This is my favorite part of the Corwin & Hugi story, so I’m finally getting around to it:
“I can’t beat it across that place,” I whispered. “There is no way.”
“You say you have failed,” Hugi said. “But this is not so. There is neither failure nor victory in striving. It is all but an illusion of the ego.”
I rose slowly to my knees.
“I did not say that I had failed.”
“You said that you cannot go on to your destination. [….] No, Corwin. Resignation is the greatest virtue you might cultivate.”
I raised my head and lowered the staff to the ground. Hugi fluttered down to stand beside it and I regarded him.
“You do not want to believe any of the things that I said, do you?” I told him. “It does not matter, though. The conflict between our views is irreducible. I see desire as hidden identity and striving as its growth. You do not.” I moved my hands forward and rested them on my knees. “If for you the greatest good is union with the Absolute, then why do you not fly to join it now, in the form of the all-pervading Chaos which approaches? If I fail here, it will become Absolute. As for me, I must try, for so long as there is breath within me, to raise up a Pattern against it. I do this because I am what I am, and I am the man who could have been king in Amber.”
Hugi lowered his head.
“I’ll see you eat crow first,” he said, and he chuckled.
I reached out quickly and twisted his head off, wishing that I had time to build a fire. Though he made it look like a sacrifice, it is difficult to say to whom the moral victory belonged, since I was planning on doing it anyway.
Now, I’m not saying that when leftists tell us that striving for the Good is useless and that we should all wallow in the mud together, we should pull their heads off and eat them. But many times it would be helpful to remind ourselves: “‘The conflict between our views is irreducible.’ I’m not going to convince this person that my way is right, because he’s opposed to the concept of right. I’m not going to talk him into striving for the good, because he considers all such striving to be counterproductive. His only goal is my resignation.” So at some point, usually earlier in the conversation than normal people realize it, you have to say to yourself, “Facts, logic, and appeals to virtue are worthless here; it’s time to shift to their weapons: ridicule, illogic, and beheadings.”