Another entry in the series of “towering early 20th century thinkers were emo” (previously: B.F. Skinner was emo.) Bertrand Russell, age 31, writing to his friend Gilbert Murray:
I have been merely oppressed by the weariness and tedium and vanity of things lately: nothing stirs me, nothing seems worth doing or worth having done: the only thing that I strongly feel worth while would be to murder as many people as possible so as to diminish the amount of consciousness in the world. These times have to be lived through: there is nothing to be done with them.
This quote is pretty famous but glancing through his letters, holy cow, I had no idea how brutal Russell’s thoughts were. Here’s his take on math:
Abstract work, if one wishes to do it well, must be allowed to destroy one’s humanity: one raises a monument which is at the same time a tomb, in which, voluntarily, one slowly inters oneself.
And on marriage:
It is ghastly to watch, in most marriages, the competition as to which is to be torturer, which tortured; a few years, at most, settle it, and after it is settled, one has happiness and the other has virtue. And the torturer smirks and speaks of matrimonial bliss; and the victim, for fear of worse, smiles a ghastly assent.
All these letters are from the period when his first marriage was breaking up, so maybe he cheered up later?