Renunciation

The whole thing boils down to this paradox: if you are going to be a hero then you must give a gift. If you are the average [person] you give your heroic gift to the society in which you live, and you give the gift that society specifies in advance. If you are an artist you fashion a peculiarly personal gift, the justification of your own heroic identity, which means that it is always aimed at least partly over the heads of your fellow [humans]. After all, they can’t grant the immortality of your personal soul. As Rank agreed in the closing chapters of Art and Artist, there is no way for the artist to be at peace with [their] work or the society that accepts it. The artist’s gift is always to creation itself, to the ultimate meaning of life, to God. We should not be surprised that Rank was brought to exactly the same conclusion as Kierkegaard: that the only way out of the human conflict is full renunciation, to give one’s life as a gift to the highest powers. Absolution has to come from the absolute beyond. As Kierkegaard, Rank showed that this route applied to the strongest, most heroic types—not to trembling and empty weaklings. To renounce the world and oneself, to lay the meaning of it to the powers of creation, is the hardest things for [us] to achieve—and so it is fitting that this task should fall to the strongest personality type, to one with the largest ego. The great scientific world-shaker Newton was the same man who always carried the Bible under his arm.
Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death, p173

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