View Full Version : Jack London's "Credo"

06-09-2005, 08:01 AM
I'm posting this work of Jack London's because I really like it and also because it was a favourite work of a friend who absolutely lived his life to the fullest! :nod:


I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark
should burn out in a brilliant blaze
than it should be stifled by dry-rot.

I would rather be a superb meteor
every atom of me in magnificent glow
than a sleepy and permanent planet.

The function of man is to live
not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.


03-30-2006, 06:17 PM
Logos, he puts his credo into his prose a few times, and occasionally he even stops to interpret it for the reader. I am looking for a passage about a dog chasing a hare across the frozen snow. If I find it, I'll quote it. The idea was that the entire universe was inanimate, like the snow; and on the surface was life—and the meaning of life, and the celebration of life, was in the passion to stay alive. The meaning of life was to be alive. The hare was running for its life, as was the predator in pursuit.

Now, who wrote the image of the prospector travelling through the snow and wilderness to the cabin, wherein he joined a game of dice? Sometimes I entangle the writings of Robert Service with those of Jack London. Again, the point was in living for the being there, as we might say now. The prospector goes in to join the men and share the camaraderie, and he enters a game and throws the dice. Here the image is stopped, as it were, with the dice in the air. It doesn't matter how the dice land, the writer tells us; whether the player should win or lose. What matters was that he was there, having come through the inhospitable elements. He was there; and he threw the dice. That was everything.


You include a touching remembrance, Logos. Perhaps, I might gently suggest, you are incorrect regarding the second date. It seems to me your wonderful friend is with you now, alive as ever you knew him. Kindest regards and understanding.

03-30-2006, 06:35 PM
The quote (below) is from Chapter 3 of Call of the Wild. The chapter is called The Dominant Primordial Beast. The part crucial to Jack London's philosophy is the third paragraph here, beginning "There is an ecstacy . . . ."

Um—The creature with sixty dogs in pursuit was technically a snowshoe hare; not really a rabbit.


At the mouth of the Tahkeena, one night after supper, Dub turned up a snowshoe rabbit, blundered it, and missed. In a second the whole team was in full cry. A hundred yards away was a camp of the Northwest Police, with fifty dogs, huskies all, who joined the chase. The rabbit sped down the river, turned off into a small creek, up the frozen bed of which it held steadily. It ran lightly on the surface of the snow, while the dogs ploughed through by main strength. Buck led the pack, sixty strong, around bend after bend, but he could not gain. He lay down low to the race, whining eagerly, his splendid body flashing forward, leap by leap, in the wan white moonlight. And leap by leap, like some pale frost wraith, the snowshoe rabbit flashed on ahead.

All that stirring of old instincts which at stated periods drives men out from the sounding cities to forest and plain to kill things by chemically propelled leaden pellets, the blood lust, the joy to kill - all this was Buck's, only it was infinitely more intimate. He was ranging at the head of the pack, running the wild thing down, the living meat, to kill with his own teeth and wash his muzzle to the eyes in warm blood.

There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive. This ecstasy, this forgetfulness of living, comes to the artist, caught up and out of himself in a sheet of flame; it comes to the soldier, war-mad on a stricken field and refusing quarter; and it came to Buck, leading the pack, sounding the old wolf-cry, straining after the food that was alive and that fled swiftly before him through the moonlight. He was sounding the deeps of his nature, and of the parts of his nature that were deeper than he, going back into the womb of Time. He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death, that it was aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the stars and over the face of dead matter that did not move.

09-01-2014, 04:04 AM
The function of man is to live
not to exist.

I like this. The difference between living and (just) existing is big.