The Denial of Death

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  • Author: Ernest Becker
  • Date: 2023-02-14
  • Tag: #psychology #philosophy
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We repress our bodies to purchase a soul that time cannot destroy; we sacrifice pleasure to buy immortality; we encapsulate ourselves to avoid death. And life escapes us while we huddle within the defended fortress of character.

Our desire for the best is the cause of the worst.

Becker, like Socrates, advises us to practice dying. Cultivating awareness of our death leads to disillusionment, loss of character armor, and a conscious choice to abide in the face of terror.

CH1 Human Nature and the Heroic


as William James—who covered just about everything—remarked at the turn of the century: “mankind’s common instinct for reality… has always held the world to be essentially a theatre for heroism.”



As Aristotle somewhere put it: luck is when the guy next to you gets hit with the arrow.


Freud’s explanation for this was that the unconscious does not know death or time: in man’s physiochemical, inner organic recesses he feels immortal.

自恋与自我价值的认同 [[《自卑与超越》]]


His sense of self-worth is constituted symbolically, his cherished narcissism feeds on symbols, on an abstract idea of his own worth, an idea composed of sounds, words, and images, in the air, in the mind, on paper. And this means that man’s natural yearning for organismic activity, the pleasures of incorporation and expansion, can be fed limitlessly in the domain of symbols and so into immortality. The single organism can expand into dimensions of worlds and times without moving a physical limb; it can take eternity into itself even as it gaspingly dies.

Cosmic significance。自恋与自我认同的需求相结合,我们产生了一种「天上地下唯我独尊」的独特心理。小孩子羞于掩饰,总是要最好的,当第一。

When you combine natural narcissism with the basic need for self-esteem, you create a creature who has to feel himself an object of primary value: first in the universe, representing in himself all of life.


We disguise our struggle by piling up figures in a bank book to reflect privately our sense of heroic worth.



But each cultural system is a dramatization of earthly heroics; each system cuts out roles for performances of various degrees of heroism: from the “high” heroism of a Churchill, a Mao, or a Buddha, to the “low” heroism of the coal miner, the peasant, the simple priest; the plain, everyday, earthy heroism wrought by gnarled working hands guiding a family through hunger and disease.


earn a feeling of primary value, of cosmic specialness, of ultimate usefulness to creation, of unshakable meaning.


“civilized” society is a hopeful belief and protest that science, money and goods make man count for more than any other animal. In this sense everything that man does is religious and heroic, and yet in danger of being fictitious and fallible.


As we shall see from our subsequent discussion, to become conscious of what one is doing to earn his feeling of heroism is the main self-analytic problem of life.

the main problem of human life: How empirically true is the cultural hero system that sustains and drives men?


The great perplexity of our time, the churning of our age, is that the youth have sensed—for better or for worse—a great social-historical truth: that just as there are useless self-sacrifices in unjust wars, so too is there an ignoble heroics of whole societies: it can be the viciously destructive heroics of Hitler’s Germany or the plain debasing and silly heroics of the acquisition and display of consumer goods, the piling up of money and privileges that now characterizes whole ways of life, capitalist and Soviet.

Society itself is a codified hero system, which means that society everywhere is a living myth of the significance of human life, a defiant creation of meaning.


For twenty-five hundred years we have hoped and believed that if mankind could reveal itself to itself, could widely come to know its own cherished motives, then somehow it would tilt the balance of things in its own favor.



I drink not from mere joy in wine nor to scoff at faith—no, only to forget myself for a moment, that only do I want of intoxication, that alone. —OMAR KHAYYAM

CH2 The Terror of Death


of all things that move man, one of the principal ones is his terror of death.


We admire most the courage to face death; we give such valor our highest and most constant adoration; it moves us deeply in our hearts because we have doubts about how brave we ourselves would be.



When philosophy took over from religion it also took over religion’s central problem, and death became the real “muse of philosophy” from its beginnings in Greece right through Heidegger and modern existentialism.


The psychiatrist Rhein-gold says categorically that annihilation anxiety is not part of the child’s natural experience but is engendered in him by bad experiences with a depriving mother.


the fear of death as greatly heightened by the child’s experiences with his parents, by their hostile denial of his life impulses, and, more generally, by the antagonism of society to human freedom and self-expansiveness.


fear of death is something that society creates and at the same time uses against the person to keep him in submission



Zilboorg says that most people think death fear is absent because it rarely shows its true face; but he argues that underneath all appearances fear of death is universally present

Zilboorg points out that this fear is actually an expression of the instinct of self-preservation, which functions as a constant drive to maintain life and to master the dangers that threaten life


what is unique about the child’s perception of the world? For one thing, the extreme confusion of cause-and-effect relationships; for another, extreme unreality about the limits of his own powers.

When the child experiences inevitable and real frustrations from his parents, he directs hate and destructive feelings toward them; and he has no way of knowing that malevolent feelings cannot be fulfilled by the same magic as were his other wishes. Psychoanalysts believe that this confusion is a main cause of guilt and helplessness in the child.

the child doesn’t have the sure ability to organize his perceptions and his relationship to the world; he can’t control his own activity; and he doesn’t have sure command over the acts of others.

「talion principle」。孩子的恐惧和无助源于:

terror of the world, the horror of one’s own wishes, the fear of vengeance by the parents, the disappearance of things, one’s lack of control over anything, really.

repression takes care of the complex symbol of death for most people.


underneath the most bland exterior lurks the universal anxiety, the “worm at the core.”


repression 是如何工作的:以彼之力还施彼身。

it is not simply a negative force opposing life energies; it lives on life energies and uses them creatively.


Again we have evidence that the complex symbol of fear of death would be very variable in its intensity; it would be, as Wahl concluded, “profoundly dependent upon the nature and the vicissitudes of the developmental process.”


What we will see is that man cuts out for himself a manageable world: he throws himself into action uncritically, unthinkingly. He accepts the cultural programming that turns his nose where he is supposed to look; he doesn’t bite the world off in one piece as a giant would, but in small manageable pieces, as a beaver does. He uses all kinds of techniques, which we call the “character defenses”: he learns not to expose himself, not to stand out; he learns to embed himself in other-power, both of concrete persons and of things and cultural commands; the result is that he comes to exist in the imagined infallibility of the world around him. He doesn’t have to have fears when his feet are solidly mired and his life mapped out in a ready-made maze. All he has to do is to plunge ahead in a compulsive style of drivenness in the “ways of the world” that the child learns and in which he lives later as a kind of grim equanimity—the “strange power of living in the moment and ignoring and forgetting”—as James put it.

CH3 The Recasting of Some Basic Psychoanalytic Ideas


there was no essence, that the essence of man is really his paradoxical nature, the fact that he is half animal and half symbolic.

We might call this existential paradox the condition of individuality within finitude.


Man has a symbolic identity that brings him sharply out of nature. He is a symbolic self, a creature with a name, a life history. He is a creator with a mind that soars out to speculate about atoms and infinity, who can place himself imaginatively at a point in space and contemplate bemusedly his own planet. This immense expansion, this dexterity, this ethereality, this self-consciousness gives to man literally the status of a small god in nature, as the Renaissance thinkers knew.


Man is literally split in two: he has an awareness of his own splendid uniqueness in that he sticks out of nature with a towering majesty, and yet he goes back into the ground a few feet in order blindly and dumbly to rot and disappear forever.


In this way we realize directly and poignantly that what we call the child’s character is a modus vivendi achieved after the most unequal struggle any animal has to go through; a struggle that the child can never really understand because he doesn’t know what is happening to him, why he is responding as he does, or what is really at stake in the battle.

character is a face that one sets to the world, but it hides an inner defeat.

To grow up at all is to conceal the mass of internal scar tissue that throbs in our dreams.

帕斯卡:「not to be mad would amount to another form of madness.」不疯狂即是另一种疯狂。

Anality ——肛交心理——forms of the universal protest against accident and death

the basic key to the problem of anality is that it reflects the dualism of man’s condition—his self and his body.


it reflects the discovery and exercise of natural bodily functions; it masters an area of strangeness; it establishes power and control over the deterministic laws of the natural world; and it does all this with symbols and fancy.


The anus and its incomprehensible, repulsive product represents not only physical determinism and boundness, but the fate as well of all that is physical: decay and death.



we can understand what the existential paradox means: that what bothers people is really incongruity, life as it is.


the boy child had innate drives of sexuality and he even wanted to possess his mother. At the same time, he knew that his father was his competitor, and he held in check a murderous aggressiveness toward him. The reason he held it in check was that he knew the father was physically stronger than he and that the result of an open fight would be the father’s victory and the castration of the son. Hence the horror of blood, of mutilation, of the female genitals that seemed to have been mutilated; they testified that castration was a fact.


He thought that the guilt we each feel deep down is connected with a primal crime of patricide and incest committed in the dim recesses of prehistory; so deep is guilt ingrained, so much is it confused with the body, with sex and excrement, and with the parents.


the Oedipus complex is the Oedipal project, a project that sums up the basic problem of the child’s life: whether he will be a passive object of fate, an appendage of others, a plaything of the world or whether he will be an active center within himself—whether he will control his own destiny with his own powers or not.

plainly exhibits infantile narcissism perverted by the flight from death


The Oedipal project is the flight from passivity, from obliteration, from contingency: the child wants to conquer death by becoming the father of himself, the creator and sustainer of his own life.


His body is his narcissistic project, and he uses it to try to “swallow the world.” The “anal stage” is another way of talking about the period when the child begins to turn his attention to his own body as an object in his phenomenal field.


The profound meaning of this is that there is no “perfect” way to bring up a child, since he “brings himself up” by trying to shape himself into an absolute controller of his own destiny. As this aim is impossible, each character is, deeply and in some way, fantastically unreal, fundamentally imperfect. As Ferenczi so well summed it up: “Character is from the point of view of the psychoanalyst a sort of abnormality, a kind of mechanization of a particular way of reaction, rather similar to an obsessional symptom.”

The Castration Complex


In the newer understanding of the castration complex it is not the father’s threats that the child reacts to. As Brown so well says, the castration complex comes into being solely in confrontation with the mother.

That is another way of saying that the mother, by representing secure biological dependence, is also a fundamental threat.


What troubles neurotics—as it troubles most people—is their own powerlessness; they must find something to set themselves against. If the mother represents biological dependence, then the dependence can be fought against by focussing it on the fact of sexual differentiation. If the child is to be truly causa sui, then he must aggressively defy the parents in some way, move beyond them and the threats and temptations they embody. The genitals are a small thing in the child’s perceptual world; hardly enough to be traumatic just because they lack protuberance.




The horror of sexual differentiation is a horror of “biological fact,” as Brown so well says.18 It is a fall out of illusion into sobering reality. It is a horror of assuming an immense new burden, the burden of the meaning of life and the body, of the fatality of one’s incompleteness, his helplessness, his finitude.



The inner self represents the freedom of thought, imagination, and the infinite reach of symbolism. The body represents determinism and boundness. The child gradually learns that his freedom as a unique being is dragged back by the body and its appendages which dicate “what” he is. For this reason sexuality is as much a problem for the adult as for the child: the physical solution to the problem of who we are and why we have emerged on this planet is no help—in fact, it is a terrible threat. It doesn’t tell the person what he is deep down inside, what kind of distinctive gift he is to work upon the world. This is why it is so difficult to have sex without guilt: guilt is there because the body casts a shadow on the person’s inner freedom, his “real self” that—through the act of sex—is being forced into a standardized, mechanical, biological role. Even worse, the inner self is not even being called into consideration at all; the body takes over completely for the total person, and this kind of guilt makes the inner self shrink and threaten to disappear.

专注于「physical self」是一种逃避存在悖论、以及性的罪恶感的方式。女人在性交中通过确认「爱」去确认和保证自己独特的内在「self」不会被动物性的因素所否定。男人则相反,纯粹动物性角度出发,去逃避这种罪恶感以及对自我存在的怀疑。

Trauma of the primal scene

causa-sui:自因。拉丁文 causa sui 的意译。十七世纪荷兰唯物主义哲学家斯宾诺莎哲学中的基本概念。斯宾诺莎反对笛卡尔宇宙有物质、精神两个独立存在、平行发展的本原的观点,主张宇宙间只有实体存在着,这个实体就是无所不包的整个自然界。


The thing that the parents represent most of all is the discouragement of the body as a causa-sui project; they represent the castration complex, disillusionment with the body, and the fear of it. Even more, they themselves are the living embodiment of the cultural world view that the child has to internalize in order for him to get out of his impasse with his body.


Sex is an inevitable component of man’s confusion over the meaning of his life, a meaning split hopelessly into two realms—symbols (freedom) and body (fate).


It then becomes a lie about reality, a screen against full consciousness.


In this sense, sex as a project represents a retreat from the standardizations and monopolizations of the social world.

A person is said to be “socialized” precisely when he accepts to “sublimate” the body-sexual character of his Oedipal project.


The castration complex has done its work, and one submits to “social reality”; he can now deflate his own desires and claims and can play it safe in the world of the powerful elders. He can even give his body over to the tribe, the state, the embracing magical umbrella of the elders and their symbols; that way it will no longer be a dangerous negation for him. But there is no real difference between a childish impossibility and an adult one; the only thing that the person achieves is a practiced self-deceit—what we call the “mature” character.

CH4 Human Character as a Vital Lie




I thought the reason man was so naturally cowardly was that he felt he had no authority; and the reason he had no authority was in the very nature of the way the human animal is shaped: all our meanings are built into us from the outside, from our dealings with others.

Jonah Syndrom:对成长的逃避,对实现自己最大能力的恐惧。我们害怕被粉碎、失去控制、走向灭亡,继而减弱了我们的生命强度。

Maslow used an apt term for this evasion of growth, this fear of realizing one’s own fullest powers. He called it the “Jonah Syndrome.”

“partly a justified fear of being torn apart, of losing control, of being shattered and disintegrated, even of being killed by the experience.” And the result of this syndrome is what we would expect a weak organism to do: to cut back the full intensity of life

孩童缺少承受创造的恐怖的力量。Repression 的好处就是能够让人们在这个无法理解、充斥着美好、恐怖的复杂世界上坚定地生活下去。

We change these heavily emotional perceptions precisely because we need to move about in the world with some kind of equanimity, some kind of strength and directness; we can’t keep gaping with our heart in our mouth, greedily sucking up with our eyes everything great and powerful that strikes us.


She created an animal who has no defense against full perception of the external world, an animal completely open to experience. Not only in front of his nose, in his umwelt, but in many other umwelten. He can relate not only to animals in his own species, but in some ways to all other species. He can contemplate not only what is edible for him, but everything that grows. He not only lives in this moment, but expands his inner self to yesterday, his curiosity to centuries ago, his fears to five billion years from now when the sun will cool, his hopes to an eternity from now. He lives not only on a tiny territory, nor even on an entire planet, but in a galaxy, in a universe, and in dimensions beyond visible universes.


As Maslow has well said, “It is precisely the godlike in ourselves that we are ambivalent about, fascinated by and fearful of, motivated to and defensive against. This is one aspect of the basic human predicament, that we are simultaneously worms and gods.”


Freud’s greatest discovery, the one which lies at the root of psychodynamics, is that the great cause of much psychological illness is the fear of knowledge of oneself—of one’s emotions, impulses, memories, capacities, potentialities, of one’s destiny. We have discovered that fear of knowledge of oneself is very often isomorphic with, and parallel with, fear of the outside world.


The child’s character, his style of life, is his way of using the power of others, the support of the things and the ideas of his culture, to banish from his awareness the actual fact of his natural impotence.


There is no secure answer to the awesome mystery of the human face that scrutinizes itself in the mirror; no answer, at any rate, that can come from the person himself, from his own center. One’s own face may be godlike in its miraculousness, but one lacks the godlike power to know what it means, the godlike strength to have been responsible for its emergence.


We don’t want to admit that we are fundamentally dishonest about reality, that we do not really control our own lives. We don’t want to admit that we do not stand alone, that we always rely on something that transcends us, some system of ideas and powers in which we are embedded and which support us.


We still did not meet our doom on our own manly terms, in contest with objective reality. It is fateful and ironic how the lie we need in order to live dooms us to a life that is never really ours.


we could understand what was at stake in the death and rebirth: that man’s character was a neurotic structure that went right to the heart of his humanness. As Frederick Perls put it, “To suffer one’s death and to be reborn is not easy.” And it is not easy precisely because so much of one has to die.

四层神经结构: 一二、everyday layers,大部分时间发挥作用; 三、感到空虚和迷失,我们为了人格防御而避开; 四、死亡感知与拒斥死亡,最深处的真实而基本的动物性恐惧。




Lewis Bunuel 路易斯·布鲁埃尔电影中的疯狗,代表了一种对循规蹈矩的压抑生活的反抗。无论我们如何抵抗,我们就在错误的悬崖边。我们用压抑去抵抗内心的恐惧,伪装真正的现实。

no matter what men pretend, they are only one accidental bite away from utter fallibility.


Maslow talks very convincingly about “self-actualization” and the ecstasy of “peak experiences” wherein a person comes to see the world in all its awe and splendor and senses his own free inner expansion and the miracle of his being. Maslow calls this state “being cognition,” the openness of perception to the truth of the world, a truth concealed by the neurotic distortions and illusions that protect one against overwhelming experiences.

Rank 针对罗素的「人生而平等却处处在枷锁中」的批判。

“every human being is… equally unfree, that is, we… create out of freedom, a prison…”

Harold Searles 所说到的患者的悲剧——人的有限性、对死亡和过于庞大的生活的恐惧。人格分裂者无法将自己的肉身安放在合适的位置,对待这些恐惧与不安。我们处于对绝望的防御而形成我们的性格,有些人很不幸,没能将这种恐惧拒之门外。

At Chestnut Lodge, the twice-weekly, hour-long case presentations usually have to do with schizophrenic patients…. When the author went there, nearly 12 years ago, the therapists—including the author—presenting these cases often tended to paint a totally, or almost totally, black picture of the patient’s childhood family relationships; the feeling-atmosphere of the presentation was one of blame of the parents more than anything else. As the years have gone on, the author has found that the presentations have come to convey less and less of such blame, and to convey more and more of the tragedy of the patients’ lives—tragedy which is so much of a piece with the tragedy of life for all of us that the presentation is often a profoundly grief-laden experience for both the presenter and the listeners. One feels that the staff-presentation now gives a truer picture of a patient’s life, but a picture which is much more deeply shaking than was the blame-colored picture previously often seen.

The schizophrenic’s misfortune is that he has been burdened with extra anxieties, extra guilt, extra helplessness, an even more unpredictable and unsupportive environment. He is not surely seated in his body, has no secure base from which to negotiate a defiance of and a denial of the real nature of the world.

The schizophrenic is supremely creative in an almost extra-human sense because he is furthest from the animal: he lacks the secure instinctive programming of lower organisms; and he lacks the secure cultural programming of average men. No wonder he appears to average men as “crazy”: he is not in anything’s world.


The irony of man’s condition is that the deepest need is to be free of the anxiety of death and annihilation; but it is life itself which awakens it, and so we must shrink from being fully alive.

Stripped of subtle complications (i.e., of all the character defenses—repression, denial, misperception of reality), who could regard the sun except with fear?

CH5 The Psychoanalyst Kierkegaard

Kierkegaard 克尔凯郭尔

the best existential analysis of the human condition leads directly into the problems of God and faith

Kierkegaard 的理论基石是人类自我意识的觉醒——即被逐出伊甸园。同时也带给了人恐惧和焦虑。

The foundation stone for Kierkegaard’s view of man is the myth of the Fall, the ejection of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.

The fall into self-consciousness, the emergence from comfortable ignorance in nature, had one great penalty for man: it gave him dread, or anxiety.


In other words, the final terror of self-consciousness is the knowledge of one’s own death, which is the peculiar sentence on man alone in the animal kingdom. This is the meaning of the Garden of Eden myth and the rediscovery of modern psychology: that death is man’s peculiar and greatest anxiety.

K 将人们性格的形成原因归为躲避恐惧与毁灭。即人么你如何欺骗自己的方式导致了他们是怎么样的人。

Kierkegaard’s whole understanding of man’s character is that it is a structure built up to avoid perception of the “terror, perdition [and] annihilation [that] dwell next door to every man.”

「lofty」shut-upness 与 「mistaken」shut-upness(the lie of character)。孩子的童年经历导致了他们选择以何种方式形成自己的防御或者说性格。

for Kierkegaard, the “good” is the opening toward new possibility and choice, the ability to face into anxiety; the closed is the evil, that which turns one away from newness and broader perceptions and experiences; the closed shuts out revelation, obtrudes a veil between the person and his own situation in the world.


the inauthentic or immediate man:被社会文化所限制,成为了文化的奴隶,用劳动力回报去掌控自己的生活。如张爱玲所说,「新兴的京戏里有一种孩子气的力量,合了我们内在的需要。中国人的原始性没有被根除,想必我们的文化过于随随便便之故。就在这一点上,我们不难找到中国人的永久的青春的秘密。」想必张所谓的「永久的青春」并非褒义。中国的文化根深蒂固,过于厚重,难以改变。因此,在中国做一个「immediate man」十分容易。我们需要一些「孩子气」更多的东西,不仅仅是在张的时代。


Why does man accept to live a trivial life? Because of the danger of a full horizon of experience, of course. This is the deeper motivation of philistinism, that it celebrates the triumph over possibility, over freedom. Philistinism knows its real enemy: freedom is dangerous. If you follow it too willingly it threatens to pull you into the air; if you give it up too wholly, you become a prisoner of necessity. The safest thing is to toe the mark of what is socially possible.


Kierkegaard is painting for us a broad and incredibly rich portrait of types of human failure, ways in which man succumbs to and is beaten by life and the world; beaten because he fails to face up to the existential truth of his situation—the truth that he is an inner symbolic self, which signifies a certain freedom, and that he is bound by a finite body, which limits that freedom.



the development of the person is a development in depth from a fixed center in the personality, a center that unites both aspects of the existential dualism—the self and the body. But this kind of development needs precisely an acknowledgment of reality, the reality of one’s limits.

The depressed person is so afraid of being himself, so fearful of exerting his own individuality, of insisting on what might be his own meanings, his own conditions for living, that he seems literally stupid. He cannot seem to understand the situation he is in, cannot see beyond his own fears, cannot grasp why he has bogged down.


“The loss of possibility signifies: either that everything has become necessary to man or that everything has become trivial.”——K

庸俗主义的拥趸即为「normal neurosis」正常的精神病患者。

The Philistine trusts that by keeping himself at a low level of personal intensity he can avoid being pulled off balance by experience; philistinism works, as Kierkegaard said, by “tranquilizing itself with the trivial.”

K 试图将人们带出这种对生命的谎言。

he is attempting to ferret people out of the lie of their lives whose lives do not look like a lie, who seem to succeed in being true, complete and authentic persons.

对「immediate man」轻蔑、不屑的人——introvert。询问这些我们从青春期开始挣扎的问题:

  • What is one’s true talent, his secret gift, his authentic vocation?
  • In what way is one truly unique, and how can he express this uniqueness, give it form, dedicate it to something beyond himself?
  • How can the person take his private inner being, the great mystery that he feels at the heart of himself, his emotions, his yearnings and use them to live more distinctively, to enrich both himself and mankind with the peculiar quality of his talent?


And this brings us to our final type of man: the one who asserts himself out of defiance of his own weakness, who tries to be a god unto himself, the master of his fate, a self-created man. He will not be merely the pawn of others, of society; he will not be a passive sufferer and secret dreamer, nursing his own inner flame in oblivion. He will plunge into life,



instead of the deadends of human impotence, self-centeredness, and self-destruction, he now shows us what true possibility would be like for man.

The “healthy” person, the true individual, the self-realized soul, the “real” man, is the one who has transcended himself.

In order to transcend himself he must break down that which he needs in order to live.

In the prison of one’s character one can pretend and feel that he is somebody, that the world is manageable, that there is a reason for one’s life, a ready justification for one’s action.


This is the terror: to have emerged from nothing, to have a name, consciousness of self, deep inner feelings, an excruciating inner yearning for life and self-expression—and with all this yet to die.

The flood of anxiety is not the end for man. It is, rather, a “school” that provides man with the ultimate education, the final maturity. It is a better teacher than reality, says Kierkegaard,40 because reality can be lied about, twisted, and tamed by the tricks of cultural perception and repression. But anxiety cannot be lied about. Once you face up to it, it reveals the truth of your situation; and only by seeing that truth can you open a new possibility for yourself.

William James的总结:

This is the salvation through self-despair, the dying to be truly born, of Lutheran theology, the passage into nothing of which Jacob Behmen [Boehme] writes. To get to it, a critical point must usually be passed, a corner turned within one. Something must give way, a native hardness must break down and liquefy….

The man with the clear head is the man who frees himself from those fantastic “ideas” [the characterological lie about reality] and looks life in the face, realizes that everything in it is problematic, and feels himself lost.


one is a creature who can do nothing, but one exists over against a living God for whom “everything is possible.”


Man breaks through the bounds of merely cultural heroism; he destroys the character lie that had him perform as a hero in the everyday social scheme of things; and by doing so he opens himself up to infinity, to the possibility of cosmic heroism, to the very service of God. His life thereby acquires ultimate value in place of merely social and cultural, historical value. He links his secret inner self, his authentic talent, his deepest feelings of uniqueness, his inner yearning for absolute significance, to the very ground of creation. Out of the ruins of the broken cultural self there remains the mystery of the private, invisible, inner self which yearned for ultimate significance, for cosmic heroism. This invisible mystery at the heart of every creature now attains cosmic significance by affirming its connection with the invisible mystery at the heart of creation. This is the meaning of faith.

In Kierkegaard, psychology and religion, philosophy and science, poetry and truth merge indistinguishably together in the yearning of the creature.

CH6 The Problem of Freud’s Character, Noch Einmal

Man’s body was “a curse of fate,” and culture was built upon repression—not because man was a seeker only of sexuality, of pleasure, of life and expansiveness, as Freud thought, but because man was also primarily an avoider of death. Consciousness of death is the primary repression, not sexuality.

弗洛伊德后期写作的核心——「death instinct」。他也是个小心眼的人。

The death instinct represents the organism’s desire to die, but the organism can save itself from its own impulsion toward death by redirecting it outward. The desire to die, then, is replaced by the desire to kill, and man defeats his own death instinct by killing others.


Rank: “the death fear of the ego is lessened by the killing, the sacrifice, of the other; through the death of the other, one buys oneself free from the penalty of dying, of being killed.”


To yield is to disperse one’s shored-up center, let down one’s guard, one’s character armor, admit one’s lack of self-sufficiency. And this shored-up center, this guard, this armor, this supposed self-sufficiency are the very things that the entire project of coming-of-age from childhood to manhood is all about.

弗洛伊德的晕眩与他的人生问题的关系——The fantasy of father-murder,“wrecked-by-success”。


Guilt is a function of fear

all victories over a rival, including his own father, reawaken the guilt of victory and trigger the reaction of being unable to bear it.

causa-sui 是一种代价,即我们必须同时承担情感上的无助以及对这种情绪认同的反抗。

the causa-sui project is a lie that must take its toll; now we can understand that this toll is an emotional one that must always carry both the temptation to admit helpless dependence and the fight against that admission. One lives with a certain amount of tight-lipped determination.


The ego is the thing; it alone gives self-governance, the ability to have a certain freedom of action and choice, to shape one’s own destiny as much as possible.

As Roazen points out, in Freud’s own words he saw his hero as:“… a man whose sexual need and activity were exceptionally reduced, as if a higher aspiration had raised him above the common animal need of mankind.”


Here is the ambivalence of causa sui on a conceptual level: how can one trust any meanings that are not man-made?


As you fear that life in this dimension may not count, may not have any real meaning, you relieve your anxiety by being especially scornful of the very thing that you wish for most, while underneath your writing desk you have your fingers crossed.


This is what makes man strong and true—that he defies the illusory comforts of religion.

What, actually, does it mean to be a tragic figure firmly in the grip of one’s daimon? It means to possess great talent, to relentlessly pursue the expression of that talent through the unswerving affirmation of the causa-sui project that alone gives it birth and form.


CH7 The Spell Cast by Persons—The Nexus of Unfreedom


men worship and fear power and so give their loyalty to those who dispense it.



“In our innermost soul we are still children, and we remain so throughout life.”


they simply became dependent children again, blindly following the inner voice of their parents, which now came to them under the hypnotic spell of the leader. They abandoned their egos to his, identified with his power, tried to function with him as an ideal.

leader 带给群体虚幻,如同带给孩子无边能力幻想的父亲。

The real world is simply too terrible to admit; it tells man that he is a small, trembling animal who will decay and die. Illusion changes all this, makes man seem important, vital to the universe, immortal in some way.

In the group each man seems an omnipotent hero who can give full vent to his appetites under the approving eye of the father.

弗洛姆 - [[《逃避自由》]]

Fromm has insisted, too, on the importance of what he calls “incestuous symbiosis”: the fear of emerging out of the family and into the world on one’s own responsibility and powers; the desire to keep oneself tucked into a larger source of power. It is these things that make for the mystique of “group,” “nation,” “blood,” “mother- or fatherland,” and the like.

Redl 的研究

the “spell cast by persons”—as we have called it—is a very complex one, which includes many more things than meet the eye. In fact, it may include everything but a spell.


Redl showed that groups use leaders for several types of exculpation or relief of conflict, for love, or for even just the opposite—targets of aggressions and hate that pulls the group together in a common bond. (As one recent popular film advertisement put it: “They follow him bravely into hell only for the pleasure of killing him and revenging themselves.”)


the leader is as much a creature of the group as they of him and that he loses his “individual distinctiveness” by being a leader, as they do by being followers. He has no more freedom to be himself than any other member of the group, precisely because he has to be a reflex of their assumptions in order to qualify for leadership in the first place.


As we have learned from the anthropological literature, the victim who is sacrificed becomes a holy offering to the gods, to nature, or to fate. The community gets more life by means of the victim’s death, and so the victim has the privilege of serving the world in the highest possible way by means of his own sacrificial death.

He is not just a naturally and lustily destructive animal who lays waste around him because he feels omnipotent and impregnable. Rather, he is a trembling animal who pulls the world down around his shoulders as he clutches for protection and support and tries to affirm in a cowardly way his feeble powers.



For Freud, “eros” covered not only specific sexual drives but also the child’s longing for omnipotence, for the oceanic feeling that comes with a merger with the parental powers.


transference is fundamentally a problem of courage.


that transference is not a matter of unusual cowardice but rather of the basic problems of an organismic life, problems of power and control: the strength to oppose reality and keep it ordered for our own organismic expansion and fulfillment.


The pains we feel, the illnesses that are real or imaginary give us something to relate to, keep us from slipping out of the world, from bogging down in the desperation of complete loneliness and emptiness.


transference is a form of fetishism, a form of narrow control that anchors our own problems.


“… unless we prefer to be made fools of by our illusions, we shall, by carefully analysing every fascination, extract from it a portion of our own personality, like a quintessence, and slowly come to recognize that we meet ourselves time and again in a thousand disguises on the path of life.”


the essence of transference: as a taming of terror.

As William James said, with his unfailing directness, fear is “fear of the universe.” It is the fear of childhood, the fear of emerging into the universe, of realizing one’s own independent individuality, one’s own living and experiencing.

The transference object becomes the focus of the problem of one’s freedom because one is compulsively dependent on it; it sums up all other natural dependencies and emotions.


This is a logical fate for the utterly helpless person: the more you fear death and the emptier you are, the more you people your world with omnipotent father-figures, extra-magical helpers.

the more terrifying the object, the stronger the transference; the more that the powerful object embodies in itself the natural power of the world, the more terrifying it can be, in reality, without any imagination on our part.

The Twin Ontological Motives


transference is a reflex of cowardice in the face of both life and death, but it is also a reflex of the urge to heroism and self-unfolding.


Man is the only organism in nature fated to puzzle out what it actually means to feel “right.”


what the psychoanalysts call “identification” is a natural urge to join in the overwhelming powers that transcend one.


Individuation means that the human creature has to oppose itself to the rest of nature.

The whole basis of the urge to goodness is to be something that has value, that endures.


He uses morality to try to get a place of special belongingness and perpetuation in the universe, in two ways. First, he overcomes badness (smallness, unimportance, finitude) by conforming to the rules made by the representatives of natural power (the transference-objects); in this way his safe belongingness is assured. This too is natural: we tell the child when he is good so that he doesn’t have to be afraid. Second, he attempts to overcome badness by developing a really valuable heroic gift, becoming extra-special.


Dictators, revivalists, and sadists know that people like to be lashed with accusations of their own basic unworthiness because it reflects how they truly feel about themselves. The sadist doesn’t create a masochist; he finds him ready-made.


The fundamental use of transference, of what we could better call “transference heroics,” is the practice of a safe heroism.


How a person solves his natural yearnings for self-expansion and significance determines the quality of his life. Transference heroics gives man precisely what he needs: a certain degree of sharply defined individuality, a definite point of reference for his practice of goodness, and all within a certain secure level of safety and control.


seeing in the other person the self-transcending life process that gives to one’s self the larger nourishment it needs.


As Rank so wisely saw, projection is a necessary unburdening of the individual; man cannot live closed upon himself and for himself. He must project the meaning of his life outward, the reason for it, even the blame for it.

CH8 Otto Rank and the Closure of Psychoanalysis on Kierkegaard


Culture opposes nature and transcends it. Culture is in its most intimate intent a heroic denial of creatureliness.


Or we might better say that Christianity took creature consciousness—the thing man most wanted to deny—and made it the very condition for his cosmic heroism.

Rank 的「romatic solution」:用爱转移英雄主义。精神上和道德上的需求转移到了一个个体上面。

he fixed his urge to cosmic heroism onto another person in the form of a love object.


Salvation itself is no longer referred to an abstraction like God but can be sought “in the beatification of the other.” We could call this “transference beatification.”

Rank 将现代爱情关系视为一种宗教问题。我们所爱对象往往具有「神化」特征,歌曲中天使的微笑,如星星般的美眸。将对方神化、完美话,我们通过与对方结合而得到提升。我们的爱人即为神。

The point is that if the love object is divine perfection, then one’s own self is elevated by joining one’s destiny to it.



in sex the body and the consciousness of it are no longer separated; the body is no longer something we look at as alien to ourselves.


Sex is a “disappointing answer to life’s riddle,” and if we pretend that it is an adequate one, we are lying both to ourselves and to our children.

We might say that the child is still too weak to be able to bear the conflict of trying to be a personality and a species animal at the same time. The adult is, too, but he has been able to develop the necessary mechanisms of defense, repression and denial, that allow him to live with the problem of serving two masters.


When you confuse personal love and cosmic heroism you are bound to fail in both spheres. The impossibility of the heroism undermines the love, even if it is real. As Rank so aptly says, this double failure is what produces the sense of utter despair that we see in modern man. It is impossible to get blood from a stone, to get spirituality from a physical being, and so one feels “inferior” that his life has somehow not succeeded, that he has not realized his true gifts, and so on.


When we look for the “perfect” human object we are looking for someone who allows us to express our will completely, without any frustration or false notes. We want an object that reflects a truly ideal image of ourselves. But no human object can do this; humans have wills and counterwills of their own, in a thousand ways they can move against us, their very appetites offend us.


The shadow of imperfection falls over our lives, and with it—death and the defeat of cosmic heroism. “She lessens” = “I die.” This is the reason for so much bitterness, shortness of temper and recrimination in our daily family lives.


We may have no other God and we may prefer to deflate ourselves in order to keep the relationship, even though we glimpse the impossibility of it and the slavishness to which it reduces us.



我们如何超越自己?我们选择离我们最近的 beyond 父母、老师、老板、领导。

man cannot fashion an absolute from within his condition, that cosmic heroism must transcend human relationships.


The key to the creative type is that he is separated out of the common pool of shared meanings. There is something in his life experience that makes him take in the world as a problem; as a result he has to make personal sense out of it.

The work of art is, then, the ideal answer of the creative type to the problem of existence as he takes it in—not only the existence of the external world, but especially his own: who he is as a painfully separate person with nothing shared to lean on.

如果你如此突出于自然,你自己就必须创造自己的英雄式的理由,这太难了。这就是我们对一些似乎不合逻辑的东西的理解:你越是发展成为一个独特的自由和批判的人,你的内疚感就越强。 艺术家用自己的作品为自己的英雄主义寻找理由。作品即自己,即不完美,直到得到外部认可。

If you stick out of nature so much that you yourself have to create your own heroic justification, it is too much. This is how we understand something that seems illogical: that the more you develop as a distinctive free and critical human being, the more guilt you have.

The artist and the madman are trapped by their own fabrications; they wallow in their own anality, in their protest that they really are something special in creation.


there is no way for the artist to be at peace with his work or with the society that accepts it.


the only way out of human conflict is full renunciation, to give one’s life as a gift to the highest powers. Absolution has to come from the absolute beyond.


One should reach for the highest beyond of religion: man should cultivate the passivity of renunciation to the highest powers no matter how diffcult it is.


Only in this way, says Rank, only by surrendering to the bigness of nature on the highest, least-fetishized level, can man conquer death. In other words, the true heroic validation of one’s life lies beyond sex, beyond the other, beyond the private religion—all these are makeshifts that pull man down or that hem him in, leaving him torn with ambiguity.

CH9 The Present Outcome of Psychoanalysis

But the misfortune of man is that he can experience this guilt in two ways: as bafflement from without and from within—by being stopped in relation to his own potential development.


neurosis represents creative power gone astray and confused. The person doesn’t really know what the problem is, but he hits on an ingenious way to keep moving past it.


the person seeks to avoid death, but he does it by killing off so much of himself and so large a spectrum of his action-world that he is actually isolating and diminishing himself and becomes as though dead.

两种神经症类型:narrowing-down 和 creative

twin ontological motives: on the one hand, one merges with the world around him and becomes too much a part of it and so loses his own claim to life. On the other hand, one cuts oneself off from the world in order to make one’s own complete claim and so loses the ability to live and act in the world on its terms.


If you are not involved in what others take for granted as the nourishment of their lives, then your own life becomes a total problem.

But the misfortune of man is that he can experience this guilt in two ways: as bafflement from without and from within—by being stopped in relation to his own potential development.


neurosis represents creative power gone astray and confused. The person doesn’t really know what the problem is, but he hits on an ingenious way to keep moving past it.


the person seeks to avoid death, but he does it by killing off so much of himself and so large a spectrum of his action-world that he is actually isolating and diminishing himself and becomes as though dead.

两种神经症类型:narrowing-down 和 creative

twin ontological motives: on the one hand, one merges with the world around him and becomes too much a part of it and so loses his own claim to life. On the other hand, one cuts oneself off from the world in order to make one’s own complete claim and so loses the ability to live and act in the world on its term


We might say that both the artist and the neurotic bite off more than they can chew, but the artist spews it back out again and chews it over in an objectified way, as an external, active, work project.


the only way to work on perfection is in the form of an objective work that is fully under your control and is perfectible in some real ways.


He takes in the world, makes a total problem out of it, and then gives out a fashioned, human answer to that problem. This, as Goethe saw in Faust, is the highest that man can achieve.


cultural routine: the proletariat demands the obsession of work in order to keep from going crazy. 工作是人们对于现实真相的逃避,因此人们在混乱不堪的工作中也自得其乐。

The daily madness of these jobs is a repeated vaccination against the madness of the asylum. Look at the joy and eagerness with which workers return from vacation to their compulsive routines. They plunge into their work with equanimity and lightheartedness because it drowns out something more ominous. Men have to be protected from reality.

Rank 关于幻想与现实之间问题的总结。

With the truth, one cannot live. To be able to live one needs illusions, not only outer illusions such as art, religion, philosophy, science and love afford, but inner illusions which first condition the outer [i.e., a secure sense of one’s active powers, and of being able to count on the powers of others]. The more a man can take reality as truth, appearance as essence, the sounder, the better adjusted, the happier will he be… this constantly effective process of self-deceiving, pretending and blundering, is no psychopathological mechanism….


the individual can more easily cross the line into clinical neurosis precisely where he is thrown back on himself and his own resources in order to justify his life.


Neurosis is today a widespread problem because of the disappearance of convincing dramas of heroic apotheosis of man.

Modern man became psychological because he became isolated from protective collective ideologies.


Psychology narrows the cause for personal unhappiness down to the person himself, and then he is stuck with himself.


sin and neurosis are two ways of talking about the same thing—the complete isolation of the individual, his disharmony with the rest of nature, his hyperindividualism, his attempt to create his own world from within himself.

In sin and neurosis man fetishizes himself on something narrow at hand and pretends that the whole meaning and miraculousness of creation is limited to that, that he can get his beatification from that.


the sinner (neurotic) is hyper-conscious of the very thing he tries to deny: his creatureliness, his miserableness and unworthiness.

现代人的心理困境:试图用心理学渣都啊答案,却加剧了他的割裂与超意识。兰克称心理学为一种「主要为消极和瓦解的意识形态(preponderantly negative and disintegrating ideology.)」。

a sinner with no word for it or, worse, who looks for the word for it in a dictionary of psychology and thus only aggravates the problem of his separateness and hyper-consciousness.


  • 作为性格形成的结果;
  • 现实与幻觉的问题;
  • 作为历史环境的结果。 三者合一即为对在特定历史时期,特定文化背景下与自我矛盾的共处。

three aspects of the problem of neurosis: as a result of character-formation, as a problem of reality versus illusion, and as a result of historical circumstances. All three of course merge into one. Man lives his contradictions for better or worse in some kind of cultural project in a given historical period.


if neurosis is sin, and not disease, then the only thing which can “cure” it is a world-view, some kind of affirmative collective ideology in which the person can perform the living drama of his acceptance as a creature.


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.





移情问题是一个价值问题、理想问题。弗洛伊德试图科学地处理这个问题,但当涉及到定义「真正的」知觉时,他躲避了这个问题。Van der Leeuw 看到了移情投射(transference introjection)更多的问题,并得出结论,可能存在更多形式的移情。



CH10 A General View of Mental Illness


mental illness is a way of talking about people who have lost courage, which is the same as saying that it reflects the failure of heroism.


mental illness represents styles of bogging-down in the denial of creatureliness.


抑郁,缺少勇气。对生活的恐惧导致对死亡的恐惧。 在某种程度上,人必须付出生命,接受死亡,把自己交给世界的风险和危险,允许自己被吞噬和耗尽。否则,一个人在试图避免生与死的过程中,最终就像死了一样。


the urge to immortalization and self-perpetuation by pleasing the other, by conforming to the code of behavior that he represents. …… This is a part of the psychology of ancient ancestor worshippers as well as of moderns who continue to live according to family codes of honor and conduct.

抑郁者是guilty hero。罪恶感是令其生存的必要存在。

If your god is discredited, you yourself die; the evil must be in yourself and not in your god, so that you may live. With guilt you lose some of your life but avoid the greater evil of death.


death doesn’t keep knocking on her door only to be ignored (as men ignore their aging), but kicks it in to show himself full in the face.



Heroism transmutes the fear of death into the security of self-perpetuation, so much so that people can cheerfully face up to death and even court it under some ideologies.


The debt to life has to be paid somehow; one has to be a hero in the best and only way that he can


schizophrenic 是灵与肉过于不同导致的不整合。

The hypersensitive individual reacts to his body as something strange to himself, something utterly untrustworthy, something not under his secure control.


Schizophrenia takes the risk of evolution to its furthest point in man: the risk of creating an animal who perceives himself, reflects on himself, and comes to understand that his animal body is a menace to himself.


Freud very aptly called the syndrome “narcissistic neurosis”: the ballooning of the self in fantasy, the complete megalomanic self-inflation as a last defense, as an attempt at utter symbolic power in the absence of lived physical power.


The schizophrenic is not programmed neurally into automatic response to social meanings, but he cannot marshal an ego response, a directive control of his experiences. …… The genius too is not programmed in automatic cultural meanings; but he has the resources of a strong ego, or at least a sufficient one, to give his own personal meanings a creative form.



The hermaphroditic image represents a striving for wholeness, a striving that is not sexual but ontological.

早期经历对恋物癖患者的影响。自卑。 获得自尊的三种途径:

  • 来自他人的力量
  • 对自己身体的安全掌控
  • causa-sui 我们超越动物脆弱性的象征

these people were weak in their body confidence—to put it in nonclinical terms.

Rank 认为将性的不朽转为个人的不朽是我们掌控病超越自然的唯一方式。变态是对物种单一性的反抗,是对个体淹没在身体中的反抗。变态是缘起于懦弱而非强大的反抗。

The only way in which mankind could actually control nature and rise above her was to convert sexual immortality into individual immortality.

perversion is a protest against species sameness, against submergence of the individuality into the body.


In boy-love, man fertilized both spiritually and otherwise the living image of his own soul, which seemed materialized in an ego as idealized and as much like his own body as was possible.


the childhood experience is crucial in developing a secure sense of one’s body, firm identification with the father, strong ego control over oneself, and dependable interpersonal skills.


  • 最佳——爱的存在;
  • 性交


the fetish had to do with a problem posed by the sexual act.


The fetish object represents the magical means for transforming animality into something transcendent and thereby assuring a liberation of the personality from the standardized, bland, and earthbound flesh.

The body is no longer flesh, no longer an impersonal demand by the species; it has a halo, emanates light and freedom, becomes a really personal, individual thing.




Nowhere is there a better example of the blurring of the line between fetishist creativity and cultural creativity than in the ancient Chinese practice of binding the feet of females. This practice mutilated the feet, which were then an object of veneration by the men even though deformed. Freud himself remarked on this practice in relation to fetishism and observed that the “Chinese man seems to want to thank the woman for having submitted to castration.”




Sadism likewise is the natural activity of the creature, the drive toward experience, mastery, pleasure, the need to take from the world what it needs in order to increase itself and thrive; what is more, a human creature who has to forget himself, resolve his own painful inner contradictions.


The hyphenated word sado-masochism expresses a natural complementarity of polar opposites: no weakness without intensive focus of power and no use of power without falling back on a secure merger with a larger source of power.




the problem of mental illness is one of not knowing what kind of heroics one is practising or not being able—once one does know—to broaden one’s heroics from their crippling narrowness.

how truly inseparable are the domains of psychiatry and religion, as they both deal with human nature and the ultimate meaning of life.


CH11 Psychology and Religion: What Is the Heroic Individual?


If there is any science man really needs it is the one I teach, of how to occupy properly that place in creation that is assigned to man, and how to learn from it what one must be in order to be a man.



Norman Brown的书《Life Against Death》——人类的敌人是基本的压抑,是对悸动的肉体生命和死亡的幽灵的否定。他所预言的是为了完全没有压抑的生命,这将带来一个新的人的诞生。

mankind can only transcend the terrible toll that the fear of death takes if it lives the body fully and does not allow any unlived life to poison existence, to sap pleasure, and to leave a residue of regret. If mankind would do this, says Brown, then the fear of death will not longer drive it to folly, waste, and destruction; men will have their apotheosis in eternity by living fully in the now of experience.



Life in the body is not “all we have”if we have an ego. And the ego represents, as far as we can judge, a natural urge by the life force itself toward an expansion of experience, toward more life.

Phillip Rieff 的观点——压抑不是创造假世界,而是「真相」——即他无法经历所有。为了生存我们必须经历限制,而文化和超我提供了这种限制。文化是为了我们能够生活而对生活的妥协。

repression is not falsification of the world, it is “truth”—the only truth that man can know, because he cannot experience everything.

that in order to have a truly human existence there must be limits; and what we call culture or the superego sets such limits. Culture is a compromise with life that makes human life possible


men need transference because they like to see their morality embodied, need some kind of points of support in the endless flux of nature


The fallacy in all this sterile utopianism is that fear of death is not the only motive of life; heroic transcendence, victory over evil for mankind as a whole, for unborn generations, consecration of one’s existence to higher meanings—these motives are just as vital and they are what give the human animal his nobility even in the face of his animal fears.



人类的新生活形式可以从当前的人类状况中出现。我们没有办法超越人类状况的极限,甚至出现新事物的想法也只是一个神话或一个可以努力实现的理想。比如像保罗·蒂利希(Paul Tillich)这样的神学家相信一种新人的出现,但他们对这种人的幻想较少,并将其视为某种程度上可以实现的理想。

The myth of the inner life — Suzanne Langer


man has to have the “courage to be” himself, to stand on his own feet, to face up to the eternal contradictions of the real world.


you can’t talk about an ideal of freedom in the same breath that you willingly give it up.

苏珊·兰格(Suzanne Langer)创造的「内心生活的神话」的概念,指的是来自自然之心的新能量的出现,将新的能量引入世界。关于现实的信念,特别是关于人性的信念,影响着人们的真实行动,这有助于解释为什么像埃里希·弗罗姆这样的精神分析预言家强调人类的努力、愿景和希望来塑造现实。然而,如果一个人要有一个新的生命的神话,那必须是对最高和最困难的努力的召唤,而不是简单的快乐。这就。Tillich 关于新存在的观点的不同之处,因为它需要勇气面对无意义的焦虑,并将最大限度的非存在吸收到自己的存在中。东方神秘主义不适合西方人,因为它是对勇气的逃避,是阻止对自我最大无意义的吸收。


We need the boldest creative myths, not only to urge men on but also and perhaps especially to help men see the reality of their condition. We have to be as hard-headed as possible about reality and possibility.


  • 被解放者会多成熟、多批判、多清醒;
  • 以及即使这些人获得解放,世界是否会变得不那么悲惨。


Besides, can any ideal of therapeutic revolution touch the vast masses of this globe, the modern mechanical men in Russia, the near-billion sheeplike followers in China, the brutalized and ignorant populations of almost every continent?

Men are doomed to live in an overwhelmingly tragic and demonic world.


to coerce, by transference, a less evil world.


whatever man does on this planet has to be done in the lived truth of the terror of creation, of the grotesque, of the rumble of panic underneath everything. Otherwise it is false. Whatever is achieved must be achieved from within the subjective energies of creatures, without deadening, with the full exercise of passion, of vision, of pain, of fear, and of sorrow.



the only way to get beyond the natural contradictions of existence was in the time-worn religious way: to project one’s problems onto a god-figure, to be healed by an all-embracing and all-justifying beyond.


We can conclude that a project as grand as the scientific-mythical construction of victory over human limitation is not something that can be programmed by science. Even more, it comes from the vital energies of masses of men sweating within the nightmare of creation—and it is not even in man’s hands to program.