Another quote from Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death:
“It’s fateful and ironic how the lie we need in order to live dooms us to a life that is never really ours.
It was not until the working out of modern psychoanalysis that we could understand something the poets and religious geniuses have long known: that the armor of character was so vital to us that to shed it meant to risk death and madness. It is not hard to reason out: If character is a neurotic defense against despair and you shed that defense, you admit the full blood of despair, the full realization of the true human condition, what men are really afraid of, what they struggle against, and are driven toward and away from. Freud summed it up beautifully when he somewhere remarked that psychoanalysis cured the neurotic misery in order to introduce the patient to the common misery of life. Neurosis is another word for describing a complicated technique for avoiding misery, but reality is the misery.”
In other words: to avoid misery we need to avoid reality. But this causes new suffering: the realization that we are not, that we are never in the real world; that we are always outside, that we dwell in a fictitious world. (Part of the attraction of a war zone is the sensation that you have entered the real world, finally. That sensation doesn’t last long.)
Our incapability and unwillingness to admit that we try so hard avoid to reality, that culture is not much more than an emergency exit in order to not reach that specific misery is another source of tragedy and comedy.
Culture? The last exit before reality.