Thomas Bernhard on self-discipline

Bernhard on reading, writing and rising early
Thomas Bernhard
An extract from 'The Cellar: An Escape', part of Thomas Bernhard's autobiography, Gathering Evidence:
From my grandfather I had acquired the habit of rising early, almost always before five. It is a ritual I still preserve. Despite the unremitting force of inertia and in full consciousness of the pointlessness of everything we do, the seasons are met with the same unchanging discipline every day. For long periods I live in isolation, isolated both in mind and in body. I am able to cope with myself by subjecting myself completely and unswervingly to my needs. Periods of absolute productivity alternate with others in which I am utterly unproductive. Subject to every vagary of my own nature and of the universe - whatever it is - I can get through live only with the help of a precise daily routine. I am able to exist only by dint of standing up to myself - in fact, of consistently opposing myself. When I am writing I read nothing, and when I am reading I write nothing. For long periods I read and write nothing, finding both equally repugnant. There are long periods when I detest both reading and writing, and then I fall prey to inactivity, which means brooding obsessively on my extremely personal plight, both as an object of curiosity and as a confirmation of everything I am today, of what I have become over the years in circumstances which are as routine as they are unnatural, artificial, and indeed perverse.

Thomas Bernhard, Gathering Evidence: A Memoir
Translated by David McLintock
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