Wallace Stevens was a fine poet and I do think he experienced the “pain” of seeing things to well and that probably it felt like a “fatality.” For, the gods have forbidden us to look at things to clearly, too well, as it does not look pretty. For example, each of us could die at any moment but neurologically we are wired to not obsess with that thought. If we did, we would have trouble functioning. So we live our hum-drum lives “assuming” that we are going to live forever, knowing in the back of our hearts that we won’t, but not worrying about the fact that the very next moment the grim-reaper could be knocking on our door.
But some do live portions of their life in very dangerous situations and have the knowledge that their life is on the line. Soldiers are one example but they are disciplined and trained to now allow that fear to predominate. Others are racked with serious illness that could take them at anytime. But many others are merely predisposed to see through to the grim of life, its intrinsic ugliness and ultimate “fatality”, and at times get overwhelmed and even on occasion decide to throw in the towel and borrow Shakespeare’s “bare bodkin”
But, to those people, I challenge them that they are taking themselves too seriously. Yes, they see that “fatality” dimension of life and it tears into their soul. But, they need to “give it a rest” from time to time even as they write about it or preach about it for it is only one perspective. That perspective can become all-consuming as the mind can readily perseverate on anything, certainly something like the ugliness of life, and that “bare bodkin” or Socrates’ “hemlock” might beckon. In those instances, I fear these people are often just taking themselves and their pain too personally. THERE IS ANOTHER WAY OF LOOKING AT IT! Often, “This too shall pass.” I strongly recommend that when life is looking overwhelming, try to utilize a simple cognitive-behavioral strategy and follow the advice from the movie, “The Life of Brian” and sing the little ditty, “Look on the bright side of life.” Make it a practice to look around you and focus…and feel…the beauty that is around you even in the midst of your pain.
Here is a picture I found that makes me think of myself with my wife when I have consumed with ponderous, boring thoughts about the heaviness of life: I have just quoted T. S. Eliot: “Dark, dark, we all go into the dark, the vacant interstellar space…” Note the look on her face. She is pondering, “How in the hell did I ever get stuck with this morose loser?”