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Into the dazzling world

Posted July. 19, 2023 08:09,   

Updated July. 19, 2023 08:09


There is pain that there is no way of knowing unless you experience it firsthand. William Styron, who wrote the novel Sophie's Choice, which was made into a movie, vividly testifies to the experiential nature of suffering from depression in "Darkness Visible."

One day in 1988, he became very infuriated while reading a symposium article in the "New York Times" about the Italian writer Primo Levi. He was outraged by comments about Levi, who died a year ago at the age of 67 after falling from a third-floor apartment. Participants of the symposium, including renowned scholars and famous writers, concluded his death as a suicide and were very critical. The prevailing opinion was that his death was “the breakdown of a tough personality that has no capacity for acceptance and the result of weakness.” They couldn't bear that an intellectual they admired as an "example of courage" who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp had abandoned his life in such a way. They spoke as if he had hurt them.

Styron published a lengthy article in the New York Times. The content was that people who had not suffered from depression should not distort Levy's death without knowing the truth. Everyone knows that suicide is not good. But they overlooked the fact that depression is an illness. Depression is a disease that is difficult to understand, and sometimes loving family, psychological treatment, and medicine are useless, and pain, insomnia, and despair are daily toils. Just as you can't blame a terminally ill cancer patient, no one has the right to blame someone whose only solution to their seemingly endless depression is suicide.

What he wrote was received with an explosive response because it was a very vivid remark from himself, a patient suffering from depression. He confessed that depression, which made him feel more than despair, drove him to darkness. As he metaphorically put it, it was a darkness akin to the bottomless perdition in John Milton's "Paradise Lost." Although it had flames, there was no light, only darkness. However, unlike Levi, he managed to get out of that darkness. It is a testimony that there is a way out into the “dazzling world.” It's hard, but it is there somewhere.