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The Worm In Man's Heart


It is only in those privileged moments of loneliness in front of a vanishing world that true anxiety shoots you in the heart, stays there and may never leave. Anxiety is a worm.

It eats you--slowly without consent, little by little without guilt. As the image tells us, you may not even know that it is there already. It has no herald; it comes in the dead of night in the complacent sleep of peace. But it arrives; it is there already, it is there indeed. And it can only remain there if you continue to feed it, make it grow, make it stronger. This is funny: to nourish what will eventually destroy you.

It does not begin from the surface and then work its way to the center. That would be too easy. It takes its throne in the heart of hearts--that empty space--like the frozen Satan who takes his place bottom-center in the kingdom of pain. There it waits for the ice to melt. And the warmth of a beating heart will always have to melt it. It is only a matter of time.

There it lies in wait, waiting for the right time, all it does is wait. Vultures are very patient birds.

What does it wait for? For that precise time when you need your heart. Perhaps when the intellect can no longer explain things too easily for you; what was your guide has left you in the middle of one's journey. Or when others have abandoned you. Now there is no escape from your self. The mirror betrays you. Everything betrays you. And when you summon all that was left in you--the heart--only then do you feel in your bones what betrayal is all about. See your hollow heart. Now the betrayal is complete.

Dante saw three-headed Satan--the inverted Trinity--biting bleeding Judas, Brutus and Cassius in each of his three mouths. These are the betrayers. "The soul up there that has the greatest punishment," explained Virgil to the terrified Dante, "is Judas Iscariot, who has his head within and plies his legs outside" (Inferno, XXXIV). Judas was in quite a fix: he wants to escape the mouth which strips the skin of his back but, with his legs unsupported and thus wiggling in the icy air, if he does that he will fall.

This is anxiety: to see the darkness of the Nothing, to be clawed within and without, to be suspended in thin air, to arrive at a terrible height where to escape it is to jump but to jump is to suffer a fall that has no end.

The completion of betrayal: to turn to your heart and see that everything has been eaten up and nothing is left. Or better, the Nothing remains.

The sign upon entering the Inferno reads: All ye who enter abandon all hope.


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