Passion & Death

SIddartha Herman Hesse Literature Passion DeathMany times, in many books, in many movies, I’ve heard it said that love, particularly passion, is close to death. But it just seemed to me like a fancy way of saying that deep love is a quick step away from deeper hate. 

This last statement was always clear to me. Getting burnt by love can turn anyone into a flaming fury. But, death? Death to me was emptiness, an absolute void. How could the absence of all emotion be linked to fierce passion?

For some reason, the whole thing clicked in my head while reading Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha on the beach. What is at the core of the passion/death/love/hate liaison is the act of clinging.

While it might be easy to view clinging in relation to passion, love and hate, it was more difficult for me to understand how it relates to death. Then I thought of the moments leading up to death.

The way that passion grasps at life, is fully comparable to the way that a dying person can try to extract the most from the moments before the end. Passion, too, ends. It is because we know this that we cling.

As Siddhartha beautifully relates, this need not be a sad thought. The end of things is not so much their absence, their leaving, but their inevitable and life-reaffirming transformation.

Read Cartagena 2013

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