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The View from Mount Suffering | Peter Wessel Zapffe

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"A coin is turned around before it is handed to the beggar, yet a child is unflinchingly tossed into cosmic bruteness..."

"The Last Messiah" is an obscure essay on the inescapable horror of the human condition by the hardline pessimist Peter Wessel Zapffe, arguably the most original Norwegian philosopher of the last century. Almost forgotten outside the inner circles of aficionados, Zapffe's major work was a massive treatise on human tragedy, On The Tragic (Om det tragiske), published during the Second World War. This pessimistic masterpiece was written at the same time that Sartre was working out the doctrine later to be internationally-famous as Existentialism. Sartre's impact was closely related to the fact that he wrote in a world language, while Zapffe's Dano-Norwegian was never translated. Had it been published in German, English or French, the book might be an anti-humanist classic today. Unlike Sartre's threadbare existentialism (which, at the end of the day, was just optimistic window dressing), Zapffe's empirical gloom was austerely bleak and legitimately raised the standard for hopelessness. His phenomenal survey of tragedy in literature, politics and the arts indicated that all human endeavor was ultimately futile and that life was not just meaningless—it was not even meaningless. Zapffe is the place where wishful thinking goes to die!
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