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How would you explain “hurt” in the context?


I looked over the railing down onto the old stone piers of earlier iterations of the bridge where earlier iterations of aimless walkers must have seen some kind of sight like this and stopped and stood for a while and looked out over the water taking a deep breath and maybe seeing a small wavy outline of themselves reflected down below, with all that space around, thinking there was just so much damn space to be in that it hurt.

How would you explain “hurt” in the end of the passage? I think it means they felt they were low and insignificant. Am I right?

For learning: English
Base language: English
Category: Language



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    Best Answer - Chosen by the Asker
    For some reason or another, the viewer feels "hurt" looking at the scene. This likely doesn't mean physical pain, nor is it likely to be a sort of mental anguish (or a headache, which would be a combination of the two). It is most likely that the scene emotionally torments them in some way; it makes them feel sad or lonely or distraught or any of a long list of "bad emotions". Unfortunately, there's no way to tell with the context what exact sort of emotional "hurt" they're feeling, but my best guess is that it's existential agony: that is, the pain accompanied by notions of meaninglessness and insignificance. Further, they extrapolate their own perspective into their opinions of past visitors, assuming that those people felt the same way - that everybody was taunted by the vastness of the water.
    So yes, in fewer words, you're basically right (at least in my opinion). That the person's pain comes from undesired nihilism seems to be the most plausible explanation.

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