Who will be the first to drive a stake through the dark heart of ambition? Young man! Ambition leads to competition. Competition leads to conflict. Conflict leads to death all over the place. See how swiftly ambition conjures conclusions. And how the mind shuts with a clanging sound and the ability to learn dies at the doorstep.
In a letter following the death from scarlet fever of his beloved five-year-old son, American transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “I chiefly grieve that I cannot grieve.” Later, in an essay, this: “The only thing grief has taught me, is how shallow it is.”
The hallmark of the human is his desire for continuousness. And his performative grief when that balloon pops.
We live immersed in a terror of death. That needs to be accounted for when we examine our own individual attitudes toward end of life. Which, of course, is a complete oxymoron. There is no end of life. Bodies appear and disappear, is all.
James Baldwin: “I do not like people whose principal aim is pleasure.” And neither do pleasure seekers like themselves. Two of Baldwin’s contemporaries, Andy Warhol and Truman Capote, died from pleasure in extremis.