Nothing is more curious and awkward than the relationship of two people who only know each other with their eyes — who meet and observe each other daily, even hourly and who keep up the impression of disinterest either because of morals or because of a mental abnormality. Between them there is listlessness and pent-up curiosity, the hysteria of an unsatisfied, unnaturally suppressed need for communion and also a kind of tense respect. Because man loves and honors man as long as he is not able to judge him, and desire is a product of lacking knowledge.
Forbearance in the face of fate, beauty constant under torture, are not merely passive. They are a positive achievement, an explicit triumph.
He took in the squeaky music, the vulgar and pining melodies, because passion immobilizes good taste and seriously considers what soberly would be thought of as funny and to be resented.
Yes, they are carnal, both of them, love and death, and therein lies their terror and their great magic!
The Ladies Buddenbrook from Breite Strasse did not weep, however - it was not their custom. Their faces, a little less caustic than usual at least, expressed a gentle satisfaction at death's impartiality.
Nothing is stranger or more ticklish than a relationship between people who know each other only by sight, who meet and observe each other daily - no hourly - and are nevertheless compelled to keep up the pose of an indifferent stranger, neither greeting nor addressing each other, whether out of etiquette or their own whim.
No, not of course at all—it is really all hocus-pocus. The days lengthen in the winter-time, and when the longest comes, the twenty-first of June, the beginning of summer, they begin to go downhill again, toward winter. You call that ‘of course’; but if one once loses hold of the fact that it is of course, it is quite frightening, you feel like hanging on to something. It seems like a practical joke—that spring begins at the beginning of winter, and autumn at the beginning of summer. You feel you’re being fooled, led about in a circle, with your eye fixed on something that turns out to be a moving point. A moving point in a circle. For the circle consists of nothing but such transitional points without any extent whatever; the curvature is incommensurable, there is no duration of motion, and eternity turns out to be not ‘straight ahead’ but ‘merry-go-round’!
The diaries of opium-eaters record how, during the brief period of ecstasy, the drugged person's dreams have a temporal scope of ten, thirty, sometimes sixty years or even surpass all limits of man's ability to experience time--dreams, that is, whose imaginary time span vastly exceeds their actual duration and which are characterized by an incredible diminishment of the experience of time, with images thronging past so swiftly that, as one hashish-smoke puts it, the intoxicated user's brain seems to have something removed, like the mainspring from a broken watch.
And life? Life itself? Was it perhaps only an infection, a sickening of matter? Was that which one might call the original procreation of matter only a disease, a growth produced by morbid stimulation of the immaterial? The first step toward evil, toward desire and death, was taken precisely then, when there took place that first increase in the density of the spiritual, that pathologically luxuriant morbid growth, produced by the irritant of some unknown infiltration; this, in part pleasurable, in part a motion of self-defense, was the primeval stage of matter, the transition from the insubstantial to the substance. This was the Fall.
Nature in her creative dreaming, dreamt the same thing both here and there, and if one spoke of imitation, then certainly it had to be reciprocal. Should one take the children of the soil as models because they possessed the depth of organic reality, whereas the ice flowers were mere external phenomena? But as phenomena, they were the result of an interplay of matter no less complex than that found in plants. If I understood our friendly host correctly, what concerned him was the unity of animate and so-called inanimate nature, the idea that we sin against the latter if the boundary we draw between the two spheres is too rigid, when in reality it is porous, since there is no elementary capability that is reserved exclusively for living creatures or that the biologist could not likewise study on inanimate models.
Naphta loathed the bourgeois state and its love of security. He found occasion to express this loathing one autumn afternoon when, as they were walking along the main street, it suddenly began to rain and, as if on command, there was an umbrella over every head. That was a symbol of cowardice and vulgar effeminacy, the end product of civilization. An incident like the sinking of the Titanic was atavistic, true, but its effect was most refreshing, it was the handwriting on the wall. Afterward, of course, came the hue and cry for more security in shipping. How pitiful, but such weak-willed humanitarianism squared very nicely with the wolfish cruelty and villainy of slaughter on the economic battlefield known as the bourgeois state. War, war ! He was all for it – the universal lust for war seemed quite honorable in comparison.
We are the bourgeoisie—the third estate, as they call us now—and what we want is a nobility of merit, nothing more. We don't recognize this lazy nobility we now have, we reject our present class hierarchy. We want all men to be free and equal, for no one to be someone else's subject, but for all to be subject to the law. There should be an end of privileges and arbitrary power. Everyone should be treated equally as a child of the state, and just as there are no longer any middlemen between the layman and his God, so each citizen should stand in direct relation to the state. We want freedom of the press, of employment, of commerce. We want all men to compete without any special privileges, and the only crown should be the crown of merit.
Solitude gives birth to the original in us, to beauty unfamiliar and perilous - to poetry. But also, it gives birth to the opposite: to the perverse, the illicit, the absurd.
There were profound reasons for his attachment to the sea: he loved it because as a hardworking artist he needed rest, needed to escape from the demanding complexity of phenomena and lie hidden on the bosom of the simple and tremendous; because of a forbidden longing deep within him that ran quite contrary to his life's task and was for that very reason seductive, a longing for the unarticulated and immeasurable, for eternity, for nothingness. To rest in the arms of perfection is the desire of any man intent upon creating excellence; and is not nothingness a form of perfection?
Even in a personal sense, after all, art is an intensified life. By art one is more deeply satisfied and more rapidly used up. It engraves on the countenance of its servant the traces of imaginary and intellectual adventures, and even if he has outwardly existed in cloistral tranquility, it leads in the long term to overfastidiousness, over-refinement, nervous fatigue and overstimulation, such as can seldom result from a life of the most extravagant passions and pleasures.
What did one see if one looked in any depth into the world of this writer's fiction? Elegant self-control concealing from the world's eyes until the very last moment a state of inner disintegration and biological decay; sallow ugliness, sensuously marred and worsted, which nevertheless is able to fan its smouldering concupiscence to a pallid impotence, which from the glowing depths of the spirit draws strength to cast down a whole proud people at the foot of the Cross and set its own foot upon them as well; gracious poise and composure in the empty austere service of form; the false, dangerous life of the born deceiver, his ambition and his art which lead so soon to exhaustion ---
He loved the sea for deep-seated reasons: the hardworking artist's need for repose, the desire to take shelter from the demanding diversity of phenomena in the bosom of boundless simplicity, a propensity—proscribed and diametrically opposed to his mission in life and for that very reason seductive—a propensity for the unarticulated, the immoderate, the eternal, for nothingness. To repose in perfection is the desire of all those who strive for excellence, and is not nothingness a form of perfection?
The books and magazines streamed in. He could buy them all, they piled up around him and even while he read, the number of those still to be read disturbed him. … they stood in rows, weighing down his life like a possession which he did not succeed in subordinating to his personality.
Is not the pastness of the past the more profound, the more legendary, the more immediately it falls before the present ?
He completely lacked any ardent interest that might have occupied his mind. His interior life was impoverished, had undergone a deterioration so severe that it was like the almost constant burden of some vague grief. And bound up with it all was an implacable sense of personal duty and the grim determination to present himself at his best, to conceal his frailties by any means possible, and to keep up appearances. It had all contributed to making his existence what it was: artificial, self-conscious, and forced—until every word, every gesture, the slightest deed in the presence of others had become a taxing and grueling part in a play.
Space, like time, engenders forgetfulness; but it does so by setting us bodily free from our surroundings and giving us back our primitive, unattached state ... Time, we say, is Lethe; but change of air is a similar draught, and, if it works less thoroughly, does so more quickly.
To be young means to be original, to have remained nearer to the sources of life: it means to be able to stand up and shake off the fetters of an outlived civilization, to dare -- where others lack the courage-- to plunge again into the elemental.
For passion, like crime does not sit well with the sure order and even course of everyday life. It welcomes every loosening of the social fabric, every confusion and affliction visited upon the world, for passion sees in such a disorder a vague hope of finding advantage for itself.
Or was he merely a mollycoddled favorite, enjoying capriciously prejudiced love? Schenback was inclined to believe the latter. Inborn in nearly every artist’s nature is a voluptuous, treacherous tendency to accept the injustice if it creates beauty and to grant sympathy and homage to aristocratic preferences.
Innate in nearly every artistic nature is a wanton, treacherous penchant for accepting injustice when it creates beauty and showing sympathy for and paying homage to aristocratic privilege.
This old, folkish layer survives in us all, and to speak as I really think, I do not consider religion the most adequate means of keeping it under lock and key. For that, literature alone avails, humanistic science, the ideal of the free and beautiful human being.
Prayers and love are learned in the hour when prayer has become impossible and your heart has turned to stone.
Passionate—that means to live for the sake of living. But one knows that you all live for sake of experience. Passion, that is self-forgetfulness. But what you all want is self-enrichment.
His games have a deeper meaning and fascination that adults can no longer fathom and require nothing more than three pebbles, or a piece of wood with a dandelion helmet, perhaps; but above all they require only the pure, strong, passionate, chaste, still-untroubled fantasy of those happy years when life still hesitates to touch us, when neither duty nor guilt dares lay a hand upon us, when we are allowed to see, hear, laugh, wonder, and dream without the world's demanding anything in return, when the impatience of those whom we want so much to love has not yet begun to torment us for evidence, some early token, that we will diligently fulfill our duties. Ah, it will not be long, and all that will rain down upon us in overwhelming, raw power, will assault us, stretch us, cramp us, drill us, corrupt us.
Travelers prove their lack of education if they make fun of the customs and values of their hosts, and the qualities that do a person honour are many and varied.
A lonely, quiet person has observations and experiences that are at once both more indistinct and more penetrating than those of one more gregarious; his thoughts are weightier, stranger, and never without a tinge of sadness. . . . Loneliness fosters that which is original, daringly and bewilderingly beautiful, poetic. But loneliness also fosters that which is perverse, incongruous, absurd, forbidden.
At thirty a man steps out of the darkness and wasteland of preparation into active life it is the time to show oneself, the time of fulfillment.
Disease was a perverse, a dissolute form of life. And life? Life itself? Was it perhaps only an infection, a sickening of matter? Was that which one might call the original procreation of matter only a disease, a growth produced by morbid stimulation of the immaterial? The first step toward evil, toward desire and death, was taken precisely then, when there took place that first increase in the density of the spiritual, that pathologically luxuriant morbid growth, produced by the irritant of some unknown infiltration; this, in part pleasurable, in part a motion of self-defence, was the primeval stage of matter, the transition from the insubstantial to the substance. This was the Fall. The second creation, the birth of the organic out of the inorganic, was only another fatal stage in the progress of the corporeal toward consciousness, just as disease in the organism was an intoxication, a heightening and unlicensed accentuation of its physical state; and life, life was nothing but the next step on the reckless path of the spirit dishonored; nothing but the automatic blush of matter roused to sensation and become receptive for that which awaked it.
Consciousness of self was an inherent function of matter once it was organized as life, and if that function was enhanced it turned against the organism that bore it, strove to fathom and explain the very phenomenon that produced it, a hope-filled and hopeless striving of life to comprehend itself, as if nature were rummaging to find itself in itself - ultimately to no avail, since nature cannot be reduced to comprehension, nor in the end can life listen to itself.