“…Passionate Love for a Ghost…”


Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell

I’ve meant to tell you many things about my life, and every time the moment has conquered me. I’m strangely unhappy because the pattern of my life is complicated, because my nature is hopelessly complicated; a mass of contradictory impulses; and out of this, to my intense sorrow, pain to you must grow. The centre of me is always and eternally a terrible pain—a curious wild pain—a searching for something beyond what the world contains, something transfigured and infinite—the beatific vision—God—I do not find it, I do not think it is to be found—but the love of it is my life—it’s like a passionate love for a ghost. At times it fills me with rage, at times with wild despair, it is the source of gentleness and cruelty and work, it fills every passion that I have— it is the actual spring of life within me. 

This is the philosopher Bertrand Russell writing to his lover Constance Malleson on October 23, 1946.

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