Melancholy fool

My perpetual searchings into the causes of my melancholy and inability to cope with life were fruitless and wearying.  Yet I had no sense of being worn out or exhausted; indeed I was conscious of vague stirrings within me, convinced that when my time came I would succeed in producing some valuable work and at any rate snatching a modicum of good fortune from this frail life of ours.  But would the right moment ever come?  With some bitterness I thought of those neurotic, up-to-date gentlemen who, with the help of various artificial stimuli, manage to extract some artistic creation from themselves, whereas I was conscious that latent sources of power lay dormant in me, still untapped.  And I again examined myself to see what sort of obstacle or daimon was causing my spirit to stagnate and to increasingly weigh me down.  I was obsessed with the idea of myself as an outsider, an imperfectly developed human-being whose suffering no one knew, understood or shared.  The devilish thing about hypochondria is that it not only makes one ill, but conceited and short-sighted, almost to the point of arrogance.  One regards oneself as a kind of dramatic character, like Heine’s Atlas, bearing all the world’s sorrows and enigmas on one’s shoulders, as if there were not thousands of others suffering the same woes, as they wandered about lost in the same labyrinths.

-Hermann Hesse


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