the heroism of senseless pursuits

“Then the last type of madness: that of desperate passion. Love disappointed in its excess, and especially love deceived by the fatality of death, has no other recourse but madness. As long as there was an object, mad love was more love than madness; left to itself, it pursues itself in the void of delirium. Punishment of a passion too abjectly abandoned to its violence? No doubt; but this punishment is also a relief; it spreads, over the irreparable absence, the mercy of imaginary presences; it recovers, in the paradox of innocent joy or in the heroism of senseless pursuits, the vanished form. If it leads to death, it is a death in which the lovers will never be separated again. This is Ophelia’s last song, this is the delirium of Ariste in La Folie du sage.”

Michel Foucault
A History of Insanity in the Age of

Painting by John Everett Millais, Ophelia (1851-1852)

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