People who believe that they are strong-willed and the masters of their destiny can only continue to believe this by becoming specialists in self-deception.–James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room
[T]he true darkness lies within my own mind …
–Ralph Ellison. Invisible Man
What difference do it make if the thing you scared of is real or not?
When a person cannot deceive himself the chances are against his being able to deceive other people.
“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
― Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
“The failure to read good books both enfeebles the vision and strengthens our most fatal tendency — the belief that the here and now is all there is.”
― Allan Bloom, Closing of the American Mind
“A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.”
― Saul Bellow, To Jerusalem and Back
“Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears.”
― Rudyard Kipling, The Collected Works
“You have to quit confusing a madness with a mission.”
― Flannery O’Connor, The Violent Bear it Away
“It is not only by dint of lying to others, but also of lying to ourselves, that we cease to notice that we are lying.”
― Marcel Proust, Sodom and Gomorrah
Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others.
We are never deceived; we deceive ourselves.
–Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
One disadvantage of having a little intelligence is that one can invent myths out of his own imagination, and come to believe them. Wild animals, lacking imagination, almost never do disastrously stupid things out of false perceptions of the world about them. But humans create artificial disasters for themselves when their ideology makes them unable to perceive where their own self-interest lies.