Conscience, dear lady — conscience is a terrible thing! I and my kind spend all our lives battling with it, and we have our hands full trying from time to time to deceive it and to satisfy it in cunning little ways. We are useless creatures, I and my kind, and apart from our few good hours we do nothing but chafe ourselves sore and sick against the knowledge of our own uselessness. We hate everything that is useful, we know that it is vulgar and ugly, and we defend this truth fanatically, as one only defends truths that are absolutely necessary to one’s existence. And nevertheless our bad conscience so gnaws at us that it leaves not one spot on us unscathed. In addition, matters are made worse by the whole character of our inner life, by our outlook, our way of working — they are terribly unwholesome, they undermine us, they exhaust us. And so one has recourse to certain little palliatives, without which it would all be quite unendurable. For example, some of us feel the need for a well-conducted outward existence, for a certain hygienic austerity in our habits. To get up early, cruelly early; to take a cold bath and walk out into the snow . . . That makes us feel moderately satisfied with ourselves for perhaps an hour or so. If I were to act in accordance with my true nature, I should lie in bed until well into the afternoon, believe me. My early rising is really hypocrisy.
— Thomas Mann, Tristan