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with Death Reviews
If you will cling to Nature, to the simple in Nature, to the little things that hardly anyone sees, and that can so unexpectedly become big and beyond measuring; if you have this love of inconsiderable things and seek quite simply, as one who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier, more coherent and somehow more conciliatory for you, not in your intellect, perhaps, which lags marveling behind, but in your inmost consciousness, waking and cognizance. You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. Perhaps you do carry within yourself the possibility of shaping and forming as a particularly happy and pure way of living; train yourself to it -- but take whatever comes with great trust, and only if it comes out of your own will, out of some need of your inmost being, take it upon yourself and hate nothing.
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters To a Young Poet
Anthony Daniels in The New Criterion has an interesting piece on how doctors have been trying to diagnose Lear’s condition for the past two centuries.
Nineteenth-century mad doctors in Britain and America said Lear’s case was just like many they saw in their asylums. Psychoanalysts perceived in Lear a case of thwarted incest (they would, wouldn’t they?). A variety of diagnoses have been offered from senile dementia to manic-depressive psychosis. (No one has suggested General Paralysis of the Insane, the last stage of syphilis.) Dr. Truskinovsky, writing in the Southern Medical Journal in 2002, makes a powerful case for mania, and suggests that Lear had been suffering from bipolar affective disorder all his life.
As Lear says, somewhere towards the end of his play:
When we are born we cry that we are come
To this great stage of fools