Somewhere, in some book or other, I really can’t remember * which, I wrote the sentence ‘Everything passes, but nothing entirely goes away.’ Or possibly ‘Everything passes, but nothing entirely disappears.’ It had a context. I imagine it was to do with the nature of personal history, trauma or pleasure, either. It referred casually to psychoanalytic theories of the unconscious. And also commented on the banality of the ‘everything passes’ cliché. It wasn’t a sentence on its own. No sentence ought to be. I’ve been writing a daily #todaysrandomreading on Twitter recently, but the point is that it is random, and not intended to offer meaning or wisdom. I’m an aficionado of pointlessness.
Now, I keep seeing it quoted on Twitter and in blogs, in various languages, as if it belonged in the Big Book of Deathless Truths. Everything passes, but that sentence doesn’t entirely go away. I am deeply embarrassed for myself whenever I see it. While I’m pretty sure I thought about it as I wrote it in, as I say, context, it’s a cloud of airy nothing put out there on its own. Like a scrap of a torn shirt carefully washed and hung out to dry, to be clean and useless. I hate homilies.
My apologies to those who come across it. If this seems ungrateful to appreciative readers, my guess is that most quoters haven’t read the book it came from, and I’m not a grateful person. Thank you.
* Google Books finds it in _Only Human_: http://t.co/hYidV23e
Thanks to Dan Visel @dbvisel