“For if joyful is the fountain that rises in the sun, its springs are in the wells of sorrow unfathomable at the foundations of the Earth.”
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The Universality of This Sickness (Despair)
Just as the physician might say that there lives perhaps not one single man who is in perfect health, so one might say perhaps that there lives not one single man who after all is not to some extent in despair, in whose inmost parts there does not dwell a disquietude, a perturbation,
a discord, an anxious dread of an unknown something, or of a something he does not even dare to make acquaintance with, dread of a possibility of life, or dread of himself, so that, after all, as physicians speak of a man going about with a disease in him, this man is going about and carrying a sickness of the spirit, which only rarely and in glimpses, by and with a dread which to him is inexplicable, gives evidence of its presence within.
This view will doubtless seem to many a paradox, an exaggeration, and a gloomy and depressing view at that.
Yet it is nothing of the sort.
It is not gloomy;
on the contrary, it seeks to throw light upon a subject which ordinarily is left in obscurity.
It is not depressing;
on the contrary it is uplifting, since it views every man in the aspect of the highest demand made upon him, that he be spirit.
Nor is it a paradox;
on the contrary, it is a fundamental apprehension consistently carried through, and hence it is no exaggeration.
On the other hand, the ordinary view of despair remains content with appearances, and so it is a superficial view, that is, no view at all.
It assumes that every man must know by himself better than anyone else whether he is in despair or not.
So whoever says that he is in despair is regarded as being in despair, but whoever thinks he is not in despair is not so regarded.
Consequently despair becomes a rather rare phenomenon, whereas in fact it is quite universal. It is not a rare exception that one is in despair; no, the rare, the very rare exception is that one is not in despair.
More to come in Piece X…