title: Darkness Visible
subtitle: surviving the storm
> A phenomenon that a number of people have noted while in deep depression is the sense of being accompanied by a second self — a wraithlike observer who, not sharing the dementia of his double, is able to watch with dispassionate curiosity as his companion struggles against the oncoming disaster, or decides to embrace it. There is a theatrical quality about all this, and during the next several days, as I went about stolidly preparing for extinction, I couldn’t shake off a sense of melodrama — a melodrama in which I, the victim-to-be of self-murder, was both the solitary actor and lone member of the audience.
Darkenss Visible by William Styron is a memoir of the author’s corporeal and mental experiences when he was afflicted with crippling, even suicidal depression. As someone who always thought he suffered from a mild form of depression I was intrigued when I came across the book and by the end, left stupefied.
Depression is a taboo topic to discuss in modern society. Styron hints at how naming the illness Depression, a sunken surface, or to lower in magnitude has caused irreparable damage in it’s understanding. He proposes that a better word might be a mindstorm, akeen to the chaos of tempest in the mind. The books is often described as a book that put depression on the map. The reason for this as Styron points out is that for a health human mind the situation is incomprehesible.
> it has to be emphasized that if the pain were readily describable most of the countless sufferers from this ancient affliction would have been able to confidently depict for their friends and loved ones (even their physicians) some of the actual dimensions of their torment, and perhaps elicit a comprehension that has been generally lacking; such incomprehension has usually been due not to a failure of sympathy but to the basic inability of healthy people to imagine a form of torment so alien to everyday experience.
To others, Styron’s suffering and infinite pain may never be understood truly, but his incredible achievement lies in being able to pen down his descent into the depths of darkness, faithfully and honestly. It will help people understand and empathize with anyone suffering around them.
Styron states that he was deeply influenced by Albert Camus, especially his books, The Stranger and the Myth of Sisyphus
> There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide.