Essay: The Burnout of Almost Everyone

Graham Greene's architect Querry had to trek to an African leprosarium to find a metaphor adequate to express his mood; nothing less would be sufficiently wasted, blighted, defunct. Querry was, Greene meant, A Burnt-Out Case, like the leper Deo Gratias, his soul far gone. He was a masterpiece of acedia, a skull full of ashes, a rhapsodist of his own desolation.

Once, hardly anyone except a Graham Greene character could manage such Gethsemanes of exhaustion. Today, burnout is a syndrome verging on a trend. The smell of psychological wiring on fire is everywhere. The...

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