Established meaning systems can be thought of as cold, dead, coagulated, illusory, and as exercising power upon anyone who makes the mistake of believing the illusion. There is a cultural penumbra that halos around these systems, and different types of intense experiences can thrust a human soul into contact with this penumbra, forcing the soul to make sense of it in some way, which is forcing the soul to create, which is what it is the soul’s essence to do.

There are many types of intense experience that cause this thrusting; they can feel good or bad, can pertain to knowledge, art, personal suffering, politics, and perhaps other domains - but there is something special, I think, about the access to the transcendental that is afforded by suffering in particular. When one truly suffers, one is forced to question everything, not just the conventions of a particular cultural domain. Who am I, why are we here, or really even a more open and general version of these questions - just “why”, and what even is this “why”, where did ti come from - this is the transcendental question that suffering generates.