15 April 2013

The Defeat of Despair

Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death (New York: Free Press, 1973), p. 199:
The defeat of despair is not mainly an intellectual problem for an active organism, but a problem of self-stimulation via movement. Beyond a given point man is not helped more by "knowing," but by living and doing in a partly self-forgetful way. As Goethe put it, we must plunge into experience and then reflect on the meaning of it. All reflection and no plunging drives us mad; all plunging and no reflection, and we are brutes.
The quote from Goethe is found in the Prelude to Faust, tr. Bayard Taylor:
Grasp the exhaustless life that all men live!
Each shares therein, though few may comprehend:
Where'er you touch, there 's interest without end. 
The original:
Greift nur hinein ins volle Menschenleben!
Ein jeder lebt's, nicht vielen ist's bekannt,
Und wo Ihr's packt, da ist's interessant.