Oh vei? Oy wey?
February 23, 2014 10:22 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for quotes, aforisms, dialogues, pondering, tracts and other worthwhile texts on the subject of suffering.

I'm interested in getting a broad view on the nature of suffering. I know that the line between that and pain isn't all that clear, and the view on the role of suffering is quite different depending on if you're catholic or buddhist (both in what it is and what role it plays), but this is a general inquiry to find interesting texts which deal with the same word, and thereby hopefully a somewhat similar topic.

(The concept not exclusively targeting Catholics and Buddhists)
posted by monocultured to Writing & Language (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If you want to read some ancient material on grief you might find Seneca the Younger's various consolations (to Helvia, to Polybius) interesting. There's also Cicero's letters on dealing with the death of his daughter such as 'to Atticus 12.15'.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:32 PM on February 23, 2014

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.
posted by madonna of the unloved at 11:21 PM on February 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Robert F. Kennedy, delivering an extemporaneous eulogy to Martin Luther King, Jr., the evening of April 4, 1968, in Indianapolis, Indiana, said, “Aeschylus wrote: ‘In our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.’”
posted by xammerboy at 12:06 AM on February 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

“Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
posted by xammerboy at 12:08 AM on February 24, 2014

“You can hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world, that is something you are free to do and it accords with your nature, but perhaps this very holding back is the one suffering you could avoid.” - Kafka
posted by xammerboy at 12:11 AM on February 24, 2014

Sorry, should have made that into one post. If there's another author you can read until you cry it's Dostoevsky.
posted by xammerboy at 12:13 AM on February 24, 2014

The Body in Pain by Elaine Scarry
posted by nicebookrack at 4:13 AM on February 24, 2014

On Pain, from Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet.
posted by fuse theorem at 4:55 AM on February 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

"The man who has not suffered - what can he possibly know, anyway?"
- Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

There are lots of things online that discuss the Catholic view of suffering (and the problem of evil)...of particular interest might be the idea of redemptive suffering. In a nutshell, our suffering in The World - whether it's the daily grind of everyday life or the profound tragedies that mark our lives - joins us in a unique way to Christ's sacrifice on the cross.
posted by jquinby at 5:36 AM on February 24, 2014

"Musée des Beaux Arts" by W.H. Auden (the whole poem), which is based on Pieter Bruegel's painting Landscape with The Fall of Icarus.
posted by changeling at 9:23 AM on February 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks for all the answers so far! (Spotty hotel wifi so haven't checked out all the links yet)

I hadn't thought about "grief" in this context, but of course it should e in there. As a non-native English speaker, I'd be interested to hear how you intuitively distinguish between pain, grief and suffering; grief could be remorse or loss, and suffering is the experience of grief?

I don't want to get into semantics too much, but what is the quality of suffering? Looking for external sources still, but would appreciate your thoughts on how they relate.
posted by monocultured at 4:08 AM on February 25, 2014

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