For Schopenhauer, the deepest problem of the self, afflicting itself, is our individuality. The will to live must live and fester on itself since nothing exists beside it, and it becomes temporarily will-less, a mere passive mirror of reality, where its attachment to suffering and satisfaction, happiness and unhappiness, willing and nothingness is a farce we are all forced to endure.
In Arthur Rimbaud’s A Season in Hell & Illuminations, to extinguish all human will to live, all human hope from one’s soul is to find eternity, a semblance of universality that makes the living of life more bearable, where the best thing to be and become is an outcast to one’s desires, to find in fleeing all the lost selves we’ve had to inhabit.
Morality and intuition, as a result, are possible on this shedding of self; the appearance of comprehending the self, one’s attachment to desire and emotion, the completeness of the human condition, all this makes up a part of reality where the denial of death and suffering are manifest.
The only route to its antithesis, of living an authentic life, of non-existence, is to break from life itself as a source of intrinsic value; it can be pursued, according to Rimbaud, by rebelling against the excesses of your very soul.
This is what makes A Season in Hell so impossible to write about and so potent… a grotesque and fascinating read.
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