Knausgård: “The easy life is nothing to aspire to.”

Two companionable quotes from Karl Ove Knausgård’s excellent book, Spring, which I’ve read three times this summer–twice in succession, and one more time a month later.

I’m only now emerging from a two-year Knausgård binge when I read the first five books of his My Struggle series, each at least twice and some three or four times. I’ll officially end the binge this September, around my birthday, when I read book six.

The following quote is an excellent example of what I like about Knausgård, comma splices and all. He is honest and vulnerable, and I can share his sentiment–I’ve had these thoughts without precisely articulating them to myself.

This passage is written for Knausgård’s children, and specifically to his youngest daughter, who he addresses directly throughout Spring.

But maybe these were just excuses, something I said to comfort myself. For that’s how it is, we cover up our mistakes and failings, we invent stories that put ourselves in a more favorable light. Self-deception is perhaps the most human thing of all.

Karl Ove Knausgård

Self-deception isn’t a lie, it’s a survival mechanism. You too will deceive yourself, it’s just a question of to what degree, and the only advice I can give you is to try to remember that others may see and experience the same things as you in an entirely different way, and that they have as much right to their viewpoint as you do.

But it is difficult. It may be the most difficult thing of all. Because it is just as important to be true to yourself, to hold on to your beliefs and think your own thoughts, not other people’s. It’s so easy to walk into one picture of reality and then let that picture sway you, even though on certain points it goes against what you really feel, experience, and believe. What do you do then? The easiest thing is to adjust your feelings, experiences, and thoughts, for a picture of reality is both simpler and more pleasant to relate to than reality itself. This brings us back to self deception, the most human thing of all.

And perhaps the following is nothing but self deception: the easy life is nothing to aspire to, the easy choice is never the worthiest solution, only the difficult life is worth living. I don’t know. But I think that’s how it is. What would seem to contradict this, is that I wish you and your siblings simple, easy, long and happy lives.

Karl Ove Knausgård