Pascal’s Diversion, Weariness, Agitation & Frivolity: Movement Against Stagnation

by Christian Parreno

Weariness.- Nothing is so insupportable to man as to be completely at rest, without passion, without business, without diversion, without study. He then feels his nothingness, his loneliness, his insufficiency, his dependence, his weakness, his emptiness.

At once, from the depth of his soul, will arise weariness, gloom, sadness, vexation, disappointment, despair.

Agitation.- When a soldier complains of his work, or a ploughman, etc., force them to be idle.

Diversion.- Is not the royal dignity itself so truly great as to make its possessor happy by the mere contemplation of what he is? Must he be diverted from his thought like ordinary people? I see well enough that a man may be made happy by diverting him from the thought of his domestic sorrows so that he apply all his care to excel in dancing. But will it be the same with a king, and will he be happier if he devote himself to these idle amusements rather than to the contemplation of his greatness?


Frivolity.- It is plain that the frivolity of the world is so little known, that it is a strange and surprising thing to say it is foolish to seek for greatness, and this is great cause for wonder.

Whoso does not see the frivolity of the world is himself most frivolous. And indeed all see it save young people, who are engaged by turmoil, diversion, and the thought of the future. But take their diversion and you will see them consumed with weariness; then they feel their nothingness without knowing it. For it is indeed to be unhappy to be intolerable sad as soon as we are reduced to the thought of self, without any diversion.

Pascal, Blaise. Thoughts. Translated by C. Kegan Paul. London: George Bell and Sons, 1899. 41, 42-3