By Peter Wessel Zapffe
This essay from 1933, arguably one of the best Zapffe has written, formed the basis for the dissertation that he defended in 1941 (with the title Om det tragiske, “On the Tragic”). Zapffe presents his thoughts on what he considers “the error of human existence.” He believed that existential angst was the result of humans’ overly evolved intellect. Ironically, in Zapffe’s view, man’s survival is possible by a more or less conscious suppression of this surplus of consciousness. In The Last Messiah, Zapffe elaborates on the four suppression or defense mechanisms that human nature disposes of: isolation, anchoring, diversion, and sublimation.