This essay is about 60 pages long in my edition. The essay’s stated concerns has to do with art: “In order, therefore, for a subject to lend itself to artistic representation, it must have a quiet transparency, so that its inner essence resets in a corresponding outer form.” This contrasts with poetry, “art expresses repose, poetry movement.”
This makes joy a better subject for “art” because, “It is of the essence of joy to reveal itself, while grief tries to hide, sometimes even to deceive. Joy is communicative, social, open-hearted, and desires expression; grief is secretive, silent, solitary and seeks to retire into itself.”
The essayist then moves to his true topic, “reflective grief.” This type of grief cannot be displayed in art, because it is “like a squirrel in a cage ….it lacks repose, …”
Such a grief may be the cause of a particular person’s nature, “An abnormally reflective individual will transform every sorrow that comes to him into reflective grief.”
But such a grief may have an objective cause: the loss of love on the basis of deceit. The remainder of the essay are the “shadowgraphs” which demonstrate instances of such reflective grief. This is indirect teaching: I cannot talk about the subject directly, but I can see the reflective elements.
The point in reflective grief is the fact that sorrow is constantly seeking its object; this search is its life and the secret of its unrest….Thus, when unhappy love has its ground in deception, its pain and suffering are due to its inability to find its object. If the deception is proved, and if its victim understand that it is a deception, then the grief does not cease, but it becomes an immediate sorrow, not a reflective one. The dialectical difficulty is readily evident, for why does she grieve? If he was a deceiver, then it was just as well that he left her, the sooner the better; in fact, she should be glad that he had left her, and mourn only because she loved him. But the question whether or not he really was a deceiver is precisely the unrest which gives perpetual motion to her grief. To establish certainty for the external fact that a deception is really a deception, is always very difficult, and even this would by no means settle the matter, or end the movement of reflection. A deception is for love an absolute paradox, and herein lies the necessity for a reflective grief.
The realization that one’s beloved is not really what they seemed — and thus my beloved does not exist – but my love was real….
Another aspect of suffering and hope mingled is added:
When a possibility is destroyed, the suffering for the moment may perhaps not be so great, but it often leaves a small ligament or two whole and uninjured which remains a constant source of continued suffering.