Let's say while calling the roll, I said "raise your hand if you are absent." Those who were present would laugh a good laugh. For you caught the paradox in my statement.
A paradox is a statement that is self-contradictory because it contains two statements that may be both true but cannot be true at the same time. You cannot be absent and present at the same time, right? Similarly, if I say "I am a compulsive liar," will you believe what I say? Does that make me an honest person who can own up to being a liar? So, I am not a liar? . . . Neither you nor I will be able to determine the truth of my statement. Now, how about "deep down, you're really shallow"? That is a "profoundly shallow" statement that makes us scratch our heads. In addition, "you shouldn't go in the water until you know how to swim." Let's wrap up this round with "never say never!"
Now to shift gears:
Following is an excerpt from "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," a short story written in 1890 by Ambrose Bierce. Peyton Farquhar, a Southern planter and our protagonist, is suffering an acute anxiety and panic attack while awaiting to be executed by the union army.
He closed his eyes in order to fix his last thoughts upon his wife and children. The water, touched to gold by the early sun, the brooding mists under the banks at some distance down the stream, the fort, the soldiers, the piece of drift--all had distracted him. And now he became conscious of a new disturbance. Striking through the thought of his dear ones was a sound which he could neither ignore nor understand, a sharp, distinct, metallic percussion like the stroke of a blacksmith's hammer upon the anvil; it had the same ringing quality. He wondered what it was, and whether immeasurably distant or nearby--it seemed both. Its recurrence was regular, but as slow as the tolling of a death knell. He awaited each stroke with impatience and--he knew not why--apprehension. The intervals of silence grew progressively longer, the delays became maddening. With their greater infrequency the sounds increased in strength and sharpness. They hurt his ear like the thrust of a knife; he feared he would shriek. What he heard was the ticking of his watch.
The extreme fear of death overstimulates Farquhar's senses, and in his imagination, the ticking of his watch becomes a blacksmith's hammer that pounds against his nerves. He imagines each time it ticks the sound stabs him like a knife. In his mind, the sound is just like the crashing bells that signal somebody's death. In this way, he experiences his death before it actually happens. His fear makes life as deadly as death and he cannot bear the short amount of time left for him. His knowledge that he is sure to be hanged makes him unable to bear his life. In such a situation, death may be more welcome than life. Paradoxically, life becomes unbearable and death becomes a comfort.