Philip Roth’s interview touching on depression …

Some excerpts I liked from:
Roth on Roth

In “The Humbling,” Simon, depressed, describes himself as “a loathsome man who was nothing more than the inventory of his defects.” What about Camus’ suggestion that life’s purpose is to keep rolling the rock up the hill?
He’s talking about the state of depression. It’s not uncommon for people in depression to be the inventory of their deficiencies. You can’t tell a person in a depression what they are supposed to do. The point is they can’t do anything. They are incapable of mustering their power, as he is.

“What he did well he did out of instinct. Now he was thinking about everything, and everything spontaneous and vital was killed.” Is self-awareness paralyzing?
I’m talking about an actor. And this actor acts out of instinct. When he thinks too much he is hemmed in by his thinking.

At the end, Simon borrows his courage from a play by Chekhov. Is that his flaw, that he lacks originality, talented but emotionally vacant?

I don’t know what his flaw is. When his life is emptied out and he’s without his profession, he’s vacant. When he has the love and passion of Pegeen he begins to fill up again. When she withdraws herself he becomes a void again. And he finds it intolerable.

But he was aware that things could end badly.
It turns out that even if you know that something is going to happen, and it happens, you can still be devastated. There isn’t protection necessarily in knowledge. Sometimes there is, and sometimes there isn’t.


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