Whatever happened? A breach in the very unity of life, a biological paradox, an abomination, an absurdity, an exaggeration of disastrous nature. Life had overshot its target, blowing itself apart. A species had been armed too heavily- by spirit made almighty without, but equally a menace to its own well-being. Its weapon was like a sword without hilt or plate, a two-edged blade cleaving everything; but he who is to wield it must grasp the blade and turn the one edge toward himself.
Despite his new eyes, man was still rooted in matter, his soul spun into it and subordinated to its blind laws. And yet he could see matter as a stranger, compare himself to all phenomena, see through and locate his vital processes. He comes to nature as an unbidden guest, in vain extending his arms to beg conciliation with his maker: Nature answers no more, it performed a miracle with man, but later did not know him. He has lost his right of residence in the universe, has eaten from the Tree of Knowledge and has been expelled from Paradise. He is mighty in the near world, but curses his might as purchased with his harmony of soul, his innocence, his inner peace in life’s embrace.
So there he stands with his visions, betrayed by the universe, in wonder and fear. The beast knew fear as well, in thunderstorms and on the lion’s claw. But man became fearful of life itself- indeed, of his very being. Life- that was for the beast to feel the play of power, it was heat and games and strife and hunger, and then at last to bow before the law of course. In the beast, suffering is self-confined, in man, it knocks holes into a fear of the world and a despair of life. Even as the child sets out on the river of life, the roars from the waterfall of death rise highly above the vale, ever closer, and tearing, tearing at its joy. Man beholds the earth, and it is breathing like a great lung; whenever it exhales, delightful life swarms from all its pores and reaches out toward the sun, but when it inhales, a moan of rupture passes through the multitude, and corpses whip the ground like bouts of hail. Not merely his own day could he see, the graveyards wrung themselves before his gaze, the laments of sunken millennia wailed against him from the ghastly decaying shapes, the earth-turned dreams of mothers. Future’s curtain unraveled itself to reveal a nightmare of endless repetition, a senseless squander of organic material. The suffering of human billions makes its entrance into him through the gateway of compassion, from all that happens arises a laughter to mock the demand for justice, his profoundest ordering principle. He sees himself emerge in his mother’s womb, he holds up his hand in the air and it has five branches; whence this devilish number five, and what has it to do with my soul? He is no longer obvious to himself- he touches his body in utter horror; this is you and so far do you extend and no farther. He carries a meal within him, yesterday it was a beast that could itself dash around, now I suck it up and make it part of me, and where do I begin and end? All things chain together in causes and effects, and everything he wants to grasp dissolves before the testing thought. Soon he sees mechanics even in the so-far whole and dear, in the smile of his beloved- there are other smiles as well, a torn boot with toes. Eventually, the features of things are features only of himself. Nothing exists without himself, every line points back at him, the world is but a ghostly echo of his voice- he leaps up loudly screaming and wants to disgorge himself onto the earth along with his impure meal, he feels the looming of madness and wants to find death before losing even such ability.