Nevertheless the sun hides not Virginia's Dismal Swamp, nor Rome's accursed Campagna, nor wide Sahara, nor all the millions of miles of deserts and of griefs beneath the moon. The sun hides not the ocean, which is the dark side of this earth, and which is two thirds of this earth. So, therefore, that mortal man who hath more of joy than sorrow in him, that mortal man cannot be true -- not true, or undeveloped. With books the same. The truest of all men was the Man of Sorrows, and the truest of all books is Solomon's, and Ecclesiastes is the fine hammered steel of woe. 'All is vanity'. ALL. This wilful world hath not got hold of unchristian Solomon's wisdom yet. But he who dodges hospitals and jails, and walks fast crossing grave- yards, and would rather talk of operas than hell; calls Cowper, Young, Pascal, Rousseau, poor devils all of sick men; and throughout a care-free lifetime swears by Rabelais as passing wise, and therefore jolly; -- not that man is fitted to sit down on tomb-stones, and break the green damp mould with unfathomably wondrous Solomon.
But even Solomon, he says, 'the man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain' (i. e. even while living) 'in the congregation of the dead'. Give not thyself up, then, to fire, lest it invert thee, deaden thee; as for the time it did me. There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar.
Ch. 96, "The Try-Works"
...for all his pervading, mad recklessness, Ahab did at times give careful heed to the condition of that dead bone upon which he partly stood. For it had not been very long prior to the Pequod's sailing from Nantucket, that he had been found one night lying prone upon the ground, and insensible; by some unknown, and seemingly inexplicable, unimaginable casualty, his ivory limb having been so violently displaced, that it had stake-wise smitten, and all but pierced his groin; nor was it without extreme difficulty that the agonizing wound was entirely cured.
Nor, at the time, had it failed to enter his monomaniac mind, that all the anguish of that then present suffering was but the direct issue of a former woe; and he too plainly seemed to see, that as the most poisonous reptile of the marsh perpetuates his kind as inevitably as the sweetest songster of the grove; so, equally with every felicity, all miserable events do naturally beget their like. Yea, more than equally, thought Ahab; since both the ancestry and posterity of Grief go further than the ancestry and posterity of Joy. For, not to hint of this: that it is an inference from certain canonic teachings, that while some natural enjoyments here shall have no children born to them for the other world, but, on the contrary, shall be followed by the joy-childlessness of all hell's despair; whereas, some guilty mortal miseries shall still fertilely beget to themselves an eternally progressive progeny of griefs beyond the grave; not at all to hint of this, there still seems an inequality in the deeper analysis of the thing. For, thought Ahab, while even the highest earthly felicities ever have a certain unsignifying pettiness lurking in them, but, at bottom, all heart-woes, a mystic significance, and, in some men, an archangelic grandeur; so do their diligent tracings-out not belie the obvious deduction. To trail the genealogies of these high mortal miseries, carries us at last among the sourceless primogenitures of the gods; so that, in the face of all the glad, hay-making suns, and soft-cymballing, round harvest- moons, we must needs give in to this: that the gods themselves are not for ever glad. The ineffaceable, sad birth-mark in the brow of man, is but the stamp of sorrow in the signers.
Ch. 106, "Ahab's Leg"
"Body am I, and soul"—so saith the child. And why should one not speak like children?***
But the awakened one, the knowing one, saith: "Body am I entirely, and nothing more; and soul is only the name of something in the body."
The body is a big sagacity, a plurality with one sense, a war and a peace, a flock and a shepherd.
An instrument of thy body is also thy little sagacity, my brother, which thou callest "spirit"—a little instrument and plaything of thy big sagacity.
"Ego," sayest thou, and art proud of that word. But the greater thing—in which thou art unwilling to believe—is thy body with its big sagacity; it saith not "ego," but doeth it.
What the sense feeleth, what the spirit discerneth, hath never its end in itself. But sense and spirit would fain persuade thee that they are the end of all things: so vain are they.
Instruments and playthings are sense and spirit: behind them there is still the Self. The Self seeketh with the eyes of the senses, it hearkeneth also with the ears of the spirit.
Ever hearkeneth the Self, and seeketh; it compareth, mastereth, conquereth, and destroyeth. It ruleth, and is also the ego's ruler.
Behind thy thoughts and feelings, my brother, there is a mighty lord, an unknown sage—it is called Self; it dwelleth in thy body, it is thy body.
There is more sagacity in thy body than in thy best wisdom. And who then knoweth why thy body requireth just thy best wisdom?
Thy Self laugheth at thine ego, and its proud prancings. "What are these prancings and flights of thought unto me?" it saith to itself. "A by-way to my purpose. I am the leading-string of the ego, and the prompter of its notions."
The Self saith unto the ego: "Feel pain!" And thereupon it suffereth, and thinketh how it may put an end thereto—and for that very purpose it IS MEANT to think.
The Self saith unto the ego: "Feel pleasure!" Thereupon it rejoiceth, and thinketh how it may ofttimes rejoice—and for that very purpose it IS MEANT to think.
To the despisers of the body will I speak a word. That they despise is caused by their esteem. What is it that created esteeming and despising and worth and will?
The creating Self created for itself esteeming and despising, it created for itself joy and woe. The creating body created for itself spirit, as a hand to its will.
Even in your folly and despising ye each serve your Self, ye despisers of the body. I tell you, your very Self wanteth to die, and turneth away from life.
No longer can your Self do that which it desireth most:—create beyond itself. That is what it desireth most; that is all its fervour.
But it is now too late to do so:—so your Self wisheth to succumb, ye despisers of the body.
To succumb—so wisheth your Self; and therefore have ye become despisers of the body. For ye can no longer create beyond yourselves.
And therefore are ye now angry with life and with the earth. And unconscious envy is in the sidelong look of your contempt.
If, therefore, one accepted the fact that there was no ground, that there was no justification for the search for order and meaning and value, that the world was quite meaningless, quite without value, in both Subject and Object--for Subject and Object are one--then sorrow could be converted to joy. Eternal recurrence was the answer, continuous renewal of identity by continuous transformation and transvaluation of style in art, in thought, and in individuality. Nietzsche realized that this is neither a world which once held value nor a world which holds value now or a world which will ever hold it. It is without value, without order, without meaning. The world is nothing. Value and identity are the ultimate illusions. We emerge from nothingness and encounter the nothingness of the world, and in so doing, we create being. But being can be renewed only if we recognize that being is illusion. With that recognition as our ultimate weapon we can re-create it, not from sorrow but from joy. From the desire for value we create ourselves, but to renew that value, we must destroy ourselves. The profoundest satisfaction of the human mind is the creation of the world--out of nothingness. From that act of creation emerges the sense of value, the sense of identity, which are sources of joy only if we recognize them as illusions. The sense of order, the sense of meaning, the sense of identity are but instruments for the act of creation.
"The Dilemma of a Century," by Morse Peckham