Chapter XXVIII The pilgrim begins to despair and quarrels with his leaders

Sapientiae apex, desperatio de rebus mundi*

I began to fear that the true satisfaction, in which alone my mind could feel wholly secure and certain, was to be found neither in the world nor even in the castle itself. These thoughts oppressed me more and more sorely; nor could my interpreter, Mr. Delusion (despite all his efforts) bring me relief. Finally I cried out: “Oh, woe is me! Shall I ever find satisfaction in this miserable world? For all things are full of futility and misery!” — “Whose fault is it, you spoilsport, but your own?” my interpreter retorted, “for you detest everything which should please you! Look at others who gay and well content they are in their callings, having found sufficient sweetness in their own lot!” — “They are either insane altogether,” I expostulated with him, “or they lie; for it is not possible that they should enjoy true happiness.” — “Then become insane like them,” retorted Ubiquitous, “if it will ease your sorrow.” — “I am not able to manage even that, as you yourself well know,” I replied. “For how many times have I tried it, but perceiving the violent changes and the miserable end of it all, I gave it up.”

The mind of man does not find in the world what it seeks

2 “What else causes it but your own fantasies?” rejoined my interpreter. “Were you not so fastidious about all human affairs and did you not toss them about like a swine does a straw-wisp, you would possess, like all the rest, a peaceful mind and enjoy pleasure, joy, and happiness.” — “That is to say,” I answered, “if I, like you, accepted the external appearance of things, and took some stale witticism for joy, the perusal of some literary hodgepodge for wisdom, and a bit of accidental fortune for the apex of satiety! But what of the sweat, the tears, aches, confusion, short-comings, accidents, and all the other misfortunes without number, extent, and limit among all classes? Alas! alas the sorrow of this miserable life! You have led me through everything, and to what avail? You have promised and exhibited to me wealth, knowledge, comfort, and security. But which of these do I possess? None. What have I learned? Nothing. Where am I? I myself know not. This only I know, that after so much danger, and after exhausting and wearying of my mind I find nothing in the end by an inward pain in myself and the hatred of others toward me.”

3 “It serves you right!” my interpreter retorted, “why have you disdained my advice which has been from the beginning that you distrust nothing but believe everything; that you test nothing but accept all; that you criticize nothing but be pleased with everything? Had you taken that path, you would have traveled tranquilly and would have found favor with men and pleasure for yourself.” — “Having been doubtless neatly deceived by you,” I answered, “I should have raved, like the rest; wandering to and fro, I should have rejoiced; groaning under a burden, I should have frolicked; sick and dying, I should have shouted for joy. I saw, observed, and learned that neither I nor anyone else is anything, knows anything, or possesses anything, but that we all but imagine ourselves to know something. We grasp at a shadow while the truth escapes us. Woe to us!”

Who sees through the world cannot but grieve

4 “I repeat what I said before,” my interpreter rejoined; “you yourself are to blame for your condition, because you demand something great and extraordinary, such as is granted to no one.” — “Consequently I grieve even more,” I replied, “that not only I myself, but the whole human race is so miserable; and so blind that it is not conscious of its own miseries.” — “I do not know how and by what means to satisfy your poor addled pate,” my intepreter retorted, “since there is not a single thing you like, neither the world nor the people in it, neither work nor idleness, neither learning nor ignorance, I know not what to do with you and what in the world to recommend to you.” Mr. Ubiquitous then suggested: “Let us take him to the Queen’s castle over there in the center; he may come to his senses there.”