Man must either fall in love
With Someone or Something,
Or else fall ill.

— W. H. Auden, “Shorts”


It is certain that any wild wish or vain imagination never takes such firm possession of the mind, as when it is found empty and unoccupied. The old peripatetick principle, that Nature abhors a vacuum, may be properly applied to the intellect, which will embrace any thing, however absurd or criminal, rather than be wholly without an object.

— Samuel Johnson, “The Mischiefs of Total Idleness


That the ascetic ideal has meant so many things to man, however, is an expression of the basic fact of the human will, its horror vacui: it needs a goal, and it will rather will nothingness than not will.

— Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals


Other animals do not need a purpose in life. A contradiction to itself, the human animal cannot do without one. Can we not think of the aim of life as being simply to see?

— John N. Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals