by William Barrett (1958). A highly readable account of the crisis of Modern Man as expressed most coherently within Existentialism. His account of the decline of rationality, what he calls the dream of the “Crystal Palace” (think of the Victorian world exhibit in London in the mid 19. century), the attendant decline of the luminous Medieval dream of an orderly and comprehensible world, with God located at the apex, is masterful. He traces the roots of existentialism from Plato, Christian sources, Hebraism and Hellenism until he comes to Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Sartre. What becomes apparent is the barren pursuit of these latter thinkers, obsessed with such topics as dread, nausea, essence and being; far, far removed from the ancient Greeks desire to comprehend the world in a rational manner. Some quotes from the book: “And the final solution for Job is not in the rational resolution of the problem, any more than it ever does in life, but in a change and conversion of the whole man”. Or “Plato’s is the classic and indeed archetypal expression of a philosophy which we may now call essentialism, which holds that essence is prior in reality to existence. Existentialism, by contrast, is the philosophy that holds existence to be prior to essence. The history of Western philosophy has been one long conflict, sometimes explicit, but more often hidden and veiled, between essentialism and existentialism.” And “Most people, of course, do not want to recognize that in certain crises they are being brought face to face with the religious center of their existence. Such crises are simply painful and must be got through as quickly and easily as one can. Why, in any case, should the discovery of the religious come to us at the moment in which we feel most sundered and alone, as Abraham did on Mount Moriah or as Kierkegaard did face to face with his own deprivation? Kierkegaard’s answer to this is pretty traditional: “The fear of the Lord”, says the Bible, “is the beginning of wisdom”; and for modern man, before that fear and as a threshold to it, are the fear and trembling in which we begin to be a Self.” And, finally, “But the whole man is not whole without such unpleasant things as death, anxiety, guilt, fear and trembling, and despair, even though journalists and the populace have shown what they think of these things by labeling any philosophy that looks at such aspects of human life as “gloomy” or “merely a mood of despair.” We are still so rooted in the Enlightenment – or uprooted in it – that these unpleasant aspects of life are like the Furies for us: hostile forces from which we would escape. And of course the easiest way to escape the Furies, we think, is to deny that they exist. It seems to me no accident at all that modern depth psychology has come into prominence in the same period as Existentialism and for the same reason: namely, that certain unpleasant things the Enlightenment had dropped into the limbo of the unconscious have begun to backfire and have forced themselves finally upon the attention of modern man.