“Man's misfortune stems from the fact that he does not want to stay in the room where he belongs.”

Jean-Baptiste Grenouille

This quote is more legitimately attributed to the french polymath Blaise Pascal, "All the misfortunes of men derive from one single thing, which is their inability to be at ease in a room at home".

The version above, which I prefer, and have written the first chapter of a novel about, I first read in the book Perfume by Patrick Süskind. I later found the original quote in the introduction to Martin Parr's endearing yet cynical document of travel, Small World.

I think that it is essentially true, and it aligns with Buddhist and Schöpenhauerian philosophy that our desires are the root of our suffering, that freeing ourself of desire is the easiest means of freeing ourself of suffering.

BUT... as Martin Parr points out, Pascal also wrote the following, "Our nature lies in movement. Complete calm is death". Whilst it may be the source of our misery, our need to explore can also be the source of our greatest happiness.


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