"Well then, my fine friend," said Mr. C..., "you now have all the knowledge you need to grasp my meaning. We see that in the organic world, to the same degree that reflection gets darker and weaker, grace grows ever more radiant and dominant. But just as two lines interesect on one side of a point, and after passing through infinity, suddenly come together again on the other side; or the image in a concave mirror suddenly reappears before us after drawing away into the infinite distance, so too, does grace return once perception, as it were, has traversed the infinite -- such that it simultaneously appears the purest in human bodily structures that are either devoid of consciousness or which possess an infinite consciousness, such as in the jointed manikin or the god."
"In which case," I observed, a bit befuddled, "would we then have to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge again to fall back into the state of innocence?"
"Undoubtedly," he replied; "which will be the last chapter of the history of the world."
"On the Theater of Marionettes," Heinrich von Kleist
On this remarkable account, humanity is an awkward absurdity as compared to the infinite grace of an unself-conscious plant. And yet humanity is redeemed by the possibility that it is in fact a point of transit on the way to something else, something infinitely better.
After a promisingly ingenious career, Kleist committed suicide in 1811 at the age of 34; what a disjunction between the life and the work. And yet the fact that any thumbnail sketch of him mentions the nature of his demise speaks volumes about the unique place of psychiatry. Whether a genius dies of leukemia, congestive heart failure, or tuberculosis we really couldn't care less. But suicide bespeaks far more than mere failure of the flesh, it suggests a moral claim, and a moral act with profound social implications. Just as social withdrawal implies a rejection of others, so suicide implies...a murdering of the human race. Killing oneself makes the rest of the human world disappear from consciousness too. That is why we view the suicide not only with pity, but also with consternation.
(It has been a fine day actually; this post just happened to strike me).