolence is of all conveniences the most comfortable.
So I sat there and smoked my cigar until I fell into a reverie. Among others I recall these thoughts. You are getting on, I said to myself, and are becoming an old man without being anything, and without really taking on anything. Wherever you look about you on the other hand, in literature or in life, you see the names and figures of the celebrities, the prized and acclaimed making their appearances or being talked about, the many benefactors of the age who know how to do favours to mankind by making life more and more easy, some with railways, others with omnibuses and steamships, others with the telegraph, others through easily grasped surveys and brief reports on everything worth knowing, and finally the true benefactors of the age, who by virtue of thought make spiritual existence systematically easier and yet more and more important. And what are you doing?
Here my soliloquy was interrupted, for my cigar was finished and a new one had to be lit. So I smoked again, and then suddenly this thought flashed through my mind: You must do something, but since with your limited abilities it will be impossible to make anything easier than it has become, you must, with the same humanitarian enthusiasm as the others, take it upon yourself to make something more difficult. This notion pleased me immensely, and at the same time it flattered me to think that I would be loved and esteemed for this effort by the whole community, as well as any. For when all join together in making everything easier in every way, there remains only one possible danger, namely, that the ease becomes so great that it becomes altogether too easy; then there will be only one lack remaining, if not yet felt, when people come to miss the difficulty. Out of love for humankind, and from despair over my embarrassing situation, having accomplished nothing, and being unable to make anything easier than it had already been made, and out of a genuine interest in those who make everything easy, I conceived it as my task everywhere to create difficulties.