Man’s Search For Ultimate Meaning
By Viktor E. Frankl
Rider/Ebury Publishing – £9.99
In the very first chapter of this unsurprisingly amazing book (‘The Essence of Existential Analysis’), there’s a quote from Vienna’s most famous poet and contemporary of Sigmund Freud, Arthur Schnitzer: […] there are really only three virtues: objectivity, courage, and a sense of responsibility.’’ Not only is it nigh impossible to disagree with said substantiation of virtue, there’s no denying that Viktor E. Frankl – Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Philosophy and former inmate of both Auschwitz and Dachau – was, perhaps still is, one of its quintessential living embodiments.
Perhaps best known throughout the world for having written Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl has bestowed upon literally millions of troubled souls, a form of translucent, sincere understanding; the sort of which is as illusive to embrace as it is metaphorically awkward to define.
Hence, the countless diversionary tactics which are relatively easy to embrace and define, such as alcoholism, drug abuse and a wanton desire to be anything other than that which we truly are: human. To be sure, within the context of human nature, there are forces of good and forces of unspeakable evil. That Viktor E. Frankl and Adolf Hitler were both born in Austria within six years of each other is just one such instance – if not a juxtapositional, social calamity. As while the latter was all powerful yet deluded beyond any form of redemption, the former was a gentle intellectual; with more scope for human discernment and comprehension, than a thousand wretched Third Reichs’ put together.
This might partly explain Frankl’s survival, not to mention his wisdom and heart-felt authorship of an extraordinary collection of books – among them: The Doctor and the Soul, The Will to Meaning, The Unconscious God and The Unheard Cry for Meaning. Lest it be revered within the thread that traverses throughout all of his writing(s), is the degree to which all of us really can discover meaning.
That life has so much more to offer than anyone can ever possibly imagine.
But here’s the deal: we have to make the effort to find it. What’s more, we won’t find it within the context of the needle and the damage done (or within the inexorable shopping malls of insanity).
That said, we might not find it in Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning either, but we will at least find the right questions. And what more could one possibly ask for, but to at least embark on one’s journey from the right place? As Michael Berenbaum, author of After Tragedy and Triumph has written, this book is to be ‘’treasured by… men and women who wrestle with ultimate questions and encounter God as often in the question as in the answer.’’