E. M. Cioran, Drawn and Quartered:

While they were preparing the hemlock, Socrates was learning how to play a new tune on the flute. “What will be the use of that?” he was asked. “To know this tune before dying.” If I dare repeat this reply long since trivialized by the handbooks, it is because it seems to me the sole serious justification of any desire to know, whether exercised on the brink of death or at any other moment of existence.

Alan Jacobs @ayjay