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Goethe, Lukas, and Alienation

Goethe, Lukas, and Alienation
          Gerog Lukas is perhaps the first Director of what became know as the Frankfurt School, preceding Horkheimer who made it such a vital phenomenon.   This essay on Goethe is perhaps the most edifying of all the works on that figure as Goethe has eluded proper consideration because he was German.   Now, that requires some explanation.
          Many critics feel required to treat him as a part of the history of German Romanticism, but the two terms, especially together, are quite inappropriate for Goethe. One seems required to represent him as a part of the Sturm und Drang movement and, while his participation there is clear, it entirely misses the point.   Nietzsche provided one of the best early clues as to how to approach Goethe when he mentioned that he was not merely a German, but rather he is most rightly considered a European and, at the time, that included almost all the cultural world (although Nietzsche did admire Emerson and pointed out that he had readers in New York, but not Germany).   Lukas attempts to correct this impression by pointing out the neo-classical, or more to the point, Enlightenment, aspect of Goethe and also points out that the elements of Goethe that are most repressed by the emphasis on the Romantic aspects include reason   — the triumph of science over religion.
          The book Lukas discusses. the Sufferings of Young Werther (as would be a more accurate translation than mere “sorrows,” because of its enormous influence and impact, what with young men found floating in rivers dressed like Werther. It became akin to the Byronic Hero, a figure most unlike the real Byron as Werther was unlike Werther. One recalls Goethe walking with Beethoven one day and complaining about the number of people of waving to him. Beethoven asked “Haw do you know they are not waving to me?”   An example of Goethe’s respect for the ancient Greeks and the so-called “Neo-Classical” spirit can be seen in his play Iphegenie.   According to Aristotle, the shift in a classical tragedy occurs midway through a play. If you count the lines in that play and divide by two, you have the mid-point and the line that marks the reversal of fortune. A fairly literal application of Classical thought.
          Werther himself suffers from the interference of middle-class morality and customs on his life and an alienation from his work. It is this rebellion against religious custom and social belief that Goethe depicted and anyone who dared criticize the work to his face in later life was in for quite a scolding. Napoleon read the book and said that it would have been better it Goethe had omitted the part about his alienation from employment to which Goethe replied “He is reading it as a lawyer.” At any rate, here are Lukas’ observations:
Georg Lukács 1936
The Sorrows of Young Werther
Written: 1936;
Translator: Robert Anchor;
Source: Goethe and His Age Merlin Press 1968;
Transcribed: Harrison Fluss for marxists.org, February 2008.
The year in which Werther appeared, 1774, is an important date, not only for the history of German literature, but also for world literature. The brief but exceptionally significant philosophical and literary hegemony of Germany, which temporarily relieved France of ideological leadership in these areas, became clearly evident for the first time with the worldwide success of Werther.To be sure, German literature had already produced works of significance for world literature before Werther. One need only mention Winckelmann, Lessing and Goethe’s Götz von Berlichingen. But the exceptionally extensive and profound effect of Werther on the entire world clearly brought to light the leading role of the German Enlightenment.
The German Enlightenment? That startles the reader who has been “schooled” in the literary legends of bourgeois historiography and the vulgar sociology which depends upon them. Indeed, both in bourgeois literary history and vulgar sociology, it is a commonplace that the Enlightenment, on the one hand, and “Storm and Stress” – and especially Werther – on the other, are exclusively opposed to one another. This literary legend first began with the famous book on Germany by the Romantic writer, Madame de Stael. Then it was taken up by progressive bourgeois literary historians as well and, by way of the well-known works of Georg Brandes, it found its way into vulgar pseudo-Marxist sociology. It goes without saying that bourgeois literary historians of the imperialist period, like Gundolf, Korff, Strich, etc. enthusiastically built upon this legend. Is not constructing a Chinese wall between the Enlightenment and German Classicism the best ideological means to debase the Enlightenment to the advantage of the subsequent reactionary tendencies in Romanticism?
When a historical legend is built upon an ideological need as deep as that of the hatred of the reactionary bourgeoisie for the revolutionary Enlightenment, then it goes without saying that the makers of such historical legends will not concern themselves at all with the obvious facts of history, and that it is a matter of perfect indifference to them if their legends fly in the face of the most elementary facts. This is quite clearly the case on the Werther question. For even bourgeois literary history is forced to regard Richardson and Rousseau as literary precursors of Werther. Of course, it is characteristic of the intellectual level of bourgeois literary historians that they can at one and the same time see a literary connection between Richardson, Rousseau and Goethe and deny all connection between Werther and the Enlightenment.
To be sure, intelligent reactionaries sense a contradiction here. But their way out is to take Rousseau already as an opponent of Enlightenment and to make of him an ancestor of reactionary Romanticism. With Richardson, however, even this “wisdom” fails to work. Richardson was a typical bourgeois Enlightenment figure. He achieved his great European success precisely among the progressive bourgeoisie; ideological pioneers of the European Enlightenment, like Diderot and Lessing, enthusiastically heralded his fame.
What then is the ideological content of this historical legend? What ideological need of the nineteenth century is it meant to satisfy? However pompously expressed the content is remarkably paltry and abstract. It is that the Enlightenment supposedly took into account only the “intellect” [Verstand], The German movement of “Storm and Stress,” on the other hand, is supposed to have been a revolt of “feeling,” “soul” and “instinct” against the tyranny of intellect. This barren hollow abstraction serves to exalt the irrationalist tendencies of the bourgeois decadence and to distort all the traditions of the revolutionary period of bourgeois evolution. Among liberal literary historians of Brandes’s type, this theory is eclectic and compromising, arguing for the ideological superiority of the no longer revolutionary bourgeoisie of the nineteenth century over that of the revolutionary period, due to the fact that its subsequent development was supposedly “more concrete,” and that it also supposedly took into account the “soul,” etc. The avowed reactionaries unconditionally turn upon the Enlightenment and shamelessly calumniate it.
What was the essence of this infamous “intellect” of the Enlightenment? Clearly a relentless criticism of religion, of the contamination of philosophy by theology, of the institutions of feudal absolutism, of feudal-religious precepts of mortality, etc. That this relentless struggle of the Enlighteners should have become ideologically insufferable to a now reactionary bourgeoisie is easy to understand. But does it follow that the Enlighteners, as the avant-garde of the revolutionary bourgeoisie in science, art and life, disdained or depreciated man’s emotional life in any way because they only acknowledge what withstood the test of human reason and a confrontation with the facts of life? We believe that a clear formulation of the question itself clearly testifies to the abstract and untenable character of such reactionary constructions. They appear plausible only from the standpoint of post-revolutionary legitimism, which gives all royalist traditions a false and sentimental emotional accent, extending this false sentimentality to the anti-popular traditions of the Enlightenment. As opposed to bourgeois literary historians and vulgar sociologists who trace Chateaubriand, for example, to Rousseau and Goethe, Marx refers to “… this belletrist who combines the refined scepticism and Voltarianism of the eighteenth century with the refined sentimentalism and Romanticism of the nineteenth in the most disgusting way.”
In the Enlightenment itself the problem was posed quite differently. To choose only one example, since our space is much too limited for a thorough analysis: from what point of view did Lessing oppose both the theory and practice of the tragedian Corneille? His point of departure was precisely that Corneille’s conception of tragedy is inhuman, that Corneille disregarded the human soul and man’s emotional life, that, being engrossed in the courtly and aristocratic conventions of his time, he offers us lifeless and purely intellectualist constructions. The literary-theoretical struggle of such Enlightenment figures as Diderot and Lessing was directed against these aristocratic conventions. They combatted these conventions all along the line; their intellectualist frigidity as well as their irrationality. There is not the slightest contradiction between Lessing’s struggle against the frigidity of tragedie classique and his proclamation of the rights of reason in the religious question, for example. For every great socio-historical revolution brings forth a new man. In these ideological conflicts, therefore, the question is the struggle for this concrete new man against the obsolete man of the detested and dying old social order. But never (except in the apologetic fantasy of reactionary thinkers) does a struggle really occur between two abstract and isolated human attributes (instinct versus reason).
Only by destroying such historical legends and contradictions, which have never existed in reality, can we open the way to an understanding of the actual inner contradictions of the Enlightenment. These actual contradictions in turn ideologically reflect the contradictions of the bourgeois revolution and those of the emergence, growth and development of bourgeois society itself with its social content and driving-forces. And, of course, in the life of society itself, these contradictions are not rigid and fixed once and for all. They emerge rather in an extremely uneven way, corresponding to the disparity of social evolution, are resolved in a seemingly satisfying way at a certain stage of evolution, only to reappear at a subsequent stage of social development on a higher level and in a more complex evolution of which so vehemently posed the problem of personality, incessantly hinders the development of personality. The same laws, institutions, etc. which serve the development of personality in the narrow class sense of the bourgeoisie and which generate the freedom of laisser faire are simultaneously merciless destroyers of the real development of personality. “While the capitalist division of labour, the indispensable foundation of the development of the productive forces forms the material basis of the developed personality, it simultaneously subjugates the human being and fragments his personality into lifeless specialization, etc.” It is clear that young Goethe lacked an economic understanding of these relations. All the more highly then must one value his poetic genius which enabled him to represent the real dialectic of this development in terms of human destinies.
Since Goethe starts from actual human beings, actual human destinies, he grasped all these problems in that concrete complexity and mediation in which they manifest themselves in the personal destinies of individual men. And because he fashioned his hero as a man remarkably differentiated subjectively, these problems emerge in a very complex manner which enters deeply the realm of ideology. But the relationship is visible everywhere and is consciously understood throughout in some way or other even by the characters involved. So, for example, Werther speaks about the relationship of nature and art: “It (nature) alone is infinitely rich, and it alone forms the great artist. One can say much in favour of the rules, almost what one can say in praise of bourgeois society.”
The central problem remains always the unified and comprehensive development of the human personality. In Dichtung und Wahrheit, where the old Goethe described his own youth, he thoroughly examined the principal foundations of this conflict. He analyses the thinking of Hamann who, next to Rousseau and Herder, influenced his youthful years most deeply and expresses in his own words that basic principle whose realization was the primary aspiration of the youth of others, as well as his own.
“Everything that a man attempts to achieve, whether brought into being by deed or word or some other way, must arise from the totality of his unified powers; everything isolated is harmful. A marvellous maxim, but difficult to follow.”
The principal poetic content of Werther is a struggle for the realization of this maxim, a struggle against the internal and external obstacles to its realization. Aesthetically this means the struggle against the “rules” about which we have already heard. Here too one must guard against thinking in rigid metaphysical antitheses. Werther, and with him, young Goethe are enemies of the “rules.” But the “absence of rules” means for Werther a great and deeply felt realism; it means the admiration of Homer, Klopstock, Goldsmith and Lessing.
More vehement and passionate still is the rebellion against the rules of ethics. The essential line of bourgeois evolution requires a unitary system of national law instead of corporate and local privileges. This great historical movement must be reflected also in ethics as a demand for unitary universal laws of human action. In the course of Germany’s subsequent development this social tendency found its highest philosophical expression in the idealist ethics of Kant and Fichte. But this tendency – often appearing, of course, in actual life in philistine forms – existed long before Kant and Fichte.
Now however necessary this development may have been historically, it also prevented the development of personality. Ethics in Kant’s and Fichte’s sense seeks to discover a unitary system of rules, a consistent system of precepts for a society, the basic driving principle of which is contradiction itself. The individual who acts in this society, who is compelled to recognize in principle the system of rules in general, is bound to come into continual conflict with these principles in the concrete situation. And, of course, that does not happen, as Kant imagined, simply because man’s base egoistic drives conflict with his noble ethical maxims. Rather the contradiction arises very frequently and, in the cases which are pertinent here, only out of the best and noblest human feelings. Not until much later did the Hegelian dialectic – in an idealist form, to be sure – succeed in grasping conceptually a relatively adequate image of the contradictory reciprocal action between human passion and social evolution.
But even the best conceptual comprehension cannot counteract a contradiction which really exists in reality itself. And young Goethe’s generation which deeply experienced this vital contradiction, even if it did not conceptually grasp its dialectic, passionately assailed this obstacle to the free development of the personality.
Perhaps the friend of young Goethe, Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, most clearly expressed this rebellion in the realm of ethics in an open letter to Fichte. He says: “Yes, I am the atheist and Godless one who … wishes to lie, as dying Desdemona lied, who wishes to lie and deceive like Pylades posing as Orestes, who wishes to murder like Timoleon, break laws and oaths like Epaminondas and Jan de Witt, choose suicide like Otho, pillage the Temple like David – yes, pluck ears of corn on the sabbath; but only because I am hungry, and because the law is made for the sake of man, not man for the sake of the law.” And Jacobi calls this rebellion “the majestic right of man, the mark of his dignity.”
The ethical problems of Werther are all enacted under the sign of this rebellion, a rebellion in which the internal contradictions of revolutionary bourgeois humanism manifest themselves for the first time in world literature in a great poetic creation. In this novel Goethe plotted the action in a remarkably economical way. Almost without exception he selected those characters and events in which these contradictions, the contradictions between human passions and social legality come to light. In fact, almost without exception, he selected those conflicts between emotions which contain nothing intrinsically base, nothing asocial or anti-social; and laws which are not to be rejected as senseless in themselves and inhibiting to development (like the separation of social orders in feudal society), but only those which contain the general limitations of all the laws of bourgeois society. “With marvellous art Goethe presented by means of a few strokes in one or two short scenes, the tragic fate of the infatuated young servant whose murder of his beloved and his rival forms the tragic counterpart to Werther’s suicide. In his later description of the Werther days, already mentioned, the old Goethe still recognized as rebellious and revolutionary the claim of the moral right to suicide. It is very interesting – and for relating Werther to the Enlightenment, very instructive in turn – that he appeals to Montesquieu in this matter. Werther himself has a justification for the defence of this right which sounds even more revolutionary. Long before his suicide, long before he had actually made this resolve, he had a theoretical conversation about suicide with Albert, the fiancé of his beloved. This quiet citizen naturally denied any such right. Among other things, Werther argues: “Can you call a people weak which groans under the unendurable yoke of a tyrant, if it finally rises and rends its chains?”
This tragic struggle for the realization of humanist ideals in young Goethe is intimately related to the popular aspect [Volkstümlichkeit]of his endeavours. In precisely this respect young Goethe extends Rousseauesque tendencies as opposed to the refined aristocratic approach of Voltaire whose heritage became important for Goethe later, when he was frequently disenchanted and resigned. Rousseau’s cultural and literary lineage may be expressed most clearly by Marx’s words concerning Jacobinism: it is “a plebeian way of dealing with the enemies of the bourgeoisie; absolutism, feudalism and philistinism.”
We repeat: politically young Goethe was no revolutionary plebeian, not even within the limits possible in Germany, not even in the sense that young Schiller was. Thus, the plebeian element in him does not appear in a political form, but rather as an opposition of humanistic and revolutionary ideals both to the corporate society of feudal absolutism and to philistinism. The whole of Werther is a glowing tribute to this new man who emerged in the course of preparation for the bourgeois revolution, to that awakening of the universal revolutionary expressions of bourgeois ideology in the preparatory period of the French Revolution. Its world success is that of a revolutionary work. Werther is the culmination of young Goethe’s struggles for the free and universally developed man, those tendencies which he also expressed in Götz, in the Prometheus fragment, in the first drafts of Faust, etc.
It would be a false depreciation of the significance of Werther to see it simply as the expression of a transitory, exaggerated, sentimental mood which Goethe himself quickly overcame. It is true that scarcely three years after Werther, Goethe wrote a playful humorous parody on “Wertherism” called Triumph der Empfindsamkeit. Bourgeois literary history observes only that Goethe characterized in it Rousseau’s Heloise and his own Werther as the “dregs” [Grundsuppe]of sentimentality. But it ignores the fact that Goethe was ridiculing here precisely the aristocratic and courtly parody of the Wertherian spirit which had degenerated into the anti-natural. Werther himself flees to nature and to the people in the face of the lifeless disfigurement of aristocratic society. The hero of the parody provides himself with a theatrical, artificial nature, fearing the real one, and in his frivolous sentimentality has nothing to do with the vital forces of the people. Hence the Triumph der Empfindsamkeit lays stress on just that popular basic theme in Werther;it is a parody on the unintended effect of the work on the “educated” classes, but not on the so-called “exaggerated” elements of the work itself.
The world success of Werther is a literary triumph of the bourgeois revolution. The artistic foundation of this success rests on the fact that Werther offers an artistic fusion of the great realist tendencies of the eighteenth century. Young Goethe artistically advanced the line of Richardson and Rousseau far beyond his predecessors. He took over their theme: the representation of the inner world of feeling in bourgeois daily life, in order to delineate in this inwardness the outlines of the emerging new man in opposition to feudal society. But where Rousseau still dissolves the external world (with the exception of the landscape) into a subjective mood, young Goethe also inherited an objective and clear treatment of the external world, the world of society and of nature; he not only continued Richardson and Rousseau, but also Fielding and Goldsmith.
Viewed externally, from a technical point of view, Werther is a culmination of the subjectivist tendencies of the second half of the eighteenth century. And this subjectivism is not something superficial in the novel, but the adequate artistic expression of the humanist revolt. Everything, however, which appears in this world of Werther, Goethe objectified with an unprecedented plasticity and activity of man which the development of bourgeois society engendered – and also tragically condemned to destruction. This new man was formed then by being continually contrasted dramatically to corporate society and bourgeois philistinism. Time and again this newly emerging human culture is set over against the malformation and the sterility and lack of cultivation of the “upper classes” and the stagnant, torpid, petty egoistic life of the philistine bourgeoisie. And each of these oppositions is a glowing affirmation that both a real and vital understanding of life and a vital consideration of its problems are to be found exclusively in the people itself. As a vital human being, as a representative of a new world, it is not only Werther who opposes the dead petrification of the aristocracy and philistinism, but time and again popular figures do also. Werther always represents what is popular and alive as against this torpidity. And the cultural elements which are very liberally inserted (references to painting, to Homer, Ossian, Goldsmith, etc.) always move in this direction: for Werther and for young Goethe, Homer and Ossian are great popular poets, poetic reflections and expressions of the productive life that exists uniquely and alone among the working people.
Through this tendency, through this content of his work, young Goethe proclaimed the popular revolutionary ideals of the bourgeois revolution – although he personally was neither a plebeian nor a political revolutionary. Even his reactionary contemporaries immediately recognized this tendency in Werther and evaluated it accordingly. The orthodox pastor, Goeze, notorious for his polemic with Lessing, wrote, for example, that books like Werther are the mothers of Ravaillac (the murderer of Henry IV) and Damiens (the would-be assassin of Louis XV). And many decades later Lord Bristol attacked Goethe because his book made so many people miserable. It is very interesting that the old Goethe, who was otherwise so politely refined and restrained, answered these charges with gratifyingly blunt rudeness and reproached the astonished lord with all the sins of the ruling classes. Such assessments put Werther on a level with the openly revolutionary youthful dramas of Schiller. The old Goethe also preserved an extremely characteristic remark of the enemy about these plays. A German prince once said to him that if he had been God Almighty and had known that the creation of the world would have resulted in the birth of Schiller’s Raubern, he would never have created the world.
These utterances from enemy quarters endorse the real significance of the great works of “Storm and Stress” far better than the subsequent apologetic interpretations of bourgeois literary history. The popular-humanistic revolt in Werther is one of the most important simplicity learned from the great realists. Only in Werther’s state of mind at the end does the haziness of Ossian displace the lucid plasticity of Homer understood as a popular figure. As a creator, young Goethe remained a student of this Homer throughout the work.
But Goethe’s great youthful novel does not only surpass those of his predecessors artistically. It also does so in content. As we have seen, it is not only the proclamation of the ideals of revolutionary humanism, but also the perfect formulation of the tragic contradiction of these ideals. Hence Werther is not only a high-point of the great bourgeois literature of the eighteenth century, but at the same time the first major forerunner of the great realistic problem literature of the nineteenth century. By regarding Chateaubriand and his consorts as the literary successors of Werther, bourgeois literary history tendentiously reduces the book’s significance. Not reactionary Romanticism, but the great writers of the tragic decline of humanistic ideals in the nineteenth century, Balzac and Stendahl, continued the real tendencies of Werther.
Werther’s conflict, Werther’s tragedy is the tragedy of bourgeois humanism and shows the insoluble conflict between the free and full development of personality and bourgeois society itself. Naturally this tragedy appears in its German, pre-revolutionary, semi-feudal, politically fragmented, absolutistic form. But even in this conflict the outlines are very clearly visible of those conflicts which subsequently emerged more distinctly. And ultimately these are the ones that actually destroy Werther. To be sure, Goethe only formulated the dimly visible outlines of the great tragedy which manifested itself later. This enabled him to concentrate his theme into so strict a framework and limit himself thematically to the representation of a small world, almost idyllic and closed, à la Goldsmith and Fielding. But the formation of this externally narrow and closed world is already impregnated with that dramatic quality which, after Balzac’s achievements, constituted the essentially new element of the nineteenth century novel.
Generally Werther is regarded as a love story. Is that correct? Yes, Werther is one of the greatest love stories in world literature. But like every really great poetic expression of erotic tragedy Werther provides much more than a mere tragedy of love.
Young Goethe succeeded in introducing organically into this love-conflict all the great problems of the struggle for the development of personality. Werther’s tragedy of love is a tragic explosion of all those passions which usually occur in life in a divided, partial, abstract way; but in Werther they are fused, in the fire of passionate love into a homogenous, glowing and radiant mass. Here we can only concentrate on a few of the essential aspects. First of all, Goethe made Werther’s love for Lotte into an artistically heightened expression of the hero’s popular, anti-feudal way of life. Of Werther’s relationship to Lotte, Goethe himself later said that it put him into contact with daily life.
But even more important is the composition of the work itself. The first part is devoted to a description of Werther’s emerging love. As Werther realizes the insoluble conflict of his love, he seeks refuge in practical life, in activity, and he even accepts a position with a legation. Despite the fact that his talents are recognized there, this attempt proves unavailing against the barriers erected by aristocratic society against the bourgeoisie. Not until after Werther fails in this attempt does his tragic re-encounter with Lotte take place.
It may be of some interest to mention that one of the greatest admirers of this novel, Napoleon Bonaparte, who even took Werther along with him on the Egyptian campaign, reproached Goethe for having introduced a social conflict into a love-tragedy. With his courteous and refined irony, the old Goethe observed that the great Napoleon indeed had studied Werther very attentively, but had done so like a judge studying his briefs. Napoleon’s criticism is obviously a misjudgment of the broad and comprehensive character of the Werther question. Of course, even as a tragedy of love, Werther would have been a great and typical expression of the problem of the time. But Goethe’s intentions went deeper. In his representation of passionate love, he showed the insoluble contradiction between personality development and bourgeois society. And in order to do so, it was necessary to enable us to witness this conflict in all areas of human activity. Napoleon’s criticism is a rejection – understandable from his point of view – of the universality of this tragic conflict in Werther.
It is through this apparent diversion that the book ends in catastrophe. As regards this catastrophe itself, we must bear in mind that Lotte also loved Werther and that she became conscious of this love through the explosion of his passion. But this is exactly what brings about the catastrophe. Lotte is a bourgeois woman who instinctively holds on to her marriage with a capable and respected man and draws back in alarm from her own feelings. Thus the tragedy of Werther is not only the tragedy of unhappy love, but the perfect expression of the inner contradiction of bourgeois marriage: based on individual love, with which it emerged historically, bourgeois marriage, by virtue of its socio-economic character, stands in insoluble contradiction to individual love.
Goethe was as plain as he was restrained in emphasizing the social aspects of this love tragedy. After a conflict with the feudal society of the legation, Werther clears out and reads that chapter in the Odyssey in which Odysseus, returning home, converses with the swineherd on human and comradely terms. And on the night of his suicide, the last book that Werther reads is Lessing’s Emilia Galotti, at that time the high-point of revolutionary bourgeois literature.
The Sorrows of Young Werther is one of the greatest love stories in world literature because Goethe concentrated into this love-tragedy the whole life of his time, with all its conflicts.
For that very reason the significance of Werther surpasses the faithful description of a particular period and produces an effect that has survived long after its own time. In a conversation with Eckermann about the reason for this effect, the old Goethe said the following: “If one examines it closely, the much talked of age of Werther, it is true, does not belong to the course of world culture, but rather to the life-process of every individual who, with a free and innate sense of nature, seeks to find himself and adapt to the restrictive forms of a world grown old. Thwarted happiness, hampered activity, ungratified desires – these are not the infirmities of a particular period, but those of every single human being, and it must be sad if each should not once have had a phase in his life when Werther affected him as if it were written only for him.”
Goethe exaggerated here a little the “timeless” character of Werther; he concealed the fact that the individual conflict in which, according to his own view, the significance of his novel lies, is just this conflict between personality and society in bourgeois society. Precisely through this one-sidedness, however, he accentuated the profound universality of Werther for the whole duration of bourgeois society.
When the old Goethe read a review about himself in the French periodical, Globe, in which his Tasso was called an “intensified Werther,” he agreed enthusiastically with this characterization. Rightly so. For the French critic quite correctly drew attention to the connecting threads which lead from Werther to Goethe’s later production in the nineteenth century. In Tasso the problems of Werther are enhanced and driven more intensely to their extremes; but for that very reason the solution to the conflict is considerably less pure. Werther is shattered in the contradiction between human personality and bourgeois society; but he is destroyed in pure tragedy, without his soul being sullied by compromise with the evil reality of bourgeois society.
The tragedy of Tasso preludes the great fiction of the nineteenth century novel insofar as the tragic resolution of the conflict in this literature is already less a heroic explosion than suffocation caused by compromise. The lineage of Tasso then becomes a leading theme of the great nineteenth century novel from Balzac to our own time. It may be said of a very great number of the heroes of these novels – but not in a mechanistic and schematic way – that they are “intensified Werthers.” They are destroyed in the same conflicts that Werther was. But their downfall is less heroic, more abject, more sullied by compromise and capitulations. Werther commits suicide precisely because he will relinquish nothing of his humanistic-revolutionary ideals, because he knows no compromise in these questions. This straightforwardness and consistency endows his tragedy with that radiant beauty which even today constitutes the imperishable charm of this book.
This beauty is not simply the result of young Goethe’s genius. It arises from the fact that, although his hero is destroyed in a conflict common to the whole of bourgeois society, Werther is still the product of the heroic pre-revolutionary period of bourgeois development.
Just as the heroes of the French Revolution went to their deaths radiantly heroic, filled with heroic and historically necessary illusions, so too does Werther go under in the dawn of the heroic illusions of humanism prior to the French Revolution.
According to the accounts of his biographers, unanimously agreed upon, Goethe soon overcame his Werther phase. That goes without saying. And there is no question about the fact that Goethe’s subsequent development frequently went far beyond the horizon of Werther. Goethe experienced the disintegration of the heroic illusions of the pre-revolutionary period and yet he held fast to his humanistic ideals in a unique way, representing them in a more comprehensive and richer form in their conflict with bourgeois society.
But he always retained his feeling for the imperishable and vitally essential element in Werther. He did not transcend Werther in that vulgar sense that most of his biographers mean it, in the sense of the bourgeois who grows wiser, comes to terms with reality and overcomes his “youthful follies.” When Goethe wanted to write a new preface to Werther fifty years after it first appeared, he wrote the stirring first part of the Trilogie der Leidenschaft. In this poem he expressed his relationship to the hero of his youth in this way:
“Summoned, I to stay, you to part, You went ahead – and lost little.”
[Zum Bleiben ich, zum Scheiden du erkoren, Gingst du voran-und hast nicht viel verloren.]
This melancholy mood of the old and mature Goethe shows most clearly the dialectic of his overcoming of Werther. The evolution of society had passed beyond the possibility of the consistently pure tragedy of Werther. The great realist Goethe never denied this fact. Indeed, a profound grasp of the essence of reality is always the foundation of his great poetry. But at the same time, he sensed what both he and humanity had lost with the passing of these heroic illusions. He felt that the radiant beauty of Werther characterized a period in the development of mankind which would never return, that dawn upon which followed the sunrise of the great French Revolution.
Georg Lukacs Archive

Freedom to Know — Milton and Today

Freedom to Know — Milton and Today
 
          I have placed an important paragraph from John Milton’s famous, but unfortunately neglected, Areopagitica, in the front as well as its original place in the middle of this classical oration, built on the Classical Rhetorical Scheme or organization that persisted well into the 17th Century. Even today, people wind up using vestiges of that organization without even knowing whence they came. The point here, of course, is to illustrate how fundamental a human drive is the right to know and how loathsome efforts to frustrate it are.
 
          This forum was started as a place to consider issues of far more significance than contemporary events.   The right to know, however, is an enduring concern. Those with authority genuinely fear the free flow of information whenever it threatens to loosen their grip on that authority. Milton, who knew just about everything there was to know in the 17th Century was aware of this and wrote the following essay as an argument against prior restraint.
 
          Today, we live in a much different era where much information is available, but little of it is of any use. In other words, with 24/7 news coverage, one would assume a better informed populace.   Unfortunately, although much is said, little is known. For example, a great deal is being said about the situation in the middle east, and there is some awareness that there is some sort of religious dispute motivating much of it, the particular sects, history, beliefs, and the fact that much of it is simply a camouflage for, or a justification of, a thirst for power.   Right now, the most obvious example of this is the imprisonment of journalists in Egypt because of an alleged collusion with some religious sect (which was little more than a political movement). Unfortunately, those journalists are employed by various factions that control what they say.  
 
          This, however, is no justification for the suppression of information, even if it is false information, for false information can only be countered if it is out in the open and the resources are available to contradict it. At any rate, Milton published his essay in the face of the law, violated it, but was never touched as a result. His example should be remembered and the best was of making his point available is to publish it, as we do here:
 
 
 
And yet, on the other hand, unless wariness be used, as good almost kill
a man as kill a good book. Who kills a man kills a reasonable creature,
God’s image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills
the image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden
to the earth; but a good book is the precious life-blood of a master
spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life. ‘Tis
true, no age can restore a life, whereof perhaps there is no great loss;
and revolutions of ages do not oft recover the loss of a rejected truth,
for the want of which whole nations fare the worse.
 
We should be wary therefore what persecution we raise against the living
labours of public men, how we spill that seasoned life of man, preserved
and stored up in books.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Title: Areopagitica
       A Speech For The Liberty Of Unlicensed Printing To The
       Parliament Of England
 
Author: John Milton
 
Release Date: January 21, 2006 [EBook #608]
 
Language: English
 
 
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK AREOPAGITICA ***
 
 
 
 
Produced by Judith Boss and David Widger
 
 
 
 
 
AREOPAGITICA
 
 
A SPEECH FOR THE LIBERTY OF UNLICENSED PRINTING TO THE PARLIAMENT OF
ENGLAND
 
     This is true liberty, when free-born men,
     Having to advise the public, may speak free,
     Which he who can, and will, deserves high praise;
     Who neither can, nor will, may hold his peace:
     What can be juster in a state than this?
 
     Euripid.   Hicetid.
 
 
They, who to states and governors of the Commonwealth direct their
speech, High Court of Parliament, or, wanting such access in a private
condition, write that which they foresee may advance the public good;
I suppose them, as at the beginning of no mean endeavour, not a little
altered and moved inwardly in their minds: some with doubt of what will
be the success, others with fear of what will be the censure; some with
hope, others with confidence of what they have to speak. And me perhaps
each of these dispositions, as the subject was whereon I entered,
may have at other times variously affected; and likely might in these
foremost expressions now also disclose which of them swayed most, but
that the very attempt of this address thus made, and the thought of whom
it hath recourse to, hath got the power within me to a passion, far more
welcome than incidental to a preface.
 
Which though I stay not to confess ere any ask, I shall be blameless, if
it be no other than the joy and gratulation which it brings to all who
wish and promote their country’s liberty; whereof this whole discourse
proposed will be a certain testimony, if not a trophy. For this is not
the liberty which we can hope, that no grievance ever should arise
in the Commonwealth–that let no man in this world expect; but when
complaints are freely heard, deeply considered and speedily reformed,
then is the utmost bound of civil liberty attained that wise men look
for. To which if I now manifest by the very sound of this which I shall
utter, that we are already in good part arrived, and yet from such
a steep disadvantage of tyranny and superstition grounded into our
principles as was beyond the manhood of a Roman recovery, it will be
attributed first, as is most due, to the strong assistance of God our
deliverer, next to your faithful guidance and undaunted wisdom, Lords
and Commons of England. Neither is it in God’s esteem the diminution
of his glory, when honourable things are spoken of good men and worthy
magistrates; which if I now first should begin to do, after so fair a
progress of your laudable deeds, and such a long obligement upon the
whole realm to your indefatigable virtues, I might be justly reckoned
among the tardiest, and the unwillingest of them that praise ye.
 
Nevertheless there being three principal things, without which all
praising is but courtship and flattery: First, when that only is praised
which is solidly worth praise: next, when greatest likelihoods are
brought that such things are truly and really in those persons to whom
they are ascribed: the other, when he who praises, by showing that such
his actual persuasion is of whom he writes, can demonstrate that he
flatters not; the former two of these I have heretofore endeavoured,
rescuing the employment from him who went about to impair your merits
with a trivial and malignant encomium; the latter as belonging chiefly
to mine own acquittal, that whom I so extolled I did not flatter, hath
been reserved opportunely to this occasion.
 
For he who freely magnifies what hath been nobly done, and fears not to
declare as freely what might be done better, gives ye the best covenant
of his fidelity; and that his loyalest affection and his hope waits on
your proceedings. His highest praising is not flattery, and his plainest
advice is a kind of praising. For though I should affirm and hold by
argument, that it would fare better with truth, with learning and the
Commonwealth, if one of your published Orders, which I should name, were
called in; yet at the same time it could not but much redound to the
lustre of your mild and equal government, whenas private persons are
hereby animated to think ye better pleased with public advice, than
other statists have been delighted heretofore with public flattery. And
men will then see what difference there is between the magnanimity of a
triennial Parliament, and that jealous haughtiness of prelates and cabin
counsellors that usurped of late, whenas they shall observe ye in the
midst of your victories and successes more gently brooking written
exceptions against a voted Order than other courts, which had produced
nothing worth memory but the weak ostentation of wealth, would have
endured the least signified dislike at any sudden proclamation.
 
If I should thus far presume upon the meek demeanour of your civil and
gentle greatness, Lords and Commons, as what your published Order hath
directly said, that to gainsay, I might defend myself with ease, if any
should accuse me of being new or insolent, did they but know how much
better I find ye esteem it to imitate the old and elegant humanity of
Greece, than the barbaric pride of a Hunnish and Norwegian stateliness.
And out of those ages, to whose polite wisdom and letters we owe that we
are not yet Goths and Jutlanders, I could name him who from his private
house wrote that discourse to the Parliament of Athens, that persuades
them to change the form of democracy which was then established. Such
honour was done in those days to men who professed the study of wisdom
and eloquence, not only in their own country, but in other lands, that
cities and signiories heard them gladly, and with great respect, if they
had aught in public to admonish the state. Thus did Dion Prusaeus, a
stranger and a private orator, counsel the Rhodians against a former
edict; and I abound with other like examples, which to set here would be
 
But if from the industry of a life wholly dedicated to studious labours,
and those natural endowments haply not the worst for two and fifty
degrees of northern latitude, so much must be derogated, as to count me
not equal to any of those who had this privilege, I would obtain to be
thought not so inferior, as yourselves are superior to the most of them
who received their counsel: and how far you excel them, be assured,
Lords and Commons, there can no greater testimony appear, than when
your prudent spirit acknowledges and obeys the voice of reason from what
quarter soever it be heard speaking; and renders ye as willing to
repeal any Act of your own setting forth, as any set forth by your
 
If ye be thus resolved, as it were injury to think ye were not, I know
not what should withhold me from presenting ye with a fit instance
wherein to show both that love of truth which ye eminently profess, and
that uprightness of your judgment which is not wont to be partial to
yourselves; by judging over again that Order which ye have ordained to
regulate printing:–that no book, pamphlet, or paper shall be henceforth
printed, unless the same be first approved and licensed by such, or at
least one of such, as shall be thereto appointed. For that part which
preserves justly every man’s copy to himself, or provides for the poor,
I touch not, only wish they be not made pretences to abuse and persecute
honest and painful men, who offend not in either of these particulars.
But that other clause of licensing books, which we thought had died with
his brother quadragesimal and matrimonial when the prelates expired, I
shall now attend with such a homily, as shall lay before ye, first the
inventors of it to be those whom ye will be loath to own; next what is
to be thought in general of reading, whatever sort the books be;
and that this Order avails nothing to the suppressing of scandalous,
seditious, and libellous books, which were mainly intended to be
suppressed. Last, that it will be primely to the discouragement of all
learning, and the stop of truth, not only by disexercising and blunting
our abilities in what we know already, but by hindering and cropping
the discovery that might be yet further made both in religious and civil
 
I deny not, but that it is of greatest concernment in the Church and
Commonwealth, to have a vigilant eye how books demean themselves as well
as men; and thereafter to confine, imprison, and do sharpest justice on
them as malefactors. For books are not absolutely dead things, but do
contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose
progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy
and extraction of that living intellect that bred them. I know they
are as lively, and as vigorously productive, as those fabulous dragon’s
teeth; and being sown up and down, may chance to spring up armed men.
And yet, on the other hand, unless wariness be used, as good almost kill
a man as kill a good book. Who kills a man kills a reasonable creature,
God’s image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills
the image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden
to the earth; but a good book is the precious life-blood of a master
spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life. ‘Tis
true, no age can restore a life, whereof perhaps there is no great loss;
and revolutions of ages do not oft recover the loss of a rejected truth,
for the want of which whole nations fare the worse.
 
We should be wary therefore what persecution we raise against the living
labours of public men, how we spill that seasoned life of man, preserved
and stored up in books; since we see a kind of homicide may be thus
committed, sometimes a martyrdom, and if it extend to the whole
impression, a kind of massacre; whereof the execution ends not in the
slaying of an elemental life, but strikes at that ethereal and fifth
essence, the breath of reason itself, slays an immortality rather than
a life. But lest I should be condemned of introducing license, while I
oppose licensing, I refuse not the pains to be so much historical,
as will serve to show what hath been done by ancient and famous
commonwealths against this disorder, till the very time that this
project of licensing crept out of the Inquisition, was catched up by our
prelates, and hath caught some of our presbyters.
 
In Athens, where books and wits were ever busier than in any other part
of Greece, I find but only two sorts of writings which the magistrate
cared to take notice of; those either blasphemous and atheistical, or
libellous. Thus the books of Protagoras were by the judges of Areopagus
commanded to be burnt, and himself banished the territory for a
discourse begun with his confessing not to know WHETHER THERE WERE GODS,
OR WHETHER NOT. And against defaming, it was decreed that none should
be traduced by name, as was the manner of Vetus Comoedia, whereby we may
guess how they censured libelling. And this course was quick enough, as
Cicero writes, to quell both the desperate wits of other atheists,
and the open way of defaming, as the event showed. Of other sects and
opinions, though tending to voluptuousness, and the denying of divine
Providence, they took no heed.
 
Therefore we do not read that either Epicurus, or that libertine school
of Cyrene, or what the Cynic impudence uttered, was ever questioned
by the laws. Neither is it recorded that the writings of those old
comedians were suppressed, though the acting of them were forbid; and
that Plato commended the reading of Aristophanes, the loosest of them
all, to his royal scholar Dionysius, is commonly known, and may be
excused, if holy Chrysostom, as is reported, nightly studied so much the
same author and had the art to cleanse a scurrilous vehemence into the
style of a rousing sermon.
 
That other leading city of Greece, Lacedaemon, considering that Lycurgus
their lawgiver was so addicted to elegant learning, as to have been the
first that brought out of Ionia the scattered works of Homer, and sent
the poet Thales from Crete to prepare and mollify the Spartan surliness
with his smooth songs and odes, the better to plant among them law and
civility, it is to be wondered how museless and unbookish they were,
minding nought but the feats of war. There needed no licensing of books
among them, for they disliked all but their own laconic apophthegms, and
took a slight occasion to chase Archilochus out of their city, perhaps
for composing in a higher strain than their own soldierly ballads and
roundels could reach to. Or if it were for his broad verses, they were
not therein so cautious but they were as dissolute in their promiscuous
conversing; whence Euripides affirms in Andromache, that their women
were all unchaste. Thus much may give us light after what sort of books
were prohibited among the Greeks.
 
The Romans also, for many ages trained up only to a military roughness
resembling most the Lacedaemonian guise, knew of learning little but
what their twelve Tables, and the Pontific College with their augurs
and flamens taught them in religion and law; so unacquainted with other
learning, that when Carneades and Critolaus, with the Stoic Diogenes,
coming ambassadors to Rome, took thereby occasion to give the city a
taste of their philosophy, they were suspected for seducers by no less
a man than Cato the Censor, who moved it in the Senate to dismiss them
speedily, and to banish all such Attic babblers out of Italy. But Scipio
and others of the noblest senators withstood him and his old Sabine
austerity; honoured and admired the men; and the censor himself at
last, in his old age, fell to the study of that whereof before he was
so scrupulous. And yet at the same time Naevius and Plautus, the first
Latin comedians, had filled the city with all the borrowed scenes of
Menander and Philemon. Then began to be considered there also what was
to be done to libellous books and authors; for Naevius was quickly cast
into prison for his unbridled pen, and released by the tribunes upon
his recantation; we read also that libels were burnt, and the makers
punished by Augustus. The like severity, no doubt, was used, if aught
were impiously written against their esteemed gods. Except in these two
points, how the world went in books, the magistrate kept no reckoning.
 
And therefore Lucretius without impeachment versifies his Epicurism to
Memmius, and had the honour to be set forth the second time by Cicero,
so great a father of the Commonwealth; although himself disputes against
that opinion in his own writings. Nor was the satirical sharpness or
naked plainness of Lucilius, or Catullus, or Flaccus, by any order
prohibited. And for matters of state, the story of Titus Livius, though
it extolled that part which Pompey held, was not therefore suppressed by
Octavius Caesar of the other faction. But that Naso was by him banished
in his old age, for the wanton poems of his youth, was but a mere covert
of state over some secret cause: and besides, the books were neither
banished nor called in. From hence we shall meet with little else but
tyranny in the Roman empire, that we may not marvel, if not so often bad
as good books were silenced. I shall therefore deem to have been large
enough, in producing what among the ancients was punishable to write;
save only which, all other arguments were free to treat on.
 
By this time the emperors were become Christians, whose discipline in
this point I do not find to have been more severe than what was formerly
in practice. The books of those whom they took to be grand heretics were
examined, refuted, and condemned in the general Councils; and not till
then were prohibited, or burnt, by authority of the emperor. As for the
writings of heathen authors, unless they were plain invectives against
Christianity, as those of Porphyrius and Proclus, they met with no
interdict that can be cited, till about the year 400, in a Carthaginian
Council, wherein bishops themselves were forbid to read the books of
Gentiles, but heresies they might read: while others long before them,
on the contrary, scrupled more the books of heretics than of Gentiles.
And that the primitive Councils and bishops were wont only to declare
what books were not commendable, passing no further, but leaving it to
each one’s conscience to read or to lay by, till after the year 800,
is observed already by Padre Paolo, the great unmasker of the Trentine
 
After which time the Popes of Rome, engrossing what they pleased of
political rule into their own hands, extended their dominion over men’s
eyes, as they had before over their judgments, burning and prohibiting
to be read what they fancied not; yet sparing in their censures, and the
books not many which they so dealt with: till Martin V., by his bull,
not only prohibited, but was the first that excommunicated the reading
of heretical books; for about that time Wickliffe and Huss, growing
terrible, were they who first drove the Papal Court to a stricter policy
of prohibiting. Which course Leo X. and his successors followed, until
the Council of Trent and the Spanish Inquisition engendering together
brought forth, or perfected, those Catalogues and expurging Indexes,
that rake through the entrails of many an old good author, with a
violation worse than any could be offered to his tomb. Nor did they stay
in matters heretical, but any subject that was not to their palate,
they either condemned in a Prohibition, or had it straight into the new
purgatory of an index.
 
To fill up the measure of encroachment, their last invention was to
ordain that no book, pamphlet, or paper should be printed (as if St.
Peter had bequeathed them the keys of the press also out of Paradise)
unless it were approved and licensed under the hands of two or three
glutton friars. For example:
 
     Let the Chancellor Cini be pleased to see if in this present
     work be contained aught that may withstand the printing.
 
     VINCENT RABBATTA, Vicar of Florence.
 
 
     I have seen this present work, and find nothing athwart the
     Catholic faith and good manners: in witness whereof I
     have given, etc.
 
     NICOLO GINI, Chancellor of Florence.
 
 
     Attending the precedent relation, it is allowed that this
     present work of Davanzati may be printed.
 
     VINCENT RABBATTA, etc.
 
 
     It may be printed, July 15.
 
     FRIAR SIMON MOMPEI D’AMELIA,
     Chancellor of the Holy Office in Florence.
 
Sure they have a conceit, if he of the bottomless pit had not long since
broke prison, that this quadruple exorcism would bar him down. I fear
their next design will be to get into their custody the licensing
of that which they say Claudius intended, but went not through with.
Vouchsafe to see another of their forms, the Roman stamp:
 
     Imprimatur, If it seem good to the reverend Master of the
     Holy Palace.
 
     BELCASTRO, Vicegerent.
 
 
     Imprimatur, Friar Nicolo Rodolphi, Master of the Holy Palace.
 
Sometimes five Imprimaturs are seen together dialogue-wise in the piazza
of one title-page, complimenting and ducking each to other with their
shaven reverences, whether the author, who stands by in perplexity at
the foot of his epistle, shall to the press or to the sponge. These
are the pretty responsories, these are the dear antiphonies, that so
bewitched of late our prelates and their chaplains with the goodly echo
they made; and besotted us to the gay imitation of a lordly Imprimatur,
one from Lambeth House, another from the west end of Paul’s; so apishly
Romanizing, that the word of command still was set down in Latin; as
if the learned grammatical pen that wrote it would cast no ink without
Latin; or perhaps, as they thought, because no vulgar tongue was worthy
to express the pure conceit of an Imprimatur, but rather, as I hope, for
that our English, the language of men ever famous and foremost in the
achievements of liberty, will not easily find servile letters enow to
spell such a dictatory presumption English.
 
And thus ye have the inventors and the original of book-licensing ripped
up and drawn as lineally as any pedigree. We have it not, that can
be heard of, from any ancient state, or polity or church; nor by any
statute left us by our ancestors elder or later; nor from the modern
custom of any reformed city or church abroad, but from the most
anti-christian council and the most tyrannous inquisition that ever
inquired. Till then books were ever as freely admitted into the world
as any other birth; the issue of the brain was no more stifled than the
issue of the womb: no envious Juno sat cross-legged over the nativity
of any man’s intellectual offspring; but if it proved a monster, who
denies, but that it was justly burnt, or sunk into the sea? But that a
book, in worse condition than a peccant soul, should be to stand before
a jury ere it be born to the world, and undergo yet in darkness the
judgment of Radamanth and his colleagues, ere it can pass the ferry
backward into light, was never heard before, till that mysterious
iniquity, provoked and troubled at the first entrance of Reformation,
sought out new limbos and new hells wherein they might include our books
also within the number of their damned. And this was the rare morsel
so officiously snatched up, and so ill-favouredly imitated by our
inquisiturient bishops, and the attendant minorites their chaplains.
That ye like not now these most certain authors of this licensing order,
and that all sinister intention was far distant from your thoughts, when
ye were importuned the passing it, all men who know the integrity of
your actions, and how ye honour truth, will clear ye readily.
 
But some will say, what though the inventors were bad, the thing for
all that may be good? It may so; yet if that thing be no such deep
invention, but obvious, and easy for any man to light on, and yet best
and wisest commonwealths through all ages and occasions have forborne
to use it, and falsest seducers and oppressors of men were the first who
took it up, and to no other purpose but to obstruct and hinder the first
approach of Reformation; I am of those who believe it will be a harder
alchemy than Lullius ever knew, to sublimate any good use out of such
an invention. Yet this only is what I request to gain from this reason,
that it may be held a dangerous and suspicious fruit, as certainly it
deserves, for the tree that bore it, until I can dissect one by one the
properties it has. But I have first to finish, as was propounded, what
is to be thought in general of reading books, whatever sort they be, and
whether be more the benefit or the harm that thence proceeds.
 
Not to insist upon the examples of Moses, Daniel, and Paul, who were
skilful in all the learning of the Egyptians, Chaldeans, and Greeks,
which could not probably be without reading their books of all sorts;
in Paul especially, who thought it no defilement to insert into
Holy Scripture the sentences of three Greek poets, and one of them a
tragedian; the question was notwithstanding sometimes controverted among
the primitive doctors, but with great odds on that side which affirmed
it both lawful and profitable; as was then evidently perceived, when
Julian the Apostate and subtlest enemy to our faith made a decree
forbidding Christians the study of heathen learning: for, said he, they
wound us with our own weapons, and with our own arts and sciences they
overcome us. And indeed the Christians were put so to their shifts by
this crafty means, and so much in danger to decline into all ignorance,
that the two Apollinarii were fain, as a man may say, to coin all the
seven liberal sciences out of the Bible, reducing it into divers
forms of orations, poems, dialogues, even to the calculating of a new
Christian grammar. But, saith the historian Socrates, the providence of
God provided better than the industry of Apollinarius and his son, by
taking away that illiterate law with the life of him who devised it. So
great an injury they then held it to be deprived of Hellenic learning;
and thought it a persecution more undermining, and secretly decaying the
Church, than the open cruelty of Decius or Diocletian.
 
And perhaps it was the same politic drift that the devil whipped St.
Jerome in a lenten dream, for reading Cicero; or else it was a phantasm
bred by the fever which had then seized him. For had an angel been his
discipliner, unless it were for dwelling too much upon Ciceronianisms,
and had chastised the reading, not the vanity, it had been plainly
partial; first to correct him for grave Cicero, and not for scurril
Plautus, whom he confesses to have been reading, not long before; next
to correct him only, and let so many more ancient fathers wax old in
those pleasant and florid studies without the lash of such a tutoring
apparition; insomuch that Basil teaches how some good use may be made
of Margites, a sportful poem, not now extant, writ by Homer; and why not
then of Morgante, an Italian romance much to the same purpose?
 
But if it be agreed we shall be tried by visions, there is a vision
recorded by Eusebius, far ancienter than this tale of Jerome, to the
nun Eustochium, and, besides, has nothing of a fever in it. Dionysius
Alexandrinus was about the year 240 a person of great name in the Church
for piety and learning, who had wont to avail himself much against
heretics by being conversant in their books; until a certain presbyter
laid it scrupulously to his conscience, how he durst venture himself
among those defiling volumes. The worthy man, loath to give offence,
fell into a new debate with himself what was to be thought; when
suddenly a vision sent from God (it is his own epistle that so avers it)
confirmed him in these words: READ ANY BOOKS WHATEVER COME TO THY HANDS,
FOR THOU ART SUFFICIENT BOTH TO JUDGE ARIGHT AND TO EXAMINE EACH MATTER.
To this revelation he assented the sooner, as he confesses, because it
was answerable to that of the Apostle to the Thessalonians, PROVE ALL
THINGS, HOLD FAST THAT WHICH IS GOOD. And he might have added another
remarkable saying of the same author: TO THE PURE, ALL THINGS ARE PURE;
not only meats and drinks, but all kind of knowledge whether of good or
evil; the knowledge cannot defile, nor consequently the books, if the
will and conscience be not defiled.
 
For books are as meats and viands are; some of good, some of evil
substance; and yet God, in that unapocryphal vision, said without
exception, RISE, PETER, KILL AND EAT, leaving the choice to each man’s
discretion. Wholesome meats to a vitiated stomach differ little or
nothing from unwholesome; and best books to a naughty mind are not
unappliable to occasions of evil. Bad meats will scarce breed good
nourishment in the healthiest concoction; but herein the difference is
of bad books, that they to a discreet and judicious reader serve in
many respects to discover, to confute, to forewarn, and to illustrate.
Whereof what better witness can ye expect I should produce, than one of
your own now sitting in Parliament, the chief of learned men reputed in
this land, Mr. Selden; whose volume of natural and national laws proves,
not only by great authorities brought together, but by exquisite reasons
and theorems almost mathematically demonstrative, that all opinions, yea
errors, known, read, and collated, are of main service and assistance
toward the speedy attainment of what is truest. I conceive, therefore,
that when God did enlarge the universal diet of man’s body, saving ever
the rules of temperance, he then also, as before, left arbitrary the
dieting and repasting of our minds; as wherein every mature man might
have to exercise his own leading capacity.
 
How great a virtue is temperance, how much of moment through the whole
life of man! Yet God commits the managing so great a trust, without
particular law or prescription, wholly to the demeanour of every grown
man. And therefore when he himself tabled the Jews from heaven, that
omer, which was every man’s daily portion of manna, is computed to have
been more than might have well sufficed the heartiest feeder thrice as
many meals. For those actions which enter into a man, rather than issue
out of him, and therefore defile not, God uses not to captivate under
a perpetual childhood of prescription, but trusts him with the gift
of reason to be his own chooser; there were but little work left for
preaching, if law and compulsion should grow so fast upon those things
which heretofore were governed only by exhortation. Solomon informs us,
that much reading is a weariness to the flesh; but neither he nor other
inspired author tells us that such or such reading is unlawful: yet
certainly had God thought good to limit us herein, it had been much more
expedient to have told us what was unlawful than what was wearisome.
As for the burning of those Ephesian books by St. Paul’s converts;
’tis replied the books were magic, the Syriac so renders them. It was
a private act, a voluntary act, and leaves us to a voluntary imitation:
the men in remorse burnt those books which were their own; the
magistrate by this example is not appointed; these men practised the
books, another might perhaps have read them in some sort usefully.
 
Good and evil we know in the field of this world grow up together almost
inseparably; and the knowledge of good is so involved and interwoven
with the knowledge of evil, and in so many cunning resemblances hardly
to be discerned, that those confused seeds which were imposed upon
Psyche as an incessant labour to cull out, and sort asunder, were not
more intermixed. It was from out the rind of one apple tasted, that the
knowledge of good and evil, as two twins cleaving together, leaped forth
into the world. And perhaps this is that doom which Adam fell into
of knowing good and evil, that is to say of knowing good by evil. As
therefore the state of man now is; what wisdom can there be to choose,
what continence to forbear without the knowledge of evil? He that can
apprehend and consider vice with all her baits and seeming pleasures,
and yet abstain, and yet distinguish, and yet prefer that which is truly
better, he is the true warfaring Christian.
 
I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and
unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary but slinks out
of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without
dust and heat. Assuredly we bring not innocence into the world, we bring
impurity much rather; that which purifies us is trial, and trial is by
what is contrary. That virtue therefore which is but a youngling in the
contemplation of evil, and knows not the utmost that vice promises to
her followers, and rejects it, is but a blank virtue, not a pure; her
whiteness is but an excremental whiteness. Which was the reason why our
sage and serious poet Spenser, whom I dare be known to think a better
teacher than Scotus or Aquinas, describing true temperance under the
person of Guion, brings him in with his palmer through the cave of
Mammon, and the bower of earthly bliss, that he might see and know, and
yet abstain. Since therefore the knowledge and survey of vice is in this
world so necessary to the constituting of human virtue, and the scanning
of error to the confirmation of truth, how can we more safely, and with
less danger, scout into the regions of sin and falsity than by reading
all manner of tractates and hearing all manner of reason? And this is
the benefit which may be had of books promiscuously read.
 
But of the harm that may result hence three kinds are usually reckoned.
First, is feared the infection that may spread; but then all human learning
and controversy in religious points must remove out of the world, yea the
Bible itself; for that ofttimes relates blasphemy not nicely, it describes
the carnal sense of wicked men not unelegantly, it brings in holiest men
passionately murmuring against Providence through all the arguments of
Epicurus: in other great disputes it answers dubiously and darkly to the
common reader. And ask a Talmudist what ails the modesty of his marginal
Keri, that Moses and all the prophets cannot persuade him to pronounce the
textual Chetiv. For these causes we all know the Bible itself put by the
Papist put by the Papist into the first rank of prohibited books. The
ancientest Fathers must be next removed, as Clement of Alexandria, and that
Eusebian book of Evangelic preparation, transmitting our ears through a
hoard of heathenish obscenities to receive the Gospel. Who finds not that
Irenaeus, Epiphanius, Jerome, and others discover more heresies than they
well confute, and that oft for heresy which is the truer opinion?
 
Nor boots it to say for these, and all the heathen writers of greatest
infection, if it must be thought so, with whom is bound up the life of
human learning, that they writ in an unknown tongue, so long as we are
sure those languages are known as well to the worst of men, who are both
most able and most diligent to instil the poison they suck, first into
the courts of princes, acquainting them with the choicest delights and
criticisms of sin. As perhaps did that Petronius whom Nero called his
Arbiter, the master of his revels; and the notorious ribald of Arezzo,
dreaded and yet dear to the Italian courtiers. I name not him for
posterity’s sake, whom Henry VIII. named in merriment his vicar of hell.
By which compendious way all the contagion that foreign books can infuse
will find a passage to the people far easier and shorter than an
Indian voyage, though it could be sailed either by the north of Cataio
eastward, or of Canada westward, while our Spanish licensing gags the
English press never so severely.
 
But on the other side that infection which is from books of controversy
in religion is more doubtful and dangerous to the learned than to
the ignorant; and yet those books must be permitted untouched by the
licenser. It will be hard to instance where any ignorant man hath been
ever seduced by papistical book in English, unless it were commended and
expounded to him by some of that clergy: and indeed all such tractates,
whether false or true, are as the prophecy of Isaiah was to the eunuch,
not to be UNDERSTOOD WITHOUT A GUIDE. But of our priests and doctors
how many have been corrupted by studying the comments of Jesuits and
Sorbonists, and how fast they could transfuse that corruption into the
people, our experience is both late and sad. It is not forgot, since the
acute and distinct Arminius was perverted merely by the perusing of a
nameless discourse written at Delft, which at first he took in hand to
 
Seeing, therefore, that those books, and those in great abundance, which
are likeliest to taint both life and doctrine, cannot be suppressed
without the fall of learning and of all ability in disputation, and that
these books of either sort are most and soonest catching to the learned,
from whom to the common people whatever is heretical or dissolute may
quickly be conveyed, and that evil manners are as perfectly learnt
without books a thousand other ways which cannot be stopped, and evil
doctrine not with books can propagate, except a teacher guide, which he
might also do without writing, and so beyond prohibiting, I am not able
to unfold, how this cautelous enterprise of licensing can be exempted
from the number of vain and impossible attempts. And he who were
pleasantly disposed could not well avoid to liken it to the exploit of
that gallant man who thought to pound up the crows by shutting his park
 
Besides another inconvenience, if learned men be the first receivers out
of books and dispreaders both of vice and error, how shall the licensers
themselves be confided in, unless we can confer upon them, or they
assume to themselves above all others in the land, the grace of
infallibility and uncorruptedness? And again, if it be true that a wise
man, like a good refiner, can gather gold out of the drossiest volume,
and that a fool will be a fool with the best book, yea or without book;
there is no reason that we should deprive a wise man of any advantage
to his wisdom, while we seek to restrain from a fool, that which being
restrained will be no hindrance to his folly. For if there should be so
much exactness always used to keep that from him which is unfit for his
reading, we should in the judgment of Aristotle not only, but of Solomon
and of our Saviour, not vouchsafe him good precepts, and by consequence
not willingly admit him to good books; as being certain that a wise man
will make better use of an idle pamphlet, than a fool will do of sacred
 
‘Tis next alleged we must not expose ourselves to temptations without
necessity, and next to that, not employ our time in vain things. To both
these objections one answer will serve, out of the grounds already laid,
that to all men such books are not temptations, nor vanities, but useful
drugs and materials wherewith to temper and compose effective and strong
medicines, which man’s life cannot want. The rest, as children and
childish men, who have not the art to qualify and prepare these working
minerals, well may be exhorted to forbear, but hindered forcibly they
cannot be by all the licensing that Sainted Inquisition could ever yet
contrive. Which is what I promised to deliver next: that this order of
licensing conduces nothing to the end for which it was framed; and hath
almost prevented me by being clear already while thus much hath been
explaining. See the ingenuity of Truth, who, when she gets a free and
willing hand, opens herself faster than the pace of method and discourse
can overtake her.
 
It was the task which I began with, to show that no nation, or
well-instituted state, if they valued books at all, did ever use this
way of licensing; and it might be answered, that this is a piece of
prudence lately discovered. To which I return, that as it was a thing
slight and obvious to think on, so if it had been difficult to find
out, there wanted not among them long since who suggested such a course;
which they not following, leave us a pattern of their judgment that it
was not the rest knowing, but the not approving, which was the cause of
their not using it.
 
Plato, a man of high authority, indeed, but least of all for his
Commonwealth, in the book of his Laws, which no city ever yet received,
fed his fancy by making many edicts to his airy burgomasters, which they
who otherwise admire him wish had been rather buried and excused in
the genial cups of an Academic night sitting. By which laws he seems to
tolerate no kind of learning but by unalterable decree, consisting most
of practical traditions, to the attainment whereof a library of smaller
bulk than his own Dialogues would be abundant. And there also enacts,
that no poet should so much as read to any private man what he had
written, until the judges and law-keepers had seen it, and allowed it.
But that Plato meant this law peculiarly to that commonwealth which
he had imagined, and to no other, is evident. Why was he not else a
lawgiver to himself, but a transgressor, and to be expelled by his own
magistrates; both for the wanton epigrams and dialogues which he made,
and his perpetual reading of Sophron Mimus and Aristophanes, books of
grossest infamy, and also for commending the latter of them, though
he were the malicious libeller of his chief friends, to be read by the
tyrant Dionysius, who had little need of such trash to spend his
time on? But that he knew this licensing of poems had reference
and dependence to many other provisos there set down in his fancied
republic, which in this world could have no place: and so neither he
himself, nor any magistrate or city, ever imitated that course, which,
taken apart from those other collateral injunctions, must needs be vain
and fruitless. For if they fell upon one kind of strictness, unless
their care were equal to regulate all other things of like aptness to
corrupt the mind, that single endeavour they knew would be but a
fond labour; to shut and fortify one gate against corruption, and be
necessitated to leave others round about wide open.
 
If we think to regulate printing, thereby to rectify manners, we must
regulate all recreation and pastimes, all that is delightful to man.
No music must be heard, no song be set or sung, but what is grave and
Doric. There must be licensing dancers, that no gesture, motion, or
deportment be taught our youth but what by their allowance shall be
thought honest; for such Plato was provided of. It will ask more than
the work of twenty licensers to examine all the lutes, the violins, and
the guitars in every house; they must not be suffered to prattle as they
do, but must be licensed what they may say. And who shall silence all
the airs and madrigals that whisper softness in chambers? The windows
also, and the balconies must be thought on; there are shrewd books, with
dangerous frontispieces, set to sale; who shall prohibit them, shall
twenty licensers? The villages also must have their visitors to inquire
what lectures the bagpipe and the rebeck reads, even to the ballatry
and the gamut of every municipal fiddler, for these are the countryman’s
Arcadias, and his Monte Mayors.
 
Next, what more national corruption, for which England hears ill abroad,
than household gluttony: who shall be the rectors of our daily rioting?
And what shall be done to inhibit the multitudes that frequent those
houses where drunkenness is sold and harboured? Our garments also should
be referred to the licensing of some more sober workmasters to see
them cut into a less wanton garb. Who shall regulate all the mixed
conversation of our youth, male and female together, as is the fashion
of this country? Who shall still appoint what shall be discoursed, what
presumed, and no further? Lastly, who shall forbid and separate all idle
resort, all evil company? These things will be, and must be; but how
they shall be least hurtful, how least enticing, herein consists the
grave and governing wisdom of a state.
 
To sequester out of the world into Atlantic and Utopian polities, which
never can be drawn into use, will not mend our condition; but to ordain
wisely as in this world of evil, in the midst whereof God hath placed
us unavoidably. Nor is it Plato’s licensing of books will do this, which
necessarily pulls along with it so many other kinds of licensing, as
will make us all both ridiculous and weary, and yet frustrate; but
those unwritten, or at least unconstraining, laws of virtuous education,
religious and civil nurture, which Plato there mentions as the bonds and
ligaments of the commonwealth, the pillars and the sustainers of every
written statute; these they be which will bear chief sway in such
matters as these, when all licensing will be easily eluded. Impunity and
remissness, for certain, are the bane of a commonwealth; but here the
great art lies, to discern in what the law is to bid restraint and
punishment, and in what things persuasion only is to work.
 
If every action, which is good or evil in man at ripe years, were to be
under pittance and prescription and compulsion, what were virtue but a
name, what praise could be then due to well-doing, what gramercy to
be sober, just, or continent? Many there be that complain of divine
Providence for suffering Adam to transgress; foolish tongues! When
God gave him reason, he gave him freedom to choose, for reason is but
choosing; he had been else a mere artificial Adam, such an Adam as he is
in the motions. We ourselves esteem not of that obedience, or love, or
gift, which is of force: God therefore left him free, set before him a
provoking object, ever almost in his eyes; herein consisted his merit,
herein the right of his reward, the praise of his abstinence. Wherefore
did he create passions within us, pleasures round about us, but that
these rightly tempered are the very ingredients of virtue?
 
They are not skilful considerers of human things, who imagine to remove
sin by removing the matter of sin; for, besides that it is a huge heap
increasing under the very act of diminishing, though some part of it may
for a time be withdrawn from some persons, it cannot from all, in such a
universal thing as books are; and when this is done, yet the sin remains
entire. Though ye take from a covetous man all his treasure, he has yet
one jewel left, ye cannot bereave him of his covetousness. Banish all
objects of lust, shut up all youth into the severest discipline that can
be exercised in any hermitage, ye cannot make them chaste, that came not
hither so; such great care and wisdom is required to the right managing
of this point. Suppose we could expel sin by this means; look how much
we thus expel of sin, so much we expel of virtue: for the matter of them
both is the same; remove that, and ye remove them both alike.
 
This justifies the high providence of God, who, though he command us
temperance, justice, continence, yet pours out before us, even to a
profuseness, all desirable things, and gives us minds that can wander
beyond all limit and satiety. Why should we then affect a rigour
contrary to the manner of God and of nature, by abridging or scanting
those means, which books freely permitted are, both to the trial of
virtue and the exercise of truth? It would be better done, to learn
that the law must needs be frivolous, which goes to restrain things,
uncertainly and yet equally working to good and to evil. And were I the
chooser, a dream of well-doing should be preferred before many times
as much the forcible hindrance of evil-doing. For God sure esteems the
growth and completing of one virtuous person more than the restraint of
ten vicious.
 
And albeit whatever thing we hear or see, sitting, walking, travelling,
or conversing, may be fitly called our book, and is of the same effect
that writings are, yet grant the thing to be prohibited were only books,
it appears that this Order hitherto is far insufficient to the end
which it intends. Do we not see, not once or oftener, but weekly, that
continued court-libel against the Parliament and City, printed, as the
wet sheets can witness, and dispersed among us, for all that licensing
can do? Yet this is the prime service a man would think, wherein this
Order should give proof of itself. If it were executed, you’ll say.
But certain, if execution be remiss or blindfold now, and in this
particular, what will it be hereafter and in other books? If then the
Order shall not be vain and frustrate, behold a new labour, Lords and
Commons, ye must repeal and proscribe all scandalous and unlicensed
books already printed and divulged; after ye have drawn them up into a
list, that all may know which are condemned, and which not; and ordain
that no foreign books be delivered out of custody, till they have
been read over. This office will require the whole time of not a few
overseers, and those no vulgar men. There be also books which are partly
useful and excellent, partly culpable and pernicious; this work will ask
as many more officials, to make expurgations and expunctions, that the
commonwealth of learning be not damnified. In fine, when the multitude
of books increase upon their hands, ye must be fain to catalogue all
those printers who are found frequently offending, and forbid the
importation of their whole suspected typography. In a word, that this
your Order may be exact and not deficient, ye must reform it perfectly
according to the model of Trent and Seville, which I know ye abhor to
 
Yet though ye should condescend to this, which God forbid, the Order
still would be but fruitless and defective to that end whereto ye meant
it. If to prevent sects and schisms, who is so unread or so uncatechized
in story, that hath not heard of many sects refusing books as a
hindrance, and preserving their doctrine unmixed for many ages, only by
unwritten traditions? The Christian faith, for that was once a schism,
is not unknown to have spread all over Asia, ere any Gospel or Epistle
was seen in writing. If the amendment of manners be aimed at, look into
Italy and Spain, whether those places be one scruple the better, the
honester, the wiser, the chaster, since all the inquisitional rigour
that hath been executed upon books.
 
Another reason, whereby to make it plain that this Order will miss
the end it seeks, consider by the quality which ought to be in every
licenser. It cannot be denied but that he who is made judge to sit upon
the birth or death of books, whether they may be wafted into this world
or not, had need to be a man above the common measure, both studious,
learned, and judicious; there may be else no mean mistakes in the
censure of what is passable or not; which is also no mean injury. If
he be of such worth as behooves him, there cannot be a more tedious and
unpleasing journey-work, a greater loss of time levied upon his head,
than to be made the perpetual reader of unchosen books and pamphlets,
ofttimes huge volumes. There is no book that is acceptable unless at
certain seasons; but to be enjoined the reading of that at all times,
and in a hand scarce legible, whereof three pages would not down at any
time in the fairest print, is an imposition which I cannot believe
how he that values time and his own studies, or is but of a sensible
nostril, should be able to endure. In this one thing I crave leave of
the present licensers to be pardoned for so thinking; who doubtless took
this office up, looking on it through their obedience to the Parliament,
whose command perhaps made all things seem easy and unlaborious to
them; but that this short trial hath wearied them out already, their
own expressions and excuses to them who make so many journeys to solicit
their licence are testimony enough. Seeing therefore those who now
possess the employment by all evident signs wish themselves well rid of
it; and that no man of worth, none that is not a plain unthrift of his
own hours, is ever likely to succeed them, except he mean to put himself
to the salary of a press corrector; we may easily foresee what kind of
licensers we are to expect hereafter, either ignorant, imperious, and
remiss, or basely pecuniary. This is what I had to show, wherein this
Order cannot conduce to that end whereof it bears the intention.
 
I lastly proceed from the no good it can do, to the manifest hurt it
causes, in being first the greatest discouragement and affront that can
be offered to learning, and to learned men.
 
It was the complaint and lamentation of prelates, upon every least
breath of a motion to remove pluralities, and distribute more equally
Church revenues, that then all learning would be for ever dashed and
discouraged. But as for that opinion, I never found cause to think that
the tenth part of learning stood or fell with the clergy: nor could I
ever but hold it for a sordid and unworthy speech of any churchman
who had a competency left him. If therefore ye be loath to dishearten
utterly and discontent, not the mercenary crew of false pretenders to
learning, but the free and ingenuous sort of such as evidently were born
to study, and love learning for itself, not for lucre or any other end
but the service of God and of truth, and perhaps that lasting fame and
perpetuity of praise which God and good men have consented shall be the
reward of those whose published labours advance the good of mankind;
then know that, so far to distrust the judgment and the honesty of one
who hath but a common repute in learning, and never yet offended, as not
to count him fit to print his mind without a tutor and examiner, lest
he should drop a schism, or something of corruption, is the greatest
displeasure and indignity to a free and knowing spirit that can be put
upon him.
 
What advantage is it to be a man, over it is to be a boy at school,
if we have only escaped the ferula to come under the fescue of an
Imprimatur; if serious and elaborate writings, as if they were no more
than the theme of a grammar-lad under his pedagogue, must not be uttered
without the cursory eyes of a temporizing and extemporizing licenser? He
who is not trusted with his own actions, his drift not being known to
be evil, and standing to the hazard of law and penalty, has no great
argument to think himself reputed in the Commonwealth wherein he was
born for other than a fool or a foreigner. When a man writes to the
world, he summons up all his reason and deliberation to assist him; he
searches, meditates, is industrious, and likely consults and confers
with his judicious friends; after all which done he takes himself to be
informed in what he writes, as well as any that writ before him. If, in
this the most consummate act of his fidelity and ripeness, no years, no
industry, no former proof of his abilities can bring him to that state
of maturity, as not to be still mistrusted and suspected, unless he
carry all his considerate diligence, all his midnight watchings and
expense of Palladian oil, to the hasty view of an unleisured licenser,
perhaps much his younger, perhaps his inferior in judgment, perhaps one
who never knew the labour of bookwriting, and if he be not repulsed or
slighted, must appear in print like a puny with his guardian, and his
censor’s hand on the back of his title to be his bail and surety that he
is no idiot or seducer, it cannot be but a dishonour and derogation to
the author, to the book, to the privilege and dignity of learning.
 
And what if the author shall be one so copious of fancy, as to have many
things well worth the adding come into his mind after licensing, while
the book is yet under the press, which not seldom happens to the best
and diligentest writers; and that perhaps a dozen times in one book? The
printer dares not go beyond his licensed copy; so often then must the
author trudge to his leave-giver, that those his new insertions may be
viewed; and many a jaunt will be made, ere that licenser, for it must be
the same man, can either be found, or found at leisure; meanwhile either
the press must stand still, which is no small damage, or the author lose
his accuratest thoughts, and send the book forth worse than he had made
it, which to a diligent writer is the greatest melancholy and vexation
that can befall.
 
And how can a man teach with authority, which is the life of teaching;
how can he be a doctor in his book as he ought to be, or else had better
be silent, whenas all he teaches, all he delivers, is but under the
tuition, under the correction of his patriarchal licenser to blot or
alter what precisely accords not with the hidebound humour which he
calls his judgment? When every acute reader, upon the first sight of a
pedantic licence, will be ready with these like words to ding the book
a quoit’s distance from him: I hate a pupil teacher, I endure not an
instructor that comes to me under the wardship of an overseeing fist. I
know nothing of the licenser, but that I have his own hand here for his
arrogance; who shall warrant me his judgment? The State, sir, replies
the stationer, but has a quick return: The State shall be my governors,
but not my critics; they may be mistaken in the choice of a licenser,
as easily as this licenser may be mistaken in an author; this is
some common stuff; and he might add from Sir Francis Bacon, THAT
SUCH AUTHORIZED BOOKS ARE BUT THE LANGUAGE OF THE TIMES. For though a
licenser should happen to be judicious more than ordinary, which will
be a great jeopardy of the next succession, yet his very office and his
commission enjoins him to let pass nothing but what is vulgarly received
 
Nay, which is more lamentable, if the work of any deceased author,
though never so famous in his lifetime and even to this day, come to
their hands for licence to be printed, or reprinted, if there be found
in his book one sentence of a venturous edge, uttered in the height
of zeal (and who knows whether it might not be the dictate of a divine
spirit?) yet not suiting with every low decrepit humour of their own,
though it were Knox himself, the reformer of a kingdom, that spake it,
they will not pardon him their dash: the sense of that great man shall
to all posterity be lost, for the fearfulness or the presumptuous
rashness of a perfunctory licenser. And to what an author this violence
hath been lately done, and in what book of greatest consequence to be
faithfully published, I could now instance, but shall forbear till a
more convenient season.
 
Yet if these things be not resented seriously and timely by them who
have the remedy in their power, but that such iron-moulds as these shall
have authority to gnaw out the choicest periods of exquisitest books,
and to commit such a treacherous fraud against the orphan remainders of
worthiest men after death, the more sorrow will belong to that hapless
race of men, whose misfortune it is to have understanding. Henceforth
let no man care to learn, or care to be more than worldly-wise; for
certainly in higher matters to be ignorant and slothful, to be a common
steadfast dunce, will be the only pleasant life, and only in request.
 
And it is a particular disesteem of every knowing person alive, and most
injurious to the written labours and monuments of the dead, so to me it
seems an undervaluing and vilifying of the whole nation. I cannot set
so light by all the invention, the art, the wit, the grave and solid
judgment which is in England, as that it can be comprehended in any
twenty capacities how good soever, much less that it should not pass
except their superintendence be over it, except it be sifted and
strained with their strainers, that it should be uncurrent without
their manual stamp. Truth and understanding are not such wares as to be
monopolized and traded in by tickets and statutes and standards. We must
not think to make a staple commodity of all the knowledge in the land,
to mark and licence it like our broadcloth and our woolpacks. What is it
but a servitude like that imposed by the Philistines, not to be allowed
the sharpening of our own axes and coulters, but we must repair from
all quarters to twenty licensing forges? Had anyone written and divulged
erroneous things and scandalous to honest life, misusing and forfeiting
the esteem had of his reason among men, if after conviction this only
censure were adjudged him that he should never henceforth write but
what were first examined by an appointed officer, whose hand should be
annexed to pass his credit for him that now he might be safely read; it
could not be apprehended less than a disgraceful punishment. Whence to
include the whole nation, and those that never yet thus offended, under
such a diffident and suspectful prohibition, may plainly be understood
what a disparagement it is. So much the more, whenas debtors and
delinquents may walk abroad without a keeper, but unoffensive books must
not stir forth without a visible jailer in their title.
 
Nor is it to the common people less than a reproach; for if we be
so jealous over them, as that we dare not trust them with an English
pamphlet, what do we but censure them for a giddy, vicious, and
ungrounded people; in such a sick and weak state of faith and
discretion, as to be able to take nothing down but through the pipe of a
licenser? That this is care or love of them, we cannot pretend, whenas,
in those popish places where the laity are most hated and despised, the
same strictness is used over them. Wisdom we cannot call it, because
it stops but one breach of licence, nor that neither: whenas those
corruptions, which it seeks to prevent, break in faster at other doors
which cannot be shut.
 
And in conclusion it reflects to the disrepute of our ministers also, of
whose labours we should hope better, and of the proficiency which their
flock reaps by them, than that after all this light of the Gospel which
is, and is to be, and all this continual preaching, they should still be
frequented with such an unprincipled, unedified and laic rabble, as
that the whiff of every new pamphlet should stagger them out of their
catechism and Christian walking. This may have much reason to discourage
the ministers when such a low conceit is had of all their exhortations,
and the benefiting of their hearers, as that they are not thought fit
to be turned loose to three sheets of paper without a licenser; that all
the sermons, all the lectures preached, printed, vented in such numbers,
and such volumes, as have now well nigh made all other books unsaleable,
should not be armour enough against one single Enchiridion, without the
castle of St. Angelo of an Imprimatur.
 
And lest some should persuade ye, Lords and Commons, that these
arguments of learned men’s discouragement at this your Order are mere
flourishes, and not real, I could recount what I have seen and heard in
other countries, where this kind of inquisition tyrannizes; when I have
sat among their learned men, for that honour I had, and been counted
happy to be born in such a place of philosophic freedom, as they
supposed England was, while themselves did nothing but bemoan the
servile condition into which learning amongst them was brought; that
this was it which had damped the glory of Italian wits; that nothing had
been there written now these many years but flattery and fustian.
There it was that I found and visited the famous Galileo, grown old, a
prisoner to the Inquisition, for thinking in astronomy otherwise than
the Franciscan and Dominican licensers thought. And though I knew
that England then was groaning loudest under the prelatical yoke,
nevertheless I took it as a pledge of future happiness, that other
nations were so persuaded of her liberty. Yet was it beyond my hope that
those worthies were then breathing in her air, who should be her leaders
to such a deliverance, as shall never be forgotten by any revolution of
time that this world hath to finish. When that was once begun, it was as
little in my fear that what words of complaint I heard among learned men
of other parts uttered against the Inquisition, the same I should hear
by as learned men at home, uttered in time of Parliament against an
order of licensing; and that so generally that, when I had disclosed
myself a companion of their discontent, I might say, if without envy,
that he whom an honest quaestorship had endeared to the Sicilians was
not more by them importuned against Verres, than the favourable opinion
which I had among many who honour ye, and are known and respected by ye,
loaded me with entreaties and persuasions, that I would not despair to
lay together that which just reason should bring into my mind, toward
the removal of an undeserved thraldom upon learning. That this is
not therefore the disburdening of a particular fancy, but the common
grievance of all those who had prepared their minds and studies
above the vulgar pitch to advance truth in others, and from others to
entertain it, thus much may satisfy.
 
And in their name I shall for neither friend nor foe conceal what
the general murmur is; that if it come to inquisitioning again and
licensing, and that we are so timorous of ourselves, and so suspicious
of all men, as to fear each book and the shaking of every leaf, before
we know what the contents are; if some who but of late were little
better than silenced from preaching shall come now to silence us from
reading, except what they please, it cannot be guessed what is intended
by some but a second tyranny over learning: and will soon put it out of
controversy, that bishops and presbyters are the same to us, both name
and thing. That those evils of prelaty, which before from five or six
and twenty sees were distributively charged upon the whole people, will
now light wholly upon learning, is not obscure to us: whenas now the
pastor of a small unlearned parish on the sudden shall be exalted
archbishop over a large diocese of books, and yet not remove, but keep
his other cure too, a mystical pluralist. He who but of late cried down
the sole ordination of every novice Bachelor of Art, and denied sole
jurisdiction over the simplest parishioner, shall now at home in his
private chair assume both these over worthiest and excellentest books
and ablest authors that write them.
 
This is not, ye Covenants and Protestations that we have made! this is
not to put down prelaty; this is but to chop an episcopacy; this is
but to translate the Palace Metropolitan from one kind of dominion into
another; this is but an old canonical sleight of commuting our penance.
To startle thus betimes at a mere unlicensed pamphlet will after a
while be afraid of every conventicle, and a while after will make a
conventicle of every Christian meeting. But I am certain that a State
governed by the rules of justice and fortitude, or a Church built
and founded upon the rock of faith and true knowledge, cannot be so
pusillanimous. While things are yet not constituted in religion, that
freedom of writing should be restrained by a discipline imitated from
the prelates and learnt by them from the Inquisition, to shut us up all
again into the breast of a licenser, must needs give cause of doubt and
discouragement to all learned and religious men.
 
Who cannot but discern the fineness of this politic drift, and who are
the contrivers; that while bishops were to be baited down, then all
presses might be open; it was the people’s birthright and privilege in
time of Parliament, it was the breaking forth of light. But now, the
bishops abrogated and voided out of the Church, as if our Reformation
sought no more but to make room for others into their seats under
another name, the episcopal arts begin to bud again, the cruse of truth
must run no more oil, liberty of printing must be enthralled again
under a prelatical commission of twenty, the privilege of the people
nullified, and, which is worse, the freedom of learning must groan
again, and to her old fetters: all this the Parliament yet sitting.
Although their own late arguments and defences against the prelates
might remember them, that this obstructing violence meets for the most
part with an event utterly opposite to the end which it drives at:
instead of suppressing sects and schisms, it raises them and invests
them with a reputation. The punishing of wits enhances their authority,
saith the Viscount St. Albans; and a forbidden writing is thought to be
a certain spark of truth that flies up in the faces of them who seek
to tread it out. This Order, therefore, may prove a nursing-mother to
sects, but I shall easily show how it will be a step-dame to Truth: and
first by disenabling us to the maintenance of what is known already.
 
Well knows he who uses to consider, that our faith and knowledge thrives
by exercise, as well as our limbs and complexion. Truth is compared in
Scripture to a streaming fountain; if her waters flow not in a perpetual
progression, they sicken into a muddy pool of conformity and tradition.
A man may be a heretic in the truth; and if he believe things only
because his pastor says so, or the Assembly so determines, without
knowing other reason, though his belief be true, yet the very truth he
holds becomes his heresy.
 
There is not any burden that some would gladlier post off to another
than the charge and care of their religion. There be–who knows not that
there be?–of Protestants and professors who live and die in as arrant
an implicit faith as any lay Papist of Loretto. A wealthy man, addicted
to his pleasure and to his profits, finds religion to be a traffic so
entangled, and of so many piddling accounts, that of all mysteries he
cannot skill to keep a stock going upon that trade. What should he do?
fain he would have the name to be religious, fain he would bear up with
his neighbours in that. What does he therefore, but resolves to give
over toiling, and to find himself out some factor, to whose care and
credit he may commit the whole managing of his religious affairs; some
divine of note and estimation that must be. To him he adheres, resigns
the whole warehouse of his religion, with all the locks and keys, into
his custody; and indeed makes the very person of that man his religion;
esteems his associating with him a sufficient evidence and commendatory
of his own piety. So that a man may say his religion is now no more
within himself, but is become a dividual movable, and goes and comes
near him, according as that good man frequents the house. He entertains
him, gives him gifts, feasts him, lodges him; his religion comes home at
night, prays, is liberally supped, and sumptuously laid to sleep; rises,
is saluted, and after the malmsey, or some well-spiced brewage, and
better breakfasted than he whose morning appetite would have gladly fed
on green figs between Bethany and Jerusalem, his religion walks abroad
at eight, and leaves his kind entertainer in the shop trading all day
without his religion.
 
Another sort there be who, when they hear that all things shall be
ordered, all things regulated and settled, nothing written but what
passes through the custom-house of certain publicans that have the
tonnaging and poundaging of all free-spoken truth, will straight give
themselves up into your hands, make ’em and cut ’em out what religion ye
please: there be delights, there be recreations and jolly pastimes that
will fetch the day about from sun to sun, and rock the tedious year
as in a delightful dream. What need they torture their heads with that
which others have taken so strictly and so unalterably into their own
purveying? These are the fruits which a dull ease and cessation of our
knowledge will bring forth among the people. How goodly and how to be
wished were such an obedient unanimity as this, what a fine conformity
would it starch us all into! Doubtless a staunch and solid piece of
framework, as any January could freeze together.
 
Nor much better will be the consequence even among the clergy
themselves. It is no new thing never heard of before, for a parochial
minister, who has his reward and is at his Hercules’ pillars in a warm
benefice, to be easily inclinable, if he have nothing else that may
rouse up his studies, to finish his circuit in an English Concordance
and a topic folio, the gatherings and savings of a sober graduateship,
a Harmony and a Catena; treading the constant round of certain common
doctrinal heads, attended with their uses, motives, marks, and
means, out of which, as out of an alphabet, or sol-fa, by forming and
transforming, joining and disjoining variously, a little bookcraft, and
two hours’ meditation, might furnish him unspeakably to the performance
of more than a weekly charge of sermoning: not to reckon up the infinite
helps of interlinearies, breviaries, synopses, and other loitering gear.
But as for the multitude of sermons ready printed and piled up, on every
text that is not difficult, our London trading St. Thomas in his vestry,
and add to boot St. Martin and St. Hugh, have not within their hallowed
limits more vendible ware of all sorts ready made: so that penury he
never need fear of pulpit provision, having where so plenteously to
refresh his magazine. But if his rear and flanks be not impaled, if his
back door be not secured by the rigid licenser, but that a bold book
may now and then issue forth and give the assault to some of his old
collections in their trenches, it will concern him then to keep waking,
to stand in watch, to set good guards and sentinels about his
received opinions, to walk the round and counter-round with his fellow
inspectors, fearing lest any of his flock be seduced, who also then
would be better instructed, better exercised and disciplined. And God
send that the fear of this diligence, which must then be used, do not
make us affect the laziness of a licensing Church.
 
For if we be sure we are in the right, and do not hold the truth
guiltily, which becomes not, if we ourselves condemn not our own weak
and frivolous teaching, and the people for an untaught and irreligious
gadding rout, what can be more fair than when a man judicious, learned,
and of a conscience, for aught we know, as good as theirs that taught
us what we know, shall not privily from house to house, which is more
dangerous, but openly by writing publish to the world what his opinion
is, what his reasons, and wherefore that which is now thought cannot be
sound? Christ urged it as wherewith to justify himself, that he preached
in public; yet writing is more public than preaching; and more easy
to refutation, if need be, there being so many whose business and
profession merely it is to be the champions of truth; which if they
neglect, what can be imputed but their sloth, or unability?
 
Thus much we are hindered and disinured by this course of licensing,
toward the true knowledge of what we seem to know. For how much it hurts
and hinders the licensers themselves in the calling of their ministry,
more than any secular employment, if they will discharge that office as
they ought, so that of necessity they must neglect either the one duty
or the other, I insist not, because it is a particular, but leave it to
their own conscience, how they will decide it there.
 
There is yet behind of what I purposed to lay open, the incredible loss
and detriment that this plot of licensing puts us to; more than if some
enemy at sea should stop up all our havens and ports and creeks, it
hinders and retards the importation of our richest merchandise, truth;
nay, it was first established and put in practice by Antichristian
malice and mystery on set purpose to extinguish, if it were possible,
the light of Reformation, and to settle falsehood; little differing from
that policy wherewith the Turk upholds his Alcoran, by the prohibition
of printing. ‘Tis not denied, but gladly confessed, we are to send our
thanks and vows to Heaven louder than most of nations, for that great
measure of truth which we enjoy, especially in those main points between
us and the Pope, with his appurtenances the prelates: but he who thinks
we are to pitch our tent here, and have attained the utmost prospect of
reformation that the mortal glass wherein we contemplate can show us,
till we come to beatific vision, that man by this very opinion declares
that he is yet far short of truth.
 
Truth indeed came once into the world with her divine Master, and was
a perfect shape most glorious to look on: but when he ascended, and his
Apostles after him were laid asleep, then straight arose a wicked race
of deceivers, who, as that story goes of the Egyptian Typhon with his
conspirators, how they dealt with the good Osiris, took the virgin
Truth, hewed her lovely form into a thousand pieces, and scattered them
to the four winds. From that time ever since, the sad friends of Truth,
such as durst appear, imitating the careful search that Isis made for
the mangled body of Osiris, went up and down gathering up limb by limb,
still as they could find them. We have not yet found them all, Lords and
Commons, nor ever shall do, till her Master’s second coming; he shall
bring together every joint and member, and shall mould them into
an immortal feature of loveliness and perfection. Suffer not these
licensing prohibitions to stand at every place of opportunity,
forbidding and disturbing them that continue seeking, that continue to
do our obsequies to the torn body of our martyred saint.
 
We boast our light; but if we look not wisely on the sun itself, it
smites us into darkness. Who can discern those planets that are oft
combust, and those stars of brightest magnitude that rise and set with
the sun, until the opposite motion of their orbs bring them to such a
place in the firmament, where they may be seen evening or morning? The
light which we have gained was given us, not to be ever staring on, but
by it to discover onward things more remote from our knowledge. It
is not the unfrocking of a priest, the unmitring of a bishop, and the
removing him from off the presbyterian shoulders, that will make us a
happy nation. No, if other things as great in the Church, and in the
rule of life both economical and political, be not looked into and
reformed, we have looked so long upon the blaze that Zuinglius and
Calvin hath beaconed up to us, that we are stark blind. There be who
perpetually complain of schisms and sects, and make it such a calamity
that any man dissents from their maxims. ‘Tis their own pride and
ignorance which causes the disturbing, who neither will hear with
meekness, nor can convince; yet all must be suppressed which is not
found in their Syntagma. They are the troublers, they are the dividers
of unity, who neglect and permit not others to unite those dissevered
pieces which are yet wanting to the body of Truth. To be still searching
what we know not by what we know, still closing up truth to truth as we
find it (for all her body is homogeneal and proportional), this is the
golden rule in theology as well as in arithmetic, and makes up the
best harmony in a Church; not the forced and outward union of cold, and
neutral, and inwardly divided minds.
 
Lords and Commons of England! consider what nation it is whereof ye are,
and whereof ye are the governors: a nation not slow and dull, but of a
quick, ingenious and piercing spirit, acute to invent, subtle and sinewy
to discourse, not beneath the reach of any point the highest that human
capacity can soar to. Therefore the studies of learning in her deepest
sciences have been so ancient and so eminent among us, that writers of
good antiquity and ablest judgment have been persuaded that even the
school of Pythagoras and the Persian wisdom took beginning from the
old philosophy of this island. And that wise and civil Roman, Julius
Agricola, who governed once here for Caesar, preferred the natural wits
of Britain before the laboured studies of the French. Nor is it for
nothing that the grave and frugal Transylvanian sends out yearly from
as far as the mountainous borders of Russia, and beyond the Hercynian
wilderness, not their youth, but their staid men, to learn our language
and our theologic arts.
 
Yet that which is above all this, the favour and the love of Heaven,
we have great argument to think in a peculiar manner propitious and
propending towards us. Why else was this nation chosen before any other,
that out of her, as out of Sion, should be proclaimed and sounded forth
the first tidings and trumpet of Reformation to all Europe? And had it
not been the obstinate perverseness of our prelates against the divine
and admirable spirit of Wickliff, to suppress him as a schismatic and
innovator, perhaps neither the Bohemian Huns and Jerome, no nor the name
of Luther or of Calvin, had been ever known: the glory of reforming all
our neighbours had been completely ours. But now, as our obdurate clergy
have with violence demeaned the matter, we are become hitherto the
latest and the backwardest scholars, of whom God offered to have made
us the teachers. Now once again by all concurrence of signs, and by
the general instinct of holy and devout men, as they daily and solemnly
express their thoughts, God is decreeing to begin some new and great
period in his Church, even to the reforming of Reformation itself: what
does he then but reveal himself to his servants, and as his manner is,
first to his Englishmen? I say, as his manner is, first to us, though we
mark not the method of his counsels, and are unworthy.
 
Behold now this vast city: a city of refuge, the mansion house of
liberty, encompassed and surrounded with his protection; the shop of war
hath not there more anvils and hammers waking, to fashion out the plates
and instruments of armed justice in defence of beleaguered truth, than
there be pens and heads there, sitting by their studious lamps, musing,
searching, revolving new notions and ideas wherewith to present, as with
their homage and their fealty, the approaching Reformation: others as
fast reading, trying all things, assenting to the force of reason and
convincement. What could a man require more from a nation so pliant and
so prone to seek after knowledge? What wants there to such a towardly
and pregnant soil, but wise and faithful labourers, to make a knowing
people, a nation of prophets, of sages, and of worthies? We reckon more
than five months yet to harvest; there need not be five weeks; had we
but eyes to lift up, the fields are white already.
 
Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much
arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in good men is but
knowledge in the making. Under these fantastic terrors of sect and
schism, we wrong the earnest and zealous thirst after knowledge and
understanding which God hath stirred up in this city. What some lament
of, we rather should rejoice at, should rather praise this pious
forwardness among men, to reassume the ill-deputed care of their
religion into their own hands again. A little generous prudence, a
little forbearance of one another, and some grain of charity might win
all these diligences to join, and unite in one general and brotherly
search after truth; could we but forgo this prelatical tradition of
crowding free consciences and Christian liberties into canons and
precepts of men. I doubt not, if some great and worthy stranger should
come among us, wise to discern the mould and temper of a people, and how
to govern it, observing the high hopes and aims, the diligent alacrity
of our extended thoughts and reasonings in the pursuance of truth and
freedom, but that he would cry out as Pyrrhus did, admiring the Roman
docility and courage: If such were my Epirots, I would not despair the
greatest design that could be attempted, to make a Church or kingdom
 
Yet these are the men cried out against for schismatics and sectaries;
as if, while the temple of the Lord was building, some cutting, some
squaring the marble, others hewing the cedars, there should be a sort
of irrational men who could not consider there must be many schisms and
many dissections made in the quarry and in the timber, ere the house
of God can be built. And when every stone is laid artfully together,
it cannot be united into a continuity, it can but be contiguous in
this world; neither can every piece of the building be of one form;
nay rather the perfection consists in this, that, out of many
moderate varieties and brotherly dissimilitudes that are not vastly
disproportional, arises the goodly and the graceful symmetry that
commends the whole pile and structure.
 
Let us therefore be more considerate builders, more wise in spiritual
architecture, when great reformation is expected. For now the time seems
come, wherein Moses the great prophet may sit in heaven rejoicing to
see that memorable and glorious wish of his fulfilled, when not only
our seventy elders, but all the Lord’s people, are become prophets. No
marvel then though some men, and some good men too perhaps, but young in
goodness, as Joshua then was, envy them. They fret, and out of their own
weakness are in agony, lest these divisions and subdivisions will undo
us. The adversary again applauds, and waits the hour: when they have
branched themselves out, saith he, small enough into parties and
partitions, then will be our time. Fool! he sees not the firm root, out
of which we all grow, though into branches: nor will beware until he
see our small divided maniples cutting through at every angle of his
ill-united and unwieldy brigade. And that we are to hope better of
all these supposed sects and schisms, and that we shall not need that
solicitude, honest perhaps, though over-timorous, of them that vex in
this behalf, but shall laugh in the end at those malicious applauders of
our differences, I have these reasons to persuade me.
 
First, when a city shall be as it were besieged and blocked about, her
navigable river infested, inroads and incursions round, defiance and
battle oft rumoured to be marching up even to her walls and suburb
trenches, that then the people, or the greater part, more than at other
times, wholly taken up with the study of highest and most important
matters to be reformed, should be disputing, reasoning, reading,
inventing, discoursing, even to a rarity and admiration, things not
before discoursed or written of, argues first a singular goodwill,
contentedness and confidence in your prudent foresight and safe
government, Lords and Commons; and from thence derives itself to a
gallant bravery and well-grounded contempt of their enemies, as if there
were no small number of as great spirits among us, as his was, who when
Rome was nigh besieged by Hannibal, being in the city, bought that piece
of ground at no cheap rate, whereon Hannibal himself encamped his own
 
Next, it is a lively and cheerful presage of our happy success and
victory. For as in a body, when the blood is fresh, the spirits pure and
vigorous, not only to vital but to rational faculties, and those in the
acutest and the pertest operations of wit and subtlety, it argues in
what good plight and constitution the body is; so when the cheerfulness
of the people is so sprightly up, as that it has not only wherewith to
guard well its own freedom and safety, but to spare, and to bestow upon
the solidest and sublimest points of controversy and new invention, it
betokens us not degenerated, nor drooping to a fatal decay, but casting
off the old and wrinkled skin of corruption to outlive these pangs and
wax young again, entering the glorious ways of truth and prosperous
virtue, destined to become great and honourable in these latter ages.
Methinks I see in my mind a noble and puissant nation rousing herself
like a strong man after sleep, and shaking her invincible locks:
methinks I see her as an eagle mewing her mighty youth, and kindling
her undazzled eyes at the full midday beam; purging and unscaling her
long-abused sight at the fountain itself of heavenly radiance; while the
whole noise of timorous and flocking birds, with those also that love
the twilight, flutter about, amazed at what she means, and in their
envious gabble would prognosticate a year of sects and schisms.
 
What would ye do then? should ye suppress all this flowery crop of
knowledge and new light sprung up and yet springing daily in this city?
Should ye set an oligarchy of twenty engrossers over it, to bring a
famine upon our minds again, when we shall know nothing but what is
measured to us by their bushel? Believe it, Lords and Commons, they
who counsel ye to such a suppressing do as good as bid ye suppress
yourselves; and I will soon show how. If it be desired to know the
immediate cause of all this free writing and free speaking, there cannot
be assigned a truer than your own mild and free and humane government.
It is the liberty, Lords and Commons, which your own valorous and happy
counsels have purchased us, liberty which is the nurse of all great
wits; this is that which hath rarefied and enlightened our spirits like
the influence of heaven; this is that which hath enfranchised, enlarged
and lifted up our apprehensions, degrees above themselves.
 
Ye cannot make us now less capable, less knowing, less eagerly pursuing
of the truth, unless ye first make yourselves, that made us so, less
the lovers, less the founders of our true liberty. We can grow ignorant
again, brutish, formal and slavish, as ye found us; but you then
must first become that which ye cannot be, oppressive, arbitrary and
tyrannous, as they were from whom ye have freed us. That our hearts
are now more capacious, our thoughts more erected to the search and
expectation of greatest and exactest things, is the issue of your own
virtue propagated in us; ye cannot suppress that, unless ye reinforce an
abrogated and merciless law, that fathers may dispatch at will their own
children. And who shall then stick closest to ye, and excite others?
not he who takes up arms for coat and conduct, and his four nobles of
Danegelt. Although I dispraise not the defence of just immunities, yet
love my peace better, if that were all. Give me the liberty to know, to
utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.
 
What would be best advised, then, if it be found so hurtful and so
unequal to suppress opinions for the newness or the unsuitableness to
a customary acceptance, will not be my task to say. I only shall repeat
what I have learned from one of your own honourable number, a right
noble and pious lord, who, had he not sacrificed his life and fortunes
to the Church and Commonwealth, we had not now missed and bewailed a
worthy and undoubted patron of this argument. Ye know him, I am sure;
yet I for honour’s sake, and may it be eternal to him, shall name him,
the Lord Brook. He writing of episcopacy, and by the way treating of
sects and schisms, left ye his vote, or rather now the last words of his
dying charge, which I know will ever be of dear and honoured regard with
ye, so full of meekness and breathing charity, that next to his last
testament, who bequeathed love and peace to his disciples, I cannot
call to mind where I have read or heard words more mild and peaceful. He
there exhorts us to hear with patience and humility those, however
they be miscalled, that desire to live purely, in such a use of God’s
ordinances, as the best guidance of their conscience gives them, and
to tolerate them, though in some disconformity to ourselves. The book
itself will tell us more at large, being published to the world, and
dedicated to the Parliament by him who, both for his life and for his
death, deserves that what advice he left be not laid by without perusal.
 
And now the time in special is, by privilege to write and speak what may
help to the further discussing of matters in agitation. The temple of
Janus with his two controversial faces might now not unsignificantly be
set open. And though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to
play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously,
by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength. Let her and
Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and
open encounter? Her confuting is the best and surest suppressing. He who
hears what praying there is for light and clearer knowledge to be sent
down among us, would think of other matters to be constituted beyond
the discipline of Geneva, framed and fabricked already to our hands. Yet
when the new light which we beg for shines in upon us, there be who envy
and oppose, if it come not first in at their casements. What a collusion
is this, whenas we are exhorted by the wise man to use diligence, to
seek for wisdom as for hidden treasures early and late, that another
order shall enjoin us to know nothing but by statute? When a man hath
been labouring the hardest labour in the deep mines of knowledge,
hath furnished out his findings in all their equipage: drawn forth
his reasons as it were a battle ranged: scattered and defeated all
objections in his way; calls out his adversary into the plain, offers
him the advantage of wind and sun, if he please, only that he may try
the matter by dint of argument: for his opponents then to skulk, to lay
ambushments, to keep a narrow bridge of licensing where the challenger
should pass, though it be valour enough in soldiership, is but weakness
and cowardice in the wars of Truth.
 
For who knows not that Truth is strong, next to the Almighty? She needs
no policies, nor stratagems, nor licensings to make her victorious;
those are the shifts and the defences that error uses against her power.
Give her but room, and do not bind her when she sleeps, for then she
speaks not true, as the old Proteus did, who spake oracles only when he
was caught and bound, but then rather she turns herself into all shapes,
except her own, and perhaps tunes her voice according to the time, as
Micaiah did before Ahab, until she be adjured into her own likeness. Yet
is it not impossible that she may have more shapes than one. What else
is all that rank of things indifferent, wherein Truth may be on this
side or on the other, without being unlike herself? What but a vain
shadow else is the abolition of those ordinances, that hand-writing
nailed to the cross? What great purchase is this Christian liberty which
Paul so often boasts of? His doctrine is, that he who eats or eats not,
regards a day or regards it not, may do either to the Lord. How many
other things might be tolerated in peace, and left to conscience, had we
but charity, and were it not the chief stronghold of our hypocrisy to be
ever judging one another?
 
I fear yet this iron yoke of outward conformity hath left a slavish
print upon our necks; the ghost of a linen decency yet haunts us.
We stumble and are impatient at the least dividing of one visible
congregation from another, though it be not in fundamentals; and
through our forwardness to suppress, and our backwardness to recover
any enthralled piece of truth out of the gripe of custom, we care not to
keep truth separated from truth, which is the fiercest rent and disunion
of all. We do not see that, while we still affect by all means a rigid
external formality, we may as soon fall again into a gross conforming
stupidity, a stark and dead congealment of wood and hay and stubble,
forced and frozen together, which is more to the sudden degenerating of
a Church than many subdichotomies of petty schisms.
 
Not that I can think well of every light separation, or that all in a
Church is to be expected gold and silver and precious stones: it is not
possible for man to sever the wheat from the tares, the good fish from
the other fry; that must be the Angels’ ministry at the end of mortal
things. Yet if all cannot be of one mind–as who looks they should
be?–this doubtless is more wholesome, more prudent, and more Christian,
that many be tolerated, rather than all compelled. I mean not tolerated
popery, and open superstition, which, as it extirpates all religions and
civil supremacies, so itself should be extirpate, provided first that
all charitable and compassionate means be used to win and regain the
weak and the misled: that also which is impious or evil absolutely
either against faith or manners no law can possibly permit, that intends
not to unlaw itself: but those neighbouring differences, or rather
indifferences, are what I speak of, whether in some point of doctrine
or of discipline, which, though they may be many, yet need not interrupt
THE UNITY OF SPIRIT, if we could but find among us THE BOND OF PEACE.
 
In the meanwhile if any one would write, and bring his helpful hand to
the slow-moving Reformation which we labour under, if Truth have spoken
to him before others, or but seemed at least to speak, who hath so
bejesuited us that we should trouble that man with asking license to do
so worthy a deed? and not consider this, that if it come to prohibiting,
there is not aught more likely to be prohibited than truth itself; whose
first appearance to our eyes, bleared and dimmed with prejudice and
custom, is more unsightly and unplausible than many errors, even as the
person is of many a great man slight and contemptuous to see to. And
what do they tell us vainly of new opinions, when this very opinion of
theirs, that none must be heard but whom they like, is the worst and
newest opinion of all others; and is the chief cause why sects and
schisms do so much abound, and true knowledge is kept at distance from
us; besides yet a greater danger which is in it.
 
For when God shakes a kingdom with strong and healthful commotions to
a general reforming, ’tis not untrue that many sectaries and false
teachers are then busiest in seducing; but yet more true it is, that God
then raises to his own work men of rare abilities, and more than
common industry, not only to look back and revise what hath been taught
heretofore, but to gain further and go on some new enlightened steps in
the discovery of truth. For such is the order of God’s enlightening his
Church, to dispense and deal out by degrees his beam, so as our earthly
eyes may best sustain it.
 
Neither is God appointed and confined, where and out of what place these
his chosen shall be first heard to speak; for he sees not as man sees,
chooses not as man chooses, lest we should devote ourselves again to set
places, and assemblies, and outward callings of men; planting our faith
one while in the old Convocation house, and another while in the Chapel
at Westminster; when all the faith and religion that shall be there
canonized is not sufficient without plain convincement, and the charity
of patient instruction to supple the least bruise of conscience, to
edify the meanest Christian, who desires to walk in the Spirit, and not
in the letter of human trust, for all the number of voices that can be
there made; no, though Harry VII himself there, with all his liege tombs
about him, should lend them voices from the dead, to swell their number.
 
And if the men be erroneous who appear to be the leading schismatics,
what withholds us but our sloth, our self-will, and distrust in the
right cause, that we do not give them gentle meetings and gentle
dismissions, that we debate not and examine the matter thoroughly with
liberal and frequent audience; if not for their sakes, yet for our own?
seeing no man who hath tasted learning, but will confess the many ways
of profiting by those who, not contented with stale receipts, are able
to manage and set forth new positions to the world. And were they but as
the dust and cinders of our feet, so long as in that notion they may yet
serve to polish and brighten the armoury of Truth, even for that respect
they were not utterly to be cast away. But if they be of those whom God
hath fitted for the special use of these times with eminent and ample
gifts, and those perhaps neither among the priests nor among the
Pharisees, and we in the haste of a precipitant zeal shall make no
distinction, but resolve to stop their mouths, because we fear they come
with new and dangerous opinions, as we commonly forejudge them ere we
understand them; no less than woe to us, while, thinking thus to defend
the Gospel, we are found the persecutors.
 
There have been not a few since the beginning of this Parliament, both
of the presbytery and others, who by their unlicensed books, to the
contempt of an Imprimatur, first broke that triple ice clung about our
hearts, and taught the people to see day: I hope that none of those were
the persuaders to renew upon us this bondage which they themselves have
wrought so much good by contemning. But if neither the check that Moses
gave to young Joshua, nor the countermand which our Saviour gave
to young John, who was so ready to prohibit those whom he thought
unlicensed, be not enough to admonish our elders how unacceptable to
God their testy mood of prohibiting is; if neither their own remembrance
what evil hath abounded in the Church by this set of licensing, and what
good they themselves have begun by transgressing it, be not enough,
but that they will persuade and execute the most Dominican part of the
Inquisition over us, and are already with one foot in the stirrup so
active at suppressing, it would be no unequal distribution in the first
place to suppress the suppressors themselves: whom the change of their
condition hath puffed up, more than their late experience of harder
times hath made wise.
 
And as for regulating the press, let no man think to have the honour
of advising ye better than yourselves have done in that Order published
next before this, “that no book be printed, unless the printer’s and the
author’s name, or at least the printer’s, be registered.” Those which
otherwise come forth, if they be found mischievous and libellous, the
fire and the executioner will be the timeliest and the most effectual
remedy that man’s prevention can use. For this authentic Spanish policy
of licensing books, if I have said aught, will prove the most unlicensed
book itself within a short while; and was the immediate image of a Star
Chamber decree to that purpose made in those very times when that Court
did the rest of those her pious works, for which she is now fallen
from the stars with Lucifer. Whereby ye may guess what kind of state
prudence, what love of the people, what care of religion or good
manners there was at the contriving, although with singular hypocrisy
it pretended to bind books to their good behaviour. And how it got the
upper hand of your precedent Order so well constituted before, if we may
believe those men whose profession gives them cause to inquire most,
it may be doubted there was in it the fraud of some old patentees and
monopolizers in the trade of bookselling; who under pretence of the poor
in their Company not to be defrauded, and the just retaining of each man
his several copy, which God forbid should be gainsaid, brought divers
glossing colours to the House, which were indeed but colours, and
serving to no end except it be to exercise a superiority over their
neighbours; men who do not therefore labour in an honest profession
to which learning is indebted, that they should be made other men’s
vassals. Another end is thought was aimed at by some of them in
procuring by petition this Order, that, having power in their hands,
malignant books might the easier scape abroad, as the event shows.
 
But of these sophisms and elenchs of merchandise I skill not. This I
know, that errors in a good government and in a bad are equally almost
incident; for what magistrate may not be misinformed, and much the
sooner, if liberty of printing be reduced into the power of a few? But
to redress willingly and speedily what hath been erred, and in highest
authority to esteem a plain advertisement more than others have done a
sumptuous bride, is a virtue (honoured Lords and Commons) answerable to
your highest actions, and whereof none can participate but greatest and
wisest men.
 
 
 

PHILOSOPHICAL RUMINATIONS

PHILOSOPHICAL RUMINATIONS

The juxtaposition of these particular aphorisms by Adorno may at first seem strange, but they all intertwine as a commentary of the human condition as opposed to the manufactured human condition. Even somewhat strange reading attempts to come to terms with Nietzsche seem antiquated today when he is much better understood. Certainly, there are at least two Nietzsches, as described below by Ernst, but a multitude — even as he is now understood better than ever. As he himself said, “I was born posthumously.” In fact, by the end of the 19th century, there was not the slightest hint that he was soon to become the single most influential thinker of the 20th, revolutionizing thought and impacting thinkers and writers either directly or indirectly for the entire century and beyond. This is remarkable in itself as his final and most productive year was 1888 and only a thousand copies of his last book of Zarathustra had been printed and most of them were given away. Soon after his last work, the Anti-Christ, he finally succumbed to brain cancer and could not be induced to utter a single syllable about his work. The Will to Power is an attempt by his sister to piece together many of his past writings and notebooks and it was published without his knowledge. The influence he was to have in the next Century was as well anticipated as was Quantum Mechanics in the Physical Sciences. This selection of aphorisms concludes with Adorno’s own analysis of Nietzsche. Evaluation and explication of that is left to the reader.

#106 here discusses memory and memories and the discussion yields an ambivalent attitude towards it. It concludes, however, with a very powerful assertion of ints importance: in other words, without memories of past achievements or worth, one is doomed to die in despair. With such a warning, it is wise to revisit our own memories and reassess them rather than to dismiss them. It is certainly worth thinking about whether winning a baseball game with one swing of the bat, leaving all players to walk off the field, way back when one was in his teens is a more worthy achievement than obtaining a Ph.D. or having an I.Q. measured at least three standard deviations above the mean. In the last analysis, which of these three is the most valuable? There are many diverse elements involved in each situation, but perhaps the overwhelming one is the instantaneous accomplishment which put a final and irrevocable end to something. The point here is that there is value in all of these and one need not let society or societal prejudices determine the value of any of them, nor should one allow them to be tinged as either “good” or “bad” according to some external value system that seems to conspire to keep the individual humble and retiring and allow the wealthy and powerful to continue their own definition of success, which always seems to describe them.

#113 shows Adorno at his most irritating, and hence most interesting. He discusses Schopenhauer’s attitude towards leisure time as expressed by an editor to his World as Will and Idea, indicates that therefore Schopenhauer preferred death to leisure time, found himself alienated from the concept, and then uses Baudelaire, Christianity, Marx (the concept of alienation), and Tolstoi’s attitude towards the feeling after sex to support his points. On a very real level this is preposterous. In fact, when Schopenhauer felt the urge to copulate was so overwhelming that it distracted him from his thought and writing, he went out, paid a willing female, and discharged the offending urge and, with much relief, returned to his work. Such a logical and intelligent, and also stubborn, attitude is simply beyond the imagination of most human beings, yet who is to say that many males, at least, would have led happier and more productive lives had they followed Schopenhauer’s advice and example?

#119 is an excellent discussion of morality as oppression and how it developed. It is amazing when one considers how a system of values that asserts the corrupting and pernicious effects of capital acquisition become a defense of the ruling class and the wealthy, what we today, in 2014, tend to call the 1% when we are in our most polite mode of discourse. Additionally, the ruling forces have always attempted to harness are acquire the rights to any sort of pleasurable or needy urges and allow then to be indulged only by permission. In a section here omitted Adorno uses the term “Ford” to refer to Henry Ford, the archetypical capitalist later identified as Fascist. It is little-known that he had manufacturing plants in Hitler’s Germany and was supplying armaments to Hitler during World War II (he was doing the same here). It is even less known that we bombed one or more of these plants during the war and he sued the United States Government for damages. Even more preposterous is the fact that he won in the United States’ Legal system. He became an obvious symbol of the first half of the 20th century and was used by Aldus Huxley in his Brave New World, a classic that illustrates much of what Adorno discusses in the next passages. Today, of course, no single person can be used a such an exemplar as there ae so many, all subsumed under the rubric of “Corporation,” a concept which has been legally designated as human by our legal system as of a few years ago.

The rest of the discussion concerns the CULTURE INDUSTRY. This is a concept that the Frankfurt School has had difficulty in dealing with. At one time, Marcuse wrote a piece lamenting the phonograph as replacing the concert hall which led to much anger and indignation. He, of course, was not attacking the technology and the benefits but rather remarking on the importance of the traditional setting. At the same approximate time, a recording of the Goldberg Variations by Glenn Gould was released and caused not only a sensation, but a revolution in the way people listened to serious music. Some classical pianists remarked that the recording reminded them of why they started on their arduous career in the first place. Gould erupted against the stuffy and traditional, appearing in an overcoat, sitting on an orange crate, wearing gloves with the fingertips cut off and performing in the most prestigious concert halls in the world. Eventually, he retired from public performance and dedicated himself exclusively to the recording studio. He hummed along, out of tune, with his brilliant playing and revived classical music and revolutionized how people listened to it.
Adorno himself contributed to Thomas Mann’s understanding of the technicalities of classical music, especially the twelve tone system of Arnold Schoenberg. I would not hesitate to recommend Dr. Faustus as the most accomplished novel of the twentieth century, although I would warn that not only is a familiarity with the Faust legend is required but also a close understanding of what “Classical” music is. Terms such as “Fugue,” “Cantata,” “Sonata,” and several others are familiar enough and, if they are not, Faustus is not a work the reader will find rewarding.
I must, however, contrast it to Finnegan’s Wake and the works of Joyce. Joyce once said “It took me my whole life to write my books. You should spend your whole life reading them.” I took him at his word, eagerly, and abandoned any attempts to come to terms with him. There were simply too many other authors to consider. Thomas Mann has never made such an idiotic statement.
On the final issue: the culture industry. Mass media is simply too demeaning to discuss formally and is out of place here. Adorno does his best to deal with it and I leave his words to themselves.

106
All the little flowers. – The sentence, most likely from Jean-Paul, that memories are the only property which cannot be taken from us, belongs in the storehouse of a powerlessly sentimental consolation, which would like to think that the self-renouncing withdrawal of the subject into interiority is precisely the fulfillment, from which the consolation turns away. By establishing the archive of oneself, the subject commandeers its own stock of experience as property and thereby turns it once more into something entirely external to the subject. The past inner life turns into furniture, just as, conversely, every piece of Biedermeier furniture was memory made wood. The intérieur [French: interior], in which the soul stores its collection of curiosities and memorabilia, is invalid. Memories cannot be preserved in drawers and file cabinets, but rather in them is indissolubly interwoven what is past with what is present. No-one has them at their disposal in the freedom and arbitrariness, whose praise resounds in the swollen sentences of Jean-Paul. Precisely where they becomes controllable and objective, where the subject thinks of them as wholly secure, memories fade like soft wall-papers under harsh sunlight. Where however they retain their energy, protected by what is forgotten, they are endangered like anything which is alive. The conception of Bergson and Proust, aimed against reification, according to which what is contemporary, what is immediacy, constitutes itself only through memory, the reciprocity of what is now and what is then, has for that reason not merely a providential but also an infernal aspect. Just as no earlier experience truly exists, which was not detached from the rigor mortis of its isolated existence by involuntary memorialization, so too is the converse true, that no memory is guaranteed, as existing in itself, indifferent towards the future of the one who harbors it; nothing which is past is safe from the curse of the empirical present, through the transition into mere representation [Vorstellung]. The most blissful memory of a human being can, according to its substance, be repealed by a later experience. Whoever loved and betrayed love, does something awful not only to the picture of what has been, but to this last itself. With incontrovertible evidence, an unwilling gesture while awakening, a hollow cadence, a faint hypocrisy of pleasure, inveigles itself into the memory, making the nearness of yesterday already into the alienation, which it today has become. Despair has the expression of what is irrevocable not because things couldn’t go better next time, but because it draws the previous time into its maw. That is why it is foolish and sentimental, to wish to preserve what is past as pure in the midst of the dirty flood of what is contemporary. This latter, delivered unprotected to calamity, is left with no other hope than to emerge once more from this latter as something else. To those however who die in despair, their whole life was in vain.
113
Spoilsport. – The affinity between asceticism and euphoria, noted by the humdrum wisdom of psychology, the love-hate between saints and whores, has the objectively valid ground, that asceticism accords to fulfillment more of its rights than cultural installment-payments. The hostility to pleasure is certainly not to be separated from the consensus with the discipline of a society, which has its essence [Wesen] in demanding more than it grants in return. But there is also a mistrust against pleasure which comes from the intuition, that the latter is in this world nothing of the sort. A construction of Schopenhauer unconsciously expressed something of this intuition. The transition from the affirmation to the repudiation of the will to life occurs in the development of the thought, that in every delimitation of the will by a barrier “which is placed… between it and its former goal” there is suffering; in contrast, “its attainment of the goal” would be “satisfaction, well-being, happiness.” While such “suffering,” according to Schopenhauer’s intransigent cognition, could easily enough grow to the point that death itself would be preferable, the condition of “satisfaction” is itself unsatisfying, because “as soon as a shelter is granted to human beings from urgent necessity and suffering, boredom is so close at hand, that it requires the killing of time. What occupies all living beings and keeps them in motion, is the striving for existence [Dasein]. They don’t know what to do with existence, however, what it is assured: thus the second thing, which they set into motion, is the striving to be free of the burden of existence, to make it imperceptible, ‘to kill time’, that is, to escape boredom.” (Schopenhauer, Collected Works, Grand Duke Wilhelm-Ernst Edition, Volume I: The World as Will and Idea. I. Introduction by Eduard Grisebach. Leipzig 1920, pg 415). But the concept of this boredom which is sublated to such unsuspected dignity, is something which Schopenhauer’s sensibility, which is hostile to history, would least like to admit – bourgeois through and through. It is, as the experience of antithetical “free time,” the complement of alienated labor, whether this free time is supposed to merely reproduce expended energy, or whether it is burdened by the extraction of alien labor as a mortgage. Free time remains the reflex of the rhythm of production as something imposed heteronomously, to which the former is compulsorily held fast even in periods of weariness. The consciousness of the unfreedom of all existence, which the pressure of the demands of commerce, and thus unfreedom itself, does not allow to appear, emerges first in the intermezzo of freedom. The nostalgie du dimanche [French: Sunday nostalgia] is not homesickness for the workweek, but for the condition which is emancipated from this; Sundays are unsatisfying, not because they are observed, but because its own promise immediately represents itself at the same time as something unfulfilled; like the English one, every Sunday is too little Sunday. Those for who time painfully extends itself, who wait in vain, are disappointed that it failed to happen, that tomorrow goes past once more just like yesterday. The boredom of those however who do not need to work, is not fundamentally different from this. Society as a totality imposes, on those with administrative power, what they do to others, and what these latter may not do, the former will scarcely permit themselves. The bourgeoisie have turned satiety, which ought to be the close relation of ecstasy, into an epithet. Because others go hungry, ideology demands that the absence of hunger should count as vulgar. Thus the bourgeoisie indict the bourgeoisie. Their own existence, as exempt from labor, prevents any praise of laziness: the latter would be boring. The hectic bustle, which Schopenhauer refers to, is due less to the unbearable nature of the privileged condition than to its ostentation, which according to the historical situation either enlarges the social distance or seemingly reduces such through presumably important events and ceremonies, which are supposed to emphasize the usefulness of the masters. If those at the top truly felt bored, this stems not from too much happiness, but from the fact that they are marked by the general unhappiness; by the commodity character, which consigns the pleasures to idiocy, by the brutality of command, whose terrifying echo resounds in the high spirits of the rulers, finally by their fear of their own superfluousness. Noone who profits from the profit-system is capable of existing therein without shame, and it distorts even undistorted pleasure, although the excesses, which the philosophers envy, may by no means be so boring as they assure us. That boredom would disappear in realized freedom, is something vouchsafed by many experiences stolen from civilization. The saying omne animal post coitum triste [Latin: all animals are sad after mating] was devised by bourgeois contempt for humanity: nowhere more than here does what is human distinguish itself from creaturely sorrow. Not euphoria but socially approved love elicits disgust: the latter is, in Ibsen’s word, sticky. Those who are deeply moved by erotic sentiment transform fatigue into the plea for tenderness, and momentary sexual incapacity is understood as accidental, entirely external to passion. It is not for nothing that Baudelaire thought the bondage of erotic obsession together with the illuminating spiritualization, naming kiss, scent and conversation equally immortal. The transience of pleasure, on which asceticism stakes its claim, stands for the fact that except in the minutes heureuses [French: happy minutes], in which the forgotten life of the lover radiates from the arms and limbs of the beloved, there is no pleasure yet at all. Even the Christian denunciation of sex in Tolstoy’s Kreutzer Sonata cannot entirely cancel out the memory of this in the middle of all the Capucin-style preaching. What he reproaches sensuous love for, is not only the grandiosely overweening theological motif of self-denial, that no human being may turn another into an object – actually thus a protest against patriarchal control – but at the same time the memorialization of the bourgeois malformation of sex, in its murky entanglement with every material interest, in marriage as a humiliating compromise, however much of an undercurrent of Rousseau’s resentment against pleasure raised to reflection runs in this. The attack on the period of the engagement is aimed at the family photograph, which resemblance the word “bridegroom.” ‘And moreover there was that ridiculous custom of giving sweets, of coarse gormandizing on sweets, and all those abominable preparations for the wedding: remarks about the house, the bedroom, beds, wraps, dressing-gowns, underclothing, costumes.’ [The Kreutzer Sonata, trans. R. Gustafson, Oxford UP: 1997, pg 107] He similarly mocks the honeymoon, which is compared to the disappointment after visiting an ‘extremely uninteresting’ fairground booth, extolled by a hawker. The exhausted senses are less to blame for this dégoût [French: disgust] than what is institutionalized, ordained, prefabricated in pleasure, its false immanence in the social order which adjusts it and turns it into something deathly sad, in the moment it is decreed. Such contrariness may grow to the point that all euphoria ultimately prefers to cease, inside renunciation, rather than violating the concept of euphoria through its realization.
119
Model virtue. – It is well-known how oppression and ethics [Moral] converge in the renunciation of the drives. But the ethical ideas do not merely oppress other ones, but are immediately derived from the existence of the oppressor. Since Homer, the concepts of good and wealth are intertwined in the Greek language. The kalokagathie [Greek: perfection], which was upheld by the humanists of modern society as a model of aesthetic-ethical harmony, has always put a heavy emphasis on property, and Aristotele’s Politics openly confessed the fusion of inner value with status in the determination of nobility, as “inherited wealth, which is connected with excellence.” The concept of the polis [Greek: city-state] in classical antiquity, which upheld internalized and externalized nature [Wesen], the validity of the individual [Individuum] in the city-state and the individual’s self as a unity, permitted it to ascribe moral rank to wealth, without inciting the crude suspicion, which the doctrine already at that time courted. If the visible effect on an existent state establishes the measure of a human being, then it is nothing but consistency to vouchsafe the material wealth, which tangibly confirms that effect, as the characteristic of the person, since the latter’s moral substance – just as later in Hegel’s philosophy – is supposed to be constituted on nothing other than their participation in the objective, social substance. Christianity first negated that identification, in the phrase that it would be easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter heaven. But the particular theological premise on voluntary chosen poverty indicates how deeply the general consciousness is stamped by the ethos [Moralität] of property. Fixed property is to be distinguished from the nomadic disorder, against which all norms are directed; to be good and to have goods, coincided from the beginning. Good people are those who control themselves as their own possessions: their autonomous nature [Wesen] is modeled on material disposition. The rich are therefore not to be accused of being unethical – that reproach has ever belonged to the armature of political oppression – but given to understand, that they represent ethics [Moral] to others. In this latter is reflected having [Habe]. Wealth as goodliness [Gutsein: having goods/being good] is an element of the mortar of the world: the hard-bitten appearance [Schein] of such identity hinders the confrontation of the moral idea with the social order, in which the rich are right, while at the same time determinations of what is ethical different than those derived from wealth cannot be conceptualized. The more that the individual [Individuum] and society later diverged in the competition of interests, and the more the former is thrown back on itself, the more stubbornly do individuals hold onto the conception of moral nature [Wesen] as wealth. It is supposed to vouch for the possibility of reunifying what has been divided in two, into inside and outside. That is the secret of the inner-worldly asceticism, which Max Weber wrongly hypostatized as the limitless exertion of the businessman ad majorem dei gloriam [Latin: to the greater glory of God]. Material success binds individual [Individuum] and society not merely in the comfortable and meanwhile dubious sense, that the rich can escape loneliness, but in a far more radical sense: if the blind, isolated self-interest is driven only far enough, then it passes over, along with the economic one, into social power and reveals itself to be the incarnation of a universally binding principle. Whoever is rich or acquires wealth, experiences what is attained by the ego, “by one’s own initiative,” as what the objective Spirit [Geist], the truly irrational predestination of a society held together by brutal economic inequality, has willed. Thus the rich may reckon as benevolence, what testifies only to its absence. To themselves and to others, they experience themselves as the realization of the general principle. Because this latter is injustice, that is why the unjust turn regularly into the just, and not as mere illusion, but borne out of the hegemony of the law, according to which society reproduces itself. The wealth of the individual is inseparable from progress in society as “prehistory.” The rich dispose over the means of production. Consequently the technical progress, in which the entire society participates, is accounted for primarily as “their” progress, today that of industry, and the Fords necessarily appear to be benefactors, to the same degree which they in fact are, given the framework of the existing relations of production. Their privilege, already established in advance, makes it seem as if they were giving up what is theirs – namely the increase on the side of use-value – while those who are receiving their administered blessings are getting back only part of the profit. That is the ground of the character of delusion of ethical hierarchy. Poverty has indeed always been glorified as asceticism, the social condition for the acquisition of precisely the wealth in which morality [Sittlichkeit] is manifested, but nevertheless “what a man is worth” [in English in original] signifies, as everyone knows, the bank account – in the jargon of the German merchants, “the man is good,” i.e. they can pay. What however the reasons of state of the almighty economy so cynically confesses, reaches unacknowledged into the mode of conduct of individuals. The generosity in private intercourse, which the rich can presumably allow themselves, the reflected glow of happiness, which rests on them, and something of this falls on everyone who they consort with, all this veils them. They remain nice, “the right people” [in English in original], the better types, the good. Wealth distances itself from immediate injustice. The guard beats strikers with a billy club, the son of the factory-owner may occasionally drink a whisky with the progressive author. According to all desiderata of private ethics [Moral], even the most advanced kind, the rich could, if they only could, in fact always better be than the poor. This possibility, while truly indeed left unused, plays its role in the ideology of those who do not have it: even the convicted con artist, who may anyway be preferable to the legitimate boss of the trusts, is famous for having such a beautiful house, and the highly paid executive turns into a warm human being, the moment they serve an opulent dinner. Today’s barbaric religion of success is accordingly not simply counter-ethical [widermoralisch], rather it is the home-coming of the West to the venerable morals [Sitten] of the fathers. Even the norms, which condemn the arrangement of the world, owe their existence to the latter’s own mischief [Unwesen]. All ethics [Moral] is formed on the model of what is unethical [Unmoral], and to this day reproduces the latter at every stage. Slave-ethics [Sklavenmoral] is in fact bad: it is still only master-ethics [Herrenmoral].
129
Customer service. – The culture industry sanctimoniously claims to follow its consumers and to deliver what they want. But while it reflexively denigrates every thought of its own autonomy and proclaims its victims as judges, its veiled high-handedness outbids all the excesses of autonomous art. It is not so much that the culture industry adapts to the reactions of its customers, as that it feigns these latter. It rehearses them, by behaving as if it itself was a customer. One could almost suspect, the entire “adjustment” [in English in original], which it claims to obey, is ideology; that the more human beings try, through exaggerated equality, through the oath of fealty to social powerlessness, to participate in power and to drive out equality, the more they attempt to make themselves resemble others and the whole. “The music listens for the listeners,” and the film practices on the scale of a trust the despicable trick of adults, who, when speaking down to a child, fall over the gift with the language which suits only them, and then present the usually dubious gift with precisely the expression of lip-smacking joy, that is supposed to be elicited. The culture industry is tailored according to mimetic regression, to the manipulation of suppressed imitation-impulses. Therein it avails itself of the method, of anticipating its own imitation by its viewers, and sealing the consensus that it wishes to establish, by making it appear as if it already existed. What makes this all the easier, is that it can count on such a consensus in a stable system and can ritually repeat it, rather than actually having to produce it. Its product is by no means a stimulus, but a model for modes of reaction of nonexistent stimuli. Thus the enthusiastic music titles on the silver screen, the moronic children’s speech, the eye-winking folksiness; even the close-up of the start calls out “How beautiful!,” as it were. With this procedure the cultural machine goes so far as to dress down viewers like the frontally photographed express train in a moment of tension. The cadence of every film however is that of the witch, who serves soup to the little ones she wants to ensorcel or devour, with the hideous murmur, “Yummy soup, yummy soup? You’ll enjoy it, you’ll enjoy it…” In art, this kitchen fire-magic was discovered by Wagner, whose linguistic intimacies and musical spices are always tasting themselves, and who simultaneously demonstrated the entire procedure, with the genius’ compulsion of confession, in the scene of the Ring, where Mime offers Siegfried the poisoned potion. Who however is supposed to chop off the monster’s head, now that its blond locks have lain for a long time under the linden tree? [Unter den Linden: famous boulevard in Berlin]
130
Grey and grey. – Not even its bad conscience can help the culture industry. Its Spirit [Geist] is so objective, that it slaps all its subjects in the face, and so the latter, agents all, know what the story is and seek to distance themselves through mental reservations from the nonsense which they create. The acknowledgment, that films broadcast ideology, is itself a broadcast ideology. It is dealt with administratively by the rigid distinction between synthetic day-dreams on the one hand, vehicles of flight from daily life, “escape” [English in original]; and well-meaning products on the other hand, which promote correct social behaviors, providing information, “conveying a message” [in English in original]. The prompt subsumption under “escape” [in English in original] and “message” [in English in original] expresses the untruth of both types. The mockery against “escape” [in English in original], the standardized outrage against superficiality, is nothing but the pathetic echo of the old-fashioned ethos, which denounces gambling, because it cannot play along with such in the prevailing praxis. The escape-films are so dreadful not because they turn their back on an existence squeezed dry, but because they do not do so energetically enough, because they are squeezed just as dry, because the satisfactions which they pretend to give, converge with the humiliation of reality, with renunciation. The dreams have no dream. Just as the technicolor heroes don’t allow us to forget for a second that they are normal human beings, typecast prominent faces and investments, what is unmistakably revealed under the thin flutter of schematically produced fantasy is the skeleton of cinema-ontology, the entire prescribed hierarchy of values, the canon of what is unwanted and what is to be imitated. Nothing is more practical than “escape” [in English in original], nothing is more wedded to bustle: one is kidnapped into the distance only to have it hammered into one’s consciousness, that even at a distance, the laws of the empirical mode of life are undisturbed by empirical deviations. The “escape” [in English in original] is full of “message” [in English in original]. That is how the “message” [in English in original], the opposite, looks, which wishes to flee from flight. It reifies the resistance against reification. One need only hear experts talk about how a splendid work of the silver screen has, next to other merits, also a constitution, in the same tone of voice that a pretty actress is described as even having “personality” [in English in original]. The executive can easily decide at the conference, that the escape-film must be given, next to more expensive additions, an ideal such as: human beings should be noble, helpful and good. Separated from the immanent logic of the entity, from the thing, the ideal turns into something produced on tap, the reform of ameliorable grievances, transfigured charity, thereby simultaneously tangible and void. They prefer most of all to broadcast the rehabilitation of drunks, whose impoverished euphoria they envy. By representing a society hardened in itself, according to anonymous laws, as if good will alone were enough to help matters, that society is defended even where it is honestly attacked. What is reflected is a kind of popular front of all proper and right-thinking people. The practical Spirit [Geist] of the “message” [in English in original], the tangible demonstration of how things can be done better, allies itself with the system in the fiction, that a total social subject, which does not exist at present, can make everything okay, if one could only assemble all the pieces and clear up the root of the evil. It is quite pleasant, to be able to vouch for one’s efficiency. “Message” [in English in original] turns into “escape” [in English in original]: those swept up in cleaning the house in which they live, forget the ground on which it was built. What “escape” [in English in original] would really be, the antipathy, turned into a picture, against the whole, all the way into what is formally constituted, could recoil into a “message” [in English in original], without expressing it, indeed precisely through tenacious asceticism against the suggestion.
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Wolf as grandmother. – The strongest argument of the apologists for film is the crudest, its massive consumption. They declare the drastic medium of the culture industry to be popular art. The independence of norms of the autonomous work is supposed to discharge it from aesthetic responsibility, a responsibility whose standards prove to be reactionary in relation to film, just as in fact all intentions of the artistic ennoblement of film have something awry, something badly elevated, something lacking in form – something of the import for the connoisseur. The more that film pretends to be art, the more fraudulent it becomes. Its protagonists can point to this and even, as critics of the meanwhile kitschy interiority, appear avant-garde next to its crude material kitsch. If one grants this as a ground, then they become, strengthened by technical experience and facility with the material, nearly irresistible. The film is not a mass art, but is merely manipulated for the deception of the masses? But the wishes of the masses make themselves felt incessantly through the market; its collective production alone would guarantee its collective essence [Wesen]; only someone completely outside of reality would presume to see clever manipulators in the producers; most are talentless, certainly, but where the right talents coincide, it can succeed in spite of all the restrictions of the system. The mass taste which the film obeys, is by no means that of the masses themselves, but foisted on them? But to speak of a different mass taste than the one they have now, would be foolish, and what is called popular art, has always reflected domination. According to such logic, it is only in the competent adaptation of production to given needs, not in consideration of a utopian audience, that the nameless general will can take shape. Films are full of lying stereotypes? But stereotyping is the essence of popular art, fairy-tales know the rescuing prince and the devil just as films have the hero and villain, and even the barbaric cruelty, which divided the world into good and evil, is something film has in common with the greatest fairy-tales, which have the stepmother dance to death in red-hot iron shoes.
All this is can be countered, only by consideration of the fundamental concepts presupposed by the apologists. Bad films are not to be charged with incompetence: the most gifted are refracted by the bustle, and the fact that the ungifted stream towards them, is due to the elective affinity between lies and swindlers. The idiocy is objective; improvements in personnel could not create a popular art. The latter’s idea was formed in agrarian relationships or simple commodity economies. Such relationships and their character of expression are those of lords and serfs, profiteers and disadvantaged, but in an immediate, not entirely objectified form. They are to be sure not less furrowed by class differences than late industrial society, but their members are not yet encompassed by the total structure, which reduces individual subjects to mere moments, in order to unite them, as those who are powerless and isolated, into the collective. That there are no longer folk does not however mean that, as Romanticism propagated, the masses are worse. On the contrary, what is revealed precisely now in the new, radical alienated form of society is the untruth of the older one. Even the traits, which the culture industry reclaims as the legacy of popular art, become thereby suspect. The film has a retroactive energy: its optimistic horror brings to light what always served injustice in the fairy-tale, and evokes in the parade of villains the countenances of those, which the integral society condemns and whose condemnation was ever the dream of socialization. That is why the extinction of individual art is no justification for one which acts as if it its subject, which reacts archaically, were the natural one, while this last is the syndicate, albeit unconscious, of a pair of giant firms. If the masses themselves, as customers, have an influence on the film, this remains as abstract as the ticket stub, which steps into the place of nuanced applause: the mere choice between yes and no to something offered, strung between the discrepancy of concentrated power and scattered powerlessness. Finally, the fact that numerous experts, also simple technicians, participate in the making of a film, no more guarantees its humanity than the decisions of competent scientific bodies vis-à-vis bombs and poison gas. The high-flown talk of film art stands indeed to benefit scribblers, who wish to get ahead; the conscious appeal to naïvété, however, to the block-headedness of the subalterns, long since permeated by the thoughts of the master, will not do. Film, which today clings as unavoidably to human beings, as if it was a piece of themselves, is simultaneously that which is most distant from their human determination, which is realized from one day to the next, and its apologetics live on the resistance against thinking through this antinomy. That the people who make films are by no means intriguers, says nothing against this. The objective Spirit [Geist] of manipulation prevails through rules of experience, estimations of situations, technical criteria, economically unavoidable calculations, the entire deadweight of the industrial apparatus, without even having to censor itself, and even those who questioned the masses, would find the ubiquity of the system reflected back at them. The producers function as little as subjects as their workers and buyers, but solely as parts of an independent machinery. The Hegelian-sounding commandment, however, that mass art must respect the real taste of the masses and not that of negativistic intellectuals, is usurpation. The opposition of film, as an all-encompassing ideology, to the objective interests of human beings, its entanglement with the status quo of the profit-system, its bad conscience and deception can be succinctly cognized. No appeal to a factually accessible state of consciousness would have the right of veto against the insight, which reaches beyond this state of consciousness, by disclosing its contradiction to itself and to objective relationships. It is possible, that the Fascist professor was right and that even the folk songs, as they were, lived from the degraded cultural heritage of the upper class. It is not for nothing that all popular art is crumbly and, like films, not “organic.” But between the old injustice, in whose voice a lament is still audible, even where it transfigures itself, and the alienation which upholds itself as connectedness, which cunningly creates the appearance [Schein] of human intimacy with loudspeakers and advertising psychology, there is a distinction similar to the one between the mother, who soothes the child who is afraid of demons with a fairy-tale in which the good are rewarded and the evil are punished, and the cinema product, which drives the justice of each world order into the eyes and ears of audiences of every land harshly, threateningly, in order to teach them anew, and more thoroughly, the old fear. The fairy-tale dreams which call so eagerly for the child in the adult, are nothing but regression, organized by total enlightenment, and where they tap the audience on the shoulder most intimately, they betray them most thoroughly. Immediacy, the community produced by films, is tantamount to the mediation without a remainder, which degrades human beings and everything human so completely to things, that their contrast to things, indeed even the bane [Bann] of reification itself, cannot be perceived anymore. Film has succeeded in transforming subjects into social functions so indiscriminately, that those who are entirely in its grasp, unaware of any conflicts, enjoy their own dehumanization as human, as the happiness of warmth. The total context of the culture industry, which leaves nothing out, is one with total social delusion. That is why it so easily dispatches counter-arguments.
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Expensive reproduction. [Piperdruck] – Society is integral, before it ever becomes ruled as totalitarian. Its organization encompasses even those who feud against it, and normalizes their consciousness. Even intellectuals who have all the political arguments against bourgeois ideology handy, are subjected to a process of standardization which, whether in crassly contrasting content or through the readiness on their part to be comfortable, brings them closer to the prevailing Spirit [Geist], such that their standpoint objectively becomes always more arbitrary, dependent on flimsy preferences or their estimation of their own chances. What appears to them as subjectively radical, objectively belongs through and through to the compartment of a schema, reserved for them and their kind, so that radicalism is degraded to abstract prestige, the legitimation of those who know what today’s intellectuals should be for and against. The good things, for which they opt, have long since been acknowledged, their numbers accordingly limited, as fixed in the value-hierarchy as those in the student fraternities. While they denounce official kitsch, their sensibility is dependent, like obedient children, on nourishment already sought out in advance, on the cliches of hostility to cliches. The dwellings of young bohemians resemble their spiritual household. On the wall, deceptively original color prints of famous artists, such as Van Gogh’s Sunflowers or the Café at Arles, on the bookshelf derivative works on socialism and psychoanalysis and a little sex-research for the uninhibited with inhibitions. In addition, the Random House edition of Proust – Scott Moncrieff’s translation deserved a better fate – exclusivity at reduced prices, whose exterior alone, the compact-economic form of the omnibus, is a mockery of the author, whose every sentence knocks a received opinion out of action, while he now plays, as a prize-winning homosexual, the same role with youth as books on animals of the forest and the North Pole expedition in the German home. Also, the record player with the Lincoln cantata of a brave soul, which deals essentially with railroad stations, next to the obligatory eye-catching folklore from Oklahoma and a pair of brassy jazz records, which make one feel simultaneously collective, bold and comfortable. Every judgment is approved by friends, they know all the arguments in advance. That all cultural products, even the non-conformist ones, are incorporated into the mechanism of distribution of large-scale capital, that in the most developed lands a creation which does not bear the imprimatur of mass production can scarcely reach any readers, observers, or listeners, refuses the material in advance for the deviating longing. Even Kafka is turned into a piece of inventory in the rented apartment. Intellectuals themselves are already so firmly established, in their isolated spheres, in what is confirmed, that they can no longer desire anything which is not served to them under the brand of “highbrow” [in English in original]. Their sole ambition consists of finding their way in the accepted canon, of saying the right thing. The outsider status of the initiates is an illusion and mere waiting-time. It would be giving them too much credit to call them renegades; they wear overlarge horn-rimmed glasses on their mediocre faces, solely to better pass themselves off as “brilliant” to themselves and to others in the general competition. They are already exactly like them. The subjective precondition of opposition, the non-normalized judgment, goes extinct, while its trappings continue to be carried out as a group ritual. Stalin need only clear his throat, and they throw Kafka and Van Gogh on the trash-heap.
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Contribution to intellectual history. – In the back of my copy of Zarathrustra, dated 1910, there are publisher’s notices. They are all tailored to that clan of Nietzsche readers, as imagined by Alfred Körner in Leipzig, someone who ought to know. “Ideal Life-goals by Adalbert Svoboda. Svoboda has ignited a brightly shining beacon in his works, which cast light on all problems of the investigative Spirit of human beings [Menschengeist] and reveal before our eyes the true ideals of reason, art and culture. This magnificently conceived and splendidly realized book is gripping from beginning to end, enchanting, stimulating, instructive and has the same effect on all truly free Spirits [Geister] as a nerve-steeling bath and fresh mountain air.” Signed: Humanity, and almost as recommendable as David Friedrich Strauss. “On Zarathrustra by Max Ernst. There are two Nietzsches. One is the world-famous fashionable philosopher, the dazzling poet and phenomenally gifted master of style, who is now the talk of all the world, from whose works a few misunderstood slogans have become the intellectual baggage of the educated. The other Nietzsche is the unfathomable, inexhaustible thinker and psychologist, the great discerner of human beings and valuer of life of unsurpassable spiritual energy and power of thought, to who the most distant future belongs. To bring this other Nietzsche to the most imaginative and serious-minded of contemporary human beings is the intent of the following two essays contained in this short book.” In that case I would still prefer the former. The other goes: “A Philosopher and a Noble Human Being, a Contribution to the Characteristics of Friedrich Nietzsche, by Meta von Salis-Marschlins. The book grabs out attention by the faithful reproduction of all the sensations which Nietzsche’s personality evoked in the self-conscious soul of a woman.” Don’t forget the whip, instructed Zarathrustra. Instead of this, is offered: “The Philosophy of Joy by Max Zerbst. Dr. Max Zerbst starts out from Nietzsche, but strives to overcome a certain one-sidedness in Nietzsche… The author is not given to cool abstractions, it is rather a hymn, a philosophical hymn to joy, which he delivers in spades.” Like a student spree. Only no one-sidedness. Better to run straight to the heaven of the atheists: “The Four Gospels, German, with introduction and commentary by Dr. Heinrich Schmidt. In contrast to the corrupted, heavily edited form, in which the gospels have been delivered to us as literature, this new edition goes back to the source and may be of high value not only for truly religious human beings, but also for those ‘anti-Christs’, who press for social action.” The choice is difficult, but one can take comfort from the fact that both elites will be as agreeable as the synopticists: “The Gospel of Modern Humanity (A Synthesis: Nietzsche and Christ) by Carl Martin. An astounding treatise of edification. Everything which is taken up in the science and art of the present has taken up the struggle with the Spirits [Geistern] of the past, all of this has taken root and blossomed , in this mature and yet so young mind [Gemüt]. And mark well: this ‘modern’, entirely new human being creates for itself and us the most revivifying potion from an age-old spring: that other message of redemption, whose purest sounds resonate in the Sermon on the Mount… Even in the form of the simplicity and grandeur of those words!” Signed: Ethical Culture. The miracle passed away nearly forty years ago, plus twenty more or so, since the genius in Nietzsche justifiably decided to break off communication with the world. It didn’t help – exhilarated, unbelieving priests and exponents of that organized ethical culture, which later drove formerly well-to-do ladies to emigrate and get by as waitresses in New York, have thrived on the posthumous legacy of someone who once worried whether someone was listening to him sing “a secret barcarole.” Even then, the hope of leaving behind a message in a bottle amidst the rising tide of barbarism was a friendly vision: the desperate letters have been left in the mud of the age-old spring, and have been reworked by a band of noble-minded people and other scoundrels to highly artistic but low-priced wall decorations. Only since then has the progress of communication truly gotten into gear. Who are we to cast aspersion on the freest spirits [Geister] of them all, whose trustworthiness possibly even outbids those of their contemporaries, if they no longer write for an imaginary posterity, but solely for the dead God?

Capitalism, Adorno, Mann, and the Devil

This is the last part of Adorno’s Aphorisms in his publication called Minima Moralia. It was written in honor of Max Horkheimer, whose The Eclipse of Reason Is the signature document of the Frankfurt School. There were predecessors, of course, but it is that book that defines the movement, an amalgam of the political left and the cultural right, a mixture of philosophy, psychology, sociology, and so on, the ability to transcend academic borders and restraints that is most clearly articulated in that book. It also warns about quantification, or of the abandonment of quality, in approaches to nearly everything. It has always been curious that even today people will generally believe almost anything if you simply supply them with numbers to support it, numbers real or imagined. Adorno is justly admired for his tremendous contributions, along with people like Marcuse and Habbermas, and even Angela Davis to some extent, but it was Horkheimer’s seminal work that defined the movement. Nevertheless, Adorno contributed to the indirect survey techniques that made possible the work The Authoritarian Personality, that made it possible to use the same weapon, quantification, to demonstrate how easily people are led by the mere hint of authority.

Still, to focus on this work, Adorno takes up several subjects, each in a rather brief section, each of which deserves further discussion. Soon, or eventually, we will reprint, or repost, some of the sections along with further discussion. One of the most salient examples occurs about midway through this Book, or “Part,” in his discussion of Nietzsche. Thomas Mann, in his Doctor Faustus, talks about how Germany had sold its soul to the devil by perverting its entire cultural history, especially in its appropriation of Nietzsche. Even today, people are still nervous about Nietzsche by the many people who quote him, mistakenly, for their own purposes. It is quite clear that he is not the first great person to be make to appear ridiculous by his followers, but in the English speaking world the problem is made even worse by the translations. Even though Nietzsche himself said that it is “neither the best nor the worst” that is lost in translation, the Thomas Common translation of Zarathustra is a hurdle no reader could overcome. It was not until the 50s of last century that a Princeton scholar named Walter Kaufmann made clearer translations available that Nietzsche could be better understood. Nevertheless, Adorno understands him quite well, but of course he wrote most of his own work in his native German.

As to Thomas Mann’s comment, or opinion, the perversion of Germany’s heritage was made inevitable not by any deal with the devil, but, as only Maynard Keynes predicted, by Capitalism and its tools, imperialism and profit, that made WWII inevitable. The “Treaty of Versailles,” the forerunner of modern “austerity” led to an inevitable uprising as a result of starvation and privation that was possible to control only through extreme authoritarian measures. It is now no secret that many capitalist forces in the United States supported Hitler, Henry Ford even manufactured tanks for him, there, and then later successfully sued the United States government from bombing the plants! That is only the most obvious example. Others are buried by time.

Minima Moralia by Theodor Adorno

Part Three
1946/47

Avalanche, veux-tu m’emporter dans ta chute?
French: Avalanche, won’t you carry me away in your fall?
Baudelaire

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Hothouse plant. – The talk of early or late development, seldom free of the death-wish for the former, is not binding. Whoever develops early, lives in anticipation. Their experience is an aprioristic, intuitive sensibility, which gropes in pictures and words for what is later redeemed in things and human beings. Such anticipation, satiated in itself, as it were, turns away from the external world and lends the color of something neurotically playful to the relationship to the latter. If early developers are more than just the possessors of skills, they are thus compelled to catch up, a compulsion which normal people are fond of dressing up as a moral commandment. One who develops early must painfully conquer the space of the relation to the objects, which is encompassed by one’s ideation [Vorstellung]: they must even learn to suffer. The feel for the not-ego, which hardly ever bothers supposed late developers from within, becomes an urgent necessity for early developers. The narcissistic direction of the drives, indicated by the preponderance of imagination in its experience, is precisely what delays their development. They make their way retrospectively, with crass violence, through the situations, fears, and passions which were softened in their anticipation, and these latter transform themselves, in conflict with the narcissism of the former, into something sickly and consuming. Thus early developers fall prey to what is childish, which they once mastered all too slight exertion and which now demands its price; they become immature and even silly, while the others, who were at every stage precisely what they were expected to be, are mature, and these now find unpardonable, what overwhelms formerly early developers outside of all proportion. Early developers are stricken by passion; sheltered all too long in the security of autarky, now they reel helplessly, where they once built castles in the air. It is not for nothing that the handwriting of early developers warns by its infantile traits. They are an embarrassment to the natural social order, and malicious good health feeds on the danger which threatens them, just as society mistrusts them as the visible negation of the equalization of success and exertion. What is fulfilled in their internalized economy, is the unconscious yet implacable punishment which was always in store for them. What was once proffered to them with illusory good will, is now cancelled out. Even in psychological destiny, an authority watches over to ensure that everything is paid for. The individual law is a puzzle-picture of the exchange of equivalents.

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Always more slowly ahead. – Running on the street has the expression of terror. The fall of the victim is imitated in the very attempt to escape the fall. The posture of the head, which would like to remained raised, is that of someone who is drowning, the tense face resembles the grimace of torture. They must look straight ahead, cannot even glance back, without stumbling, as if the pursuer [Verfolger:follower, persecutor] whose sight would cause them to freeze were breathing down their necks. Once one ran from dangers which were too desperate to stand and face, and those who are running after a bus speeding away still testify to this, without knowing it. The flow of traffic no longer has to reckon with wild animals, but at the same time it has not pacified running. This last estranges the bourgeois walk. The truth becomes apparent, that something is not right about security, that one must constantly evade the unrestrained powers of life, even if these are only vehicles. The body’s habit of walking as something normal stems from the good old days. It was the bourgeois manner of getting somewhere: physical demythologization, free from the bane of the hieratic step, the homeless fellowship of the road, the breathless flight. Human dignity insisted on the right to the gait, a rhythm not drilled into the body by command or terror. Going on promenades, being a flaneur were private ways of spending time, the legacy of the feudal pleasure-jaunts of the 19th century. Walking is dying out along with the liberal epoch, even where autos are not being driven. The youth movement, which groped for such tendencies with unmistakable masochism, challenged the parental Sunday excursion and replaced it with the voluntary march of power, which they christened with the medieval name of trip [Fahrt: journey, travel], while the Ford model quickly became available to the latter. Perhaps the cult of technical speediness, just as in sports, conceals the impulse of mastering the terror of running, by turning it away from one’s own body and at the same time high-handedly outbidding it: the triumph of the increasing mile-marker ritually attests to the fear of being pursued. Whenever however human beings are told: “run,” ranging from the children, who are supposed to fetch the mother a forgotten handbag from upstairs, all the way to the prisoners, who are commanded by their escorts to flee, in order to have a pretext for murdering them, then the archaic violence becomes audible, which otherwise inaudibly directs every step.

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Boy from the heath. – What one most fears for no real reason, apparently obsessed by a fixed idea, has the unnerving habit of occurring. The question which one would at no price like to hear, is asked by an assistant in a perfidiously friendly manner; the person, who one most wishes to keep distant from one’s beloved, will end inviting the latter, even if the former is three thousand miles away, thanks to a well-meaning recommendation, leading to precisely the circle of acquaintances, from which the danger threatens. It is an open question as to what extent one invites such terrors oneself; if one perhaps elicits that question from the malicious one by an all too eager silence; if one provokes the fatal contact, by requesting the mediator, out of a foolishly destructive trust, not to mediate. Psychology knows, that whoever envisions the calamity, also somehow wishes for it. But why does the latter seem to eager to meet them? Something appeals, in the reality, to the paranoid fantasy which distorts such. The latent sadism of all unerringly guesses the latent weakness of all. And the persecution fantasy is infectious: whoever encounters it as a spectator is irresistibly driven to imitate it. This succeeds most easily, when one gives it justifiable grounds, by doing what the other fears. “One fool makes many” – the abyssal loneliness of delusion has a tendency towards collectivization, which cites the picture of delusion into life. This pathic mechanism harmonizes with the socially determining one of today, wherein those who are socialized into desperate isolation hunger for togetherness and band together in cold clumps. Thus folly becomes epidemic: vagrant sects grow with the same rhythm as large organizations. It is that of total destruction. The fulfillment of persecution manias stems from its affinity to bloody being [Wesen: nature, essence, character]. Violence, on which civilization is based, means the persecution of all by all, and those with persecution manias miss the boat solely, by displacing what is wrought by the whole onto their neighbors, in the helpless attempt to make incommensurability commensurable. They burn, because they wish to immediately grasp, with their bare hands, as it were, the objective illusion which they resemble, while the absurdity consists precisely of the perfected mediacy [Mittelbarkeit]. They fall as victims to the perpetuation of the context of delusion. Even the worst and most senseless conception of events, the wildest projections, contain the unconscious effort of consciousness, to recognize the fatal law, by virtue of which society perpetuates its life. The aberration is actually only the short-circuit of adaptation: the open foolishness of the one mistakenly calls, in others, the foolishness of the whole by its correct name, and the paranoid are the mocking image of the right life, by choosing on their own initiative to make it similar to the wrong one. Just as sparks fly in a short-circuit, so too does delusion communicate with delusion truly like lightning. Points of communication are the overpowering confirmations of persecution manias, which mock the one who is ill for being right, and thereby only push them in deeper. The surface of existence immediately closes up again and proves to them, that things are not that bad and that they must be mad. They anticipate subjectively the condition, in which objective madness and the powerlessness of the individual pass, unmediated, into each other, as in Fascism, where the dictatorship of those who are persecution maniacs realizes the fears of persecution of its victims. The question of whether an exaggerated suspicion is paranoid or realistic, the faint private echo of the tumult of history, can thus be solely determined retrospectively. Psychology does not reach into horror.

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Golden Gate [in English]. – What dawns on those who are embarrassed or spurned, illuminates as harshly as the violent pain which wracks the body. They recognize, that in the innermost core of deluded love, which knows nothing of this and may know nothing, lives the demand of what is undeluded. They have been wronged; they derive their claim of justice from this and must at the same time reject it, for what they wish, can only come out of freedom. In such urgent necessity, those who are rejected become human beings. Just as love inalienably betrays the generality to the particular, by which alone the generality is honored, so too does the generality now turn fatally against love, as the autonomy of those who are nearest. Precisely the rejection, by which the generality asserts itself, appears to the individual [Individuum] as being excluded from the generality; whoever loses love, feels deserted by all, which is why they despise consolation. In the senselessness of the withdrawal they come to feel what is untrue of all merely individual fulfillment. Thereby however they awaken to the paradoxical consciousness of the generality: of the inalienable and unimpeachable human right, to be loved by the beloved. With their petition, founded on no title or claim, they appeal to an unknown court, which out of mercy accords to them what belongs to them and yet does not belong to them. The secret of justice in love is the sublation of rights, to which love points with speechless gestures. “So must love, deceived / silly yet everywhere be.” [lines by Hölderlin from Tränen, “Tears”]

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Only a quarter of an hour left. – Sleepless night: there is a formula for this, agonizing hours, stretching without prospect of end or dawn, in the vain effort to forget the empty duration. Horrifying, however, are the sleepless nights, in which time shrinks and runs fruitlessly through one’s fingers. One turns the light out in the hope for long hours of rest, which would assist one. But while one cannot still one’s thoughts, the healing nourishment of the night is squandered, and when one is finally ready, to see no more under the burning eyelids, one knows that it is too late, that soon the terrifying morning will arrive. The final hours of those who are condemned to death may elapse the same way, irresistibly, unused. What however is revealed by such a contraction of hours, is the counterpoint [Gegenbild] of fulfilled time. If in the latter the power of experience breaks the baleful spell of duration and gathers what is past and what is future into the present, then duration creates unbearable horror in the hurried, sleepless night. Human life becomes a moment, not by sublating duration, but by decaying to nothing, awakening to its futility in face of the bad infinity of time itself. In the overly loud ticks of the clock, one perceives the mockery of the eons for the span of one’s own existence. The hours, which are already past like seconds, before the inner senses have grasped them, and sweep the latter away in their fall, register, how one including all of memory is ordained to forgetting in the cosmic night. Human beings are made compulsorily aware of this today. In the condition of complete powerlessness, what life-span remains to the individual [Individuum] appears as little more than a brief reprieve from the gallows. One no longer expects to live out one’s life to the end. The prospect of violent death and martyrdom, present to everyone, perpetuates itself in the fear that the days are numbered, that the length of one’s own life stands under the sway of statistics; that becoming old has become an unspoken advantage, as it were, derived by beating the averages. Perhaps the life-quota provided for by society, revocable at any time, has been used up. The body registers such fear in the flight of hours. Time flies.

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All the little flowers. – The sentence, most likely from Jean-Paul, that memories are the only property which cannot be taken from us, belongs in the storehouse of a powerlessly sentimental consolation, which would like to think that the self-renouncing withdrawal of the subject into interiority is precisely the fulfillment, from which the consolation turns away. By establishing the archive of oneself, the subject commandeers its own stock of experience as property and thereby turns it once more into something entirely external to the subject. The past inner life turns into furniture, just as, conversely, every piece of Biedermeier furniture was memory made wood. The intérieur [French: interior], in which the soul stores its collection of curiosities and memorabilia, is invalid. Memories cannot be preserved in drawers and file cabinets, but rather in them is indissolubly interwoven what is past with what is present. No-one has them at their disposal in the freedom and arbitrariness, whose praise resounds in the swollen sentences of Jean-Paul. Precisely where they becomes controllable and objective, where the subject thinks of them as wholly secure, memories fade like soft wall-papers under harsh sunlight. Where however they retain their energy, protected by what is forgotten, they are endangered like anything which is alive. The conception of Bergson and Proust, aimed against reification, according to which what is contemporary, what is immediacy, constitutes itself only through memory, the reciprocity of what is now and what is then, has for that reason not merely a providential but also an infernal aspect. Just as no earlier experience truly exists, which was not detached from the rigor mortis of its isolated existence by involuntary memorialization, so too is the converse true, that no memory is guaranteed, as existing in itself, indifferent towards the future of the one who harbors it; nothing which is past is safe from the curse of the empirical present, through the transition into mere representation [Vorstellung]. The most blissful memory of a human being can, according to its substance, be repealed by a later experience. Whoever loved and betrayed love, does something awful not only to the picture of what has been, but to this last itself. With incontrovertible evidence, an unwilling gesture while awakening, a hollow cadence, a faint hypocrisy of pleasure, inveigles itself into the memory, making the nearness of yesterday already into the alienation, which it today has become. Despair has the expression of what is irrevocable not because things couldn’t go better next time, but because it draws the previous time into its maw. That is why it is foolish and sentimental, to wish to preserve what is past as pure in the midst of the dirty flood of what is contemporary. This latter, delivered unprotected to calamity, is left with no other hope than to emerge once more from this latter as something else. To those however who die in despair, their whole life was in vain.

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Ne cherchez plus mon coeur. [French: Don’t search for my heart, line from Baudelaire’s poem Causerie]. – The heir of Balzac’s obsession, Proust, to who every mundane invitation seemed to be the “open sesame” of the reconstituted life, leads into the labyrinths, where prehistoric gossip conveys to him the shadowy secrets of everything which gleams, until this latter becomes obtuse and cracked under the all too near and longing eyes. But the placet futile [French: useless petition], the concerns of a historically condemned luxury class, which every bourgeois could calculate as superfluous, the absurd energy, which is wasted on the wasters, finds itself more thoroughly rewarded than the impartial gaze for what is relevant. The schema of disassembly [Zerfalls: disintegration, disincorporation], according to which Proust cites the picture of his “society” [in English in original], proves to be one of the great social tendencies of development. What goes to pieces in Charlus, Saint-Loup and Swann, is the same thing, which the entire generation born afterwards lacked, who no longer even knew the name of the latest poet. The eccentric psychology of décadence [French: decadence] outlines the negative anthropology of mass society: Proust gives an allergic accounting of what was later done to all love. The exchange relationship, which this last partially contradicted during the bourgeois epoch, has entirely absorbed it; the last immediacy falls victim to the distance of all adversaries to all others. Love freezes from the value, which the ego ascribes to itself. Its love appears to it as a loving more, and whoever loves more, does wrong. They incur the suspicions of the beloved, and are thrown back on themselves, falling ill due to their inclination to possessive cruelty and self-destructive imagination. “The relation to the beloved,” goes a passage in Temps retrouvé [French: time recovered, multivolume work by Proust], “may remain platonic out of entirely different reasons than the chastity of the woman and also not for the sake of the sensual character of love, which she inspires. Perhaps the lover is incapable, in the boundlessness of his love, of waiting for the moment of fulfillment with adequate dissimulation or indifference. He meets her incessantly, does not cease to write to her, attempts to visit her; she refuses, and he despairs. From this moment on she understands that if she only grants him her company or friendship, such a favor will appear, to someone who had already given up all hope, so great that she can spare herself the trouble of giving him any more concessions, so that she can securely wait, until he finds himself prepared, because he is incapable of going without seeing her any longer, to end the war at any price: then she can dictate the terms of the peace, whose first condition is the platonic nature of the relationship… All this the woman guesses instinctively and knows that she can afford the luxury of never giving herself to the man whose unquenchable desire she feels, if he is too well-bred to hide it from her from the very beginning.” The young male prostitute Morel is stronger than his high-flying lover. “He always retained the upper hand, by only refusing himself, and in order to refuse himself, it probably sufficed for him to know he was loved.” The private motive of Balzac’s Duchess Langeais has spread universally. The quality of each one of the innumerable autos, which turn every Sunday evening back to New York, corresponds exactly to the prettiness of the girl sitting inside. – The objective dissolution of society manifests itself subjectively, by the fact that the erotic drive has become too weak, to bind self-preserving monads, as if humanity were imitating the physics theory of the exploding cosmos. The frigid unattainability of the beloved’s nature [Wesens], meanwhile an acknowledged institution of the mass-culture, is answered by the “unquenchable desire” of the lover. When Casanova named a woman unprejudiced, he meant that no religious convention hindered her from giving herself; today the unprejudiced woman is one who no longer believes in love, who doesn’t let herself be taken for a ride, by investing any more than she can expect back. Sexuality, for whose sake nevertheless the whole fuss is presumably about, has turned into the delusion, which consisted earlier in renunciation. By leaving no time anymore in the arrangements of life for a pleasure conscious of itself, and replacing it with physiological exercises, uninhibited sexuality is itself desexualized. Actually they no longer want the euphoria anymore, but merely the compensation, which stands for the effort, which they would like most of all to spare themselves as superfluous.

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Princess Lizard. – The imagination is inflamed precisely by the women whose imagination has worn away. Those who glow with the most colorful nimbus, turned unremittingly to the outside, are entirely sober. Their attraction stems from their lack of consciousness of themselves, indeed the lack of a self at all: Oscar Wilde invented the name of the unenigmatic sphinx for them. They resemble their designated pictures: the purer their appearance [Schein] is, undisturbed by any sort of impulse, the more similar they are to archetypes, Preziosa, Peregrina, Albertine, who hint that all individuation is precisely mere appearance [Schein] and who nevertheless must always disappoint again through that, which they are. Their life is understood as am illustration or an everlasting children’s festival, and such perception does injustice to their needy empirical existence. Storm has dealt with this in the deeply symbolic children’s story “Pole Poppenspaeler.” The Friesian boy falls in love with the little girl, who is traveling with a group from Bavaria. “When I finally turned around, I saw a red dress appear before me; and truly, and truly, it was the little puppet-player; in spite of her tattered clothing she seemed to me to be surrounded by a fairy-tale glow. I gathered up courage and spoke to her: ‘Would you like to take a walk, Lisa?’ She looked at me mistrustfully with her black eyes. ‘Take a walk?’ she repeated at length. ‘Ah, you – you’re the limit!’ ‘Where do you want to go?’ – ‘I wanna to go to the draper’s shop!’ ‘You want to buy a new dress?’ I asked foolishly enough. She laughed out loud. ‘Get out of here! – No, only a little rag!’ ‘Little rag, Lisa?’ – ‘Sure thing! Just some scraps to dress up the doll; costs only a little bit!’ Poverty forces Lisa to limit herself to what is shabby – “rags” – although she herself would be happy if things were otherwise. Misunderstanding, she must mistrust everything as exaggerated, which is not practically justified. Imagination steps too close to poverty. For what is shabby has magic only for the observer. And nevertheless imagination needs poverty, to which it does violence: the happiness, which it clings to, is inscribed with the traits of suffering. Thus Sade names Justine, who falls into one trap of torture after another, notre intéressante héroine [French: our interesting heroine], and even Mignon, in the moment in which she is beaten, the interesting child. The dream princess and the whipping-girl are the same, and they suspect nothing of this. Traces of this are still evident in the relationship of the northern peoples to the southern: the well-heeled puritan seeks in vain from the brunette from foreign lands, what the course of the world, which the former commands, severs not merely from themselves but above all from the vagrants. Those who are rooted envy the nomads, the search for fresh pastures, and the green wagon is the house on wheels, whose path is accompanied by stars. Infantility, ensorceled in unplanned movement, the unhappily inconstant, momentary pressure to continue to live, stands for something undistorted, for fulfillment, and yet nevertheless excludes it, similar to the innermost core of self-preservation, from which it pretends to redeem itself from. That is the circle of bourgeois longing for what is naive. What is soulless in those who, at the borders of culture, are daily forbidden self-determination, charm and torture at the same time, turns into a phantasmagoria of the soul for the well-heeled, who have learned from culture, to be ashamed of the soul. Love loses itself in what is soulless as in the cipher of what has soul, because the living are the arena of the desperate desire for salvation, which has its object only in what is lost: love arises in the soul first in its absence. It is precisely the expression of the eyes, which is closest to those of an animal – the creaturely expression – which is human, distant from the reflection of the ego. In the end the soul is itself the longing of the soulless for salvation.

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L’inutile beauté. [French: useless beauty]. – Women of especial beauty are condemned to unhappiness. Even those to have all the advantages, who have birth, wealth, and talent on their side, seem as if pursued or obsessed with the pressure to destroy of themselves and all human relationships, in which they enter. An oracle puts before them the choice of dooms. Either they cleverly exchange beauty for success. Then they pay with happiness for its condition; since they can no longer love, they poison love to others and remain empty-handed. Or the privilege of beauty gives them the courage and security, to defy the exchange-contract. They take the happiness seriously, which is promised in them, and do not limit themselves, thus confirmed by the attraction of all, that do not at first have to prove their worth. In their youth they have the choice. This makes them indiscriminate: nothing is definitive, everything can be replaced. Quite early, without much consideration, they marry and dedicate themselves to pedestrian conditions, relinquishing [entäussern: to relinquish, disclose, realize] to a certain extent the privilege of infinite possibility, degrading themselves to human beings. At the same time however they hold fast to their childhood dream of hegemony, which their life flashes before them, and do not cease – therein unbourgeois – to throw away what, tomorrow, could be something better. That is their type of destructive character. Precisely because they were once hors de concours [French: outside of the competition], they are rendered subalterns in the competition, which they now manically pursue. Solely the gesture of irresistibility remains, while the latter already disintegrates [zerfällt]; magic disintegrates [zerfällt], as soon as expresses itself as domesticated, instead of portraying itself as hope. She who resists however is simultaneously the sacrifice: she ends up under the social order, which she once flew over. Her generosity is given punishment. The fallen woman as well as the obsessive one are martyrs of happiness. Incorporated beauty has in the meanwhile turned into a calculable element of existence, a mere replacement for the non-existing life, without reaching beyond the latter in the slightest. She has broken her promise of happiness to herself and others. She however, who stands for this happiness, takes on the aura of calamity and is herself overtaken by calamity. Therein the enlightened world has completely and utterly absorbed mythos. The envy of the gods has outlived them.

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Constance. – Everywhere bourgeois society insists on the exertion of the will; only love is supposed to be involuntary, the pure immediacy of the feelings. In the longing for this, which means the dispensation from labor, the bourgeois idea of love transcends bourgeois society. However by unmediatedly putting up what is true as what is universally untrue, it inverts the former into the latter. It is not merely that pure feelings, as far as they are still possible in the economically determined system, socially turn thereby into the alibi for the domination of interest and testifies to a humanity, which does not exist. But rather the involuntariness of love itself, even where it is not arranged quite practically in advance, contributes to that whole, as soon as it establishes itself as a principle. If love is supposed to portray in society a better one, then it is capable of doing so not as a peaceful enclave, but only in conscious resistance. That however requires just that moment of caprice, which the bourgeois, to who love can never be natural enough, forbids it. Love means the capacity to not allow immediacy to wither from the ubiquitous pressure of mediation, of the economy, and in such fidelity it is mediated in itself, as tenacious counter-pressure. Those who love are only those who have the energy to hold fast to love. If social advantage, sublimated, still preforms the sexual drive-impulse, causes, through a thousand shadings of what is confirmed by the social order, now this person and now that one to appear spontaneously attractive, then the attraction which has once taken root contradicts this, by persisting where the gravity of society, above all in the intrigue which is regularly taken into society’s service, does not wish it to be. The test of the feelings is whether they endure beyond the feeling through duration, even if it were only obsession. The kind which, under the appearance [Schein] of unreflective spontaneity and proud of its presumed uprightness, rely completely and utterly on what it considers to be the voice of the heart, and runs away, as soon as it no longer thinks it perceives those voices, is in such sovereign independence precisely the tool of society. Passively, without knowing it, it registers the numbers, which roll out of the roulette wheel of their interests. By betraying the beloved, it betrays itself. The command of fidelity, which society legislates, is the means of unfreedom, but only through fidelity does freedom realize its insubordination against the command of society.

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Philemon and Baucis. [Greek mythology:] – The household tyrant has his wife help him into his coat. She eagerly does the service of love and accompanies him with a glance, which says: what am I supposed to do, let him have his little joys, that’s the way he is, only a man. Patriarchal marriage revenges itself on the man through the indulgence, which the woman practices and which has turned into a formula in the ironic lament of male vulnerability and dependence. Inside of the lying ideology, which posits the man as superior, lies a secret, not less untrue one, which reduces him to something inferior, to the victim of manipulation, maneuvers, deception. The hen-pecked husband is the shadow of the one who must venture out into hostile life. Children size up adults with the same narrow-minded perspicacity as the wife vis-à-vis the husband. In the disproportion between his authoritarian claim and his helplessness, which necessarily comes to light in the private sphere, something ridiculous is concealed. Every married couple appearing together is comic, and this is what the patient understanding of the wife attempts to balance out. There is scarcely any long-married woman, who does not disavow their spouse by whispering about small weaknesses. False nearness stimulates malice, and in the realm of consumption, those who have their hands on things are stronger. Hegel’s dialectic of master and slave is as valid then as now in the archaic social order of the house and is strengthened, because the wife tenaciously holds fast to the anachronism. As suppressed matriarch she becomes the master there, where she must serve, and the patriarch need only appear as such, in order to become a caricature. Such a simultaneous dialectic of the epoch has presented itself to the individualistic gaze as the “battle of the sexes.” Both opponents are wrong. In the disenchantment of the man, whose power rests on the earning of money which pretends to be human rank, the woman expresses at the same time the untruth of the marriage, in which she seeks her entire truth. No emancipation without that of society.

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Et dona ferentes. [Latin: fragment of “Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes,” “I fear the Greeks though bearing gifts.”] – The German philistines of freedom have always put great store in the [Goethean] poem of God and the Bayadere [bayadere: Hindu temple dancing-girl], with the closing fanfare that immortals raise lost children in their fiery arms to heaven. The approved warm-heartedness is not to be trusted. It thoroughly appropriates the bourgeois judgment on bought love; it attains the effect of all-fatherly understanding and forgiveness only by impugning the lovely one to be saved with shuddering delight as someone who is lost. The act of mercy is bound up with reservations, which make it illusory. In order to earn redemption – as if an earned redemption could be anything of the sort – the girl may herself participate in the “bed’s pleasant festival,” “neither for pleasure nor gain.” Well, then why else? Doesn’t the pure love expected of her clumsily touch the magic, which Goethe’s dance-rhythm winds around her figure and which then indeed is no longer to be cancelled out by the talk of deep perdition? But she is supposed to become the sort of good soul throughout, who forgets herself only once. In order to be admitted to the enclosure of humanity, the paramour, whose toleration humanity brags about, must first cease to be one. The deity of penitent sinners rejoices [quotation from Goethe’s poem]. The entire expedition to where the last houses are, is a kind of metaphysical “slumming party” [in English in original], an event of patriarchal meanness, inflating itself twice over, by first raising the distance between the male Spirit [Geist] and female nature into something immeasurable and then draping the supreme power, which takes back even its self-created distinction, as the highest benevolence. The bourgeoisie needs the bayadere, not merely for the sake of pleasure, which they simultaneously begrudge her for, but in order to feel like a god. The closer they approach the edge of their realm and forget their dignity, the crasser the ritual of violence. The night has its pleasure, but the whore is nevertheless burnt. The rest is the idea.

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Spoilsport. – The affinity between asceticism and euphoria, noted by the humdrum wisdom of psychology, the love-hate between saints and whores, has the objectively valid ground, that asceticism accords to fulfillment more of its rights than cultural installment-payments. The hostility to pleasure is certainly not to be separated from the consensus with the discipline of a society, which has its essence [Wesen] in demanding more than it grants in return. But there is also a mistrust against pleasure which comes from the intuition, that the latter is in this world nothing of the sort. A construction of Schopenhauer unconsciously expressed something of this intuition. The transition from the affirmation to the repudiation of the will to life occurs in the development of the thought, that in every delimitation of the will by a barrier “which is placed… between it and its former goal” there is suffering; in contrast, “its attainment of the goal” would be “satisfaction, well-being, happiness.” While such “suffering,” according to Schopenhauer’s intransigent cognition, could easily enough grow to the point that death itself would be preferable, the condition of “satisfaction” is itself unsatisfying, because “as soon as a shelter is granted to human beings from urgent necessity and suffering, boredom is so close at hand, that it requires the killing of time. What occupies all living beings and keeps them in motion, is the striving for existence [Dasein]. They don’t know what to do with existence, however, what it is assured: thus the second thing, which they set into motion, is the striving to be free of the burden of existence, to make it imperceptible, ‘to kill time’, that is, to escape boredom.” (Schopenhauer, Collected Works, Grand Duke Wilhelm-Ernst Edition, Volume I: The World as Will and Idea. I. Introduction by Eduard Grisebach. Leipzig 1920, pg 415). But the concept of this boredom which is sublated to such unsuspected dignity, is something which Schopenhauer’s sensibility, which is hostile to history, would least like to admit – bourgeois through and through. It is, as the experience of antithetical “free time,” the complement of alienated labor, whether this free time is supposed to merely reproduce expended energy, or whether it is burdened by the extraction of alien labor as a mortgage. Free time remains the reflex of the rhythm of production as something imposed heteronomously, to which the former is compulsorily held fast even in periods of weariness. The consciousness of the unfreedom of all existence, which the pressure of the demands of commerce, and thus unfreedom itself, does not allow to appear, emerges first in the intermezzo of freedom. The nostalgie du dimanche [French: Sunday nostalgia] is not homesickness for the workweek, but for the condition which is emancipated from this; Sundays are unsatisfying, not because they are observed, but because its own promise immediately represents itself at the same time as something unfulfilled; like the English one, every Sunday is too little Sunday. Those for who time painfully extends itself, who wait in vain, are disappointed that it failed to happen, that tomorrow goes past once more just like yesterday. The boredom of those however who do not need to work, is not fundamentally different from this. Society as a totality imposes, on those with administrative power, what they do to others, and what these latter may not do, the former will scarcely permit themselves. The bourgeoisie have turned satiety, which ought to be the close relation of ecstasy, into an epithet. Because others go hungry, ideology demands that the absence of hunger should count as vulgar. Thus the bourgeoisie indict the bourgeoisie. Their own existence, as exempt from labor, prevents any praise of laziness: the latter would be boring. The hectic bustle, which Schopenhauer refers to, is due less to the unbearable nature of the privileged condition than to its ostentation, which according to the historical situation either enlarges the social distance or seemingly reduces such through presumably important events and ceremonies, which are supposed to emphasize the usefulness of the masters. If those at the top truly felt bored, this stems not from too much happiness, but from the fact that they are marked by the general unhappiness; by the commodity character, which consigns the pleasures to idiocy, by the brutality of command, whose terrifying echo resounds in the high spirits of the rulers, finally by their fear of their own superfluousness. Noone who profits from the profit-system is capable of existing therein without shame, and it distorts even undistorted pleasure, although the excesses, which the philosophers envy, may by no means be so boring as they assure us. That boredom would disappear in realized freedom, is something vouchsafed by many experiences stolen from civilization. The saying omne animal post coitum triste [Latin: all animals are sad after mating] was devised by bourgeois contempt for humanity: nowhere more than here does what is human distinguish itself from creaturely sorrow. Not euphoria but socially approved love elicits disgust: the latter is, in Ibsen’s word, sticky. Those who are deeply moved by erotic sentiment transform fatigue into the plea for tenderness, and momentary sexual incapacity is understood as accidental, entirely external to passion. It is not for nothing that Baudelaire thought the bondage of erotic obsession together with the illuminating spiritualization, naming kiss, scent and conversation equally immortal. The transience of pleasure, on which asceticism stakes its claim, stands for the fact that except in the minutes heureuses [French: happy minutes], in which the forgotten life of the lover radiates from the arms and limbs of the beloved, there is no pleasure yet at all. Even the Christian denunciation of sex in Tolstoy’s Kreutzer Sonata cannot entirely cancel out the memory of this in the middle of all the Capucin-style preaching. What he reproaches sensuous love for, is not only the grandiosely overweening theological motif of self-denial, that no human being may turn another into an object – actually thus a protest against patriarchal control – but at the same time the memorialization of the bourgeois malformation of sex, in its murky entanglement with every material interest, in marriage as a humiliating compromise, however much of an undercurrent of Rousseau’s resentment against pleasure raised to reflection runs in this. The attack on the period of the engagement is aimed at the family photograph, which resemblance the word “bridegroom.” ‘And moreover there was that ridiculous custom of giving sweets, of coarse gormandizing on sweets, and all those abominable preparations for the wedding: remarks about the house, the bedroom, beds, wraps, dressing-gowns, underclothing, costumes.’ [The Kreutzer Sonata, trans. R. Gustafson, Oxford UP: 1997, pg 107] He similarly mocks the honeymoon, which is compared to the disappointment after visiting an ‘extremely uninteresting’ fairground booth, extolled by a hawker. The exhausted senses are less to blame for this dégoût [French: disgust] than what is institutionalized, ordained, prefabricated in pleasure, its false immanence in the social order which adjusts it and turns it into something deathly sad, in the moment it is decreed. Such contrariness may grow to the point that all euphoria ultimately prefers to cease, inside renunciation, rather than violating the concept of euphoria through its realization.

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Heliotrope. – Those awaiting the visit of the parents’ guests, find their hearts beating with greater expectation than before Christmas. It is not due to the presents, but to a transformed life. The perfume, which the lady guest places on the bureau, while one is permitted to watch the unpacking, has a scent like memory, even when it is inhaled for the first time. The luggage with the stickers from the Hotel Suvretta [famous hotel in St. Moritz, Switzerland] and Madonna di Campiglio [famous hotel in Domolite mountains of Italy, near Trentino] are chests, in which the precious gems of Aladdin and Ali Baba, wrapped in expensive cloth, the kimonos of guests, are borne out of the caravanserais of Switzerland and south Tyrol on sleeping-wagon cushions for sated observation. And just as fairies talk to children in fairy-tales, so too does the guest talk earnestly, without condescension, to the children of the house. They ask knowledgeably about lands and peoples, and the guest, not acquainted with their daily habits and seeing nothing but the fascination in their eyes, answers with profound statements about the feeble-mindedness of a brother-in-law and the marital spats of the nephews. Thus the children feel accepted at a stroke into the mighty and secret alliance of adults, the magic circle of reasonable people. The rules of the day are suspended – perhaps tomorrow they may even be allowed to skip school – along with the borders between the generations, and whoever has not been sent to bed by eleven o’clock has an inkling of true promiscuity. The single visit ordains Thursday as a festival, in whose euphoria all of humanity seems to be invited. For the guest comes from far away. The guest’s appearance promises the children something beyond the family and reminds them that this latter is not the only thing. The longing for inchoate happiness, in the pond of salamanders and storks, which the child painfully learned to restrain and which is distorted by the bogeyman of the black man, of the villain who wishes to kidnap them – here the children find that longing again, without fear. Amidst the nearest and dearest, there appears the figure of what is different. The fortune-telling gypsy, who is let into the front door, is absolved in the lady visitor and transfigured into a rescuing angel. She dispels the curse on the happiness of what is nearest of all, by wedding it to what is most distant. The entire being [Dasein] of the child waits for this, and whoever does not forget the best part of childhood, must still be able to wait like this. Love counts the hours until the moment the parents’ guests step over the threshold and once again reconstruct the washed-out life through something imperceptible: “Here I am again / back from the wide world.” [lines from Mörike’s Peregrina]

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Pure wine [part of figurative German expression, “to give someone pure wine,” i.e. to tell someone the unvarnished truth]. – There is an almost foolproof criterium for determining whether a human being means you well: how they pass on unfriendly or hostile comments about you. Such reports are mostly superfluous, nothing but pretexts for expressing ill-wishes without responsibility, even in the name of what is good. Just as all acquaintances feel the inclination, to occasionally say something bad about someone, probably because they rebel against the greyness of the acquaintance, so is everyone simultaneously sensitive to the views of everyone else and secretly wish that they were loved, even where they do not love: the alienation between human beings is no less indiscriminate and universal than the longing to break through it. The news-hawker blossoms in this climate, for there is never any lack of material or calamities, and they can always count on the fact that those who wish to be liked by all, are agog to hear news of the opposite. One should relay derogatory remarks only when they immediately and transparently influence common decisions, to judgments of human beings one must rely upon, or with whom one has to work. The more disinterested the report, the murkier the interest, the suppressed pleasure, in inflicting pain. It is still harmless, if story-tellers simply wish to set two parties against each other while simultaneously putting their own qualities in the spotlight. More often they represent themselves as the unelected arbiters of public opinion and thereby impress, precisely through their affectless objectivity, the entire violence of anonymity upon the victim, before which this last is supposed to bow. The lie becomes visible in the unnecessary concern for the honor of the one injured, who knows nothing of the injury, for clear relationships, for inner purity: upholding these latter in the entangled world only encourages, on the model of Gregers Werle [character in Ibsen’s Wild Duck], entanglement. By virtue of moral fervor, the well-meaning turn into destroyers.

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And just hear, how evil he was. – Those who have unexpectedly ended up facing life-threatening dangers, sheer catastrophes, often report that they were to a surprising extent free of fear. The general terror does not turn specifically against them, but strikes them as mere inhabitants of a city, members of a larger association. They adapt to what is accidental, what is inanimate, as it were, as if it didn’t really concern them. The lack of fear has its psychological explanation in the lack of readiness to be afraid vis-à-vis the overpowering blow. The freedom of eyewitnesses has something damaged about it, something related to apathy. The psychic organism, like the body, is compatible with experiences of an order of magnitude similar to itself. If the object of experience is raised out of proportion to the individual [Individuum], then the latter actually doesn’t experience it anymore, but registers the former unmediatedly, through the non-intuitive concept, as something external to itself, something incommensurable, to which the latter relates as coldly as to the catastrophic shock. There is an analogy to this in what is moral. Whoever commits acts, which are egregiously unjust according to acknowledged norms, such as taking revenge on enemies, or refusing to be sympathetic, is scarcely conscious of their guilt and comes to realize this only with painful effort. The doctrine of reasons of state, the separation of ethics [Moral] and politics is not untouched by this state of affairs. Its meaning stems from the extreme opposition between public essence [Wesen] and individual existence. The major crime presents itself to the individual [Individuum] in large part as a mere misdemeanor against convention, not merely because the norms which it injures are themselves something conventional, frozen, unbinding on the living subject, but because their objectification as such, even where they are founded on substance, evades the moral innervation, the realm of the conscience. The thought of specific acts of tactlessness however, the microorganisms of injustice, which perhaps no-one else noticed – that someone sits down too early in company, or put the guests’ name-tags down during tea-time, rather than at dinner, as is customary – such trivialities may fill the delinquent one with irreproachable remorse and a passionately bad conscience, at times with such a burning shame, that they cannot allow themselves to be pardoned by any other human being and preferably not even by themselves. They are therein by no means as noble as all that, for they know, that the society which has no objections against inhumanity, objects all the more strongly to misconduct, and that a man who sends away his lover and vouches for himself as an upright man, can be sure of social approval, while the man who respectfully kisses the hand of an overly young girl from a good family, earns himself ridicule. However these luxuriously narcissistic concerns afford a second aspect: that of the refuge of experience, which rebounds from the objectified social order. The subject reaches into the smallest features of what is correct or incorrect and is capable of vouching for itself therein as acting rightly or wrongly; its indifference towards moral guilt, however, is tinged with the consciousness that the powerlessness of one’s own decision grows with the dimension of their object. If one established in retrospect, that by failing to call one’s girlfriend after an ugly quarrel, this in fact ended the relationship, then there is something faintly comic in the conception of this; it sounds like the mute girl in Portici [character in Daniel Auber’s 1828 opera The Mute Girl of Portici]. “Murder,” goes an Ellery Queen detective novel, “is so… newspapery. It doesn’t happen to you. You read about it in a paper, or in a detective story, and it makes you wriggle with disgust, or sympathy. But it doesn’t mean anything.” [Quote in English in original] That is why authors like Thomas Mann have described the catastrophes broadcast in the newspapers, ranging from train accidents to crimes of passion, grotesquely – ensorceling, as it were, the irresistible laughter which the solemn pomp of a burial would otherwise provoke, by making it the affair [Sache] of the poetic subject. In contrast to this, minimal violations are for that reason relevant, because we can see good and evil in them, without smiling, even if our earnestness is a bit delusory. In them we learn to deal with what is ethical [Moralischen], feeling it in our skin – as blushing – making it the subject’s own, the subject which glances as helplessly at the gigantic moral-law in itself as at the star-studded heavens, which the former is badly modeled after. That these occurrences would be amoral in themselves, while nevertheless spontaneously good impulses, human sympathy without the pathos of maxims, also occurs, does not devalue the infatuation in what is proper. For by expressing the generality straightaway, without bothering about alienation, the good impulse easily enough permits the subject to appear as something alienated from itself, as a mere agent of commandments, with which that subject imagines itself to be as one: as a splendid human being. Conversely, those whose ethical impulse is oriented to what is external, fetishistic convention, is capable of grasping the generality, in the suffering of the unsurpassable divergence of inner and outer – indeed by holding fast to this divergence in its hardening – without sacrificing themselves and the truth of their experience to such. Their over-voltage [Überspannung] of all distance intends reconciliation. That is why the behavior of monomaniacs is not without some justification in the object. In the sphere of daily interactions, on which they insist, all aporias of the false life return, and what their blind alley has to do with the whole, is that only there can they carry out the paradigmatic conflict in strictness and freedom, which otherwise escapes their reach. In contrast, whoever conforms in their mode of reaction with social reality, finds their private life conducting itself as formlessly, as the estimation of power-relations which compels its form on them. They have the inclination, wherever they escape the supervision of the external world, wherever they feel at home in the expanded realm in their own ego, to reveal themselves to be inconsiderate and brutal. They revenge themselves on those who are near to them, for all the discipline and all the renunciation of the immediate expression of aggression, which was imposed on the former from a distance. They behave politely and with courtesy on the outside, towards objective enemies, but with coldness and hostility in friendly circles. Where civilization as self-preservation does not compel them towards humanity, they give free reign to their rage against such and rebut their own ideology of home, family and community. It is against this which ethics [Moral], however micrologically deluded, is aimed. It detects in the relaxed familiarity, in what is formless, the mere pretext for violence, the appeal to be good to each other, in order to be as malevolent as one wants to be. It subjugates what is intimate to the critical claim, because intimacies alienate, grope towards the inconceivably fine aura of the other, which first crowns them to a subject. Solely the acknowledgment of distance in who or what is most near [Nächste] mitigates foreignness: accepted into consciousness. However the claim of undiminished, already achieved nearness, the flat denial of foreignness, does the utmost injustice to the other, virtually negating them as particular human beings and thereby what is human in them, “adds them up,” incorporates them into the inventory of property. Wherever what is unmediated posits and ensconces itself, the bad mediacy of society is thereby insidiously affirmed. The issue [Sache] of immediacy can be taken up only by the most cautious of reflections. The test of this is made in the smallest of all things.

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Il servo padrone. [Italian: the master as servant] – In regards to the dull-witted tasks, which are demanded by the ruling culture from subordinate classes, these latter become capable of such solely through permanent regression. Precisely what is unformed in them is the product of social form. The creation of barbarians through culture is however constantly deployed by this latter, in order to preserve its own barbaric essence. Domination delegates the physical violence, on which it rests, to the dominated. While these latter are given the opportunity of letting off steam with their warped instincts in what is collectively justified and proper, they learn to practice what the noble ones require, so that they have what it takes to let the noble ones remain noble. The self-education of the ruling clique, with all of the discipline, throttling of every immediate impulse, cynical skepticism and blind pleasure in command it demands, would not exist if the oppressor did not inflict, through those who are oppressed, a piece of the oppression on themselves, which they inflict on others. That is why the psychological differences between the classes are so much slighter than the objective-economic ones. The harmony of what is irreconcilable comes to benefit the continuation of the bad totality. The nastiness of the higher-ups and the gutsiness of the low-born understand each other. From the servants and governors, who bully the children of good households to teach them a lesson about life, to the teachers from Westerwald, who drive the usage of foreign words as well as all pleasure in language out of them, to the officials and clerks, who make them stand in line, the petty officers, who step on them, things go straight as a rail to the torturers of the Gestapo and the bureaucrats of the gas chambers. The impulses of the upper classes themselves speak early in favor of the delegation of violence to the lower ones. Whoever fears the good breeding of the parents, flees into the kitchen and warms themselves on the energetic expressions of the cook, which are secretly given over to the principle of parental good-breeding. The fine people are drawn to the unrefined ones, whose brutality deceptively augurs, what the culture of the former is supposed to bring. They do not know, that what is unrefined, which appears to them as anarchic nature, is nothing but the reflex of the compulsion, against which they stiffen themselves. What mediates between the class solidarity of the upper classes and their ingratiation towards the delegates of the lower classes is their justified feeling of guilt towards the poor. Whoever who doesn’t fit in, who learns however to fit in, who is saturated by “that’s how things are done here” into the innermost core, ultimately turns into one themselves. Bettelheim’s observation on the identification of the victims with the executioners of the Nazi camps contains a judgment on the higher seeding-grounds of culture, the English “public school” [in English in original], the German officer academy. The absurdity perpetuates itself: domination reproduces itself all the way through the dominated.

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Downwards and ever further. [quote from Schubert song] – The private relations between human beings seem to form themselves according to the model of the industrial “bottleneck” [in English in original]. Even in the smallest community, the level is determined by the most subaltern of its members. Whoever says something in a conversation which is beyond the grasp of a single person, becomes tactless. For the sake of humanity, the conversation is restricted to what is nearest, most dull-witted and banal, even if only one inhuman visage is present. Since the world has stolen speech from human beings, those who cannot be talked to are in the right. They need only stubbornly insist on their interest and their constitution, in order to prevail. The fact that the other, trying in vain to establish contact, ends up using a pleading or soliciting cadence, makes them weaker. Since the “bottleneck” [in English in original] knows no authority, which would be higher than what is factual, while thought and speech necessarily refer to such an authority, intelligence turns into naïvété, and this is what the knuckleheads irrefutably perceive. The official fealty to what is positive acts like gravity, drawing everyone down. It shows its superiority to the opposing impulse, by refusing to even deal with the latter. Those who are more differentiated, who do not wish to perish, remain strictly constrained by the consideration of everyone who is inconsiderate. These latter need no longer be plagued by the disquiet of consciousness. Intellectual weakness, confirmed as a universal principle, appears as the energy to live. Formalistic-administrative task management, the desk-drawer separation of everything which only has meaning as something inseparable, the bull-headed insistence on arbitrary opinions in the absence of any foundation, in short the practice of reifying every stage of the failed ego-formation, withdrawing the latter from the process of experience and then maintaining it as a final “that’s just how I am,” suffices to conquer impregnable positions. One may be as certain of the understanding of others, who are similarly malformed, as of one’s own advantage. In the cynical self-trumpeting of one’s own defect lurks the intuition, that the objective Spirit [Geist] is liquidating the subjective one at the contemporary stage. They are “down to earth” [in English in original] like the zoological forebears, before these latter stood erect on their hind legs.

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Model virtue. – It is well-known how oppression and ethics [Moral] converge in the renunciation of the drives. But the ethical ideas do not merely oppress other ones, but are immediately derived from the existence of the oppressor. Since Homer, the concepts of good and wealth are intertwined in the Greek language. The kalokagathie [Greek: perfection], which was upheld by the humanists of modern society as a model of aesthetic-ethical harmony, has always put a heavy emphasis on property, and Aristotele’s Politics openly confessed the fusion of inner value with status in the determination of nobility, as “inherited wealth, which is connected with excellence.” The concept of the polis [Greek: city-state] in classical antiquity, which upheld internalized and externalized nature [Wesen], the validity of the individual [Individuum] in the city-state and the individual’s self as a unity, permitted it to ascribe moral rank to wealth, without inciting the crude suspicion, which the doctrine already at that time courted. If the visible effect on an existent state establishes the measure of a human being, then it is nothing but consistency to vouchsafe the material wealth, which tangibly confirms that effect, as the characteristic of the person, since the latter’s moral substance – just as later in Hegel’s philosophy – is supposed to be constituted on nothing other than their participation in the objective, social substance. Christianity first negated that identification, in the phrase that it would be easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter heaven. But the particular theological premise on voluntary chosen poverty indicates how deeply the general consciousness is stamped by the ethos [Moralität] of property. Fixed property is to be distinguished from the nomadic disorder, against which all norms are directed; to be good and to have goods, coincided from the beginning. Good people are those who control themselves as their own possessions: their autonomous nature [Wesen] is modeled on material disposition. The rich are therefore not to be accused of being unethical – that reproach has ever belonged to the armature of political oppression – but given to understand, that they represent ethics [Moral] to others. In this latter is reflected having [Habe]. Wealth as goodliness [Gutsein: having goods/being good] is an element of the mortar of the world: the hard-bitten appearance [Schein] of such identity hinders the confrontation of the moral idea with the social order, in which the rich are right, while at the same time determinations of what is ethical different than those derived from wealth cannot be conceptualized. The more that the individual [Individuum] and society later diverged in the competition of interests, and the more the former is thrown back on itself, the more stubbornly do individuals hold onto the conception of moral nature [Wesen] as wealth. It is supposed to vouch for the possibility of reunifying what has been divided in two, into inside and outside. That is the secret of the inner-worldly asceticism, which Max Weber wrongly hypostatized as the limitless exertion of the businessman ad majorem dei gloriam [Latin: to the greater glory of God]. Material success binds individual [Individuum] and society not merely in the comfortable and meanwhile dubious sense, that the rich can escape loneliness, but in a far more radical sense: if the blind, isolated self-interest is driven only far enough, then it passes over, along with the economic one, into social power and reveals itself to be the incarnation of a universally binding principle. Whoever is rich or acquires wealth, experiences what is attained by the ego, “by one’s own initiative,” as what the objective Spirit [Geist], the truly irrational predestination of a society held together by brutal economic inequality, has willed. Thus the rich may reckon as benevolence, what testifies only to its absence. To themselves and to others, they experience themselves as the realization of the general principle. Because this latter is injustice, that is why the unjust turn regularly into the just, and not as mere illusion, but borne out of the hegemony of the law, according to which society reproduces itself. The wealth of the individual is inseparable from progress in society as “prehistory.” The rich dispose over the means of production. Consequently the technical progress, in which the entire society participates, is accounted for primarily as “their” progress, today that of industry, and the Fords necessarily appear to be benefactors, to the same degree which they in fact are, given the framework of the existing relations of production. Their privilege, already established in advance, makes it seem as if they were giving up what is theirs – namely the increase on the side of use-value – while those who are receiving their administered blessings are getting back only part of the profit. That is the ground of the character of delusion of ethical hierarchy. Poverty has indeed always been glorified as asceticism, the social condition for the acquisition of precisely the wealth in which morality [Sittlichkeit] is manifested, but nevertheless “what a man is worth” [in English in original] signifies, as everyone knows, the bank account – in the jargon of the German merchants, “the man is good,” i.e. they can pay. What however the reasons of state of the almighty economy so cynically confesses, reaches unacknowledged into the mode of conduct of individuals. The generosity in private intercourse, which the rich can presumably allow themselves, the reflected glow of happiness, which rests on them, and something of this falls on everyone who they consort with, all this veils them. They remain nice, “the right people” [in English in original], the better types, the good. Wealth distances itself from immediate injustice. The guard beats strikers with a billy club, the son of the factory-owner may occasionally drink a whisky with the progressive author. According to all desiderata of private ethics [Moral], even the most advanced kind, the rich could, if they only could, in fact always better be than the poor. This possibility, while truly indeed left unused, plays its role in the ideology of those who do not have it: even the convicted con artist, who may anyway be preferable to the legitimate boss of the trusts, is famous for having such a beautiful house, and the highly paid executive turns into a warm human being, the moment they serve an opulent dinner. Today’s barbaric religion of success is accordingly not simply counter-ethical [widermoralisch], rather it is the home-coming of the West to the venerable morals [Sitten] of the fathers. Even the norms, which condemn the arrangement of the world, owe their existence to the latter’s own mischief [Unwesen]. All ethics [Moral] is formed on the model of what is unethical [Unmoral], and to this day reproduces the latter at every stage. Slave-ethics [Sklavenmoral] is in fact bad: it is still only master-ethics [Herrenmoral].

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Knight of the rose. [Opera by Richard Strauss] – Elegant people are attractive due to the expectation that they are free in private from the greed for the advantages, which flow to them from their position, and from the stubborn prejudice in the closest relationships, which is caused by the narrowness of these last. One has confidence in their pleasure of adventure in thought, sovereignty vis-à-vis the state of their own interests, and refinement of forms of reaction, thinking that their sensitivity would turn at least in Spirit [Geist] against the brutality on which their privilege depends, while the victims scarcely have the possibility to recognize what makes them such. If however the separation of production and the private-sphere ultimately proves to be a piece of necessary social appearance [Scheins], then this expectation of unbound spirituality must be disappointed. Even the most subtle snobbery has nothing of dégoût [French: disgust] vis-à-vis its objective prerequisite, but rather seals itself off from its cognition. It is an open question as to what extent the French aristocracy of the 18th century took part, playfully-suicidally, in the enlightenment and the preparation for the revolution, a participation which the antipathy against the terrorists of virtue was so glad to imagine. The bourgeoisie in any case has kept itself free in its later phase from such inclinations. No-one dances anymore on the volcano, otherwise they would be declassed. Subjectively, too, the “society” [in English in original] is so thoroughly stamped by the economic principle, whose manner of rationality concerns the whole, that the emancipation from interests – even merely as intellectual luxury – is forbidden. Just as they are not capable of enjoying their immeasurably expanded wealth, they are equally incapable of thinking against themselves. The search for frivolity is in vain. What helps to eternalize the real distinction between the upper and lower strata, is the fact that the distinction between the modes of consciousness, both here and there, is vanishing more and more. The poor are prevented from thinking by the discipline of others, the rich from that of their own. The consciousness of the rulers is inscribing in all Spirit [Geist], what previously religion endured. Culture turns for the high bourgeoisie into an element of representation. That one is clever or educated, is ranked under the qualities which make one worthy of invitation or marriage, like horse-riding skills, love of nature, charm or a faultlessly tailored suit. They are not curious about cognition. Free of cares, they mostly busy themselves with mundane details, just like the small bourgeoisie. They furnish houses, throw parties, make hotel and airplane reservations with virtuosity. Otherwise they nourish themselves on the refuse of European irrationalism. They bluntly justify their own hostility to the intellect [Geistfeindschaft], already suspecting – and not unjustly – something subversive in thinking itself, in the independence from anything which is already given or already existing. Just as in Nietzsche’s time, when educated philistines believed in progress, the uniformly higher development of the masses and the greatest possible happiness of the greatest possible number, so too do they believe today, without quite knowing it, in the opposite: the revocation of 1789, the incorrigibility of human nature, the anthropological impossibility of happiness – actually only that things are all too good for the workers. The profundity of yesteryear has recoiled into the most extreme banality. Of Nietzsche and Bergson, the last canonized philosophers, nothing remains but the murkiest anti-intellectualism in the name of the nature, which its apologists mutilate. “Nothing is more annoying to me about the Third Reich,” said in 1933 the Jewish woman of a general director, who was later murdered in Poland, “than the fact that we can no longer use the word earthly, because the Nazis have impounded it,” and even after the downfall of the Fascists, the attractive Austrian lady of a wealthy house, on meeting a labor union leader at a cocktail party with a reputation as a radical, knew no better way to express her enthusiasm for his personality than the bestial expression: “and moreover he is totally unintellectual, totally unintellectual.” I remember my own shock, when an aristocratic girl of shadowy origins, who could barely speak German to me with a thick foreign accent, expressed her sympathy for Hitler, with whose picture her own seemed incompatible. At that time I thought, sheer idiocy prevents her from seeing who she is. But she was more clever than I, for what she represented, no longer existed, and by cancelling out her individual determination, her class consciousness helped her being-in-herself, her social character, to break through. Those at the top are integrating with such iron force, that the possibility of subjective deviation falls away and nowhere can difference be sought anymore than in the distinguished cut of an evening gown.

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Requiem for Odette. [female character in Proust’s Swann’s Way] – The Anglomania of the upper classes of continental Europe is based on the fact that feudal practices are ritualized on the British isle, which are supposed to suffice in themselves. Culture is maintained there not as the divided sphere of objective Spirit [Geistes], as participation in art or philosophy, but rather as a form of empirical existence. The “high life” [in English in original] wishes to be the beautiful life. It brings those, who partake in it, ideological pleasure-winnings. By turning the shaping of existence into a task, in which one follows guidelines, preserves artificial styles, and keeps the delicate equilibrium of correctness and independence, existence itself appears as meaningful and calms the bad conscience of those who are socially superfluous. The incessant demand, to say and do that which is exactly appropriate to one’s status and situation, demands a kind of moral effort. It becomes difficult, to be who you are, and this is believed to be sufficient for the patriarchal noblesse oblige [French: obligation of the high-born]. At the same time the displacement of culture from its objective manifestations into the immediate life dissolves the risk that one’s own immediacy will be shaken by the Spirit [Geist]. This last is reproached for disturbing assured styles, for being tasteless, although not with the embarrassing brutality of the East Prussian Junker, but rather according to a spiritual criterion, as it were – the aestheticization of everyday life. This gives rise to the flattering illusion, that one has been spared the split between superstructure and infrastructure, culture and corporeal reality. But rituals fall, in all their aristocratic trappings, into the late bourgeois habit of hypostatizing the attainment of something meaningless in itself as meaningful, degrading the Spirit [Geist] to the doubling of that which exists anyway. The norm which one follows is fictive, its social prerequisites have vanished along with its model, the court ceremony, and it is acknowledged not because it is experienced as binding, but for the sake of legitimating the social order, from whose illegitimacy one benefits. Proust thus observed, with the incorruptibility of someone susceptible to seduction, that Anglomania and the cult of a form-driven mode of living are to be found less in aristocrats than in those who wish to ascend into the heights: it is only a step from snob to parvenu. Thus the affinity of snobbery and Jugendstil [Art Nouveau], the attempt by a class defined by exchange, to project themselves into a picture of vegetable beauty, as it were, purified of exchange. That the life which organizes its own events is not any more of a life, becomes apparent in the boredom of the cocktail parties and the weekend invitations to the countryside, in the golf, symbolic of the entire sphere, and in the organization of “social affairs” [in English in original] – privileges, where no-one has any real fun and with which the privileged only deceive themselves, about how little opportunity for joy in the unhappy whole exists even for them. In the latest phase, the beautiful life is reduced to what Veblen characterized it as throughout the ages, ostentation, the mere being-selected, and the park offers no other pleasure anymore than that of the wall, against which those outside can press their noses. What can be crassly observed in the upper classes, whose malice is in any case being irresistibly democratized, is what has long been true for society: life has turned into the ideology of its own absence.

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Monograms. – Odi profanum vulgus et arceo [I hate the vulgar rabble and shun it], said the son of the freed slave.

When it comes to truly evil people, one cannot really imagine them dying. To say “we” and to mean “I” is one of the choicest of all slights. Between “I dreamt” [es träumte mir] and “I dreamed” [ich träumte] lie ages of the world. But which is truer? So little do spirits send dreams, so little is it the ego which dreams. Before the eighty-fifth birthday of an in all respects well cared-for man, I dreamed that I asked myself the question, what could I give him which would make him truly happy, and immediately received the answer: a guide through the realm of the dead. That Leporello complained about insufficient provisions and too little money, is a reason to doubt the existence of Don Juan. In early childhood I saw the first snow-shovelers in thin shabby clothes. In answer to my question: those are men without work, who were given this job so they can earn their bread. Serves them right, that they have to shovel snow, I cried out angrily, bursting into uncontrollable tears. Love is the ability, to perceive what is similar in what is dissimilar. Parisian circus advertisement before WW II: Plus sport que le théâtre, plus vivant que le cinéma [French: more sporting than the theater, more living than the cinema]. A film which followed the code of the Hays Office to the strictest letter might succeed in being a great work of art, but not in a world in which a Hays Office exists. Verlaine: the pardonable unpardonable sin [literally: the venial mortal sin]. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh: socialized snobbism. Zille gives misery a slap on the butt. Scheler: the bedroom in philosophy [in French in original]. A poem of Liliencron describes a military fanfare. First it goes: “And around the corner crashing brays, like thumping tubas on Judgment Day,” and it closes: “Did a bright butterfly dart / ching-ching boom, around the corner?” A poetic philosophy of history of violence, with Judgment Day at the beginning and the butterfly at the end. In Trakl’s Along there is the verse: “Say how long we have been dead”; in Däubler’s Golden Sonnet: “How true, that we have all long since died.” The unity of expressionism consisted of expressing the fact that the human beings into which life has withdrawn, wholly alienated from each other, are turned thereby into the dead. Among the forms which Borchardt tested, there is no lack of reworkings of folk songs. He avoided saying “In peoples’ tone,” and wrote instead: “In the tone of the people.” This sounds however just like “in the name of the law.” The restorative poet recoils into the Prussian police officer. Not the least of the tasks which stands before thought, is putting all the reactionary arguments against Western culture into the service of advancing enlightenment. The only true thoughts are those, which do not understand themselves. When the little old woman dragged wood to the stack of kindling, Hus called: sancta simplicitas [Latin: oh holy simplicity]. But what about the reason for his sacrifice, the Last Supper in both its forms? Every reflection seems naive beside the higher one, and nothing is simple, because everything becomes simple in the disconsolate flight-path of forgetting. You are loved, solely where you may show yourself as weak, without provoking strength.

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The bad comrade. – Actually I should have been able to deduce Fascism from the memory of my childhood. It sent its emissaries there in advance, like a conqueror into the most distant province, long before it arrived: my school comrades. If the bourgeois class harbored since time immemorial the dream of the wild popular community, the oppression of all by all, then children with first names like Horst and Jürgen and last names like Bergenroth, Bojunga and Eckhardt, theatrically staged the dream, before the adults were historically ripe enough to realize it. I felt the violence of the image of horror they were striving for so clearly, that all happiness afterwards seemed to be revocable and borrowed. The outbreak of the Third Reich did indeed surprise my political judgment, yet not my fearful premonitions. So closely had all the motifs of the permanent catastrophe brushed against me, so inextinguishably were the warning signs of the German awakening burned into me, that I recognized each one all over again in the features of the Hitler dictatorship: and often it appeared to my foolish horror, as if the total state had been invented solely against me, in order to inflict on me what I had been hitherto spared in my childhood, that state’s prehistory. The five patriots who attacked a single schoolmate, beat him up and, when he complained to the teacher, defamed him as a classroom snitch – aren’t they the same ones, who tortured prisoners, in order to prove the foreigners wrong, who said that torture was occurring? Whose hullaboo knew no end, when the smartest student made a mistake – didn’t they surround the Jewish camp prisoner, grinning and embarrassed, making fun of him, after he all too clumsily sought to hang himself? Who couldn’t write a single decent sentence, but found every one of mine too long – didn’t they abolish German literature and replace it through their scribing [Schrifttum]? Many covered their chests with mysterious insignia and wanted to become naval officers in a landlocked country: they declared themselves leaders of storm troopers and detachments, the legitimizers of illegitimation. The involuted intelligent ones, who had as little success in class as the gifted tinkerer without connections under liberalism; who for that reason curried favor with their parents with woodsaw work, or indeed drew for their own pleasure on drawing-boards with colored inks during long afternoon days, helped the Third Reich to its cruel efficiency and are being betrayed once again. Those however who always defiantly stirred up trouble against the teacher and, as one called it, disturbed the lesson, the day – indeed, the hour – they graduated from high school, they sat down with the same teachers at the same table with the same beer, as a confederation of men, who were born followers, rebels, whose impatient blows of the fist on the table already drummed the worship of the masters. They need only stay put, to catch up with those who were promoted to the next class, and revenge themselves on them. Since they, officials and candidates for death sentences, have stepped visibly out of my dreams and have expropriated my past life and my language, I don’t need to dream of them any longer. In Fascism, the nightmare of childhood has realized itself.

[written in] 1935

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Puzzle-picture. – Why, in spite of a historical development which has driven towards oligarchy, workers are ever less able to know that they are such, can be gleaned from many observations. While the relationship of property-owners and producers is objectively congealing ever more rigidly, subjective class-membership is fluctuating more and more. This is abetted by economic development itself. The organic composition of capital demands, as has often been noted, control by technical managers rather than factory owners. These latter were the counter-party, as it were, to living labor, the former corresponded to the share of machinery in capital. The quantification of technical processes, however, its compartmentalization in the smallest operations, for the most part independent of experience and education, turns the expert status of the new-styled directors to a considerable extent into a mere illusion, behind which is concealed the privilege of being appointed. That technical development has reached a state, that all functions would actually be accessible to all – this immanent-socialistic element of progress is travestied by late industrialism. Membership in an elite appears achievable for everyone. One waits only for the cooptation. Eligibility consists in affinity, ranging from the libidinous cathexis of all wheeling and dealing, to sound technocratic sensibility, to freshly-cured realpolitik. They are experts only of control. That anyone can do such, has not led to its end, but only that everyone may be called upon to do such. Preference is given to those who fit in most exactly. While the chosen ones certainly remain a vanishing minority, the structural possibility suffices to successfully preserve the appearance [Schein] of an equal chance under the system, which has eliminated the free competition which lived on that appearance [Schein]. That the technical forces would permit a non-privileged condition, is credited by all, even those in the shadows, to the social relationships, which hinder it. In general, subjective class-membership today shows a mobility, which causes the fixity of economic social order to be forgotten: what is rigid is also what can be moved about. Even the powerlessness of the individual, to calculate out its economic destiny, contributes to such a consoling mobility. What decides on the fall is not lack of proficiency, but an opaque hierarchal web, in which no-one, not even at the very top, may feel safe: the egalitarianism of the condition of being threatened. When the heroic flying captain returns home, in the most successful blockbuster film of the year, to be bullied by petit bourgeois caricatures as a “soda jerk” [in English in original], he does not only satisfy the schadenfreude of the spectators, but even strengthens them moreover in the consciousness, that all human beings are truly brothers [reference to the 1946 The Best Years of Our Lives]. The most extreme injustice turns into the deceptive image of justice, the disqualification of human beings into their equality. Sociologists however are confronted with the grimly joking question: where is the proletariat?

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Olet. [Latin: pecunia non olet, “money does not stink”]- In Europe, the pre-bourgeois past has survived in the shame of having personal services or favors paid for. The new continent knows nothing of this anymore. Even in the old one, no-one did anything for nothing, but this was felt as a wound. To be sure, exclusiveness, which stems from nothing better than a ground-monopoly, is ideology. But it was nevertheless imprinted deeply enough into the character, to stiffen its neck against the market. The German ruling class disparaged any way of earning money outside of privileges or control of production well into the 20th century. What was considered disreputable about artists or the educated, was what these latter most rebelled against, remuneration, and the private tutor Hölderlin as well as the pianist Liszt, had therein precisely those experiences, which set them in opposition to the ruling consciousness. Well into our day, the membership of human beings in the upper or lower classes has been crudely determined by whether they took money or not. At times the bad arrogance recoiled into conscious critique. Every child of the European upper crust blushed at the gifts of money, which relatives gave them, and although the primacy of bourgeois utility quelled such reactions and overcompensated for them, doubts remained nonetheless as to whether human beings were made merely for exchange. The remnants of what was older were, in the European consciousness, the ferment of what was new. In America by contrast no child of similarly well-off parents has any qualms about earning a few cents through newspaper deliveries, and such thoughtlessness is expressed in the habitus of adults. That is why Americans appear to untutored Europeans on the whole as a people without dignity, ready for paid services, just as conversely the former are inclined to consider the latter vagabonds and cardboard royalty. The self-evidence of the maxim, that there’s no shame in working, the guileless absence of any snobbery vis-à-vis what in the feudal sense is dishonorable in market relationships, the democracy of the principle of commerce contributes to the continuation of what is utterly anti-democratic, of economic injustice, of human degradation. It occurs to no-one, that there might be certain services which would not be expressible in exchange-value. That is the real prerequisite for the triumph of that subjective reason, which is not even capable of thinking something which is true and obligated to itself, perceiving it solely as something which exists for others, something exchangeable. If pride was the ideology over there [i.e. Europe], here it is delivering to customers. This applies as well to the creations of the objective Spirit [Geistes]. The immediate self-advantage inherent in the act of exchange, thus what is subjectively most limited, prohibits the subjective expression. Valorizability [Verwertbarkeit], the a priori of production consistently oriented to the market, does not permit the spontaneous need for such, for the thing itself, to arise. Even the cultural products produced and distributed throughout the world with the greatest of expenditures, repeat the gestures – even if only by virtue of an opaque machinery – of traveling musicians, who keep an eye peeled on the plate by the piano, while hammering out the favorite melodies of their patrons. The budgets of the culture industry run into the billions, but the law of form of their productions is the tip. What is excessively blank, hygienically clean in industrialized culture, is the sole rudiment of that shame, an adjuratory picture, comparable to the suits of the highest hotel managers, who, in order not to look like head waiters, outclass the aristocrats in elegance and thereby make themselves recognizable as head waiters.

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I.Q. – The modes of conduct appropriate to the most progressive technical state of development are not limited to the sectors, in which they are actually promoted. Thus thinking submits to the social supervision of its services not only where it is forced to do so by its occupation, but comes to resembles such in its entire complexion. Because thought has been well-nigh inverted into the solution of tasks assigned to it, what is not assigned is also dealt with according to the schema of the task. Thought, having lost its autonomy, no longer trusts itself to comprehend something real for its own sake, in freedom. This it leaves, with respectful illusion, to the highest-paid, and makes itself measurable for this. It tends to behave, for its own part, as if it had to unceasingly portray its usefulness. Even where there is no nutshell to crack, thinking turns into training [in English in original] for some sort of exercise or other. It relates to its objects as mere hurdles, as a permanent test of its own being in form. Considerations, which would like to be responsible for the relation to the material [Sache] and thereby for themselves, invite the suspicion that they are vain, overblown, asocial self-satisfaction. Just as the neo-positivists split cognition into the scrap-heaps of empiricism and logical formalism, the intellectual activity of the types, who regard the unity of the sciences as written on their foreheads, is polarized in the inventory of the known and the test sample of the capacity for thought: to them, every thought turns into a quiz of whether they are informed or of their qualifications. Somewhere the correct answers must already be posted. Instrumentalism, the latest version of pragmatism, has long since become not merely an affair of the application of thinking, but rather the a priori of its own form. When oppositional intellectuals caught in such a spell wish to approach the content of society differently, they are crippled by the shape of their own consciousness, which is modeled in advance on the needs of this society. While their thought has forgotten how to think for itself, it has simultaneously turned into the absolute exam-authority of itself. Thinking means nothing other than checking at every moment, as to whether one can think. Thus the asphyxiating quality of every seemingly independent intellectual production, the theoretical ones no less than the artistic ones. The socialization of the Spirit [Geistes] holds it, roofed over, ensorceled, under a glass, as long as society is itself trapped. Where thinking previously internalized obligations imposed from outside, today it today incorporates its integration into the all-embracing apparatus, and goes to pieces, even before its economic and political verdict can overtake it.

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Wishful thinking. [In English in original] – Intelligence is a moral category. The separation of feeling and understanding, which makes it possible to say, free and blessed are the knuckleheads, hypostatizes the historically achieved splintering of human beings into functions. The praise of simplicity [Einfalt] resonates with the anxiety that whatever has been separated might reunite and thus put an end to the mischief. “If you have understanding and a heart,” goes a couplet by Hölderlin, “show only one of each / Both condemn you, if you display them together.” [from Hölderlin’s poem Good Advice] The denigration of restricted understanding in comparison with infinite reason which echoes in philosophy, a reason which, as infinite, is at the same time undiscoverable by the ultimately finite subject, echoes in spite of its critical justification the old saw: “Be ever true and faithful” [quotation from Mozart song]. When Hegel demonstrated to reason its stupidity, he not only brought the isolated determination of reflection, the positivism of every name, to its measure of untruth, but became complicit in the ban on thought, severing the negative labor of the concept, which the method claimed to achieve, and swears by the highest height of speculation like the Protestant priest, who recommended to his flock to remain one, instead of relying on their own weak light. Rather, it is up to philosophy to seek out the unity between feeling and understanding precisely in their contrast: in the moral unity. Intelligence, as the power of judgment, opposes in its carrying out what is already given, by simultaneously expressing it. The capacity of judgment, which seals itself off from the drive-impulse, does justice to this last precisely by a moment of counter-pressure against the social one. The power of judgment is measured by the staunchness of the ego. Thereby, however, also in that dynamics of the drives, which is handed over by the division of labor of the soul to the feelings. Instinct, the will to stand fast, is an implication of the meaning of logic. By forgetting itself, showing itself incorruptible, the judging subject wins its victory. By contrast, just as the narrowest circle of human beings dumb themselves down, where their interests begin, and then turn their resentment against what they do not wish to understand, precisely because they could understand it all too well, so too is the planetary stupidity, which prevents the contemporary world from seeing the absurdity of its own arrangement, the product of the unsublimated, unsublated interest of the rulers. Short-term and yet irresistible, it hardens itself into the anonymous schemata of the historical trajectory. This corresponds to the stupidity and obstinacy of the individual; the incapacity, to consciously unite the power of bias and bustle. It is regularly found in conjunction with moral defects, a lack of autonomy and responsibility, while so much is true in Socratic rationalism, that a clever person, whose thoughts are directed at objects and do not circle formalistically around themselves, can scarcely be conceived of as evil. For the motivation of evil, blind prejudice in the contingency of what is one’s own, tends to dissipate in the medium of thought. Scheler’s comment, that all cognition is founded in love, was a lie, because he demanded that love be something immediately viewed. But it would become the truth, if love pressed for the dissolution of all appearance [Scheins] of immediacy and thereby, to be sure, became irreconcilable with the object of cognition. Neither the synthesis of psychic compartments, alienated from each other, nor the therapeutic displacement of the ratio with irrational ferments, is any help against the splitting of thought, but rather the self-constitution of the element of the wish, which antithetically constitutes thinking as thinking. Only when that element is completely dissolved, without any heteronomous remnant in the objectivity of thought, does it drive towards utopia.

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Regressions. – My earliest memory of Brahms, and certain not only mine, is Cradle Song. A complete misunderstanding of the text: I didn’t know that Näglein [flowers] was a word for lilacs or in many districts for pink flowers, but imagined the word meant little nail, the numerous pins by which the curtain around the heavenly bed, my own, was fastened, so that the child, protected in its darkness from every trace of light, could sleep endlessly long, without fear – “until the cows come home,” as they say in Hessen. How distant the blossoms remain from the tenderness of such curtains. For us, nothing stands for undiminished brightness other than the unconscious dark; nothing for what we once could be, other than the dream, that we had never been born.

“Sleep in peace, sleep / close your little eyes so sweet / listen to the rainfall drip / hear the neighbors’ doggy yip / Doggy bit the beggar man / tore a hole in his pants / past the gate, the beggar flees / sleep in peace, sleep.” The first line of Taubert’s lullaby is terrifying. And yet both its final lines bless sleep with the promise of peace. This is not entirely due to bourgeois hardness, the comforting thought, that the intruder was scared off. The sleepily listening child has already half-forgotten the exile of the foreigner, who looks in Schott’s song book like a Jew, and intuits in the verse “past the gate, the beggar flees” peace without the misery of others. So long as there is even a single beggar, goes a fragment in Benjamin, there is mythos; only with the disappearance of the latter would mythos be reconciled. Would not violence itself be forgotten as in the onrushing wave of the child’s sleep? Would not in the end the disappearance of the beggar nevertheless entirely compensate, for what was done to him and which could not be compensated for? Doesn’t there lurk in all persecution by human beings, who, along with the little dog, incite the whole of nature against the weak, the hope that the last trace of persecution would be extirpated, which is itself the share of what is natural? Would not the beggar, who is forced out of the gates of civilization, find refuge in his homeland, which is emancipated from the bane [Bann] of the Earth? “Now rest and let your worries pass, the beggar comes home at last.” For as long as I can think, I’ve been happy with the song, “Between mountain and deep, deep valley”: by the two rabbits who were stuffing themselves with grass, who were shot at by hunters, and upon realizing they were still alive, ran off. But I only understood the lesson quite late: reason can endure only in despair and crisis; it requires the absurd, in order to not be overcome by objective madness. One should act exactly like the rabbits; when the shot rings out, fall foolishly to the ground as if dead, collect oneself and one’s senses, and if one still has any breath, run like blazes. The energy to fear and that for happiness are the same, the limitless state of open-mindedness for experience, raised to self-sacrifice, in which the one who is overcome can find themselves again. What would any happiness be, which did not measure itself according to the immeasurable sorrow of what is? For the course of the world is deeply unsettled. Whoever cautiously adapts to it, partakes of its madness, while only the eccentric holds fast and commands the absurdity to halt. Only the latter may navigate the appearance [Schein] of calamity, the “unreality of despair,” and innervate from this, not merely that one still lives, but that there is still life. The cunning of the powerless hares redeems, along with themselves, even the hunters, whose guilt they pilfer.

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Customer service. – The culture industry sanctimoniously claims to follow its consumers and to deliver what they want. But while it reflexively denigrates every thought of its own autonomy and proclaims its victims as judges, its veiled high-handedness outbids all the excesses of autonomous art. It is not so much that the culture industry adapts to the reactions of its customers, as that it feigns these latter. It rehearses them, by behaving as if it itself was a customer. One could almost suspect, the entire “adjustment” [in English in original], which it claims to obey, is ideology; that the more human beings try, through exaggerated equality, through the oath of fealty to social powerlessness, to participate in power and to drive out equality, the more they attempt to make themselves resemble others and the whole. “The music listens for the listeners,” and the film practices on the scale of a trust the despicable trick of adults, who, when speaking down to a child, fall over the gift with the language which suits only them, and then present the usually dubious gift with precisely the expression of lip-smacking joy, that is supposed to be elicited. The culture industry is tailored according to mimetic regression, to the manipulation of suppressed imitation-impulses. Therein it avails itself of the method, of anticipating its own imitation by its viewers, and sealing the consensus that it wishes to establish, by making it appear as if it already existed. What makes this all the easier, is that it can count on such a consensus in a stable system and can ritually repeat it, rather than actually having to produce it. Its product is by no means a stimulus, but a model for modes of reaction of nonexistent stimuli. Thus the enthusiastic music titles on the silver screen, the moronic children’s speech, the eye-winking folksiness; even the close-up of the start calls out “How beautiful!,” as it were. With this procedure the cultural machine goes so far as to dress down viewers like the frontally photographed express train in a moment of tension. The cadence of every film however is that of the witch, who serves soup to the little ones she wants to ensorcel or devour, with the hideous murmur, “Yummy soup, yummy soup? You’ll enjoy it, you’ll enjoy it…” In art, this kitchen fire-magic was discovered by Wagner, whose linguistic intimacies and musical spices are always tasting themselves, and who simultaneously demonstrated the entire procedure, with the genius’ compulsion of confession, in the scene of the Ring, where Mime offers Siegfried the poisoned potion. Who however is supposed to chop off the monster’s head, now that its blond locks have lain for a long time under the linden tree? [Unter den Linden: famous boulevard in Berlin]

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Grey and grey. – Not even its bad conscience can help the culture industry. Its Spirit [Geist] is so objective, that it slaps all its subjects in the face, and so the latter, agents all, know what the story is and seek to distance themselves through mental reservations from the nonsense which they create. The acknowledgment, that films broadcast ideology, is itself a broadcast ideology. It is dealt with administratively by the rigid distinction between synthetic day-dreams on the one hand, vehicles of flight from daily life, “escape” [English in original]; and well-meaning products on the other hand, which promote correct social behaviors, providing information, “conveying a message” [in English in original]. The prompt subsumption under “escape” [in English in original] and “message” [in English in original] expresses the untruth of both types. The mockery against “escape” [in English in original], the standardized outrage against superficiality, is nothing but the pathetic echo of the old-fashioned ethos, which denounces gambling, because it cannot play along with such in the prevailing praxis. The escape-films are so dreadful not because they turn their back on an existence squeezed dry, but because they do not do so energetically enough, because they are squeezed just as dry, because the satisfactions which they pretend to give, converge with the humiliation of reality, with renunciation. The dreams have no dream. Just as the technicolor heroes don’t allow us to forget for a second that they are normal human beings, typecast prominent faces and investments, what is unmistakably revealed under the thin flutter of schematically produced fantasy is the skeleton of cinema-ontology, the entire prescribed hierarchy of values, the canon of what is unwanted and what is to be imitated. Nothing is more practical than “escape” [in English in original], nothing is more wedded to bustle: one is kidnapped into the distance only to have it hammered into one’s consciousness, that even at a distance, the laws of the empirical mode of life are undisturbed by empirical deviations. The “escape” [in English in original] is full of “message” [in English in original]. That is how the “message” [in English in original], the opposite, looks, which wishes to flee from flight. It reifies the resistance against reification. One need only hear experts talk about how a splendid work of the silver screen has, next to other merits, also a constitution, in the same tone of voice that a pretty actress is described as even having “personality” [in English in original]. The executive can easily decide at the conference, that the escape-film must be given, next to more expensive additions, an ideal such as: human beings should be noble, helpful and good. Separated from the immanent logic of the entity, from the thing, the ideal turns into something produced on tap, the reform of ameliorable grievances, transfigured charity, thereby simultaneously tangible and void. They prefer most of all to broadcast the rehabilitation of drunks, whose impoverished euphoria they envy. By representing a society hardened in itself, according to anonymous laws, as if good will alone were enough to help matters, that society is defended even where it is honestly attacked. What is reflected is a kind of popular front of all proper and right-thinking people. The practical Spirit [Geist] of the “message” [in English in original], the tangible demonstration of how things can be done better, allies itself with the system in the fiction, that a total social subject, which does not exist at present, can make everything okay, if one could only assemble all the pieces and clear up the root of the evil. It is quite pleasant, to be able to vouch for one’s efficiency. “Message” [in English in original] turns into “escape” [in English in original]: those swept up in cleaning the house in which they live, forget the ground on which it was built. What “escape” [in English in original] would really be, the antipathy, turned into a picture, against the whole, all the way into what is formally constituted, could recoil into a “message” [in English in original], without expressing it, indeed precisely through tenacious asceticism against the suggestion.

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Wolf as grandmother. – The strongest argument of the apologists for film is the crudest, its massive consumption. They declare the drastic medium of the culture industry to be popular art. The independence of norms of the autonomous work is supposed to discharge it from aesthetic responsibility, a responsibility whose standards prove to be reactionary in relation to film, just as in fact all intentions of the artistic ennoblement of film have something awry, something badly elevated, something lacking in form – something of the import for the connoisseur. The more that film pretends to be art, the more fraudulent it becomes. Its protagonists can point to this and even, as critics of the meanwhile kitschy interiority, appear avant-garde next to its crude material kitsch. If one grants this as a ground, then they become, strengthened by technical experience and facility with the material, nearly irresistible. The film is not a mass art, but is merely manipulated for the deception of the masses? But the wishes of the masses make themselves felt incessantly through the market; its collective production alone would guarantee its collective essence [Wesen]; only someone completely outside of reality would presume to see clever manipulators in the producers; most are talentless, certainly, but where the right talents coincide, it can succeed in spite of all the restrictions of the system. The mass taste which the film obeys, is by no means that of the masses themselves, but foisted on them? But to speak of a different mass taste than the one they have now, would be foolish, and what is called popular art, has always reflected domination. According to such logic, it is only in the competent adaptation of production to given needs, not in consideration of a utopian audience, that the nameless general will can take shape. Films are full of lying stereotypes? But stereotyping is the essence of popular art, fairy-tales know the rescuing prince and the devil just as films have the hero and villain, and even the barbaric cruelty, which divided the world into good and evil, is something film has in common with the greatest fairy-tales, which have the stepmother dance to death in red-hot iron shoes.

All this is can be countered, only by consideration of the fundamental concepts presupposed by the apologists. Bad films are not to be charged with incompetence: the most gifted are refracted by the bustle, and the fact that the ungifted stream towards them, is due to the elective affinity between lies and swindlers. The idiocy is objective; improvements in personnel could not create a popular art. The latter’s idea was formed in agrarian relationships or simple commodity economies. Such relationships and their character of expression are those of lords and serfs, profiteers and disadvantaged, but in an immediate, not entirely objectified form. They are to be sure not less furrowed by class differences than late industrial society, but their members are not yet encompassed by the total structure, which reduces individual subjects to mere moments, in order to unite them, as those who are powerless and isolated, into the collective. That there are no longer folk does not however mean that, as Romanticism propagated, the masses are worse. On the contrary, what is revealed precisely now in the new, radical alienated form of society is the untruth of the older one. Even the traits, which the culture industry reclaims as the legacy of popular art, become thereby suspect. The film has a retroactive energy: its optimistic horror brings to light what always served injustice in the fairy-tale, and evokes in the parade of villains the countenances of those, which the integral society condemns and whose condemnation was ever the dream of socialization. That is why the extinction of individual art is no justification for one which acts as if it its subject, which reacts archaically, were the natural one, while this last is the syndicate, albeit unconscious, of a pair of giant firms. If the masses themselves, as customers, have an influence on the film, this remains as abstract as the ticket stub, which steps into the place of nuanced applause: the mere choice between yes and no to something offered, strung between the discrepancy of concentrated power and scattered powerlessness. Finally, the fact that numerous experts, also simple technicians, participate in the making of a film, no more guarantees its humanity than the decisions of competent scientific bodies vis-à-vis bombs and poison gas. The high-flown talk of film art stands indeed to benefit scribblers, who wish to get ahead; the conscious appeal to naïvété, however, to the block-headedness of the subalterns, long since permeated by the thoughts of the master, will not do. Film, which today clings as unavoidably to human beings, as if it was a piece of themselves, is simultaneously that which is most distant from their human determination, which is realized from one day to the next, and its apologetics live on the resistance against thinking through this antinomy. That the people who make films are by no means intriguers, says nothing against this. The objective Spirit [Geist] of manipulation prevails through rules of experience, estimations of situations, technical criteria, economically unavoidable calculations, the entire deadweight of the industrial apparatus, without even having to censor itself, and even those who questioned the masses, would find the ubiquity of the system reflected back at them. The producers function as little as subjects as their workers and buyers, but solely as parts of an independent machinery. The Hegelian-sounding commandment, however, that mass art must respect the real taste of the masses and not that of negativistic intellectuals, is usurpation. The opposition of film, as an all-encompassing ideology, to the objective interests of human beings, its entanglement with the status quo of the profit-system, its bad conscience and deception can be succinctly cognized. No appeal to a factually accessible state of consciousness would have the right of veto against the insight, which reaches beyond this state of consciousness, by disclosing its contradiction to itself and to objective relationships. It is possible, that the Fascist professor was right and that even the folk songs, as they were, lived from the degraded cultural heritage of the upper class. It is not for nothing that all popular art is crumbly and, like films, not “organic.” But between the old injustice, in whose voice a lament is still audible, even where it transfigures itself, and the alienation which upholds itself as connectedness, which cunningly creates the appearance [Schein] of human intimacy with loudspeakers and advertising psychology, there is a distinction similar to the one between the mother, who soothes the child who is afraid of demons with a fairy-tale in which the good are rewarded and the evil are punished, and the cinema product, which drives the justice of each world order into the eyes and ears of audiences of every land harshly, threateningly, in order to teach them anew, and more thoroughly, the old fear. The fairy-tale dreams which call so eagerly for the child in the adult, are nothing but regression, organized by total enlightenment, and where they tap the audience on the shoulder most intimately, they betray them most thoroughly. Immediacy, the community produced by films, is tantamount to the mediation without a remainder, which degrades human beings and everything human so completely to things, that their contrast to things, indeed even the bane [Bann] of reification itself, cannot be perceived anymore. Film has succeeded in transforming subjects into social functions so indiscriminately, that those who are entirely in its grasp, unaware of any conflicts, enjoy their own dehumanization as human, as the happiness of warmth. The total context of the culture industry, which leaves nothing out, is one with total social delusion. That is why it so easily dispatches counter-arguments.

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Expensive reproduction. [Piperdruck] – Society is integral, before it ever becomes ruled as totalitarian. Its organization encompasses even those who feud against it, and normalizes their consciousness. Even intellectuals who have all the political arguments against bourgeois ideology handy, are subjected to a process of standardization which, whether in crassly contrasting content or through the readiness on their part to be comfortable, brings them closer to the prevailing Spirit [Geist], such that their standpoint objectively becomes always more arbitrary, dependent on flimsy preferences or their estimation of their own chances. What appears to them as subjectively radical, objectively belongs through and through to the compartment of a schema, reserved for them and their kind, so that radicalism is degraded to abstract prestige, the legitimation of those who know what today’s intellectuals should be for and against. The good things, for which they opt, have long since been acknowledged, their numbers accordingly limited, as fixed in the value-hierarchy as those in the student fraternities. While they denounce official kitsch, their sensibility is dependent, like obedient children, on nourishment already sought out in advance, on the cliches of hostility to cliches. The dwellings of young bohemians resemble their spiritual household. On the wall, deceptively original color prints of famous artists, such as Van Gogh’s Sunflowers or the Café at Arles, on the bookshelf derivative works on socialism and psychoanalysis and a little sex-research for the uninhibited with inhibitions. In addition, the Random House edition of Proust – Scott Moncrieff’s translation deserved a better fate – exclusivity at reduced prices, whose exterior alone, the compact-economic form of the omnibus, is a mockery of the author, whose every sentence knocks a received opinion out of action, while he now plays, as a prize-winning homosexual, the same role with youth as books on animals of the forest and the North Pole expedition in the German home. Also, the record player with the Lincoln cantata of a brave soul, which deals essentially with railroad stations, next to the obligatory eye-catching folklore from Oklahoma and a pair of brassy jazz records, which make one feel simultaneously collective, bold and comfortable. Every judgment is approved by friends, they know all the arguments in advance. That all cultural products, even the non-conformist ones, are incorporated into the mechanism of distribution of large-scale capital, that in the most developed lands a creation which does not bear the imprimatur of mass production can scarcely reach any readers, observers, or listeners, refuses the material in advance for the deviating longing. Even Kafka is turned into a piece of inventory in the rented apartment. Intellectuals themselves are already so firmly established, in their isolated spheres, in what is confirmed, that they can no longer desire anything which is not served to them under the brand of “highbrow” [in English in original]. Their sole ambition consists of finding their way in the accepted canon, of saying the right thing. The outsider status of the initiates is an illusion and mere waiting-time. It would be giving them too much credit to call them renegades; they wear overlarge horn-rimmed glasses on their mediocre faces, solely to better pass themselves off as “brilliant” to themselves and to others in the general competition. They are already exactly like them. The subjective precondition of opposition, the non-normalized judgment, goes extinct, while its trappings continue to be carried out as a group ritual. Stalin need only clear his throat, and they throw Kafka and Van Gogh on the trash-heap.

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Contribution to intellectual history. – In the back of my copy of Zarathrustra, dated 1910, there are publisher’s notices. They are all tailored to that clan of Nietzsche readers, as imagined by Alfred Körner in Leipzig, someone who ought to know. “Ideal Life-goals by Adalbert Svoboda. Svoboda has ignited a brightly shining beacon in his works, which cast light on all problems of the investigative Spirit of human beings [Menschengeist] and reveal before our eyes the true ideals of reason, art and culture. This magnificently conceived and splendidly realized book is gripping from beginning to end, enchanting, stimulating, instructive and has the same effect on all truly free Spirits [Geister] as a nerve-steeling bath and fresh mountain air.” Signed: Humanity, and almost as recommendable as David Friedrich Strauss. “On Zarathrustra by Max Ernst. There are two Nietzsches. One is the world-famous fashionable philosopher, the dazzling poet and phenomenally gifted master of style, who is now the talk of all the world, from whose works a few misunderstood slogans have become the intellectual baggage of the educated. The other Nietzsche is the unfathomable, inexhaustible thinker and psychologist, the great discerner of human beings and valuer of life of unsurpassable spiritual energy and power of thought, to who the most distant future belongs. To bring this other Nietzsche to the most imaginative and serious-minded of contemporary human beings is the intent of the following two essays contained in this short book.” In that case I would still prefer the former. The other goes: “A Philosopher and a Noble Human Being, a Contribution to the Characteristics of Friedrich Nietzsche, by Meta von Salis-Marschlins. The book grabs out attention by the faithful reproduction of all the sensations which Nietzsche’s personality evoked in the self-conscious soul of a woman.” Don’t forget the whip, instructed Zarathrustra. Instead of this, is offered: “The Philosophy of Joy by Max Zerbst. Dr. Max Zerbst starts out from Nietzsche, but strives to overcome a certain one-sidedness in Nietzsche… The author is not given to cool abstractions, it is rather a hymn, a philosophical hymn to joy, which he delivers in spades.” Like a student spree. Only no one-sidedness. Better to run straight to the heaven of the atheists: “The Four Gospels, German, with introduction and commentary by Dr. Heinrich Schmidt. In contrast to the corrupted, heavily edited form, in which the gospels have been delivered to us as literature, this new edition goes back to the source and may be of high value not only for truly religious human beings, but also for those ‘anti-Christs’, who press for social action.” The choice is difficult, but one can take comfort from the fact that both elites will be as agreeable as the synopticists: “The Gospel of Modern Humanity (A Synthesis: Nietzsche and Christ) by Carl Martin. An astounding treatise of edification. Everything which is taken up in the science and art of the present has taken up the struggle with the Spirits [Geistern] of the past, all of this has taken root and blossomed , in this mature and yet so young mind [Gemüt]. And mark well: this ‘modern’, entirely new human being creates for itself and us the most revivifying potion from an age-old spring: that other message of redemption, whose purest sounds resonate in the Sermon on the Mount… Even in the form of the simplicity and grandeur of those words!” Signed: Ethical Culture. The miracle passed away nearly forty years ago, plus twenty more or so, since the genius in Nietzsche justifiably decided to break off communication with the world. It didn’t help – exhilarated, unbelieving priests and exponents of that organized ethical culture, which later drove formerly well-to-do ladies to emigrate and get by as waitresses in New York, have thrived on the posthumous legacy of someone who once worried whether someone was listening to him sing “a secret barcarole.” Even then, the hope of leaving behind a message in a bottle amidst the rising tide of barbarism was a friendly vision: the desperate letters have been left in the mud of the age-old spring, and have been reworked by a band of noble-minded people and other scoundrels to highly artistic but low-priced wall decorations. Only since then has the progress of communication truly gotten into gear. Who are we to cast aspersion on the freest spirits [Geister] of them all, whose trustworthiness possibly even outbids those of their contemporaries, if they no longer write for an imaginary posterity, but solely for the dead God?

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Juvenal’s error. – It’s difficult to write satire. It is not merely because of a condition, which needs the latter more than ever, which mocks all mockery. The means of irony have ended up in contradiction with the truth. Irony convicts the object, by taking it for what it claims to be, and without judgment, by blocking out, as it were, the reflecting subject, measuring it by its being-in-itself. It points out the negative by confronting the positive with its own claim to positivity. It sublates itself, as soon as it adds the interpreting word. It thus presupposes the idea of what is self-evident, originally of social resonance. Only where a compelling consensus of subjects is assumed, is subjective reflection, the fulfillment of the conceptual act, superfluous. Those who have laughter on their side, don’t need proof. Historically, over the millennia, all the way to the age of Voltaire, satire has been happy to consort with those who are stronger and could be relied upon, with authority. Typically it agitated for older strata, threatened by the newer stages of the enlightenment, which sought to support their traditionalism with enlightened means: its immemorial object was the decline of morals [Sitten]. That is why what once flashed like a rapier, appears to those born to later generations like a thick truncheon. The double-tongued spiritualization of the appearance [Erscheinung] always wishes to show the satirist as amusing, as the height of progress; the metric however is that which is endangered by progress, which remains nevertheless so widely disseminated as a valid ideology, that the phenomenon singled out for denunciation is dismissed, without even being granted a fair trial. The comedies of Aristophanes, in which obscene tales are supposed to expose fornication, functioned as the modernistic laudatio temporis acti [Latin: praise for times past] for the rabble, which it defamed. With the victory of the bourgeois class in the Christian era, the function of irony loosened up. It has at times run over to the side of the oppressed, especially where these latter were in truth no longer anything of the sort. Admittedly, as something imprisoned in its own form, it has an authoritarian legacy, which never totally divested itself of an unprotesting nastiness. Only with the decline of the bourgeoisie did it sublimate itself into the appeal of an idea of humanity, which no longer permitted any reconciliation with the existent and its consciousness. But even to these ideas, self-evidence was what counted: no doubt in the objective-immediate evidence arose; no witticism of Karl Kraus hesitates to decide who is responsible and who is a scoundrel, what is Spirit [Geist] and what is stupidity, what is language and what is a newspaper. The vehemence [Gewalt: violence, power] of his sayings is due to his quick-wittedness. Just as they stop at no question, in the lightning-quick consciousness of the matter-at-hand [Sachverhalts], so too do they leave no question open. The more emphatically however the prose of Kraus posits its humanism as an invariant, the more it takes on restorative qualities. It condemns corruption and decadence, the literati and the Futurists, without having anything to commend itself over the zealots of the natural condition other than the cognition of their awfulness. That in the end the intransigence against Hitler showed itself to be yielding in the case of Schuschnigg, does not attest to a lack of courage, but the antinomy of satire. This latter needs something to hold on to, and he, who called himself the grouch [Nörgler], bent to its positivity. Even the denunciation of Schmock [stereotypical hack journalist] contains, beside its truth, its critical element, something of the “common sense” [in English in original], which cannot stand the fact that someone talks in such windy terms. The hatred of those who would like to seem more than what they are, holds them fast with the facts of their constitution. The incorruptibility vis-à-vis what is artificial, for the simultaneously unredeemed and commercially oriented pretension of the Spirit [Geistes], unmasks those who failed to measure up to what stands before their eyes as something elevated. This elevation is power and success and stands revealed, through the botched identification, as itself a lie. But the faiseur [French: miracle-worker] always embodies at the same time utopia: even false jewels radiate with a powerless childhood dream, and this latter is condemned, because it failed, adducing itself, as it were, before the forum of success. All satire is blind to the forces, which are released during disassembly [Zerfall: disintegration]. That is why terminal decline has absorbed the powers of satire. The scorn of the leaders of the Third Reich for emigres and liberal state officials was the latest version of this, a scorn whose power consisted solely in muscle-flexing. The impossibility of satire today is not to be blamed, as sentimentality would have it, on the relativism of values, on the absence of binding norms. Rather, consensus itself, the formal a priori of irony, has turned into the content-based universal consensus. As such, it would be the sole worthy object of irony and simultaneously pulls the rug from underneath it. Its medium, the difference between ideology and truth, has vanished. The former is resigned to the confirmation of reality through its mere duplication. Irony once expressed: this is what it claims to be, but that is what it is; today however the world alleges that things are just so, even in the radical lie, and that such a simple finding coincides with what is good. There is no crack in the sheer cliff of the existent, to which the grasp of the ironist may cling. Those who fall are regaled by the hellish laughter of the treacherous object, which disempowers them. The gesture of the non-conceptual “that’s that” is exactly the one which the world turns against each of its victims, and the transcendental consensus, which dwells in irony, becomes ludicrous before the real consensus of those which it should attack. Against the blood-drenched seriousness of the total society, which has absorbed its counter-authority as the helpless objection which irony formerly struck down, there stands solely blood-drenched seriousness, the understood truth.

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Sacrificial lamb. – Dictating is not merely more comfortable, and is not merely a spur to the concentration, but has in addition an objective advantage. Dictation makes it possible for the author to slide into the position of the critic during the earliest phases of the production process. What one puts down is non-binding, provisional, mere material for reworking; once transcribed, however, it appears as something alienated and to a certain extent objective. One need not fear establishing anything, which ought not to remain, for one does not have to write: one takes responsibility by playing a practical joke on responsibility. The risk of formulation takes the harmless initial form of effortlessly presented memos, then work on something which already exists, so that one can no longer even perceive one’s own temerity. In view of the difficulty, which has increased to desperate levels, of any theoretical expression, such tricks are a blessing. They are a technical means of assistance of dialectical procedure, which makes statements, in order to take them back and nevertheless hold them fast. Thanks however are due to those who take dictation, when they flush out the author at the right moment through contradiction, irony, nervousness, impatience and lack of respect. They draw rage to themselves. This rage is channeled from the storehouse of the bad conscience, with which authors otherwise mistrust their own texts and which the author would be that much more stubborn about leaving in the presumably holy text. The emotional affect, which ungratefully turns against the burdensome helper, benevolently purifies the relation to the matter [Sache].

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Exhibitionist. [in English in original]- Artists do not sublimate. It is a psychoanalytic illusion to think that they neither satisfy their desires nor repress them, but transform them into socially acceptable achievements, into their entities [Gebilde]; incidentally, legitimate works of art are today without exception socially unacceptable. On the contrary, artists display violent, free-floating instincts, which simultaneously collide with reality and are marked by neurosis. Even the petty bourgeois stereotype of the dramatist or violinist as a synthesis of nerve-bundles and heart-breaking is closer to the mark than the no less petty bourgeois drive-economy, according to which the Sunday’s children of renunciation are let loose in symphonies and novels. Their part is rather a hysterically exaggerated lack of inhibition vis-à-vis all humanly conceivable fears; a narcissism driven to the borders of paranoia. Against what is sublimated, they have idiosyncrasies. They are irreconcilable to the aesthetes, indifferent to cultivated milieus, and they recognize in the tasteful mode of life the inferior reaction-formation towards the propensity for what is inferior, as surely as the psychologists who misunderstand them. They have been attracted, everywhere from the letters of Mozart to his young Augsburg cousin to the word-jokes of the embittered tutor, to what is off-color, foolish, improper. They do not fit into Freudian theory, because it lacks an adequate concept of expression, in spite of all its insight into the functioning of symbolism of dreams and neuroses. It is certainly illuminating, that an uncensored drive-impulse, once expressed, cannot be called repressed, even when it no longer wishes to demand a goal which it does not find. On the other hand, the analytic distinction between locomotor – “real” – and hallucinatory satisfaction points in the direction of the difference of satisfaction and undistorted expression. But expression is not hallucination. It is appearance [Schein], measured by the reality-principle, and would like to bypass this latter. What is subjective never seeks, however, to substitute itself through the appearance [Schein] in delusive fashion, as through a symptom, in place of reality. Expression negates the reality, by holding up to it, what does not resemble it, but it does not deny it; it looks at the conflict straight in the eye – the conflict which otherwise results in the blind symptom. What the expression has in common with repression, is that the impulse finds itself blocked by reality. That impulse, and the entire context of experience which belongs to it, is denied immediate communication with the object. As expression it comes to the unfalsified phenomenon [Erscheinung] of itself and thereby of resistance, in sensuous imitation. It is so strong, that it experiences its modification to a mere picture, the price of survival, without being mutilated on its way outside. Instead of setting the goal of its own subjective-censoring “processing,” it sets something objective: its polemical revelation [Offenbarung]. This distinguishes it from sublimation: every successful expression of the subject, one might say, is a small victory over the play of forces of its own psychology. The pathos of art stems from the fact that precisely by withdrawing into the imagination, it gives the hegemony of reality what is its due, and nevertheless does not resign itself to adaptation, does not perpetuate the violence of what is externalized in the deformation of what is internalized. For that reason, those who achieve this must without exception pay dearly as individuals, because they are left helplessly behind their own expression, which outpaces their psychology. Thereby however they awaken, no less than their products, doubts in the ranking of works of art under cultural achievements ex definitione [Latin: by definition]. No work of art can, in the social organization, evade its membership in culture, but none, which is more than arts-and-crafts, exists which does not turn to culture with a dismissive gesture: that it became a work of art. Art is as hostile to art as artists. In the renunciation of the drive-goal it keeps faith with this drive-goal, unmasking what is socially desirable, which Freud naively glorified as sublimation, which in all likelihood does not exist.

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Small pains, great songs. – Contemporary mass culture is historically necessary not merely as the consequence of the embrace of the entire life by monster enterprises, but as the consequence of what today seems most utterly opposed to the prevailing standardization of consciousness, aesthetic subjectification. Indeed the more that artists went towards the inner, the more they learned to renounce the infantile fun of imitating of what is external. But at the same time, they learned, by virtue of reflecting on the soul, to control themselves more and more. The progress of its technics, which constantly brought greater freedom and independence from what is heterogenous, resulted in a kind of reification, the technification of inwardness as such. The greater the virtuosity by which artists express themselves, the less must they “be” what they express, and the more what is to be expressed, indeed the content of subjectivity itself, becomes a mere function of the production process. Nietzsche sensed this, when he accused Wagner, the tamer of expression, of hypocrisy, without recognizing that it was not a question of psychology, but of a historical tendency. The transformation of expressive content from an unguided impulse into a material for manipulation makes it however simultaneously tangible, presentable, salable. The lyric subjectification in Heine, for example, does not stand in a simple contradiction to his commercial traits, rather what is salable is itself a subjectivity administered by subjectivity. The virtuoso usage of the “scale,” which has defined artists since the 19th century, crosses over out of its own drive-energy into journalism, spectacle, and calculation, not primarily through betrayal. The law of movement of art, which amounts to the control and thereby the objectification of the subject by itself, means its downfall: the hostility to art of film, which administratively looks over all materials and emotions, in order to deliver them to the customer, the second exteriority, originates in art as the increasing domination over inner nature. The oft-cited play-acting of the modern artists, however, their exhibitionism, is the gesture, through which they put themselves as goods on the market.

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Who is who. [in English in original] – The self-flattering conviction of the naivety and purity of artists or professors lives on in its inclination, to explain away difficulties by the cunning interestedness, the practically calculating Spirit [Geist] of the counter-parties. But just as every construction, in which one is justified and the world is unjustified, every insistence on one’s own title, tends to justify the world in oneself, so too do things stand with the antithesis of pure will and slyness. The intellectual outsider, who knows what to expect, behaves reflectively today, steered by a thousand political tactical considerations, cautious and suspicious. The ones who understand each other, however, whose realm has long since converged across party lines on the way to living-space [Lebensraum: notorious term of Nazi propaganda], no longer consider the calculations necessary, which they were once capable of. They are so reliably committed to the rules of reason, their state of interests have sedimented themselves so transparently into their thought, that they have once again become innocuous. If one investigates their shadowy plans, their judgments are metaphysically true, because they are related to the gloomy course of the world, but psychologically false: they end up in the objectively increasing persecution-mania. Those who commit betrayal and iniquity according to their function and sell themselves and their friends to power, require no cunning or ulterior motivation for this, no planning institution of the ego, but conversely need only rely on their reactions and the unthinking satisfaction of the demands of the moment, in order to easily fulfill, what others could achieve solely through tortuously complex machinations. They inspire trust, by proclaiming it. They watch to see how things fall out for them, live hand to mouth, and recommend themselves as simultaneously unegoistic and as subscribers to a condition, which ensures that they will lack for nothing. Because all of them solely pursue their particular interest, without conflict, this interest appears once more as general and disinterested, as it were. Their gestures are open, spontaneous, disarming. They are nice and their critics are evil. Because they are not even left with the independence of action, which would oppose the interest, they depend on the good will of others and are themselves of good will. The abstract interest, as something entirely mediated, creates a second immediacy, while those who are not yet completely encompassed are unnaturally compromised. In order to not be ground beneath the wheel, these latter must thoroughly outbid the world in worldiness and are easily convicted of clumsy overcompensation. Suspicion, lust for power, lack of camaraderie, falsity, vanity and lack of seriousness are what they are compulsively reproached for. Social enchantment unavoidably turns those who do not play along into self-seeking types, while those without a self, who live according the reality principle, are called selfless.

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Address unknown. – Cultivated philistines are wont to demand that the work of art should give them something. They are no longer outraged at what is radical, but draw back with the shamelessly modest assertion, that they just don’t understand. This latter clears away the resistance, the last negative relation to the truth, and the offending object is catalogued with a smile under its own, under consumer goods, between which one has a choice and which one can reject, without incurring any responsibility. One is just too dumb, too outmoded, one just can’t keep up, and the smaller one makes oneself out to be, the more reliably do they participate in the mighty unison of the vox inhumana populi [Latin: inhuman voice of the people], in the guiding force [Gewalt] of the petrified spirit of the age [Zeitgeist]. What is not comprehensible, from which no-one gets anything, turns from an outraging crime into mere foolishness, deserving of pity. They displace the temptation along with the spike. That someone is supposed to be given something, by all appearances the postulate of substantiality and fullness, cuts off these latter and impoverishes the giving. Therein however the relationship of human beings comes to resemble the aesthetic one. The reproach that someone gives nothing, is execrable. If the relation is sterile, then one should dissolve it. Those however who hold fast to it and nevertheless complain, always lack the organ of sensation: imagination. Both must give something, happiness as precisely what is not exchangeable, what cannot be complained about, but such giving is inseparable from taking. It is all over, if the other is no longer reachable by what one finds for them. There is no love, that would not be an echo. In myths, the guarantor of mercy was the acceptance of sacrifice; love, however, the after-image of the sacrificial act, pleads for the sake of this acceptance, if it is not to feel itself to be under a curse. The decline of gift-giving today goes hand in hand with the hardening against taking. It is tantamount however to that denial of happiness, which alone permits human beings to hold fast to their manner of happiness. The wall would be breached, where they received from others, what they themselves must reject with a sour grimace. That however is difficult for them due to the exertion which takingrequires of them. Isolated in technics, they transfer the hatred of the superfluous exertion of their existence onto the energy expenditure, which pleasure requires as a moment of its being [Wesen] all the way into its sublimations. In spite of countless small moments of relief, their praxis remains an absurd toil; the squandering of energy in happiness, however, the latter’s secret, they do not tolerate. That is why things must go according to the English expression, “relax and take it easy” [in English in original], which comes from the language of nurses, not the one of exuberance. Happiness is outmoded: uneconomic. For its idea, sexual unification, is the opposite of being at loose ends, namely ecstatic tension, just as that of all subjugated labor is disastrous tension.

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Consecutio temporum. [Latin: sequence of tenses] – When my first composition instructor tried to drive the atonal nonsense out of me and failed to persuade me through tales of the erotic scandals of the atonal composers, he fell back on trying to pin me down, where he thought my weakness lay, in the wish to be up-to-date. The ultra-modern, so ran his argument, was already no longer modern, the stimulus I sought had already faded away, the figures of expression, which excited me, belonged to an outmoded sentimentality, and the new youth had, as he liked to call it, more red blood cells in them. His own pieces, where orientalist themes were regularly extended through the chromatic scale, proved such hyper-subtle considerations to be the maneuvering of a concert director with a bad conscience. But I was soon to discover, that the fashion which he upheld against my modernity, did in fact resemble, in the Ur-homeland of the great salons, what he had cooked up in the provinces. Neoclassicism, that type of reaction which does not acknowledge itself to be such, but goes so far as to portray the reactionary moment as advanced, was the leading indicator of a massive tendency, which under fascism and in mass-culture quickly learned to deal with the tender considerations of the artistes, who were always hypersensitive anyway, and to unite the spirit [Geist] of Courths-Mahler with that of technical progress. What is modern has truly become unmodern. Modernity is a qualitative category, not a chronological one. The less it can be reduced to an abstract form, the more necessary is its rejection of the conventional superficial context, of the appearance [Schein] of harmony, of the social order, which is reinforced by mere duplication. The Fascist street thugs, who clamored furiously against Futurism, understood more in their rage than the Moscow censors, who put Cubism on the index of banned works, because it remained behind the Spirit [Geist] of the collective times in private impropriety, or the impudent theater critics, who find a play by Strindberg or Wedekind passé [French: obsolete], but find an underground news report “up-to-date” [in English in original]. Nevertheless the smug banality expresses a dreadful truth: that in the wake of the train of the entire society, which would like to dragoon all expressions into its organization, what remains behind is what opposes the wave of the future, as the wife of Lindbergh called it – the critical construction of essence [Wesen]. This latter is by no means merely ostracized by a corrupted public opinion, but the absurdity affects the matter [Sache]. The hegemony of the existent, which constrains the Spirit [Geist] to do exactly what it does, is so overpowering, that even the unassimilated expression of protest assumes the aspect of something tacked together, disoriented, clueless vis-à-vis the former, and recalls that provincialism, which once prophetically suspected modernity of being retrograde. The psychological regression of individuals, who exist without an ego, goes hand in hand with a regression of the objective Spirit [Geistes], in which dull-wittedness, primitivity and the sell-out push through what has long since historically decayed as the most modern historical power and thereby consign everything which does not enthusiastically join the train of regression to the verdict of yesteryear. Such a quid pro quo of progress and reaction makes orientating oneself vis-à-vis contemporary art nearly as difficult as vis-à-vis politics, and moreover cripples production itself, such that whoever holds fast to extreme intentions is made to feel like a backwoods hick, while the conformists no longer sit shyly in their arbors [Gartenlaube: arbor, also the name of 19th century family magazine], but barrel ahead like rockets into the pluperfect tense.

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La nuance / encor’. [French: “nuance / once more”; quotation from Verlaine’s Poetic Art] The demand that thinking and knowing should renounce nuances is not to be summarily dismissed, as merely giving in to the prevailing dull-wittedness. If the linguistic nuance could no longer be perceived, then that would concern it itself and not merely reception. Language is, according to its own objective substance, social expression, even where it separated itself as something brusquely individual from society. The changes which it encounters in communication, reach into the non-communicative material of the author. What is spoiled in the words and speech-forms of common usage, arrives in the sequestered workshop as damaged. However the historical damage cannot be repaired there. History does not merely influence language, but also occurs in the midst of it. What continues to be used in spite of customary usage, presents itself as fatuously provincial or unhurriedly restorative. All nuances are so thoroughly attacked and inverted into “flavor” [in English in original], that even advanced literary subtleties recall degraded words like gleaming, thoughtful, snug, aromatic. The institutions against kitsch become kitschy, artsy-craftsy, with an overtone of something idiotically consoling from the world of women, whose soulfulness, replete with flutes and folk-costumes, became standard issue in Germany. In the obligatory level of junk, with which happily surviving intellectuals apply to the vacant posts of culture, what yesterday still stylized itself as consciously linguistic and hostile to convention reads today like Old Frankish foppery. German culture seems to be faced with the alternative of a dreadful second Biedermeier or paper-administrative banality. The simplification, however, which is suggested not merely by market interest, but from excellent political motives and finally from the historical consciousness of language itself, does not so much overcome the nuance, as tyrannically promote its decay. It offers the sacrifice to the omnipotence of society. But this latter is, precisely for the sake of its omnipotence, as incommensurable with the subject of cognition and foreign as it was in more innocuous times, when it avoided daily language. That human beings are being absorbed into the totality, without the totality being mastered by human beings, makes institutionalized speech forms as void as the naively individual valeurs [French: standards], and the attempt to refunction such by accepting them into the literary medium remains just as fruitless: the engineering pose of those who cannot read a diagram. The collective language, which lures authors, who mistrust their isolation as Romanticism, is no less Romantic: they usurp the voices of those for whom they cannot at all immediately speak, as one of them, because their language, through reification, is so separated from them as everyone is from everyone else; because the contemporary shape of the collective is in itself speechless. No collective today, which is entrusted with the expression of the subject, is already a subject. Whoever does not follow the dictates of the official hymn-tone to festivals of liberation, which are supervised by totalitarians, but means in earnest what Roger Caillois ambiguously enough recommended as aridité [French: aridity], experiences the objective discipline solely as privation, without getting back a concrete generality for this. The contradiction between the abstraction of that language, which wishes to clean house with what is the bourgeois-subjective, and its expressly concrete objects, lies not in the incapacity of the author, but in a historical antinomy. That subject wishes to cede itself to the collective, without being sublated in it. That is why precisely its renunciation of the private maintains something private, something chimerical. Its language mimics, on its own initiative, the strict construction of society and imagines that it could make the very cement speak. As punishment, the unconfirmed common language incessantly commits faux pas [French: misstep, mistake] of materiality [Sachlichkeit] at the expense of the material [Sache], not so different from the bourgeoisie, when they wax rhetorical. The logical consequence of the decay of nuance is neither to obstinately hold fast to what is decaying, nor to extirpate every single one, but wherever possible to outbid the very quality of being nuanced, to drive it so far, until it recoils from subjective shading into the purely specific determination of the object. The writer must take the greatest care to ensure that the word means the thing and only this thing, without sidelong glances, in connection with the chiseling of every turn of phrase, listening with patient effort for what bears the linguistic, in itself, and what does not. Those who are afraid, however, of falling in spite of everything behind the spirit of the times [Zeitgeist] and of being thrown on the trash-heap of discarded subjectivity, are to be reminded that what is newly arrived and what is, according to its content, progressive, are no longer as one. In a social order, which liquidates the modern as retrograde, then what may befall what is retrograde, if it is overtaken by the judgment, is the truth over which the historical process rolls. Because no truth can be expressed, than the one which is capable of filling the subject, the anachronism becomes the refuge of what is modern.

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Which follows German song. [conclusion of Hölderlin’s Patmos] – Artists like George have rejected free verse as an inferior form, as a hybrid of meter and prose. They are rebutted by Goethe and Hölderlin’s late hymns. Their technical gaze takes free verse, for what it considers itself. They are deaf to the history, which stamps its expression. Only in the epoch of its decay are free rhythms nothing but intermittent prose sections, set in an elevated tone. Where free verse proves itself to be a form of its own essence [Wesens], it has emerged from the metrical strophe, pressing beyond subjectivity. It turns the pathos of the meter against its own claim, the strict negation of what is most strict, just as musical prose, emancipated from the symmetry of the eight-beat meter, is due to the implacable principles of construction, which matured in the articulation of what is tonally regular. In free rhythm, the rubble of artistically rhymeless antique strophes finds its voice. These latter, foreign, extend into modern languages and serve, by virtue of such foreignness, to express what is not exhausted in communication. But they give way, unsalvageably, to the flood of language in which they were raised. They signify, with brittleness, in the midst of the realm of communication and not to be separated from the latter by any caprice, distance and stylization – incognito, as it were – and without privilege, until the wave of dreams washes over the helpless verses, as in Trakls lyrics. It is not for nothing that the epoch of free verse was the French revolution, the debut of human dignity and human equality. But isn’t the conscious procedure of such verse similar to the law, which language above all obeys in its unconscious history? Isn’t all worked prose actually a system of free rhythms, the attempt to provide cover for the magic bane [Bann] of what is absolute and the negation of its appearance [Scheins], an exertion of the Spirit [Geistes], to rescue the metaphysical force [Gewalt] of the expression by virtue of its own secularization? If this were so, then a ray of light would fall on the labor of Sisyphus, which every prose author has taken on themselves, since demythologization has passed over into the destruction of language itself. Linguistic quixotry has become a commandment, because every sentence structure contributes to the decision as to whether language as such, ambiguous from Ur-times to the present, falls prey to the bustle and the dedicated lies, which belong to such, or whether it becomes a sacred text, by making itself demure towards the sacred element, from which it lives. The ascetic sealing off of prose against verse is tantamount to an oath of fealty to song.

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In nuce. [Latin: in the kernel] – The task of art today is to bring chaos into order [Ordnung: social order].

Artistic productivity is the capacity of volition in involition. Art is magic, emancipated from the lie of being the truth. Since works of art were at one time derived from the fetishes – can one blame the artists, when they behave just a little fetishistically towards their products? The art-form which since time immemorial raised the representation of the idea to the highest pitch of spiritualization [Vergeistigung], drama, is simultaneously according to its innermost prerequisites oriented towards an audience. When Benjamin remarked, that the dumb language of things is translated in painting and sculpture into a higher, yet related one, then one can assume in the case of music that it rescues the name as pure sound – but at the price of its separation from things. Perhaps the strict and pure concept of art is to be derived only from music, while great poetry and great painting – precisely the greatest – necessarily carry along with them something material, something which strides beyond the aesthetic ensorcelment, something not dissolved into the autonomy of form. The deeper and more consequential aesthetics becomes, the more inappropriate it is to, say, the significant novels of the 19th century. Hegel perceived this interest in his polemic against Kant. The belief disseminated by aesthetes, that the work of art, as an object of immediate intuition [Anschauung], is to be understood purely out of itself, is not valid. The work of art has its boundary by no means merely in the cultural prerequisites of an entity, its “language,” which only the initiated can follow. Rather, even where there are no such difficulties in the way, the artwork demands more, than just abandoning oneself to it. Whoever wishes to find the Fledermaus beautiful, must know, that it is the Fledermaus: their mother must explain to them, that it is not about an animal with wings but about a costume mask; they must remember, that someone said: tomorrow you may go to the Fledermaus. To stand in the tradition meant: to experience the work of art as something confirming, affirming; in it, one takes part in the reactions of all those who ever saw it before. If that once falls away, then the work is exposed in its bareness and fallibility. The production turns from a ritual into idiocy, the music turns from a canon of meaningful phrases into stale and worn-out ones. It is truly no longer so beautiful. Mass culture draws from this its right to adaptations. The weakness of all traditional culture outside of its tradition delivers the pretext, to improve it and thereby to barbarically violate it. What is consoling in the great artworks lies less in what they express, than the fact that they succeeded in defying existence [Dasein]. Hope is closest of all to those who are inconsolable. Kafka: the solipsist without ipse [Latin: something] Kafka was an enthusiastic reader of Kierkegaard, but he is connected to the existential philosopher only insofar as one can speak of “annihilated existences.” Surrealism breaks the promesse du bonheur [French: promise of happiness]. It sacrifices the appearance [Schein] of happiness, which mediated every integral form, to the thought of its truth.

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Magic flute. – That culturally conservative ideology, which casts enlightenment and art as a simple opposition, is untrue insofar as it fails to recognize the moment of enlightenment in the genesis of what is beautiful. Enlightenment does not merely dissolve all the qualities, which adhere to what is beautiful, but simultaneously posits the quality of what is beautiful in the first place. The disinterested pleasure which works of art excite according to Kant, can only be understood by virtue of a historical antithesis, which trembles in every aesthetic object. What is considered with disinterest is pleasurable, because it once claimed the most extreme interest and exactly thereby cancels out contemplation. This latter is a triumph of enlightened self-discipline. Gold and precious gems, in whose perception beauty and luxury are still mixed up in each other, were venerated as magical. The light which they reflected, counted as their selfsame essence [Wesen]. What was struck by that light, fell sway to their bane [Bann]. That bane served early attempts to control nature. They saw in them instruments to subjugate the course of the world with its own energy, cunningly wrested from such. The magic adheres to the appearance [Schein] of omnipotence. Such appearance [Schein] fell apart with the self-enlightenment of the Spirit [Geistes], but the magic lived on as the power of luminous things over human beings, who once trembled in awe of them, and whose eyes remained ensorceled by such a view, even where its stately claim was seen through. Contemplation, as the remainder of the stock of fetishistic worship, is simultaneously a stage of its overcoming. By giving up its magical claim, by renouncing the violence, as it were, with which the subject endowed it and thought to practice with its help, luminous things transform themselves into pictures of something free of violence, into the promise of a happiness cured of the domination over nature. That is the Ur-history of luxury, which has migrated into the meaning of all art. In the magic of what reveals itself in absolute powerlessness, of what is beautiful, complete and void in one, the appearance [Schein] of omnipotence is negatively reflected back as hope. It has escaped every test of strength. Total purposelessness denies the totality of what is purposeful in the world of domination, and only by virtue of such repudiation, which the existent fulfills in its own principle of reason out of the latter’s consequentiality, has the existing society, to this day, become conscious of a possible one. The bliss of contemplation consists of disenchanted magic. What radiates, is the reconciliation of mythos.

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Art-figure. – To the unprepared, the heaped up atrocities of household ornaments are shocking due to their affinity with art-works. Even the hemispherical paperweights, which show a fir-tree landscape under glass with the title, greetings from Bad Wildungen, somehow recalls to mind Stifter’s green Fichtau, and the polychrome garden gnome recalls a wight out of Balzac or Dickens. Neither the subjects nor the abstract similarity of all aesthetic appearances [Scheins] are at fault here. On the contrary, the existence of foolish and blatant junk expresses the triumph, that human beings managed to produce out of themselves a piece of what otherwise ensorcels them as toilers, and symbolically break the compulsion of adaptation, by themselves creating what they feared; and the echoes of the same triumph resonate from the mightiest works, even though they renounce that triumph and style themselves as pure selves without relation to something imitated. In both cases, freedom from nature is celebrated and remains thereby mythically entangled. What human beings were in awe of, turns into their own disposable thing. What pictures and postcards have in common, is that they make the Ur-pictures tangible. The illustration “L’automne” [French: autumn] in the reading-book is a déjà vu [French: already seen], the Eroica [Beethoven’s Third Symphony], like great philosophy, represents the idea as total process, yet as if this latter were immediately, sensuously present. In the end the outrage over kitsch is the rage, that it wallows shamelessly in the happiness of imitation, which has meanwhile been overtaken by a taboo, while the power of art-works is still secretly being fed from imitation. What escapes the bane [Bann] of existence, its purposes, is not only what is better and protests, but also what relates to self-preservation as what is less capable and dumber. This stupidity grows the more that autonomous art idolizes its divided, allegedly innocent self-preservation, instead of the real, guiltily imperial one. By presenting the subjective institution as a successful rescue of objective meaning, it becomes untrue. What convicts it of this is kitsch; the latter’s lie does not even feign the truth. It draws hostility to itself, because it spills the beans about the secret of art and the affinity of culture to what is savage. Every work of art has its indissoluble contradiction in the “purposefulness without purpose,” by which Kant defined the aesthetic; by representing an apotheosis of making, the capacity to control nature, which posits itself as the creation of second nature – absolute, free of purpose, existing-in-itself – while nonetheless the making of things, and indeed the radiance of the artifact, is inseparable from precisely the purposeful rationality which art wishes to break out of. The contradiction between the making of things and the existent is the life-element of art and circumscribes its law of development, but it is also its shame: by following, however mediatedly, the preexisting schema of material production and “making” its objects, it cannot for its part escape the question of the “what for,” whose negation is precisely its purpose. The closer the mode of production of the artifact stands to material mass production, the more naively, as it were, does it provoke that fatal question. Works of art however seek to silence the question. “What is perfect,” in Nietzsche’s words, “should not be something which has become.” (Human, All Too Human, Vol. I, Aphorism 145), namely it should not appear as something made. The more consequentially however it distanced itself by perfection from the making of things, the more brittle its own existence, as something made, necessarily and simultaneously becomes: the endless pains taken to wipe away the trace of the making of things, damages artworks and condemns them to something fragmentary. After the disassembly [Zerfall: disintegration] of magic, art has undertaken to preserve pictures for posterity. In this work however it avails itself of the same principle which destroyed pictures: the root of its Greek name is the same as that of technics. Its paradoxical interweaving in the process of civilization brings it into conflict with its own idea. The archetypes of today, synthetically prepared by film and hit-songs for the desolate intuition of the late-industrial era, do not merely liquidate art, but blast the delusion into existence, through flagrant idiocy, which is already immured in the oldest works of art and which lends power to even the most mature. The horror of the end casts a harsh light on the deception of the origin. – It is the chance and limitation of French art, that it never completely uprooted the pride in the making of small pictures, just as it differentiates itself most strikingly from the German kind, in the fact that it does not acknowledge the category of kitsch. In countless significant manifestations it throws a reconciling gaze on what is pleasing, because it was skillfully produced: what is sublimely artistic holds on to sensuous life through a moment of harmless pleasure in the bien fait [French: well done]. While this renounces the dialectic of truth and appearance [Schein], and thereby the absolute claim of what has not yet become perfection, the untruth of those who Hadyn called the grand moguls is also avoided – those who would utterly reject the fun of little dolls or postcards and fall prey to fetishism precisely by driving out the fetish. Taste is the capacity to balance in art the contradiction between what is made, and the appearance [Schein] of what has not yet become; the true art-works however, never as one with taste, are those which develop that contradiction to the extreme and come to themselves, by going to pieces on such.

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Trader’s shop. – Hebbel raises the question, in a surprising diary entry, as to what “would take the magic from life in one’s later years.” “Because we see in all the brightly colored, jerkily moving puppets, the rotor which sets them in motion, and because just for that reason the enticing multiplicity of the world dissolves into a wooden monotony. When a child sees the acrobats singing, the musicians playing, the girl carrying water, the coachmen driving, it thinks to itself, all this is happening due to pleasure and joy in the matter; it cannot even begin to imagine that these people also eat and drink, go to bed and get up again. We however know, what it’s all about.” Namely, about acquisition, which commandeers all those activities as mere means, reducing them to abstract labor-time, as something exchangeable. The quality of things turns from their essence [Wesen] into the arbitrary phenomenon [Erscheinung: appearance] of their value. The “equivalent-form” disfigures all perceptions: what is no longer illuminated by light of one’s own determination as “pleasure in the thing,” pales before the eyes. The organs do not grasp anything sensual in isolation, but observe whether the color, tone and movement is there for itself or for something else; they grow weary of the false diversity and submerge everything in grey, disappointed by the deceptive claim of qualities that they still exist at all, while they are guided by the purpose of appropriation, to which they for the most part owe their existence. The disenchantment of the world of intuition is the reaction of the sensorium to its objective determination as a “world of commodities.” Only things cleansed of appropriation would be simultaneously colorful and useful: neither can be reconciled under universal compulsion. Children however are not so much entangled in illusions about the “enticing multiplicity” as Hebbel thinks, rather it is that their spontaneous perception still comprehends the contradiction between the phenomenon and fungibility, which the resigned one of adults no longer even dares to reach, and seeks to escape it. Play is their counterstrike [Gegenwehr: counter, resistance]. What strikes incorruptible children is the “peculiarity of the form of equivalence”: “Use-value turns into the form of appearance of its opposite, value.” (Marx, Capital I, Vienna 1932, page 61). In their non-purposive doing they deploy a feint on the side of the use-value against exchange-value. Precisely by divesting the things which they handle of their mediated utility, they seek to rescue in their interaction with them whatever has good will towards human beings, rather than towards the exchange relationship which deforms human beings and things in equal measure. The little wagons on wheels lead nowhere, and the tiny barrels on them are empty; but they keep faith with its destination [Bestimmung: determination], by neither practicing nor taking part in the process of the abstractions which level out that destination [Bestimmung: determination], but rather preserve them as allegories of what they are specifically are. They wait, scattered to the winds and nevertheless unentangled, to see if society finally cancels out the social stigma on them; to see whether praxis, the life-process between the human being and the thing, will cease to be practical. The unreality of games announces that what is real, is not yet real. They are unconscious practice exercises of the right life. The relationship of children to animals rests entirely on the fact that in the latter, which Marx even begrudged the surplus value they deliver to workers, utopia is cloaked. Because animals exist without any mission recognizable to human beings, they represent their own names as expression, as it were – as what is utterly not exchangeable. This endears them to children and makes their contemplation a joy. I am a rhinoceros, signifies the form of the rhinoceros. Fairy-tales and operettas know such pictures, and the ludicrous question of the woman, who asked how we know that Orion is really called Orion, rises to the stars.

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Novissumum Organum. [The newest organon: reference to Bacon’s Novum Organum, the new organon] – Long ago it was shown that wage-labor formed the modern masses, and indeed has produced the workers themselves. The individual [Individuum] is universal not merely as the biological substrate, but simultaneously as the form of reflection of the social process, and its consciousness of itself as something existing in itself, as the appearance [Schein] which it requires to raise its capacity of achievement, whereas individuals function in the modern economy as mere agents of the law of value. The inner composition of the individual [Individuum] is to be derived in itself, not merely out of its social role. What is decisive in the contemporary phase is the category of the organic composition of capital. What this meant in the theory of accumulation was, “the growth in the mass of means of production, compared with the mass of labor-power which brings it to life” (Marx, Capital I, Vienna 1932, page 655). When the integration of society, especially in the totalitarian states, determines subjects ever more exclusively as partial moments in the framework of material production, then the “transformation in the technical composition of capital” perpetuates itself through the technological demands of the production process in those it not only encompasses, but indeed first constitutes. The organic composition of human beings is increasing. That through which subjects are determined in themselves as means of production and not as living purposes, rises just like the share of machinery vis-à-vis variable capital. The prevalent talk of the “mechanization” of human beings is misleading, because it thinks these latter as something static, which undergoes certain deformations due to an “outside influence,” as am adaptation to conditions of production external to them. But there is no substrate of such “deformations,” nothing which is ontically interiorized, on which social mechanisms merely act from outside: the deformation is not the illness of human beings, but the illness of the society, which raises its children as “hereditarily disadvantaged,” just as biologism projects onto nature. It is only by means of the process, which initiates the transformation of labor-power into a commodity, permeating human beings utterly and completely and making every one of their impulses simultaneously commensurable and objectified into an a priori variety of the exchange-relationship, is it possible for life to reproduce itself under the dominating relations of production. Its organizational follow-through [Durchorganisation] demands the amalgamation of what is dead. The will to live sees itself referred to the repudiation of the will to live: self-preservation annuls life in subjectivity. It follows that all the achievements of adaptation, all the acts of conforming described by social psychology and cultural anthropology, are mere epiphenomena. The organic composition of human beings refers by no means only to specialized technical capabilities, but – and this is something the usual cultural critique wishes at no price to reveal – equally to their opposite, the moment of what is natural, which indeed for its part already originated in the social dialectic and now falls prey to it. What still differs in human beings from technics, is incorporated as a kind of lubrication of technics. Psychological differentiation, as it originally emerged in freedom and out of the division of labor and the compartmentalization of human beings according to sectors of the production process, itself steps in the end into the service of production. “The specialized virtuoso,” wrote a dialectician thirty years ago, “the seller of their objectified and substantialized [versachlichten] intellectual capacities… ends up in a contemplative attitude towards the functioning of their own objectified and substantialized [versachlichten] capacities. This structure shows itself most grotesquely in the case of journalism, where it is precisely subjectivity itself – knowing things, moods, the capacity to express – which turns into something abstract, as independent from the personality of the ‘owner’ as from the material-concrete essence of the objects, which are dealt with independently and nomothetically [eigengesetzlich] as if by a moving mechanism. The ‘lack of sensibility’ of journalists, the prostitution of their experiences and convictions, is only comprehensible as the peak of capitalist reification.” [citation from György Lukács, History and Class Consciousness, London: 1971, page 100] What was here established as the “phenomena of degeneration” of the bourgeoisie, which it itself still denounced, has meanwhile emerged as the social norm, as the character of full-fledged existence under late industrialism. It has long since ceased to be merely a question of the sale of what is living. Under the a priori of salability, what is living makes itself, as the living, into a thing, into equipage. The ego consciously takes the entire human being into service as its apparatus. In this reorganization, the ego gives, as a kind of enterprise director, so much of itself to the ego as a means of directing the enterprise, that it becomes wholly abstract, a mere reference-point: self-preservation loses its self. Personal characteristics, from genuine friendliness to hysterical outbreaks of rage, become serviceable, until they finally slide perfectly into their situation-specific assignment. With their mobilization, they transform themselves. They remain only as light, fixed and empty shells of impulses, as material transportable at will, devoid of personal traits. They are no longer subjects, but the subject directs itself at them as its internalized object. In their boundless accessibility toward the ego, they are simultaneously alienated from the latter: entirely passive, they no longer nourish it. That is the social parthogenesis of schizophrenia. The separation of personal characteristics as much from the basis of the drives as from the self, which commands them where it previously merely held them together, causes human beings to pay for their increasing inner organization with growing disintegration. The division of labor which is fulfilled in the individual [Individuum], its radical objectification, ends up as its diseased splitting. Thus the “psychotic character,” the anthropological prerequisite for all totalitarian mass movements. Precisely the transition from fixed characteristics to pushbutton modes of behavior – seemingly enlivening – is the expression of the rising organic composition of human beings. Quick reactions, free of any mediation through constituted being, do not restore spontaneity, but establish the person as a measuring instrument, at the disposal of and read by the center. The more immediate their signal, the deeper in truth is mediation reflected in them: in promptly answering, non-resisting reflexes, the subject is entirely dissolved. So too with the biological reflexes, models of the contemporary social ones, which measured by subjectivity are something objectified, something foreign: it is not for nothing they are often called “mechanical.” The closer organisms come to death, the more they regress to jerkiness. It follows that the destructive tendencies of the masses, which explode in the totalitarian states of both kinds, are not so much death-wishes as manifestations of what they have already become. They murder, so that whatever seems living to them, resembles them.

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Knacker’s yard. – The metaphysical categories are not merely the veiling ideology of the social system, but simultaneously express its essence [Wesens], the truth about it, and in its transformations are precipitated those of the most central experiences. Thus death falls into history, and conversely this latter conversely is understood through the former. Its dignity resembled that of the individual [Individuums]. The autonomy of such, which originated in the economy, fulfilled itself in the conception of its absoluteness, as soon as the theological hope of its immortality, which empirically relativized it, faded away. This corresponded to the emphatic picture of death, which entirely wiped out the individuated [Individuum], the substrate of all bourgeois conduct and thinking. Death was the absolute price of absolute value. Now it falls, along with the socially dissolved individuated [Individuum]. Where it is clothed with the old dignity, it chatters away with the lie, which already stood ready in its concept: to name what is impenetrable, to predicate what is subjectless, to prefabricate what falls out. In the administered consciousness, however, the truth and untruth of its dignity are done for, not by virtue of an otherworldly hope, but in view of the hopeless lack of energy of the secular world. “Le monde moderne,” noted the radical Catholic Charles Péguy already in 1907, “a réussi à avilir ce qu’il y a peut-être de plus difficile à avilir au monde, parce que c’est quelque chose qui a en soi, comme dans sa texture, une sorte particulière de dignité, comme une incapacité singulière d’être avili: il avilit la mort. [French: The modern world has succeeded in debasing something which perhaps is the most difficult thing to debase in the world, because it is something which in itself, as its texture, has a peculiar sort of dignity, a singular incapacity to be debased: it debases death.] (Men and Saints, New York 1944, page 98). If the individuated [Individuum] which death annihilates is null, devoid of self-control and of one’s own being, then the annihilating power also becomes null, as if in jest at the Heideggerian formula of the nihilating [nichtenden] nothingness. The radical replaceability of the individual practically makes its death – in complete contempt – to something revocable, as it was once conceptualized in Christianity with paradoxical pathos. Death however becomes totally incorporated as a quantité négligeable [French: negligible quantity, minute smidgeon]. For every human being, with all their functions, society stands ready with a waiting replacement, who regards the former from the very beginning as the bothersome holder of the job, as a candidate for death. The experience of death is accordingly transformed into the exchange of functionaries, and what does not completely go from the natural relationship of death into the social one, is consigned to hygiene. Because death is no longer perceived as anything more than as the dropping out of a natural life-form from the social club of society, this has finally domesticated it: dying merely confirms the absolute irrelevance of the natural life-form in relation to what is socially absolute. If the culture industry anywhere testifies to the transformations in the organic composition of society, then it is through the scarcely concealed confession of this state of affairs. Under its lens, death begins to become comic. The laughter which greets it in a certain genre of production is in all likelihood ambiguous. It still registers the fear of something amorphous under the net which the society has spun over the entirety of nature. But the veil is so vast and tightly-knit, that the memory of what is not covered seems foolish, sentimental. Since the decline of the detective novel in the works of Edgar Wallace, which seemed to mock their readers through increasingly less rational constructions, unsolved mysteries and crass exaggerations, and nevertheless magnificently anticipated therein the collective imago of the totalitarian horror, the genre of the murder-comedy has formed. While it continues to poke fun at the false shudder, it demolishes the pictures of death. It represents the corpse as what it has turned into, as a stage prop. It still resembles human beings and is nevertheless only a thing, as in the film A Slight Case of Murder, where corpses are incessantly transported to and fro, allegories of what they already previously were. Comedy savors the false abolition of death, which Kafka described long ago in the history of the Hunter Gracchus with panic: for the same reason, music is also beginning to be comic. What the Nazis perpetrated on millions of human beings, the modeling of the living on the dead, then the mass production and cheapening of death, threw its shadow in advance on those who are spurred to laugh at corpses. What is decisive is the assimilation of biological destruction in the conscious social will. Only a humanity, which is as indifferent to death as to its members – one which itself has died – can administratively inflict death on myriads. Rilke’s prayer for one’s own death is the pitiful deception of the fact that human beings still only croak.

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Come off it. – The critique of the tendencies of contemporary society is automatically countered, before it is fully expressed, by saying that things have ever been so. The excitement thereby so promptly abjured, testifies merely to the lack of insight into the invariance of history – to an unreason, which proudly diagnoses everyone as hysterical. Moreover, the critic’s attacks are said to be merely hamming it up for the gallery, a means of claiming special privileges, while whatever they are nonetheless upset about is well known and trivial, so that no-one can be expected to waste their attention on such. The evidence of the calamity comes to benefit its apologists: because everyone knows everything, no-one is supposed to say anything, and it may then continue unchallenged, hidden by silence. What is affirmed is what philosophies of all political stripes have trumpeted into the heads of human beings: that whatever has the persistent gravity of existence on its side, is thereby right. One need only be dissatisfied to be already suspected of being a global dreamer [Weltverbesserer]. The consensus employs the trick of ascribing to opponents a reactionary thesis of decay, which is untenable – for is not horror in fact perennial? – by discrediting the concrete insight into the negative through its alleged failure of thought, and those who rise up against the shadow, are maligned as agents of the shadow. But even if things were ever so, although nonetheless neither Timur nor Genghis Khan nor the British colonial administration of India deliberately burst the lungs of millions of human beings with poison gas, then the eternity of horror is revealed by the fact that each of its new forms outbids the older ones. What endures is no invariant quantum of suffering, but of its progress towards hell: that is the meaning of the talk about the growth of antagonisms. Any other kind would be innocuous and would pass over into mediating phrases, the renunciation of the qualitative leap. Those who register the death-camps as a minor accident in the victory procession of civilization, the martyrdom of the Jews as world-historically insignificant, do not merely fall behind the dialectical insight, but invert the meaning of one’s own politics: of stopping the extremity. Quantity recoils into quality, not only in the development of the productive forces, but also in the increase of the pressure of domination. If the Jews are exterminated as a group, while the society continues to reproduce the life of workers, then the comment that these former are bourgeois and their destiny unimportant to the larger dynamic, turns into economic spleen, even insofar as mass murder is in fact explicable by the decline of the profit-rate. The horror consists of the fact that it always remains the same – the continuation of “prehistory” – but unremittingly realizes itself as something different, something unforeseen, overwhelming all expectations, the faithful shadow of the developing productive forces. The same duality applies to violence, which the critique of political economy pointed out in material production: “There are determinations common to all stages of production, which are generally fixed by thought, but the so-called universal conditions of all production are nothing but… abstract moments, by which no real stage of production can be understood.” [Marx, Grundrisse, page 88] In other words, to abstract out what is historically unchanged is not neutral towards the matter [Sache], by virtue of its scientific objectivity, but serves, even where it is on target, as a fog in which what is tangible and assailable disappear. This latter is precisely what the apologists do not wish to concede. On the one hand they are obsessed by the dernière nouveauté [French: latest novelty] and on the other hand they deny the infernal machine, which is history. One cannot bring Auschwitz into analogy with the destruction of the Greek city-states in terms of a mere gradual increase of horror, regarding which one preserves one’s peace of mind. Certainly, the martyrdom and degradation suffered by those in the cattle-cars, completely without precedent, casts a harsh, deathly light on the most distant past, in whose obtuse and unplanned violence the scientifically organized kind was already teleologically at work. The identity lies in the non-identity, in what has not yet been, which denounces what has been. The statement that it’s always been the same, is untrue in its immediacy, true only through the dynamic of the totality. Whoever allows the cognition of the increase of horror to escape them, does not merely fall prey to cold-hearted contemplation, but fails to recognize, along with the specific difference of what is newest from what has gone before, simultaneously the true identity of the whole, of horror without end.

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Extra edition. – Central passages in Poe and Baudelaire set up the concept of what is new. In the former, in the description of the maelstrom, whose shudder is equated with “the novel” [in English in original], which none of the traditional reports is supposed to adequately give any idea of; in the latter, in the last lines of the cycle La Mort [French: death], which chooses the plunge into the abyss, indifferent as to whether it is heaven or hell, “au fond de l’inconnu pour trouver du nouveau” [French: to the bottom of the unknown to find the new]. Both times it is an unknown threat, which the subject entrusts itself to, and which in a dizzying recoil promises pleasure. What is new, a blank spot of consciousness, which one awaits with closed eyes, as it were, seems to be the formula by which pleasure can be taken in horror and despair, as stimulus-value. It causes evil to flower. But its stark outline is a cryptogram of the most unambiguous reaction. It circumscribes the precise information, which is communicated by the subject to a world become abstract, the industrial epoch. What is rebelled against in the cult of the new and thereby in the idea of what is modern, is the fact that there is no longer anything new. The unchanging uniformity [Immergleichheit] of machine-produced goods, the net of socialization, which in equal measure catches and assimilates objects and the gaze at those objects, transforms everything which is encountered into something which has already been, to the accidental exemplar of a species, to the model’s doppelganger. The layer of what has not yet been thought, what is without intention, in which alone intention flourishes, seems to be consumed. The idea of the new dreams of this layer. Itself unattainable, it puts itself in place of the fallen god in view of the first consciousness of the decline of experience. But its concept remains under the bane [Bann] of its illness, and its abstraction testifies to this, turning powerlessly to the concretion which glides away from it. Much could be learned about the “Ur-history of what is modern” [concept from Walter Benjamin] by analyzing the change in the meaning of the word “sensation” – the exotic synonym for Baudelaire’s nouveau [French: new]. The word became universalized in European education through epistemology. In Locke, it mean the simple, immediate perception, the opposite of reflection. It later became the great unknown and finally, what is exciting on a mass scale, destructively intoxicating, the shock as consumer good. To still be able to perceive anything at all, regardless of quality, replaces happiness, because omnipotent quantification has taken away the possibility of perception itself. Instead of the fulfilled relation of experience to the thing, something what emerges is something at once merely subjective and physically isolated, sensation, which exhausts itself in the reading of a manometer. Thus the historic emancipation of being-in-itself is reconfigured into the form of the intuition, a process which the sense-psychology of the 19th century allowed for, by reducing the substrate of experience to a mere “basal stimulus,” from whose particular constituted nature the specific energies of the senses were supposedly independent. Baudelaire’s poetry however is filled with that flash of light, which the closed eye sees when struck by a blow. As phantasmagoric as this light, so phantasmagoric is the idea of the new itself. What flashes, while sedate perception still only achieves the socially preformed mold of things, is itself repetition. The new, sought for its own sake, to a certain extent reproduced in the laboratory, hardened to a conceptual schema, turns in the abrupt appearance [Erscheinen] into the compulsory return of what is old, not so dissimilar to the traumatic neuroses. To the dazzled, the veil of temporal succession tears away from the archetypes of unchanging uniformity [Immergleichheit]: that is why the discovery of the new is satanic, eternal return as damnation. Poe’s allegory of the novel consists of the breathlessly circling movement, nonetheless at a standstill, as it were, of the boat spinning in the whirlpool. The sensations, in which masochists abandon themselves to the new, are as much regressions. This much is true of psychoanalysis, that the ontology of Baudelaire’s modernity, like every other one which followed it, answers to the infantile partial drive. Its pluralism is the colorful fata morgana [Latin: mirage], in which what the monism of bourgeois reason glosses as allegorical hope, is that reason’s self-destruction. This promise comprises the idea of what is modern, and for the sake of its core, for unchanging uniformity [Immergleichheit], everything which is modern takes on, once it is barely aged, the expression of something archaic. Tristan, which rises in the 19th century as an obelisk of modernity, is at the same time the towering monument to the repetition-compulsion. The new has been ambiguous since its enthronement. While it links everything which presses beyond the unity [Einheit] of the ever more fixed existent, it is at the same time the absorption by the new, which, under the pressure of that unity, decisively promotes the disassembly [Zerfall] of the subject into convulsive moments in which the subject deceives itself that it is still alive, and thereby ultimately promotes the entire society, which drives out the new in state-of-the-art style. Baudelaire’s poem of the female martyr of sex, the murder victim, allegorically celebrates the sanctity of pleasure in the terrifyingly emancipating still-life of crime, but the intoxication in view of the naked headless body is already similar to that which drove the prospective victims of the Hitler regime to buy newspapers, greedily and powerlessly, in which the measures were announced portending their doom. Fascism was the absolute sensation: in a declaration during the time of the first pogroms, Goebbels boasted that at least the Nazis weren’t boring. The abstract terror of news and rumors was enjoyed in the Third Reich as the only stimulation, which sufficed to momentarily heat the weakened sensorium of the masses white-hot. Without the nearly irresistible violence of the desire for headlines, which caused the heart to seize as if thrust back into primeval times, the unspeakable could not have been borne by the onlookers, let alone the perpetrators. In the course of the war, eventually the most terrifying news was spread among the Germans and the slow military collapse was not hushed up. Concepts like sadism and masochism no longer suffice. In the mass society of technical dissemination they are mediated by sensation, by the comet-like, far removed, to-the-extreme new. It overwhelms the public, which squirms under the shock and forgets who the monstrosity is being perpetrated on, oneself or others. The content of the shock becomes truly indifferent vis-à-vis its stimulus value, just as it ideally was in the invocations of the poets; it is even possible that the horror savored by Poe and Baudelaire, once realized by dictators, loses its sensational quality, burns out. The violent rescue of qualities in the new was devoid of qualities. Everything can, as the new, divested of itself, be enjoyed, just as the numbed morphine addict finally reaches indiscriminately for any drug, even atropine. Every judgment perishes in sensation, along with the distinction of qualities: that is what actually allows sensation to become an agent of catastrophic retrogression. In the terror of regressive dictators, what is modern, the dialectical picture of progress, culminates in an explosion. The new in its collective form, something already hinted at by the journalistic traits in Baudelaire as much the noise of drums in Wagner, is in fact external life, cooked up as a stimulating and enervating drug: it is not for nothing that Poe, Baudelaire and Wagner were addictive personalities. The new turns into the merely evil first through totalitarian guidance, wherein that tension of the individual [Individuums] to society, which once realized the category of the new, is canceled out. Today the appeal to the new – regardless of what kind, provided only it is archaic enough – has become universal, the ubiquitous medium of false mimesis. The decomposition of the subject is completed by handing itself over to a constantly different, unchanging uniformity [Immergleichheit]. This sucks everything fixed out of personal character. What Baudelaire was capable of achieving by virtue of the picture, devolves to fascination devoid of will. Breach of faith and un-identity, the pathic catering to the situation, are activated by the stimulus of something new, which as a stimulus is already no longer stimulating. Perhaps humanity’s refusal to have children is thereby explained, because everyone can prophesy the worst: what is new is the secret figure of everyone not yet born. Malthus belongs to the Ur-fathers of the 19th century, and Baudelaire had reason to exalt what is infertile. Humanity, which despairs of its reproduction, unconsciously casts the wish to survive onto the chimera of never known things, but these latter resemble death. They point to the downfall of an entire constitution, which virtually no longer needs its members.

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Theses against the occult. – I. The penchant for the occult is a symptom of the regression of consciousness. It has lost the energy to think what is unconditional and to withstand the conditional. Instead of determining both, in unity and difference, in the labor of the concept, it heedlessly mixes them up. What is unconditional turns into a fact, what is conditional becomes immediately essential [wesenhaft]. Monotheism crumbles into a second mythology. “I believe in astrology, because I don’t believe in God,” responded an interviewee in an American social psychological study. The juridically-minded [rechtsprechenden] reason, which raised itself to the concept of a god, seems to be caught up in the latter’s fall. The Spirit [Geist] dissociates itself into spirits [Geister: spirits, ghosts] and thereby forfeits the capacity to recognize, that the latter no longer exist. The veiled tendency of calamity of society cons its victims in the false revelation, in the hallucinatory phenomenon. They hope, in vain, that its fragmentary obviousness will enable them to look at the total doom in the eye and withstand it. Panic breaks out once again after millennia of enlightenment on a humanity, whose domination over nature as domination over human beings surpasses in horror whatever human beings had to fear from nature.

II. The second mythology is even more untrue than the first. The latter was the precipitate of the state of cognition of its epochs, each of which showed its consciousness of the blind natural context to be somewhat freer than the previous one. The former, disturbed and entangled, throws away the cognition it once achieved of itself in the middle of a society, which eliminates through the all-embracing exchange relationship even what is most elementary, which the occultists claim to control. The gaze of the mariner at the Dioscuri [twin guardian deities of sea-voyagers in ancient Greece, rendered as statues on the ship’s prow], the animism of trees and streams, in all the delusory bedazzlement at what is inexplicable, were appropriate to the historical experiences of the subject vis-à-vis its action-objects. As a rationally utilized reaction towards the rationalized society, however, in which the booths and consultation rooms of the spirit-seers of all grades, the reborn animism denies the alienation to which it testifies and on which it lives, and surrogates a nonexistent experience. The occultist draws the most extreme conclusion from the fetish-character of the commodity: threateningly objectified labor springs at them from objects in the guise of countless demons. What is forgotten in a world which has turned into products, its producedness [Produziertsein] by human beings, is recalled in divided, inverted form, as something existing in itself which is added to and equated with the in-themselves of objects [An sich der Objekte]. Because these latter have frozen under the light of reason, losing the appearance [Schein] of being animated, that which animates them, its social quality, makes itself something naturally-supernaturally independent, a thing among things.

III. The regression to magical thinking under late capitalism assimilates thought to late-capitalist forms. The dubious-asocial marginal phenomena of the system, the ramshackle institutions which squint through the cracks in its walls, indeed reveal nothing of what would be outside, but manifest the energies of disassembly [Zerfalls] in the interior that much more. The small-time sages, who terrorize their clients in front of a crystal ball, are toy models of the big-time ones, who hold the destiny of humanity in their hands. The obscurantists behind “Psychic Research” [in English in original] are as quarrelsome and conspiratorial as society itself. The hypnosis exerted by occult things resembles totalitarian terror: in contemporary processes, both converge with each other. The smile of the augury has overgrown itself into the scornful laughter of society; it feeds on the immediate material exploitation of souls. The horoscope corresponds to the directives of bureaus on nationalities [Völker: literally peoples or nations, but meaning a homogenous ethnic group], and number-mysticism is preparation for administrative statistics and cartel prices. Integration proves in the end to be the ideology of the disintegration into power-groups, which exterminate each other. Whoever casts their lot with them, is lost.

IV. The occult is a reflex-movement of the subjectification of all meaning, the complement of reification. When the objective reality seems more deaf to the living than ever before, they seek to worm out its meaning through an abracadabra. Meaning is indiscriminately ascribed to the next worse thing: the rationality of what is real, which is no longer quite convincing, is replaced with dancing tables and rays from heaps of earth. The refuse of the world of phenomena [Erscheinungswelt] turns into the mundus intelligibilis [Latin: world of intelligible realities] of the ailing consciousness. It comes close to being the speculative truth, just as Kafka’s Odradek would almost be an angel, and is nevertheless, in a positivity which leaves out the medium of thought, only barbaric error, the subjectivity which has relinquished [entäusserte] itself and thereby fails to recognize itself in the object. The more complete the disdainfulness of what is passed off as “Spirit” [Geist] – and in anything more animated the enlightened subject would of course recognize itself – the more the meaning sensed there, which in fact is totally absent, turns into the unconscious, compulsory project of the historically – if not necessarily clinically – disintegrating [zerfallenden] subject. It would like to make the world similar its own disassembly [Zerfall]: that is why it deals with stage-props and malicious wishes. “The third reads out of my hand / It wants to read my misfortune!” In the occult, the Spirit [Geist] groans under its own bane [Bann] like those caught in a bad dream, whose torment increases with the feeling, that they are dreaming, without being able to wake up.

V. The violence of the occult, just like Fascism, to which it is linked by thought-schemata of the sort which purvey anti-Semitism, is not only pathic. It consists rather of the fact that in the lesser panaceas, cover-pictures, as it were, the consciousness hungry for truth thinks it can grasp the dimly present cognition, which official progress of every type assiduously withholds. It is that society, by virtually excluding the possibility of the spontaneous recoil, gravitates towards total catastrophe. The real absurdity is the model for the astrological one, which puts forward the impenetrable context of alienated elements – nothing is more foreign than the stars – as knowledge about the subject. The threat which is read out of the constellations, resembles the historical one, which rolls on in unconsciousness, in what is subjectless. They can bear the thought that everyone is a prospective victim of a whole, which is merely formed from themselves, only by transferring that whole away from themselves onto something similar, something external to it. In the miserable idiocy which they propagate, the empty horror, they allow themselves to let out the clumsy misery, the crass fear of death and nevertheless to continue to repress it, as they must if they wish to continue to live. The break in the life-line which indicates a hidden cancer is a fraud only in the place where it is asserted, in the hand of the individual [Individuums]; where it would not give a diagnosis, in the collective, it would be correct. Occultists rightly feel drawn to childishly monstrous natural-scientific fantasies. The confusion they create between their emanations and the isotopes of uranium, is ultimate clarity. The mystic rays are modest anticipations of the technical ones. Superstition is cognition, because it sees all of the ciphers of destruction together, which are scattered on the social surface; it is foolish, because in still clings to illusions, in all of its death-drive: glossingthe answer, from the transfigured form of society, displaced into the heavens, which can only be provided by the real transfiguration of society.

VI. The occult is the metaphysics of knuckleheads. The subalternity of mediums is no more accidental than the apocryphal nature and triviality of what is revealed. Since the early days of spiritism, the beyond has announced nothing more portentous than a greeting from a dead grandmother next to a prediction, that a journey is in the offing. The excuse that the spirit-world cannot communicate to feeble human reason any more than this latter is able to take in, is just as silly, the auxiliary hypothesis of the paranoid system: the lumen naturale [Latin: “natural light,” in the sense of everyday human reasoning] achieved greater things than the trip to the grandmother, and if the spirits do not wish to acknowledge this, then they are mannerless kobolds, with whom one had better break off all contact. The obtusely natural content of the supernatural message betrays its untruth. While it hunts outside for what is lost, what it runs into there is only its own nothingness. In order not to fall out of the grey prosaicness, in which they feel right at home as incorrigible realists, they adjust the meaning, on which they refresh themselves, into what is meaningless, before which they flee. The phoney magic is nothing other than the phoney existence, which the former illuminates. That is why it makes itself at home with what is down to earth. Facts, which differ from what is the case, only in that they are nothing of the sort, are worked up into the fourth dimension. Their qualitas occulta [Latin: hidden quality] is solely their non-being. They deliver the world-view of idiocy. Abruptly, drastically, the astrologists and spiritists issue a response to every question, which does not even solve the latter, but cancels any possible solution through crude suppositions. Their sublime realm, conceived as analogous to space, no more needs to be thought than chairs and flower-vases. It thereby reinforces conformism. Nothing pleases the existent more, than the position that existence, as such, is supposed to be meaning.

VII. The great religions have either, as in the Jewish one, kept in mind the salvation of the dead, after the ban on graven images, with silence, or taught the resurrection of the flesh. They have their gravity in the inseparability of what is spiritual [Geistigen] and what is corporeal. There is no intention, there is nothing “intellectual” [“geistiges“], which would not somehow be grounded in corporeal perception and demand corporeal fulfillment. To the occultists, who consider themselves above the thought of resurrection and do not at all wish for actual salvation, this is too crude. Their metaphysics, which even Huxley can no longer distinguish from metaphysics, rests on the axiom: “The soul swings high into the air / the body rests on the couch over there.” The feistier the spirituality, the more mechanistic: not even Descartes separated it so cleanly. The division of labor and reification are driven to the extreme: body and soul are cut from each other in a perennial vivisection, as it were. The soul is supposed to dust itself off, in order to continue, in lighter regions, its eager activity right at the point it was interrupted. In such a declaration of independence, however, the soul turns into the cheap imitation of what it was falsely emancipated from. In place of the reciprocity, which even the most rigid philosophy upheld, the astral body sets up shop, the ignominious concession of the hypostatized Spirit [Geist] to its opponent. Only in the allegory of the body is the concept of the pure Spirit [Geists] is to be grasped at all, and the former simultaneously sublates the latter. With the reification of the spirits, the spirits are already negated.

VIII. Occultists fulminate against materialism. But they want to weigh the astral body. The objects of their interest are supposed to simultaneously surpass the possibility of experience and be experienced. Everything is supposed to be done strictly scientifically; the greater the humbug, the more carefully controlled the test arrangement. The pomposity of scientific controls is taken ad absurdum [Latin: to the point of absurdity], where there is nothing to control for. The same rationalistic and empiristic apparatus which put an end to the spirits, is employed to mandatorily foist them off on those who no longer trust in their own ratio. As if any elementary spirit would flee from the trap of the control over nature, which is posited by their fleeting essence [Wesen]. But even this the occultists make use of. Because the spirits don’t like controls, a door must be held open to them in the middle of security precautions, so that they can make their appearance undisturbed. For the occultists are practical types. They aren’t driven by idle curiosity, they seek tips. Things go in a jiffy from the stars to futures trading [Termingeschäft: future transactions, futures, options]. Mostly the information amounts to ill tidings for some acquaintance, who was hoping for something.

IX. The cardinal sin of the occult is the contamination of Spirit [Geist] and existence, the latter of which turns into an attribute of the Spirit [Geistes]. This last originated in existence, as an organ designed to preserve life. Since existence is reflected in the Spirit [Geist], this latter turns at the same time into something else. What exists negates itself as the memorialization [Eingedenken] of itself. Such negation is the element of the Spirit [Geistes]. To ascribe it once more to positive existence, even if it were that of a higher social order, would deliver it to that which it stands against. Later bourgeois ideology had made it once more into what it was in pre-animism, something existing-in-itself according to the measure of the social division of labor, of the break between physical and intellectual labor, and of the planned domination over the former. In the concept of the Spirit [Geistes] which exists in itself, the consciousness ontologically justifies and eternalizes privilege, by making it independent of the social principle, which constitutes it. Such ideology explodes into occultism: the latter is an idealism which has come into itself, as it were. Precisely by virtue of the rigid antithesis of being and Spirit [Geist], this latter turns into a department of being. If idealism had promoted the idea solely for the whole, that being would be Spirit [Geist] and this latter would exist, then the occult draws the absurd consequence from this, that existence means determinate being: “Existence is, according to its becoming, above all being with something non-being, so that this non-being is taken up in simple unity with being. The non-being thus taken up in being, the fact that the concrete whole is in the form of being, of immediacy, comprises the determination as such. “ (Hegel, Science of Logic I, ed. Glockner, Stutgart 1928, page 123). The occultists take not-being as a “simple unity with being” literally, and their kind of concreity is a fraudulent abbreviation of the path from the whole to the determinate, which can claim that the whole, as something once determined, is thereby nothing of the sort anymore. They call to metaphysics, hic Rhodus hic salta [Latin: here is Rhodes, here is where you jump]: if the philosophical investment of Spirit [Geist] with existence can be determined, then, they feel, any random, scattered existence must ultimately justify itself as a particular Spirit [Geist]. Consequently, the doctrine of the existence of the Spirit [Geist], the most extreme exaltation of bourgeois consciousness, would already teleologically bear the belief in spirits, its utmost denigration. The transition to existence, always “positive” and justification for the world, implies at the same time the thesis of positivity of the Spirit [Geist], its arrest as a thing [Dingfestmachung], the transposition of what is absolute into the phenomenon [Erscheinung]. Whether the entire tangible world, as “product,” is supposed to be Spirit [Geist] or any sort of thing any sort of Spirit [Geist], becomes irrelevant and the world-spirit turns into the highest spirit [Geist], to the guardian angel of what exists, of what is de-spiritualized. The occultists live on this: their mysticism is the enfant terrible [French: scandalous young guard] of the mystical moment in Hegel. They drive the speculation to defrauding bankruptcy. By passing off the determinate being as Spirit [Geist], they subject the objectified Spirit [Geist] to the test of existence, and it must turn out negatively. No Spirit [Geist] is there.

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Not to be misused. – Dialectics originated in sophistry, a procedure of discussion designed to shake dogmatic assertions, and, as public prosecutors and comics call it, to make the weaker word into the stronger. It formed as a consequence of the perennial method of critique which opposed philosophia perennis [Latin: age-old philosophy], the asylum of all thoughts of the oppressed, even what they themselves could never think. But as a means of being right, it was from the very beginning also a means of domination, the formal technics of apologetics with no concern for content, serviceable to those who could pay: the principle, of always and successfully turning the tables. That is why truth or untruth does not stand in the method as such, but in its intention in the historical process. The split of the Hegelian school into a left and right wing was grounded in the ambiguity of the theory no less than in the political situation of the immediate pre-1848 period. Dialectics encompasses not just the Marxian doctrine, that the proletariat becomes, as the absolute object of history, its first social subject, capable of realizing the conscious self-determination of humanity, but also the joke, which Gustave Doré put into the mouth of a parliamentary representation of the ancien régime [French: feudal order]: that without Louis XVI the revolution would never have happened, therefore this latter is to be thanks for human rights. Negative philosophy, universal dissolution, constantly dissolves too that which dissolves. But the new form, in which both what is dissolved and dissolving claim to be sublated, can never step forwards purely in antagonistic society. For as long as domination reproduces itself, so too will the old quality recrudesce in the dissolution of what dissolves: in a radical sense, there is no pure leap. That would first of all be the emancipatory event, which actually happens. Because the dialectical determination of the new quality sees itself referred back to the violence of the objective tendency, which hands down the bane [Bann] of domination, it stands under the almost unavoidable compulsion, whenever it achieves the negation through the labor of the negation, to substitute what is bad about the old for the non-existent other. The profundity, with which it plumbs the depths of objectivity, is bought at the price of participating in the lie, that objectivity would already be the truth. By strictly delimiting itself to extrapolating the non-privileged condition, from what owes to the process the privilege of existing, it bows to restoration. This is registered by private existence. Hegel objected to the latter for its nullity. Mere subjectivity, insisting on the purity of its own principle, would entangle itself in antinomies. It would go to pieces on its mischief [Unwesen], hypocrisy and malevolence, to the extent it does not objectify itself in society and the state. Ethics [Moral], autonomy posited on pure self-certainty, and even the conscience are mere appearance [Schein]. If “there is nothing ethically real” (Hegel, Phenomenology of the Spirit, ed. Lasson, 2nd Printing, Leipzig 1921, page 397), then it logically follows in the Philosophy of Law that marriage is placed higher than the conscience, and that this latter is said, even on its own grounds – which Hegel, along with Romanticism, designates as irony – to be “subjective vanity” in a double understanding of the term. This motif of dialectics, which operates through all layers of the system, is simultaneously true and untrue. True, because it unveils the particular as necessary appearance [Schein], the false consciousness of what is split off, of being only itself and not a moment of the whole; and it causes this false consciousness to melt away through the energy of the whole. Untrue, because the motif of objectification, “disclosure” [Entäusserung: relinquishment, disclosure, realization], is degraded into a mere rationalization, into a pretext for precisely the bourgeois self-preservation of the subject, as long as the objectivity, which thought upholds in opposition to what is badly subjective, is unfree, regressing behind the critical labor of the subject. The word disclosure [Entäusserung], which expects the redemption of private caprice from the obedience of the private will, acknowledges, by expressly holding fast to what is external as what is institutionally opposed to the subject, in spite of all protestations of reconciliation, the enduring irreconcilability of subject and object, which for its part comprises the theme of dialectical critique. The act of self-disclosure [Selbstentäusserung] is tantamount to renunciation, which Goethe described as salvational, and thereby justification for the status quo, then as now. Out of the insight, for example, into the mutilation of women through patriarchal society, in the impossibility of wiping away the anthropological deformation without its prerequisite, it is precisely implacable dialecticians, without illusions, who may deduce the standpoint of the master-in-the-house, speaking on behalf of the remaining stock of the patriarchal relationship. In this they lack neither for good reasons, such as the impossibility of relations of a different nature [Wesen] under contemporary conditions, nor even humanity towards the oppressed, who have to pay the bill for false emancipation; but all this. though true, would turn into ideology in the hands of masculine interest. Dialecticians know the unhappiness and the abandonment of the unmarried spinster, of what is murderous in separations. By anti-romantically awarding priority to the objectified marriage over the ephemeral passion, not sublated into the common life, they would turn themselves into the representatives of those who propagate marriage at the cost of affection, who love what they are married to, therefore the abstract property-relationship. The final step of such wisdom would be, that the person really doesn’t matter so much, if they would only adapt to the given constellation and do their duty. To protect itself from such temptations, an enlightened dialectics requires the unceasing suspicion against every apologetic, restorative element, which nevertheless comprises a part of what is unnaïve. The threatening relapse of reflection into what is unreflected is betrayed by the superiority, which switches on the dialectical procedure and holds forth, as if it were itself that immediate knowledge of the whole, which is excluded precisely by the principle of dialectics. The standpoint of the totality is assumed, in order to slap down every determinate negative judgment by the opponent with the sign of the cautionary “that’s not what was meant,” and simultaneously to violently break off the movement of the concept, suspending dialectics with reference to the insurmountable gravity of facts. The calamity occurs through the thema probandum [Latin: self-evident supposition] one makes use of the dialectic instead of losing oneself in it. Then the sovereignly dialectical thought would regress back to the pre-dialectical stage: the sedate exposition, that every thing has its two sides.

153

At the end. – The only philosophy which would still be accountable in the face of despair, would be the attempt to consider all things, as they would be portrayed from the standpoint of redemption. Cognition has no other light than that which shines from redemption out upon the world; all else exhausts itself in post-construction and remains a piece of technics. Perspectives must be produced which set the world beside itself, alienated from itself, revealing its cracks and fissures, as needy and distorted as it will one day lay there in the messianic light. To win such perspectives without caprice or violence, wholly by the feel for objects, this alone is what thinking is all about. It is the simplest of all things, because the condition irrefutably call for such cognitions, indeed because completed negativity, once it comes fully into view, shoots [zusammenschiesst] into the mirror-writing of its opposite. But it is also that which is totally impossible, because it presupposes a standpoint at a remove, were it even the tiniest bit, from the bane [Bannkreis] of the existent; meanwhile every possible cognition must not only be wrested from that which is, in order to be binding, but for that very reason is stricken with the same distortedness and neediness which it intends to escape. The more passionately thought seals itself off from its conditional being for the sake of what is unconditional, the more unconsciously, and thereby catastrophically, it falls into the world. It must comprehend even its own impossibility for the sake of possibility. In relation to the demand thereby imposed on it, the question concerning the reality or non-reality of redemption is however almost inconsequential.

 

 

Schopenhauer and ON WOMEN

Schopenhauer and ON WOMEN

This essay is highly misunderstood and labeled or cited as proof that Schopenhauer was a Misogynist.  To call him that is completely absurd as well as a gross mischaracterization.  A philosopher, who harbored the same contempt for Soldiers, Noise, and Formal Education as it still stands, can hardly be expected to make an exception on the subject of women.  He did not even make an exception for the notion of life itself as noted in his essay ON SUICIDE, which takes issue with suicide only because it is a logical error, not because there is a moral problem with it.  To be sure, if one does not have a right to dispose of one’s own life, than what does he have the right to?

We can look to some details of his personal life to confirm this.  He used to visit a neighboring inn for the same meal each night at the same time.  The place was also frequented by soldiers and sometimes also students.  Each time, he would take out a gold piece and place it on the table.  Once he finished, he would pick up the coin, place it back into his pocket, and walk out.  One day the innkeeper asked him about this practice and Schopenhauer said he vowed that he would leave it there if only once the other clientele talked about anything other than horses or women.  He never left the coin as his pessimism was confirmed.

He was appointed to the faculty and was given the opportunity of when and in which room to teach.  He chose what he decided was the best time and place, but no students showed up.  Since he was paid to lecture at those times, he lectured to an empty classroom.  The reason the classroom was empty was that the very popular and in vogue Hegel was lecturing at the same time to a packed lecture hall.  Schopenhauer realized that he would either have to change the hour or to resign.  At the end of the term, he resigned.  He never taught again.  After all, when you are right, stand your ground, right?

One more incident: he chose what seemed to him the best-suited place in which to live and write.  After a few years, he had an argument with his landlady, which resulted in her being pushed down the stairs or slapped, or something like that, it is not clear.  She demanded an apology, and Schopenhauer, having decided his actions were correct and justifiable, refused.  She took him to court and he fought the case with ferocity and skill unbecoming a philosopher, and the court only ordered her a monthly payment of whatever.  He never considered moving, as this dispute had absolutely nothing to do with the suitability of the accommodations for his other purposes.  There is no record of anything about it until several years later when the old woman died of natural causes. Schopenhauer’s journal entry can best be translated as “The old woman dies, the debt departs.”

You also have to consider the context.  Schopenhauer died in 1860 and his observations were quite accurate at the time of this essay.  There were a few exceptions to be sure, but the social forces of the time did not offer women many other opportunities to be other than what he describes.

The translation is excellent and has not been improved upon.  Sanders had a much simpler task than the translators of Nietzsche as 1) Schopenhauer was fluent in English, and 2) he did not make any puns or wordplay as did Nietzsche, nor 3) was he as obscure as Kant (whom many German born philosophy students read in English translation as it is easier).

Finally, it should be understood that I do not agree with many items in this essay of his.  One obvious one is monogamy.  I mean, one is more than enough.  Anyone who wants more than one is a masochist or idiot. 🙂

OF WOMEN.

Schiller’s poem in honor of women, _Würde der Frauen_, is the

result of much careful thought, and it appeals to the reader by its

antithetic style and its use of contrast; but as an expression of the

true praise which should be accorded to them, it is, I think, inferior

to these few words of Jouy’s: _Without women, the beginning of our

life would be helpless; the middle, devoid of pleasure; and the end,

of consolation_. The same thing is more feelingly expressed by Byron

in _Sardanapalus_:

_The very first

Of human life must spring from woman’s breast,

Your first small words are taught you from her lips,

Your first tears quench’d by her, and your last sighs

Too often breathed out in a woman’s hearing,

When men have shrunk from the ignoble care

Of watching the last hour of him who led them_.

(Act I Scene 2.)

These two passages indicate the right standpoint for the appreciation of women. You need only look at the way in which she is formed, to see that  woman is not meant to undergo great labor, whether of the mind or of the body. She pays the debt of life not by what she does, but by what she suffers; by the pains of child-bearing and care for the child,  and by submission to her husband, to whom she should be a patient and cheering companion. The keenest sorrows and joys are not for her,  nor  is she called upon to display a great deal of strength. The current of her life should be more gentle, peaceful and trivial than man’s, without being essentially happier or unhappier.

Women are directly fitted for acting as the nurses and teachers of our early childhood by the fact that they are themselves childish,  frivolous and short-sighted; in a word, they are big children all their life long–a kind of intermediate stage between the child and the full-grown man, who is man in the strict sense of the word. See how a girl will fondle a child for days together, dance with it and sing to it; and then think what a man, with the best will in the world, could do if he were put in her place.

With young girls Nature seems to have had in view what, in the language of the drama, is called _a striking effect_; as for a few years she dowers them with a wealth of beauty and is lavish in her gift of charm, at the expense of all the rest of their life; so that during those years they may capture the fantasy of some man to such a degree that he is hurried away into undertaking the honorable care of them, in some form or other, as long as they live–a step for which there would not appear to be any sufficient warranty if reason only directed his thoughts. Accordingly, Nature has equipped woman, as she does all her creatures, with the weapons and implements requisite for the safeguarding of her existence, and for just as long as it is necessary for her to have them.

Here, as elsewhere, Nature proceeds with her usual economy; for just as the female ant, after fecundation, loses her wings, which are then superfluous, nay, actually a danger to the business of breeding; so, after giving birth to one or two children, a woman generally loses her beauty; probably, indeed, for similar reasons.

And so we find that young girls, in their hearts, look upon domestic affairs or work of any kind as of secondary importance, if not actually as a mere jest. The only business that really claims their earnest attention is love, making conquests, and everything connected with this–dress, dancing, and so on.

The nobler and more perfect a thing is, the later and slower it is in arriving at maturity. A man reaches the maturity of his reasoning  powers and mental faculties hardly before the age of twenty-eight; awoman at eighteen. And then, too, in the case of woman, it is onlyreason of a sort–very niggard in its dimensions. That is why women remain children their whole life long; never seeing anything but what is quite close to them, cleaving to the present moment, taking appearance for reality, and preferring trifles to matters of the first importance. For it is by virtue of his reasoning faculty that man does not live in the present only, like the brute, but looks about him and considers the past and the future; and this is the origin of prudence,  as well as of that care and anxiety which so many people exhibit. Both the advantages and the disadvantages which this involves, are sharedin by the woman to a smaller extent because of her weaker power of reasoning. She may, in fact, be described as intellectually short-sighted, because, while she has an intuitive understanding of what lies quite close to her, her field of vision is narrow and does not reach to what is remote; so that things which are absent, or past, or to come, have much less effect upon women than upon men. This is the reason why women are more often inclined to be extravagant, and sometimes carry their inclination to a length that borders upon madness. In their hearts, women think that it is men’s business to earn money and theirs to spend it— if possible during their husband’s life, but, at any rate, after his death. The very fact that their husband hands them over his earnings for purposes of  housekeeping, strengthens them in this belief.

However many disadvantages all this may involve, there is at least this to be said in its favor; that the woman lives more in the present than the man, and that, if the present is at all tolerable, she enjoys it more eagerly. This is the source of that cheerfulness which is peculiar to women, fitting her to amuse man in his hours of  recreation, and, in case of need, to console him when he is borne down by the weight of his cares.

It is by no means a bad plan to consult women in matters of difficulty, as the Germans used to do in ancient times; for their way of looking at things is quite different from ours, chiefly in the fact that they like to take the shortest way to their goal, and, in general, manage to fix their eyes upon what lies before them; while we, as a rule, see far beyond it, just because it is in front of our noses. In cases like this, we need to be brought back to the right standpoint, so as to recover the near and simple view.

Then, again, women are decidedly more sober in their judgment than  we are, so that they do not see more in things than is really there; whilst, if our passions are aroused, we are apt to see things in an exaggerated way, or imagine what does not exist.

The weakness of their reasoning faculty also explains why it is that women show more sympathy for the unfortunate than men do, and so treat them with more kindness and interest; and why it is that, on the contrary, they are inferior to men in point of justice, and less honorable and conscientious. For it is just because their reasoning power is weak that present circumstances have such a hold over them, and those concrete things, which lie directly before their eyes, exercise a power which is seldom counteracted to any extent by abstract principles of thought, by fixed rules of conduct, firm resolutions, or, in general, by consideration for the past and the future, or regard for what is absent and remote. Accordingly, they  possess the first and main elements that go to make a virtuous character, but they are deficient in those secondary qualities which are often a necessary instrument in the formation of it.[1]

[Footnote 1: In this respect they may be compared to an animal

organism which contains a liver but no gall-bladder. Here let me refer

to what I have said in my treatise on _The Foundation of Morals_, §

17.]

Hence, it will be found that the fundamental fault of the female character is that it has _no sense of justice_. This is mainly due to the fact, already mentioned, that women are defective in the powers of reasoning and deliberation; but it is also traceable to the position which Nature has assigned to them as the weaker sex. They are dependent, not upon strength, but upon craft; and hence their instinctive capacity for cunning, and their ineradicable tendency to say what is not true. For as lions are provided with claws and teeth, and elephants and boars with tusks, bulls with horns, and cuttle fish with its clouds of inky fluid, so Nature has equipped woman, for her defence and protection, with the arts of dissimulation; and all the power which Nature has conferred upon man in the shape of physical strength and reason, has been bestowed upon women in this form. Hence, dissimulation is innate in woman, and almost as much a quality of the stupid as of the clever. It is as natural for them to make use of it on every occasion as it is for those animals to employ their means of defence when they are attacked; they have a feeling that in doing so they are only within their rights. Therefore a woman who is perfectly truthful and not given to dissimulation is perhaps an impossibility,  and for this very reason they are so quick at seeing through dissimulation in others that it is not a wise thing to attempt it with them. But this fundamental defect which I have stated, with all that it entails, gives rise to falsity, faithlessness, treachery, ingratitude, and so on.

Perjury in a court of justice is more often committed by women than by men. It may, indeed, be generally questioned whether women ought to be sworn in at all. From time to time one finds repeated cases everywhere of ladies, who want for nothing, taking things from shop-counters when no one is looking, and making off with them.

Nature has appointed that the propagation of the species shall be the business of men who are young, strong and handsome; so that the race may not degenerate. This is the firm will and purpose of Nature in regard to the species, and it finds its expression in the passions of women. There is no law that is older or more powerful than this. Woe, then, to the man who sets up claims and interests that will conflict with it; whatever he may say and do, they will be unmercifully crushed at the first serious encounter. For the innate rule that governs women’s conduct, though it is secret and unformulated, nay unconscious in its working, is this: _We are justified in deceiving those who think they have acquired rights over the species by paying little attention to the individual, that is, to us.

The constitution and, therefore, the welfare of the species have been placed in our hands and committed to our care, through the control we obtain over the next generation, which proceeds from us; let us discharge our duties conscientiously_. But women have no abstract knowledge of this leading principle; they are conscious of it only as a concrete fact; and they have no other method of giving expression to it than the way in which they act when the opportunity arrives. And then their conscience does not trouble them so much as we fancy; for in the darkest recesses of their heart, they are aware that in committing a breach of their duty towards the individual, they have all the better fulfilled their duty towards the species, which is infinitely greater.[1]

[Footnote 1: A more detailed discussion of the matter in question may

be found in my chief work, _Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung_, vol.

ii, ch. 44.]

And since women exist in the main solely for the propagation of the species, and are not destined for anything else, they live, as a rule, more for the species than for the individual, and in their hearts take the affairs of the species more seriously than those of the individual. This gives their whole life and being a certain levity;  the general bent of their character is in a direction fundamentally different from that of man; and it is this to which produces that discord in married life which is so frequent, and almost the normal state.

The natural feeling between men is mere indifference, but between women it is actual enmity. The reason of this is that trade-jealousy–_odium figulinum_–which, in the case of men does not go beyond the confines of their own particular pursuit; but, with women, embraces the whole sex; since they have only one kind of business. Even when they meet in the street, women look at one another like Guelphs and Ghibellines. And it is a patent fact that when two women make first acquaintance with each other, they behave with more constraint and dissimulation than two men would show in a like case; and hence it is that an exchange of compliments between two women is a much more ridiculous proceeding than between two men. Further, whilst a man will, as a general rule, always preserve a certain amount of consideration and humanity in speaking to others, even to those who are in a very inferior position, it is intolerable to see how proudly and disdainfully a fine lady will generally behave towards one who is in a lower social rank (I do not mean a woman who is in her service), whenever she speaks to her. The reason of this may be that, with women, differences of rank are much more precarious than with us; because, while a hundred considerations carry weight in our case, in theirs there is only one, namely, with which man they have found favor; as also that they stand in much nearer relations with one another than men do, in consequence of the one-sided nature of their calling. This makes them endeavor to lay stress upon differences of rank.

It is only the man whose intellect is clouded by his sexual impulses that could give the name of _the fair sex_ to that under-sized, narrow-shouldered, broad-hipped, and short-legged race; for the whole beauty of the sex is bound up with this impulse. Instead of calling them beautiful, there would be more warrant for describing women as the un-aesthetic sex. Neither for music, nor for poetry, nor for fine art, have they really and truly any sense or susceptibility; it is a mere mockery if they make a pretence of it in order to assist their endeavor to please. Hence, as a result of this, they are incapable of taking a _purely objective interest_ in anything; and the reason of it seems to me to be as follows. A man tries to acquire _direct_ mastery over things, either by understanding them, or by forcing them to do his will. But a woman is always and everywhere reduced to obtaining this mastery _indirectly_, namely, through a man; and whatever direct mastery she may have is entirely confined to him.

And so it lies in woman’s nature to look upon everything only as a means for conquering man; and if she takes an interest in anything else, it is simulated–a mere roundabout way of gaining her ends by coquetry, and feigning what she does not feel. Hence, even Rousseau declared: _Women have, in general, no love for any art; they have no proper knowledge of any; and they have no genius_.[1]

[Footnote 1: Lettre à d’Alembert, Note xx.]

No one who sees at all below the surface can have failed to remark the same thing. You need only observe the kind of attention women bestow upon a concert, an opera, or a play–the childish simplicity, for example, with which they keep on chattering during the finest passages in the greatest masterpieces. If it is true that the Greeks excluded women from their theatres they were quite right in what they did; at any rate you would have been able to hear what was said upon the stage. In our day, besides, or in lieu of saying, _Let a woman keep  silence in the church_, it would be much to the point to say _Let a woman keep silence in the theatre_. This might, perhaps, be put up in big letters on the curtain.

And you cannot expect anything else of women if you consider that the most distinguished intellects among the whole sex have never managed to produce a single achievement in the fine arts that is really great, genuine, and original; or given to the world any work of permanent value in any sphere. This is most strikingly shown in regard to painting, where mastery of technique is at least as much within their power as within ours–and hence they are diligent in cultivating it;  but still, they have not a single great painting to boast of, just because they are deficient in that objectivity of mind which is so directly indispensable in painting. They never get beyond a subjective point of view. It is quite in keeping with this that ordinary women have no real susceptibility for art at all; for Nature proceeds in strict sequence–_non facit saltum_. And Huarte[1] in his _Examen de ingenios para las scienzias_–a book which has been famous for three hundred years–denies women the possession of all the higher faculties. The case is not altered by particular and partial exceptions; taken as a whole, women are, and remain, thorough-going Philistines, and quite incurable. Hence, with that absurd arrangement which allows them to share the rank and title of their husbands they are a constant stimulus to his ignoble ambitions. And, further, it is just because they are Philistines that modern society, where they take the lead and set the tone, is in such a bad way. Napoleon’s saying–that _women have no rank_–should be adopted as the right standpoint in determining their position in society; and as regards their other qualities Chamfort[2] makes the very true remark: _They are made to trade with our own weaknesses and our follies, but not with our reason. The sympathies that exist between them and men are skin-deep only, and do not touch the mind or the feelings or the character_. They form the _sexus sequior_–the second sex, inferior in every respect to the first; their infirmities should be treated with consideration; but to show them great reverence is extremely ridiculous, and lowers us in their eyes. When Nature made two divisions of the human race, she did not draw the line exactly through the middle. These divisions are polar and opposed to each other, it is true; but the difference between them is not qualitative merely, it is also quantitative.

[Footnote 1: _Translator’s Note_.— Juan Huarte (1520?-1590)practised as a physician at Madrid. The work cited by Schopenhauer is known, and has been translated into many languages.]

[Footnote 2: _Translator’s Note_.–See _Counsels and Maxims_, p. 12,Note.]

This is just the view which the ancients took of woman, and the view which people in the East take now; and their judgment as to her proper position is much more correct than ours, with our old French notions of gallantry and our preposterous system of reverence–that highest product of Teutonico-Christian stupidity. These notions have served only to make women more arrogant and overbearing; so that one is occasionally reminded of the holy apes in Benares, who in the consciousness of their sanctity and inviolable position, think they can do exactly as they please.

But in the West, the woman, and especially the _lady_, finds herself in a false position; for woman, rightly called by the ancients, _sexus sequior_, is by no means fit to be the object of our honor and veneration, or to hold her head higher than man and be on equal terms with him. The consequences of this false position are sufficiently obvious. Accordingly, it would be a very desirable thing if this Number-Two of the human race were in Europe also relegated to her natural place, and an end put to that lady nuisance, which not only moves all Asia to laughter, but would have been ridiculed by Greece and Rome as well. It is impossible to calculate the good effects which such a change would bring about in our social, civil and political arrangements. There would be no necessity for the Salic law: it would be a superfluous truism. In Europe the _lady_, strictly so-called, is a being who should not exist at all; she should be either a housewife or a girl who hopes to become one; and she should be brought up, not to be arrogant, but to be thrifty and submissive. It is just because there are such people as _ladies_ in Europe that the women of the lower classes, that is to say, the great majority of the sex, are much more unhappy than they are in the East.

The laws of marriage prevailing in Europe consider the woman as the equivalent of the man–start, that is to say, from a wrong position.

In our part of the world where monogamy is the rule, to marry means to halve one’s rights and double one’s duties. Now, when the laws gave women equal rights with man, they ought to have also endowed her with a masculine intellect. But the fact is, that just in proportion as the honors and privileges which the laws accord to women, exceed the amount which nature gives, is there a diminution in the number of women who really participate in these privileges; and all the remainder are deprived of their natural rights by just so much as is given to the others over and above their share. For the institution of monogamy, and the laws of marriage which it entails, bestow upon the woman an unnatural position of privilege, by considering her throughout as the full equivalent of the man, which is by no means the case; and seeing this, men who are shrewd and prudent very often scruple to make so great a sacrifice and to acquiesce in so unfair an arrangement.

Consequently, whilst among polygamous nations every woman is provided for, where monogamy prevails the number of married women is limited; and there remains over a large number of women without stay or support, who, in the upper classes, vegetate as useless old maids, and in the lower succumb to hard work for which they are not suited; or else become _filles de joie_, whose life is as destitute of joy as it is of honor. But under the circumstances they become a necessity; and their position is openly recognized as serving the special end of warding off temptation from those women favored by fate, who have found, or may hope to find, husbands. In London alone there are 80,000 prostitutes. What are they but the women, who, under the institution of monogamy have come off worse? Theirs is a dreadful fate: they are human sacrifices offered up on the altar of monogamy. The women whose wretched position is here described are the inevitable set-off to the European lady with her arrogance and pretension. Polygamy is therefore a real benefit to the female sex if it is taken as a whole. And, from another point of view, there is no true reason why a man whose wife suffers from chronic illness, or remains barren, or has gradually become too old for him, should not take a second. The motives which induce so many people to become converts to Mormonism[1] appear to be just those which militate against the unnatural institution of monogamy.

[Footnote 1: _Translator’s Note_.–The Mormons have recently given up polygamy, and received the American franchise in its stead.]

Moreover, the bestowal of unnatural rights upon women has imposed upon them unnatural duties, and, nevertheless, a breach of these duties makes them unhappy. Let me explain. A man may often think that his social or financial position will suffer if he marries, unless he makes some brilliant alliance. His desire will then be to win a woman of his own choice under conditions other than those of marriage, such as will secure her position and that of the children. However fair, reasonable, fit and proper these conditions may be, and the woman consents by foregoing that undue amount of privilege which marriage alone can bestow, she to some extent loses her honor, because marriage is the basis of civic society; and she will lead an unhappy life, since human nature is so constituted that we pay an attention to the opinion of other people which is out of all proportion to its value.  On the other hand, if she does not consent, she runs the risk either of having to be given in marriage to a man whom she does not like, or of being landed high and dry as an old maid; for the period during which she has a chance of being settled for life is very short. And in view of this aspect of the institution of monogamy, Thomasius’ profoundly learned treatise, _de Concubinatu_, is well worth reading; for it shows that, amongst all nations and in all ages, down to the Lutheran Reformation, concubinage was permitted; nay, that it was an institution which was to a certain extent actually recognized by law, and attended with no dishonor. It was only the Lutheran Reformation that degraded it from this position. It was seen to be a further justification for the marriage of the clergy; and then, after that, the Catholic Church did not dare to remain behind-hand in the matter.

There is no use arguing about polygamy; it must be taken as _de facto_ existing everywhere, and the only question is as to how it shall be regulated. Where are there, then, any real monogamists? We all live, at any rate, for a time, and most of us, always, in polygamy. And so, since every man needs many women, there is nothing fairer than to allow him, nay, to make it incumbent upon him, to provide for many women. This will reduce woman to her true and natural position as a subordinate being; and the _lady_–that monster of European civilization and Teutonico-Christian stupidity–will disappear from the world, leaving only _women_, but no more _unhappy women_, of whom Europe is now full.

In India, no woman is ever independent, but in accordance with the law of Mamu,[1] she stands under the control of her father, her husband  her brother or her son. It is, to be sure, a revolting thing that a widow should immolate herself upon her husband’s funeral pyre; but it is also revolting that she should spend her husband’s money with her paramours–the money for which he toiled his whole life long, in the consoling belief that he was providing for his children. Happy are those who have kept the middle course–_medium tenuere beati_. [Footnote 1: Ch. V., v. 148.]

The first love of a mother for her child is, with the lower animals as  with men, of a purely _instinctive_ character, and so it ceases when the child is no longer in a physically helpless condition. After that, the first love should give way to one that is based on habit and reason; but this often fails to make its appearance, especially where the mother did not love the father. The love of a father for his child is of a different order, and more likely to last; because it has its foundation in the fact that in the child he recognizes his own inner self; that is to say, his love for it is metaphysical in its origin.

In almost all nations, whether of the ancient or the modern world, even amongst the Hottentots,[1] property is inherited by the male descendants alone; it is only in Europe that a departure has taken place; but not amongst the nobility, however. That the property which  has cost men long years of toil and effort, and been won with so much difficulty, should afterwards come into the hands of women, who then, in their lack of reason, squander it in a short time, or otherwise fool it away, is a grievance and a wrong as serious as it is common, which should be prevented by limiting the right of women to inherit.

In my opinion, the best arrangement would be that by which women,whether widows or daughters, should never receive anything beyond the interest for life on property secured by mortgage, and in no case the property itself, or the capital, except where all male descendants fail. The people who make money are men, not women; and it follows from this that women are neither justified in having unconditional possession of it, nor fit persons to be entrusted with its administration. When wealth, in any true sense of the word, that is to say, funds, houses or land, is to go to them as an inheritance they should never be allowed the free disposition of it. In their case a  guardian should always be appointed; and hence they should never be given the free control of their own children, wherever it can be avoided. The vanity of women, even though it should not prove to be greater than that of men, has this much danger in it, that it takes an entirely material direction. They are vain, I mean, of their personal beauty, and then of finery, show and magnificence. That is just why they are so much in their element in society. It is this, too, which makes them so inclined to be extravagant, all the more as their reasoning power is low. Accordingly we find an ancient writerdescribing woman as in general of an extravagant nature–[Greek: Gynae to synolon esti dapanaeron Physei][2] But with men vanity often takes the direction of non-material advantages, such as intellect, learning, courage.

[Footnote 1: Leroy, _Lettres philosophiques sur l’intelligence et la perfectibilité des animaux, avec quelques lettres sur l’homme_, p. 298, Paris, 1802.]

[Footnote 2: Brunck’s _Gnomici poetae graeci_, v. 115.]

In the _Politics_[1] Aristotle explains the great disadvantage which accrued to the Spartans from the fact that they conceded too much to their women, by giving them the right of inheritance and dower, and a great amount of independence; and he shows how much this contributed  to Sparta’s fall. May it not be the case in France that the influence of women, which went on increasing steadily from the time of Louis XIII., was to blame for that gradual corruption of the Court and the  Government, which brought about the Revolution of 1789, of which all subsequent disturbances have been the fruit? However that may be, the false position which women occupy, demonstrated as it is, in the most glaring way, by the institution of the _lady_, is a fundamental defect in our social scheme, and this defect, proceeding from the very heart of it, must spread its baneful influence in all directions.

[Footnote 1: Bk. I, ch. 9.]

*       *       *       *       *

That woman is by nature meant to obey may be seen by the fact that every woman who is placed in the unnatural position of complete independence, immediately attaches herself to some man, by whom she allows herself to be guided and ruled. It is because she needs a lord and master. If she is young, it will be a lover; if she is old, a priest.

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Angry?  Or did you find it funny?  Or just interesting?  I have seen all sorts of reactions to this essay.

Overruled, by George Bernard Shaw

Overruled, by George Bernard Shaw

This is a seldom read or performed play by one of the most important playwrights and thinkers of the last century. His wit is well-documented as can be seen on Wikipedia and needs no documentation here. I am posting it because is it almost unknown except for those who have read everythingg Shaw ever wrote. Now you will be one on those who have read it and NOT read everything he ever wrote. That in itself is an accomplishment.

One of the most important things about him is that his works always made a point. He wrote to convey meaning. He said himself “For Art’s sake alone, I would not face the toil of writing a single sentence.” All art should have something to say, even it its message is that art should not have something to say, that it just exists.

Now that I have put all the deconstrunctionists into their own pointland, we can enjoy the play.

Another point: Since most people did not get the point he was making, he also wrote prefaces explaining what the plays were about. This is not a ridiculous an idea as it sounds. Pygmalian is an exellent example of this, especiall for those who have seen My Fair Lady. Few people know that Shaw had reached a point of frustration so great that he allowed work to continue so long as there was no mention of his name in conncection with it. Many of his readers or viewers thought he supported prostitution or polygamy, and his main points had to do with the position of women at the time as he was a feminist. There are other eamples, but here is a case in point so the introduction by Shaw is included. It should be pointed out, however, that quite often his introductions are more interesting than his plays, or at least more rewarding.

[Oh, and I’m not going to bother with the html again, or at leasst not in the near future.]

Title: Overruled Author: George Bernard Shaw

OVERRULED BERNARD SHAW 1912

PREFACE TO OVERRULED.

THE ALLEVIATIONS OF MONOGAMY. This piece is not an argument for or against polygamy. It is a clinical study of how the thing actually occurs among quite ordinary people, innocent of all unconventional views concerning it. The enormous majority of cases in real life are those of people in that position. Those who deliberately and conscientiously profess what are oddly called advanced views by those others who believe them to be retrograde, are often, and indeed mostly, the last people in the world to engage in unconventional adventures of any kind, not only because they have neither time nor disposition for them, but because the friction set up between the individual and the community by the expression of unusual views of any sort is quite enough hindrance to the heretic without being complicated by personal scandals. Thus the theoretic libertine is usually a person of blameless family life, whilst the practical libertine is mercilessly severe on all other libertines, and excessively conventional in professions of social principle. What is more, these professions are not hypocritical: they are for the most part quite sincere. The common libertine, like the drunkard, succumbs to a temptation which he does not defend, and against which he warns others with an earnestness proportionate to the intensity of his own remorse. He (or she) may be a liar and a humbug, pretending to be better than the detected libertines, and clamoring for their condign punishment; but this is mere self-defence. No reasonable person expects the burglar to confess his pursuits, or to refrain from joining in the cry of Stop Thief when the police get on the track of another burglar. If society chooses to penalize candor, it has itself to thank if its attack is countered by falsehood. The clamorous virtue of the libertine is therefore no more hypocritical than the plea of Not Guilty which is allowed to every criminal. But one result is that the theorists who write most sincerely and favorably about polygamy know least about it; and the practitioners who know most about it keep their knowledge very jealously to themselves. Which is hardly fair to the practice. INACCESSIBILITY OF THE FACTS. Also it is impossible to estimate its prevalence. A practice to which nobody confesses may be both universal and unsuspected, just as a virtue which everybody is expected, under heavy penalties, to claim, may have no existence. It is often assumed–indeed it is the official assumption of the Churches and the divorce courts that a gentleman and a lady cannot be alone together innocently. And that is manifest blazing nonsense, though many women have been stoned to death in the east, and divorced in the west, on the strength of it. On the other hand, the innocent and conventional people who regard the gallant adventures as crimes of so horrible a nature that only the most depraved and desperate characters engage in them or would listen to advances in that direction without raising an alarm with the noisiest indignation, are clearly examples of the fact that most sections of society do not know how the other sections live. Industry is the most effective check on gallantry. Women may, as Napoleon said, be the occupation of the idle man just as men are the preoccupation of the idle woman; but the mass of mankind is too busy and too poor for the long and expensive sieges which the professed libertine lays to virtue. Still, wherever there is idleness or even a reasonable supply of elegant leisure there is a good deal of coquetry and philandering. It is so much pleasanter to dance on the edge of a precipice than to go over it that leisured society is full of people who spend a great part of their lives in flirtation, and conceal nothing but the humiliating secret that they have never gone any further. For there is no pleasing people in the matter of reputation in this department: every insult is a flattery; every testimonial is a disparagement: Joseph is despised and promoted, Potiphar’s wife admired and condemned: in short, you are never on solid ground until you get away from the subject altogether. There is a continual and irreconcilable conflict between the natural and conventional sides of the case, between spontaneous human relations between independent men and women on the one hand and the property relation between husband and wife on the other, not to mention the confusion under the common name of love of a generous natural attraction and interest with the murderous jealousy that fastens on and clings to its mate (especially a hated mate) as a tiger fastens on a carcase. And the confusion is natural; for these extremes are extremes of the same passion; and most cases lie somewhere on the scale between them, and are so complicated by ordinary likes and dislikes, by incidental wounds to vanity or gratifications of it, and by class feeling, that A will be jealous of B and not of C, and will tolerate infidelities on the part of D whilst being furiously angry when they are committed by E. THE CONVENTION OF JEALOUSY That jealousy is independent of sex is shown by its intensity in children, and by the fact that very jealous people are jealous of everybody without regard to relationship or sex, and cannot bear to hear the person they “love” speak favorably of anyone under any circumstances (many women, for instance, are much more jealous of their husbands’ mothers and sisters than of unrelated women whom they suspect him of fancying); but it is seldom possible to disentangle the two passions in practice. Besides, jealousy is an inculcated passion, forced by society on people in whom it would not occur spontaneously. In Brieux’s Bourgeois aux Champs, the benevolent hero finds himself detested by the neighboring peasants and farmers, not because he preserves game, and sets mantraps for poachers, and defends his legal rights over his land to the extremest point of unsocial savagery, but because, being an amiable and public-spirited person, he refuses to do all this, and thereby offends and disparages the sense of property in his neighbors. The same thing is true of matrimonial jealousy; the man who does not at least pretend to feel it and behave as badly as if he really felt it is despised and insulted; and many a man has shot or stabbed a friend or been shot or stabbed by him in a duel, or disgraced himself and ruined his own wife in a divorce scandal, against his conscience, against his instinct, and to the destruction of his home, solely because Society conspired to drive him to keep its own lower morality in countenance in this miserable and undignified manner. Morality is confused in such matters. In an elegant plutocracy, a jealous husband is regarded as a boor. Among the tradesmen who supply that plutocracy with its meals, a husband who is not jealous, and refrains from assailing his rival with his fists, is regarded as a ridiculous, contemptible and cowardly cuckold. And the laboring class is divided into the respectable section which takes the tradesman’s view, and the disreputable section which enjoys the license of the plutocracy without its money: creeping below the law as its exemplars prance above it; cutting down all expenses of respectability and even decency; and frankly accepting squalor and disrepute as the price of anarchic self-indulgence. The conflict between Malvolio and Sir Toby, between the marquis and the bourgeois, the cavalier and the puritan, the ascetic and the voluptuary, goes on continually, and goes on not only between class and class and individual and individual, but in the selfsame breast in a series of reactions and revulsions in which the irresistible becomes the unbearable, and the unbearable the irresistible, until none of us can say what our characters really are in this respect. THE MISSING DATA OF A SCIENTIFIC NATURAL HISTORY OF MARRIAGE. Of one thing I am persuaded: we shall never attain to a reasonable healthy public opinion on sex questions until we offer, as the data for that opinion, our actual conduct and our real thoughts instead of a moral fiction which we agree to call virtuous conduct, and which we then–and here comes in the mischief–pretend is our conduct and our thoughts. If the result were that we all believed one another to be better than we really are, there would be something to be said for it; but the actual result appears to be a monstrous exaggeration of the power and continuity of sexual passion. The whole world shares the fate of Lucrezia Borgia, who, though she seems on investigation to have been quite a suitable wife for a modern British Bishop, has been invested by the popular historical imagination with all the extravagances of a Messalina or a Cenci. Writers of belles lettres who are rash enough to admit that their whole life is not one constant preoccupation with adored members of the opposite sex, and who even countenance La Rochefoucauld’s remark that very few people would ever imagine themselves in love if they had never read anything about it, are gravely declared to be abnormal or physically defective by critics of crushing unadventurousness and domestication. French authors of saintly temperament are forced to include in their retinue countesses of ardent complexion with whom they are supposed to live in sin. Sentimental controversies on the subject are endless; but they are useless, because nobody tells the truth. Rousseau did it by an extraordinary effort, aided by a superhuman faculty for human natural history, but the result was curiously disconcerting because, though the facts were so conventionally shocking that people felt that they ought to matter a great deal, they actually mattered very little. And even at that everybody pretends not to believe him.

ARTIFICIAL RETRIBUTION. The worst of that is that busybodies with perhaps rather more than a normal taste for mischief are continually trying to make negligible things matter as much in fact as they do in convention by deliberately inflicting injuries–sometimes atrocious injuries–on the parties concerned. Few people have any knowledge of the savage punishments that are legally inflicted for aberrations and absurdities to which no sanely instructed community would call any attention. We create an artificial morality, and consequently an artificial conscience, by manufacturing disastrous consequences for events which, left to themselves, would do very little harm (sometimes not any) and be forgotten in a few days. But the artificial morality is not therefore to be condemned offhand. In many cases it may save mischief instead of making it: for example, though the hanging of a murderer is the duplication of a murder, yet it may be less murderous than leaving the matter to be settled by blood feud or vendetta. As long as human nature insists on revenge, the official organization and satisfaction of revenge by the State may be also its minimization. The mischief begins when the official revenge persists after the passion it satisfies has died out of the race. Stoning a woman to death in the east because she has ventured to marry again after being deserted by her husband may be more merciful than allowing her to be mobbed to death; but the official stoning or burning of an adulteress in the west would be an atrocity because few of us hate an adulteress to the extent of desiring such a penalty, or of being prepared to take the law into our own hands if it were withheld. Now what applies to this extreme case applies also in due degree to the other cases. Offences in which sex is concerned are often needlessly magnified by penalties, ranging from various forms of social ostracism to long sentences of penal servitude, which would be seen to be monstrously disproportionate to the real feeling against them if the removal of both the penalties and the taboo on their discussion made it possible for us to ascertain their real prevalence and estimation. Fortunately there is one outlet for the truth. We are permitted to discuss in jest what we may not discuss in earnest. A serious comedy about sex is taboo: a farcical comedy is privileged. THE

FAVORITE SUBJECT OF FARCICAL COMEDY. The little piece which follows this preface accordingly takes the form of a farcical comedy, because it is a contribution to the very extensive dramatic literature which takes as its special department the gallantries of married people. The stage has been preoccupied by such affairs for centuries, not only in the jesting vein of Restoration Comedy and Palais Royal farce, but in the more tragically turned adulteries of the Parisian school which dominated the stage until Ibsen put them out of countenance and relegated them to their proper place as articles of commerce. Their continued vogue in that department maintains the tradition that adultery is the dramatic subject par excellence, and indeed that a play that is not about adultery is not a play at all. I was considered a heresiarch of the most extravagant kind when I expressed my opinion at the outset of my career as a playwright, that adultery is the dullest of themes on the stage, and that from Francesca and Paolo down to the latest guilty couple of the school of Dumas fils, the romantic adulterers have all been intolerable bores.

THE PSEUDO SEX PLAY. Later on, I had occasion to point out to the defenders of sex as the proper theme of drama, that though they were right in ranking sex as an intensely interesting subject, they were wrong in assuming that sex is an indispensable motive in popular plays. The plays of Moliere are, like the novels of the Victorian epoch or Don Quixote, as nearly sexless as anything not absolutely inhuman can be; and some of Shakespear’s plays are sexually on a par with the census: they contain women as well as men, and that is all. This had to be admitted; but it was still assumed that the plays of the XIX century Parisian school are, in contrast with the sexless masterpieces, saturated with sex; and this I strenuously denied. A play about the convention that a man should fight a duel or come to fisticuffs with his wife’s lover if she has one, or the convention that he should strangle her like Othello, or turn her out of the house and never see her or allow her to see her children again, or the convention that she should never be spoken to again by any decent person and should finally drown herself, or the convention that persons involved in scenes of recrimination or confession by these conventions should call each other certain abusive names and describe their conduct as guilty and frail and so on: all these may provide material for very effective plays; but such plays are not dramatic studies of sex: one might as well say that Romeo and Juliet is a dramatic study of pharmacy because the catastrophe is brought about through an apothecary. Duels are not sex; divorce cases are not sex; the Trade Unionism of married women is not sex. Only the most insignificant fraction of the gallantries of married people produce any of the conventional results; and plays occupied wholly with the conventional results are therefore utterly unsatisfying as sex plays, however interesting they may be as plays of intrigue and plot puzzles. The world is finding this out rapidly. The Sunday papers, which in the days when they appealed almost exclusively to the lower middle class were crammed with police intelligence, and more especially with divorce and murder cases, now lay no stress on them; and police papers which confined themselves entirely to such matters, and were once eagerly read, have perished through the essential dulness of their topics. And yet the interest in sex is stronger than ever: in fact, the literature that has driven out the journalism of the divorce courts is a literature occupied with sex to an extent and with an intimacy and frankness that would have seemed utterly impossible to Thackeray or Dickens if they had been told that the change would complete itself within fifty years of their own time. ART AND MORALITY. It is ridiculous to say, as inconsiderate amateurs of the arts do, that art has nothing to do with morality. What is true is that the artist’s business is not that of the policeman; and that such factitious consequences and put-up jobs as divorces and executions and the detective operations that lead up to them are no essential part of life, though, like poisons and buttered slides and red-hot pokers, they provide material for plenty of thrilling or amusing stories suited to people who are incapable of any interest in psychology. But the fine artists must keep the policeman out of his studies of sex and studies of crime. It is by clinging nervously to the policeman that most of the pseudo sex plays convince me that the writers have either never had any serious personal experience of their ostensible subject, or else have never conceived it possible that the stage door present the phenomena of sex as they appear in nature.

THE LIMITS OF STAGE PRESENTATION. But the stage presents much more shocking phenomena than those of sex. There is, of course, a sense in which you cannot present sex on the stage, just as you cannot present murder. Macbeth must no more really kill Duncan than he must himself be really slain by Macduff. But the feelings of a murderer can be expressed in a certain artistic convention; and a carefully prearranged sword exercise can be gone through with sufficient pretence of earnestness to be accepted by the willing imaginations of the younger spectators as a desperate combat. The tragedy of love has been presented on the stage in the same way. In Tristan and Isolde, the curtain does not, as in Romeo and Juliet, rise with the lark: the whole night of love is played before the spectators. The lovers do not discuss marriage in an elegantly sentimental way: they utter the visions and feelings that come to lovers at the supreme moments of their love, totally forgetting that there are such things in the world as husbands and lawyers and duelling codes and theories of sin and notions of propriety and all the other irrelevancies which provide hackneyed and bloodless material for our so-called plays of passion.

PRUDERIES OF THE FRENCH STAGE. To all stage presentations there are limits. If Macduff were to stab Macbeth, the spectacle would be intolerable; and even the pretence which we allow on our stage is ridiculously destructive to the illusion of the scene. Yet pugilists and gladiators will actually fight and kill in public without sham, even as a spectacle for money. But no sober couple of lovers of any delicacy could endure to be watched. We in England, accustomed to consider the French stage much more licentious than the British, are always surprised and puzzled when we learn, as we may do any day if we come within reach of such information, that French actors are often scandalized by what they consider the indecency of the English stage, and that French actresses who desire a greater license in appealing to the sexual instincts than the French stage allows them, learn and establish themselves on the English stage. The German and Russian stages are in the same relation to the French and perhaps more or less all the Latin stages. The reason is that, partly from a want of respect for the theatre, partly from a sort of respect for art in general which moves them to accord moral privileges to artists, partly from the very objectionable tradition that the realm of art is Alsatia and the contemplation of works of art a holiday from the burden of virtue, partly because French prudery does not attach itself to the same points of behavior as British prudery, and has a different code of the mentionable and the unmentionable, and for many other reasons the French tolerate plays which are never performed in England until they have been spoiled by a process of bowdlerization; yet French taste is more fastidious than ours as to the exhibition and treatment on the stage of the physical incidents of sex. On the French stage a kiss is as obvious a convention as the thrust under the arm by which Macduff runs Macbeth through. It is even a purposely unconvincing convention: the actors rather insisting that it shall be impossible for any spectator to mistake a stage kiss for a real one. In England, on the contrary, realism is carried to the point at which nobody except the two performers can perceive that the caress is not genuine. And here the English stage is certainly in the right; for whatever question there arises as to what incidents are proper for representation on the stage or not, my experience as a playgoer leaves me in no doubt that once it is decided to represent an incident, it will be offensive, no matter whether it be a prayer or a kiss, unless it is presented with a convincing appearance of sincerity. OUR DISILLUSIVE SCENERY. For example, the main objection to the use of illusive scenery (in most modern plays scenery is not illusive; everything visible is as real as in your drawing room at home) is that it is unconvincing; whilst the imaginary scenery with which the audience provides a platform or tribune like the Elizabethan stage or the Greek stage used by Sophocles, is quite convincing. In fact, the more scenery you have the less illusion you produce. The wise playwright, when he cannot get absolute reality of presentation, goes to the other extreme, and aims at atmosphere and suggestion of mood rather than at direct simulative illusion. The theatre, as I first knew it, was a place of wings and flats which destroyed both atmosphere and illusion. This was tolerated, and even intensely enjoyed, but not in the least because nothing better was possible; for all the devices employed in the productions of Mr. Granville Barker or Max Reinhardt or the Moscow Art Theatre were equally available for Colley Cibber and Garrick, except the intensity of our artificial light. When Garrick played Richard II in slashed trunk hose and plumes, it was not because he believed that the Plantagenets dressed like that, or because the costumes could not have made him a XV century dress as easily as a nondescript combination of the state robes of George III with such scraps of older fashions as seemed to playgoers for some reason to be romantic. The charm of the theatre in those days was its makebelieve. It has that charm still, not only for the amateurs, who are happiest when they are most unnatural and impossible and absurd, but for audiences as well. I have seen performances of my own plays which were to me far wilder burlesques than Sheridan’s Critic or Buckingham’s Rehearsal; yet they have produced sincere laughter and tears such as the most finished metropolitan productions have failed to elicit. Fielding was entirely right when he represented Partridge as enjoying intensely the performance of the king in Hamlet because anybody could see that the king was an actor, and resenting Garrick’s Hamlet because it might have been a real man. Yet we have only to look at the portraits of Garrick to see that his performances would nowadays seem almost as extravagantly stagey as his costumes. In our day Calve’s intensely real Carmen never pleased the mob as much as the obvious fancy ball masquerading of suburban young ladies in the same character.

HOLDING THE MIRROR UP TO NATURE. Theatrical art begins as the holding up to Nature of a distorting mirror. In this phase it pleases people who are childish enough to believe that they can see what they look like and what they are when they look at a true mirror. Naturally they think that a true mirror can teach them nothing. Only by giving them back some monstrous image can the mirror amuse them or terrify them. It is not until they grow up to the point at which they learn that they know very little about themselves, and that they do not see themselves in a true mirror as other people see them, that they become consumed with curiosity as to what they really are like, and begin to demand that the stage shall be a mirror of such accuracy and intensity of illumination that they shall be able to get glimpses of their real selves in it, and also learn a little how they appear to other people. For audiences of this highly developed class, sex can no longer be ignored or conventionalized or distorted by the playwright who makes the mirror. The old sentimental extravagances and the old grossnesses are of no further use to him. Don Giovanni and Zerlina are not gross: Tristan and Isolde are not extravagant or sentimental. They say and do nothing that you cannot bear to hear and see; and yet they give you, the one pair briefly and slightly, and the other fully and deeply, what passes in the minds of lovers. The love depicted may be that of a philosophic adventurer tempting an ignorant country girl, or of a tragically serious poet entangled with a woman of noble capacity in a passion which has become for them the reality of the whole universe. No matter: the thing is dramatized and dramatized directly, not talked about as something that happened before the curtain rose, or that will happen after it falls.

FARCICAL COMEDY SHIRKING ITS SUBJECT. Now if all this can be done in the key of tragedy and philosophic comedy, it can, I have always contended, be done in the key of farcical comedy; and Overruled is a trifling experiment in that manner. Conventional farcical comedies are always finally tedious because the heart of them, the inevitable conjugal infidelity, is always evaded. Even its consequences are evaded. Mr. Granville Barker has pointed out rightly that if the third acts of our farcical comedies dared to describe the consequences that would follow from the first and second in real life, they would end as squalid tragedies; and in my opinion they would be greatly improved thereby even as entertainments; for I have never seen a three-act farcical comedy without being bored and tired by the third act, and observing that the rest of the audience were in the same condition, though they were not vigilantly introspective enough to find that out, and were apt to blame one another, especially the husbands and wives, for their crossness. But it is happily by no means true that conjugal infidelities always produce tragic consequences, or that they need produce even the unhappiness which they often do produce. Besides, the more momentous the consequences, the more interesting become the impulses and imaginations and reasonings, if any, of the people who disregard them. If I had an opportunity of conversing with the ghost of an executed murderer, I have no doubt he would begin to tell me eagerly about his trial, with the names of the distinguished ladies and gentlemen who honored him with their presence on that occasion, and then about his execution. All of which would bore me exceedingly. I should say, “My dear sir: such manufactured ceremonies do not interest me in the least. I know how a man is tried, and how he is hanged. I should have had you killed in a much less disgusting, hypocritical, and unfriendly manner if the matter had been in my hands. What I want to know about is the murder. How did you feel when you committed it? Why did you do it? What did you say to yourself about it? If, like most murderers, you had not been hanged, would you have committed other murders? Did you really dislike the victim, or did you want his money, or did you murder a person whom you did not dislike, and from whose death you had nothing to gain, merely for the sake of murdering? If so, can you describe the charm to me? Does it come upon you periodically; or is it chronic? Has curiosity anything to do with it?” I would ply him with all manner of questions to find out what murder is really like; and I should not be satisfied until I had realized that I, too, might commit a murder, or else that there is some specific quality present in a murderer and lacking in me. And, if so, what that quality is. In just the same way, I want the unfaithful husband or the unfaithful wife in a farcical comedy not to bother me with their divorce cases or the stratagems they employ to avoid a divorce case, but to tell me how and why married couples are unfaithful. I don’t want to hear the lies they tell one another to conceal what they have done, but the truths they tell one another when they have to face what they have done without concealment or excuse. No doubt prudent and considerate people conceal such adventures, when they can, from those who are most likely to be wounded by them; but it is not to be presumed that, when found out, they necessarily disgrace themselves by irritating lies and transparent subterfuges. My playlet, which I offer as a model to all future writers of farcical comedy, may now, I hope, be read without shock. I may just add that Mr. Sibthorpe Juno’s view that morality demands, not that we should behave morally (an impossibility to our sinful nature) but that we shall not attempt to defend our immoralities, is a standard view in England, and was advanced in all seriousness by an earnest and distinguished British moralist shortly after the first performance of Overruled. My objection to that aspect of the doctrine of original sin is that no necessary and inevitable operation of human nature can reasonably be regarded as sinful at all, and that a morality which assumes the contrary is an absurd morality, and can be kept in countenance only by hypocrisy. When people were ashamed of sanitary problems, and refused to face them, leaving them to solve themselves clandestinely in dirt and secrecy, the solution arrived at was the Black Death. A similar policy as to sex problems has solved itself by an even worse plague than the Black Death; and the remedy for that is not Salvarsan, but sound moral hygiene, the first foundation of which is the discontinuance of our habit of telling not only the comparatively harmless lies that we know we ought not to tell, but the ruinous lies that we foolishly think we ought to {believe].

OVERRULED.

A lady and gentleman are sitting together on a chesterfield in a retired corner of the lounge of a seaside hotel. It is a summer night: the French window behind them stands open. The terrace without overlooks a moonlit harbor. The lounge is dark. The chesterfield, upholstered in silver grey, and the two figures on it in evening dress, catch the light from an arc lamp somewhere; but the walls, covered with a dark green paper, are in gloom. There are two stray chairs, one on each side. On the gentleman’s right, behind him up near the window, is an unused fireplace. Opposite it on the lady’s left is a door. The gentleman is on the lady’s right. The lady is very attractive, with a musical voice and soft appealing manners. She is young: that is, one feels sure that she is under thirty-five and over twenty-four. The gentleman does not look much older. He is rather handsome, and has ventured as far in the direction of poetic dandyism in the arrangement of his hair as any man who is not a professional artist can afford to in England. He is obviously very much in love with the lady, and is, in fact, yielding to an irresistible impulse to throw his arms around her. THE LADY. Don’t–oh don’t be horrid. Please, Mr. Lunn [she rises from the lounge and retreats behind it]! Promise me you won’t be horrid. GREGORY

LUNN. I’m not being horrid, Mrs. Juno. I’m not going to be horrid. I love you: that’s all. I’m extraordinarily happy.

MRS. JUNO. You will really be good?

GREGORY. I’ll be whatever you wish me to be. I tell you I love you. I love loving you. I don’t want to be tired and sorry, as I should be if I were to be horrid. I don’t want you to be tired and sorry. Do come and sit down again.

MRS. JUNO [coming back to her seat]. You’re sure you don’t want anything you oughtn’t to?

GREGORY. Quite sure. I only want you [she recoils]. Don’t be alarmed. I like wanting you. As long as I have a want, I have a reason for living. Satisfaction is death.

MRS. JUNO. Yes; but the impulse to commit suicide is sometimes irresistible.

GREGORY. Not with you.

MRS. JUNO. What!

GREGORY. Oh, it sounds uncomplimentary; but it isn’t really. Do you know why half the couples who find themselves situated as we are now behave horridly?

MRS. JUNO. Because they can’t help it if they let things go too far.

GREGORY. Not a bit of it. It’s because they have nothing else to do, and no other way of entertaining each other. You don’t know what it is to be alone with a woman who has little beauty and less conversation. What is a man to do? She can’t talk interestingly; and if he talks that way himself she doesn’t understand him. He can’t look at her: if he does, he only finds out that she isn’t beautiful. Before the end of five minutes they are both hideously bored. There’s only one thing that can save the situation; and that’s what you call being horrid. With a beautiful, witty, kind woman, there’s no time for such follies. It’s so delightful to look at her, to listen to her voice, to hear all she has to say, that nothing else happens. That is why the woman who is supposed to have a thousand lovers seldom has one; whilst the stupid, graceless animals of women have dozens.

MRS. JUNO. I wonder! It’s quite true that when one feels in danger one talks like mad to stave it off, even when one doesn’t quite want to stave it off.

GREGORY. One never does quite want to stave it off. Danger is delicious. But death isn’t. We court the danger; but the real delight is in escaping, after all.

MRS. JUNO. I don’t think we’ll talk about it any more. Danger is all very well when you do escape; but sometimes one doesn’t. I tell you frankly I don’t feel as safe as you do–if you really do.

GREGORY. But surely you can do as you please without injuring anyone, Mrs. Juno. That is the whole secret of your extraordinary charm for me.

MRS. JUNO. I don’t understand.

GREGORY. Well, I hardly know how to begin to explain. But the root of the matter is that I am what people call a good man.

MRS. JUNO. I thought so until you began making love to me.

GREGORY. But you knew I loved you all along.

MRS. JUNO. Yes, of course; but I depended on you not to tell me so; because I thought you were good. Your blurting it out spoilt it. And it was wicked besides.

GREGORY. Not at all. You see, it’s a great many years since I’ve been able to allow myself to fall in love. I know lots of charming women; but the worst of it is, they’re all married. Women don’t become charming, to my taste, until they’re fully developed; and by that time, if they’re really nice, they’re snapped up and married. And then, because I am a good man, I have to place a limit to my regard for them. I may be fortunate enough to gain friendship and even very warm affection from them; but my loyalty to their husbands and their hearths and their happiness obliges me to draw a line and not overstep it. Of course I value such affectionate regard very highly indeed. I am surrounded with women who are most dear to me. But every one of them has a post sticking up, if I may put it that way, with the inscription Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted. How we all loathe that notice! In every lovely garden, in every dell full of primroses, on every fair hillside, we meet that confounded board; and there is always a gamekeeper round the corner. But what is that to the horror of meeting it on every beautiful woman, and knowing that there is a husband round the corner? I have had this accursed board standing between me and every dear and desirable woman until I thought I had lost the power of letting myself fall really and wholeheartedly in love.

MRS. JUNO. Wasn’t there a widow?

GREGORY. No. Widows are extraordinarily scarce in modern society. Husbands live longer than they used to; and even when they do die, their widows have a string of names down for their next. MRS.

JUNO. Well, what about the young girls?

GREGORY. Oh, who cares for young girls? They’re sympathetic. They’re beginners. They don’t attract me. I’m afraid of them.

MRS. JUNO. That’s the correct thing to say to a woman of my age. But it doesn’t explain why you seem to have put your scruples in your pocket when you met me.

GREGORY. Surely that’s quite clear. I–

MRS. JUNO. No: please don’t explain. I don’t want to know. I take your word for it. Besides, it doesn’t matter now. Our voyage is over; and to-morrow I start for the north to my poor father’s place.

GREGORY [surprised]. Your poor father! I thought he was alive.

MRS. JUNO. So he is. What made you think he wasn’t?

GREGORY. You said your POOR father.

MRS. JUNO. Oh, that’s a trick of mine. Rather a silly trick, I Suppose; but there’s something pathetic to me about men: I find myself calling them poor So-and-So when there’s nothing whatever the matter with them.

GREGORY [who has listened in growing alarm]. But–I–is?– wa–? Oh, Lord!

MRS. JUNO. What’s the matter?

GREGORY. Nothing.

MRS. JUNO. Nothing! [Rising anxiously]. Nonsense: you’re ill.

GREGORY. No. It was something about your late husband–

MRS. JUNO. My LATE husband! What do you mean? [clutching him, horror-stricken]. Don’t tell me he’s dead.

GREGORY [rising, equally appalled]. Don’t tell me he’s alive.

MRS. JUNO. Oh, don’t frighten me like this. Of course he’s alive–unless you’ve heard anything.

GREGORY. The first day we met–on the boat–you spoke to me of your poor dear husband. MRS.

JUNO [releasing him, quite reassured]. Is that all?

GREGORY. Well, afterwards you called him poor Tops. Always poor Tops, Our poor dear Tops. What could I think?

MRS. JUNO [sitting down again]. I wish you hadn’t given me such a shock about him; for I haven’t been treating him at all well. Neither have you.

GREGORY [relapsing into his seat, overwhelmed]. And you mean to tell me you’re not a widow! MRS. J

UNO. Gracious, no! I’m not in black.

GREGORY. Then I have been behaving like a blackguard. I have broken my promise to my mother. I shall never have an easy conscience again.

MRS. JUNO. I’m sorry. I thought you knew.

GREGORY. You thought I was a libertine?

MRS. JuNO. No: of course I shouldn’t have spoken to you if I had thought that. I thought you liked me, but that you knew, and would be good.

GREGORY [stretching his hands towards her breast]. I thought the burden of being good had fallen from my soul at last. I saw nothing there but a bosom to rest on: the bosom of a lovely woman of whom I could dream without guilt. What do I see now?

MRS. JUNO. Just what you saw before.

GREGORY [despairingly]. No, no.

MRS. JUNO. What else?

GREGORY. Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted: Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted.

MRS. JUNO. They won’t if they hold their tongues. Don’t be such a coward. My husband won’t eat you.

GREGORY. I’m not afraid of your husband. I’m afraid of my conscience.

MRS. JUNO [losing patience]. Well! I don’t consider myself at all a badly behaved woman; for nothing has passed between us that was not perfectly nice and friendly; but really! to hear a grown-up man talking about promises to his mother!

GREGORY [interrupting her]. Yes, Yes: I know all about that. It’s not romantic: it’s not Don Juan: it’s not advanced; but we feel it all the same. It’s far deeper in our blood and bones than all the romantic stuff. My father got into a scandal once: that was why my mother made me promise never to make love to a married woman. And now I’ve done it I can’t feel honest. Don’t pretend to despise me or laugh at me. You feel it too. You said just now that your own conscience was uneasy when you thought of your husband. What must it be when you think of my wife?

MRS. JUNO [rising aghast]. Your wife!!! You don’t dare sit there and tell me coolly that you’re a married man!

GREGORY. I never led you to believe I was unmarried.

MRS. JUNO. Oh! You never gave me the faintest hint that you had a wife.

GREGORY. I did indeed. I discussed things with you that only married people really understand.

MRS. JUNO. Oh!!

GREGORY. I thought it the most delicate way of letting you know.

MRS. JUNO. Well, you ARE a daisy, I must say. I suppose that’s vulgar; but really! really!! You and your goodness! However, now we’ve found one another out there’s only one thing to be done. Will you please go?

GREGORY [rising slowly]. I OUGHT to go. MRS. JUNO. Well, go.

GREGORY. Yes. Er–[he tries to go]. I–I somehow can’t. [He sits down again helplessly]. My conscience is active: my will is paralyzed. This is really dreadful. Would you mind ringing the bell and asking them to throw me out? You ought to, you know.

MRS. JUNO. What! make a scandal in the face of the whole hotel! Certainly not. Don’t be a fool.

GREGORY. Yes; but I can’t go.

MRS. JUNO. Then I can. Goodbye.

GREGORY [clinging to her hand]. Can you really?

MRS. JUNO. Of course I–[she wavers]. Oh, dear! [They contemplate one another helplessly]. I can’t. [She sinks on the lounge, hand in hand with him].

GREGORY. For heaven’s sake pull yourself together. It’s a question of self-control.

MRS. JUNO [dragging her hand away and retreating to the end of the chesterfield]. No: it’s a question of distance. Self-control is all very well two or three yards off, or on a ship, with everybody looking on. Don’t come any nearer.

GREGORY. This is a ghastly business. I want to go away; and I can’t.

MRS. JUNO. I think you ought to go [he makes an effort; and she adds quickly] but if you try I shall grab you round the neck and disgrace myself. I implore you to sit still and be nice.

GREGORY. I implore you to run away. I believe I can trust myself to let you go for your own sake. But it will break my heart.

MRS. JUNO. I don’t want to break your heart. I can’t bear to think of your sitting here alone. I can’t bear to think of sitting alone myself somewhere else. It’s so senseless–so ridiculous–when we might be so happy. I don’t want to be wicked, or coarse. But I like you very much; and I do want to be affectionate and human.

GREGORY. I ought to draw a line. MRS. JUNO. So you shall, dear. Tell me: do you really like me? I don’t mean LOVE me: you might love the housemaid– GREGORY [vehemently]. No!

MRS. JUNO. Oh, yes you might; and what does that matter, anyhow? Are you really fond of me? Are we friends–comrades? Would you be sorry if I died?

GREGORY [shrinking]. Oh, don’t.

MRS. JUNO. Or was it the usual aimless man’s lark: a mere shipboard flirtation?

GREGORY. Oh, no, no: nothing half so bad, so vulgar, so wrong. I assure you I only meant to be agreeable. It grew on me before I noticed it. MRS.

JUNO. And you were glad to let it grow?

GREGORY. I let it grow because the board was not up.

MRS. JUNO. Bother the board! I am just as fond of Sibthorpe as–

GREGORY. Sibthorpe!

MRS. JUNO. Sibthorpe is my husband’s Christian name. I oughtn’t to call him Tops to you now.

GREGORY [chuckling]. It sounded like something to drink. But I have no right to laugh at him. My Christian name is Gregory, which sounds like a powder.

MRS. JUNO [chilled]. That is so like a man! I offer you my heart’s warmest friendliest feeling; and you think of nothing but a silly joke. A quip like that makes you forget me.

GREGORY. Forget you! Oh, if I only could!

MRS. JUNO. If you could, would you?

GREGORY [burying his shamed face in his hands]. No: I’d die first. Oh, I hate myself.

MRS. JUNO. I glory in myself. It’s so jolly to be reckless. CAN a man be reckless, I wonder.

GREGORY [straightening himself desperately]. No. I’m not reckless. I know what I’m doing: my conscience is awake. Oh, where is the intoxication of love? the delirium? the madness that makes a man think the world well lost for the woman he adores? I don’t think anything of the sort: I see that it’s not worth it: I know that it’s wrong: I have never in my life been cooler, more businesslike. MRS.

JUNO. [opening her arms to him] But you can’t resist me.

GREGORY. I must. I ought [throwing himself into her arms]. Oh, my darling, my treasure, we shall be sorry for this. MRS. JUNO. We can forgive ourselves. Could we forgive ourselves if we let this moment slip? GREGORY. I protest to the last. I’m against this. I have been pushed over a precipice. I’m innocent. This wild joy, this exquisite tenderness, this ascent into heaven can thrill me to the uttermost fibre of my heart [with a gesture of ecstasy she hides her face on his shoulder]; but it can’t subdue my mind or corrupt my conscience, which still shouts to the skies that I’m not a willing party to this outrageous conduct. I repudiate the bliss with which you are filling me.

MRS. JUNO. Never mind your conscience. Tell me how happy you are.

GREGORY. No, I recall you to your duty. But oh, I will give you my life with both hands if you can tell me that you feel for me one millionth part of what I feel for you now.

MRS. JUNO. Oh, yes, yes. Be satisfied with that. Ask for no more. Let me go.

GREGORY. I can’t. I have no will. Something stronger than either of us is in command here. Nothing on earth or in heaven can part us now. You know that, don’t you?

MRS. JUNO. Oh, don’t make me say it. Of course I know. Nothing–not life nor death nor shame nor anything can part us.

A MATTER-OF-FACT MALE VOICE IN THE CORRIDOR. All right. This must be it. The two recover with a violent start; release one another; and spring back to opposite sides of the lounge.

GREGORY. That did it.

MRS. JUNO [in a thrilling whisper] Sh–sh–sh! That was my husband’s voice.

GREGORY. Impossible: it’s only our guilty fancy.

A WOMAN’S VOICE. This is the way to the lounge. I know it.

GREGORY. Great Heaven! we’re both mad. That’s my wife’s voice.

MRS. JUNO. Ridiculous! Oh! we’re dreaming it all. We [the door opens; and Sibthorpe Juno appears in the roseate glow of the corridor (which happens to be papered in pink) with Mrs. Lunn, like Tannhauser in the hill of Venus. He is a fussily energetic little man, who gives himself an air of gallantry by greasing the points of his moustaches and dressing very carefully. She is a tall, imposing, handsome, languid woman, with flashing dark eyes and long lashes. They make for the chesterfield, not noticing the two palpitating figures blotted against the walls in the gloom on either side. The figures flit away noiselessly through the window and disappear].

JUNO [officiously] Ah: here we are. [He leads the way to the sofa]. Sit down: I’m sure you’re tired. [She sits]. That’s right. [He sits beside her on her left]. Hullo! [he rises] this sofa’s quite warm.

MRS. LUNN [bored] Is it? I don’t notice it. I expect the sun’s been on it.

JUNO. I felt it quite distinctly: I’m more thinly clad than you. [He sits down again, and proceeds, with a sigh of satisfaction]. What a relief to get off the ship and have a private room! That’s the worst of a ship. You’re under observation all the time.

MRS. LUNN. But why not? J

UNO. Well, of course there’s no reason: at least I suppose not. But, you know, part of the romance of a journey is that a man keeps imagining that something might happen; and he can’t do that if there are a lot of people about and it simply can’t happen.

MRS. LUNN. Mr. Juno: romance is all very well on board ship; but when your foot touches the soil of England there’s an end of it.

JUNO. No: believe me, that’s a foreigner’s mistake: we are the most romantic people in the world, we English. Why, my very presence here is a romance.

MRS. LUNN [faintly ironical] Indeed?

JUNO. Yes. You’ve guessed, of course, that I’m a married man.

MRS. LUNN. Oh, that’s all right. I’m a married woman.

JUNO. Thank Heaven for that! To my English mind, passion is not real passion without guilt. I am a red-blooded man,

Mrs. Lunn: I can’t help it. The tragedy of my life is that I married, when quite young, a woman whom I couldn’t help being very fond of. I longed for a guilty passion–for the real thing–the wicked thing; and yet I couldn’t care twopence for any other woman when my wife was about. Year after year went by: I felt my youth slipping away without ever having had a romance in my life; for marriage is all very well; but it isn’t romance. There’s nothing wrong in it, you see.

MRS. LUNN. Poor man! How you must have suffered! J

UNO. No: that was what was so tame about it. I wanted to suffer. You get so sick of being happily married. It’s always the happy marriages that break up. At last my wife and I agreed that we ought to take a holiday.

MRS. LUNN. Hadn’t you holidays every year?

JUNO. Oh, the seaside and so on! That’s not what we meant. We meant a holiday from one another.

MRS. LUNN. How very odd! J

UNO. She said it was an excellent idea; that domestic felicity was making us perfectly idiotic; that she wanted a holiday, too. So we agreed to go round the world in opposite directions. I started for Suez on the day she sailed for New York.

MRS. LUNN [suddenly becoming attentive] That’s precisely what Gregory and I did. Now I wonder did he want a holiday from me! What he said was that he wanted the delight of meeting me after a long absence.

JUNO. Could anything be more romantic than that? Would anyone else than an Englishman have thought of it? I daresay my temperament seems tame to your boiling southern blood–

MRS. LUNN. My what!

JUNO. Your southern blood. Don’t you remember how you told me, that night in the saloon when I sang “Farewell and adieu to you dear Spanish ladies,” that you were by birth a lady of Spain? Your splendid Andalusian beauty speaks for itself. MRS.

LUNN. Stuff! I was born in Gibraltar. My father was Captain Jenkins. In the artillery.

JUNO [ardently] It is climate and not race that determines the temperament. The fiery sun of Spain blazed on your cradle; and it rocked to the roar of British cannon.

MRS. LUNN. What eloquence! It reminds me of my husband when he was in love before we were married. Are you in love? J

UNO. Yes; and with the same woman. MRS. LUNN. Well, of course, I didn’t suppose you were in love with two women.

JUNO. I don’t think you quite understand. I meant that I am in love with you.

MRS. LUNN [relapsing into deepest boredom] Oh, that! Men do fall in love with me. They all seem to think me a creature with volcanic passions: I’m sure I don’t know why; for all the volcanic women I know are plain little creatures with sandy hair. I don’t consider human volcanoes respectable. And I’m so tired of the subject! Our house is always full of women who are in love with my husband and men who are in love with me. We encourage it because it’s pleasant to have company. J

UNO. And is your husband as insensible as yourself?

MRS. LUNN. Oh, Gregory’s not insensible: very far from it; but I am the only woman in the world for him.

JUNO. But you? Are you really as insensible as you say you are?

MRS. LUNN. I never said anything of the kind. I’m not at all insensible by nature; but (I don’t know whether you’ve noticed it) I am what people call rather a fine figure of a woman.

JUNO [passionately] Noticed it! Oh, Mrs. Lunn! Have I been able to notice anything else since we met?

MRS. LUNN. There you go, like all the rest of them! I ask you, how do you expect a woman to keep up what you call her sensibility when this sort of thing has happened to her about three times a week ever since she was seventeen? It used to upset me and terrify me at first. Then I got rather a taste for it. It came to a climax with Gregory: that was why I married him. Then it became a mild lark, hardly worth the trouble. After that I found it valuable once or twice as a spinal tonic when I was run down; but now it’s an unmitigated bore. I don’t mind your declaration: I daresay it gives you a certain pleasure to make it. I quite understand that you adore me; but (if you don’t mind) I’d rather you didn’t keep on saying so. JUNO. Is there then no hope for me? MRS. LUNN. Oh, yes. Gregory has an idea that married women keep lists of the men they’ll marry if they become widows. I’ll put your name down, if that will satisfy you. JUNO. Is the list a long one? MRS. LUNN. Do you mean the real list? Not the one I show to Gregory: there are hundreds of names on that; but the little private list that he’d better not see?

JUNO. Oh, will you really put me on that? Say you will.

MRS. LUNN. Well, perhaps I will. [He kisses her hand]. Now don’t begin abusing the privilege.

JUNO. May I call you by your Christian name?

MRS. LUNN. No: it’s too long. You can’t go about calling a woman Seraphita.

JUNO [ecstatically] Seraphita!

MRS. LUNN. I used to be called Sally at home; but when I married a man named Lunn, of course that became ridiculous. That’s my one little pet joke. Call me Mrs. Lunn for short. And change the subject, or I shall go to sleep.

JUNO. I can’t change the subject. For me there is no other subject. Why else have you put me on your list?

MRS. LUNN. Because you’re a solicitor. Gregory’s a solicitor. I’m accustomed to my husband being a solicitor and telling me things he oughtn’t to tell anybody.

JUNO [ruefully] Is that all? Oh, I can’t believe that the voice of love has ever thoroughly awakened you.

MRS. LUNN. No: it sends me to sleep. [Juno appeals against this by an amorous demonstration]. It’s no use, Mr. Juno: I’m hopelessly respectable: the Jenkinses always were. Don’t you realize that unless most women were like that, the world couldn’t go on as it does?

JUNO [darkly] You think it goes on respectably; but I can tell you as a solicitor–

MRS. LUNN. Stuff! of course all the disreputable people who get into trouble go to you, just as all the sick people go to the doctors; but most people never go to a solicitor.

JUNO [rising, with a growing sense of injury] Look here, Mrs. Lunn: do you think a man’s heart is a potato? or a turnip? or a ball of knitting wool? that you can throw it away like this?

MRS. LUNN. I don’t throw away balls of knitting wool. A man’s heart seems to me much like a sponge: it sops up dirty water as well as clean. JUNO. I have never been treated like this in my life. Here am I, a married man, with a most attractive wife: a wife I adore, and who adores me, and has never as much as looked at any other man since we were married. I come and throw all this at your feet. I! I, a solicitor! braving the risk of your husband putting me into the divorce court and making me a beggar and an outcast! I do this for your sake. And you go on as if I were making no sacrifice: as if I had told you it’s a fine evening, or asked you to have a cup of tea. It’s not human. It’s not right. Love has its rights as well as respectability [he sits down again, aloof and sulky]. MRS. LUNN. Nonsense! Here, here’s a flower [she gives him one]. Go and dream over it until you feel hungry. Nothing brings people to their senses like hunger. JUNO [contemplating the flower without rapture] What good’s this? MRS. LUNN [snatching it from him] Oh! you don’t love me a bit.

JUNO. Yes I do. Or at least I did. But I’m an Englishman; and I think you ought to respect the conventions of English life.

MRS. LUNN. But I am respecting them; and you’re not.

JUNO. Pardon me. I may be doing wrong; but I’m doing it in a proper and customary manner. You may be doing right; but you’re doing it in an unusual and questionable manner. I am not prepared to put up with that. I can stand being badly treated: I’m no baby, and can take care of myself with anybody. And of course I can stand being well treated. But the thing I can’t stand is being unexpectedly treated, It’s outside my scheme of life. So come now! you’ve got to behave naturally and straightforwardly with me. You can leave husband and child, home, friends, and country, for my sake, and come with me to some southern isle–or say South America–where we can be all in all to one another. Or you can tell your husband and let him jolly well punch my head if he can. But I’m damned if I’m going to stand any eccentricity. It’s not respectable.

GREGORY [coming in from the terrace and advancing with dignity to his wife’s end of the chesterfield]. Will you have the goodness, sir, in addressing this lady, to keep your temper and refrain from using profane language?

MRS. LUNN [rising, delighted] Gregory! Darling [she enfolds him in a copious embrace]!

JUNO [rising] You make love to another man to my face!

MRS. LUNN. Why, he’s my husband.

JUNO. That takes away the last rag of excuse for such conduct. A nice world it would be if married people were to carry on their endearments before everybody!

GREGORY. This is ridiculous. What the devil business is it of yours what passes between my wife and myself? You’re not her husband, are you? JUNO. Not at present; but I’m on the list. I’m her prospective husband: you’re only her actual one. I’m the anticipation: you’re the disappointment. MRS. LUNN. Oh, my Gregory is not a disappointment. [Fondly] Are you, dear? GREGORY. You just wait, my pet. I’ll settle this chap for you. [He disengages himself from her embrace, and faces Juno. She sits down placidly]. You call me a disappointment, do you? Well, I suppose every husband’s a disappointment. What about yourself? Don’t try to look like an unmarried man. I happen to know the lady you disappointed. I travelled in the same ship with her; and–

JUNO. And you fell in love with her.

GREGORY [taken aback] Who told you that?

JUNO. Aha! you confess it. Well, if you want to know, nobody told me. Everybody falls in love with my wife.

GREGORY. And do you fall in love with everybody’s wife? J

UNO. Certainly not. Only with yours.

MRS. LUNN. But what’s the good of saying that, Mr. Juno? I’m married to him; and there’s an end of it.

JUNO. Not at all. You can get a divorce.

MRS. LUNN. What for?

JUNO. For his misconduct with my wife.

GREGORY [deeply indignant] How dare you, sir, asperse the character of that sweet lady? a lady whom I have taken under my protection.

JUNO. Protection!

MRS. JUNO [returning hastily] Really you must be more careful what you say about me, Mr. Lunn.

JUNO. My precious! [He embraces her]. Pardon this betrayal of my feeling; but I’ve not seen my wife for several weeks; and she is very dear to me.

GREGORY. I call this cheek. Who is making love to his own wife before people now, pray?

MRS. LUNN. Won’t you introduce me to your wife, Mr. Juno?

MRS. JUNO. How do you do? [They shake hands; and Mrs. Juno sits down beside Mrs. Lunn, on her left].

MRS. LUNN. I’m so glad to find you do credit to Gregory’s taste. I’m naturally rather particular about the women he falls in love with.

JUNO [sternly] This is no way to take your husband’s unfaithfulness. [To Lunn] You ought to teach your wife better. Where’s her feelings? It’s scandalous.

GREGORY. What about your own conduct, pray? JUNO. I don’t defend it; and there’s an end of the matter.

GREGORY. Well, upon my soul! What difference does your not defending it make? J

UNO. A fundamental difference. To serious people I may appear wicked. I don’t defend myself: I am wicked, though not bad at heart. To thoughtless people I may even appear comic. Well, laugh at me: I have given myself away. But Mrs. Lunn seems to have no opinion at all about me. She doesn’t seem to know whether I’m wicked or comic. She doesn’t seem to care. She has no more sense. I say it’s not right. I repeat, I have sinned; and I’m prepared to suffer.

MRS. JUNO. Have you really sinned, Tops?

MRS. LUNN [blandly] I don’t remember your sinning. I have a shocking bad memory for trifles; but I think I should remember that–if you mean me.

JUNO [raging] Trifles! I have fallen in love with a monster. GREGORY. Don’t you dare call my wife a monster. MRS. JUNO [rising quickly and coming between them]. Please don’t lose your temper, Mr. Lunn: I won’t have my Tops bullied. GREGORY. Well, then, let him not brag about sinning with my wife. [He turns impulsively to his wife; makes her rise; and takes her proudly on his arm]. What pretension has he to any such honor? JUNO. I sinned in intention. [Mrs. Juno abandons him and resumes her seat, chilled]. I’m as guilty as if I had actually sinned. And I insist on being treated as a sinner, and not walked over as if I’d done nothing, by your wife or any other man. MRS. LUNN. Tush! [She sits down again contemptuously]. JUNO [furious] I won’t be belittled. MRS. LUNN [to Mrs. Juno] I hope you’ll come and stay with us now that you and Gregory are such friends, Mrs. Juno. JUNO. This insane magnanimity– MRS. LUNN. Don’t you think you’ve said enough, Mr. Juno? This is a matter for two women to settle. Won’t you take a stroll on the beach with my Gregory while we talk it over. Gregory is a splendid listener.

JUNO. I don’t think any good can come of a conversation between Mr. Lunn and myself. We can hardly be expected to improve one another’s morals. [He passes behind the chesterfield to Mrs. Lunn’s end; seizes a chair; deliberately pushes it between Gregory and Mrs. Lunn; and sits down with folded arms, resolved not to budge].

GREGORY. Oh! Indeed! Oh, all right. If you come to that–[he crosses to Mrs. Juno; plants a chair by her side; and sits down with equal determination]. J

UNO. Now we are both equally guilty.

GREGORY. Pardon me. I’m not guilty. J

UNO. In intention. Don’t quibble. You were guilty in intention, as I was. GREGORY. No. I should rather describe myself guilty in fact, but not in intention. JUNO { rising and } What! MRS. JUNO { exclaiming } No, really– MRS. LUNN { simultaneously } Gregory! GREGORY. Yes: I maintain that I am responsible for my intentions only, and not for reflex actions over which I have no control. [Mrs. Juno sits down, ashamed]. I promised my mother that I would never tell a lie, and that I would never make love to a married woman. I never have told a lie–

MRS. LUNN [remonstrating] Gregory! [She sits down again].

GREGORY. I say never. On many occasions I have resorted to prevarication; but on great occasions I have always told the truth. I regard this as a great occasion; and I won’t be intimidated into breaking my promise. I solemnly declare that I did not know until this evening that Mrs. Juno was married. She will bear me out when I say that from that moment my intentions were strictly and resolutely honorable; though my conduct, which I could not control and am therefore not responsible for, was disgraceful–or would have been had this gentleman not walked in and begun making love to my wife under my very nose.

JUNO [flinging himself back into his chair] Well, I like this!

MRS. LUNN. Really, darling, there’s no use in the pot calling the kettle black.

GREGORY. When you say darling, may I ask which of us you are addressing?

MRS. LUNN. I really don’t know. I’m getting hopelessly confused.

JUNO. Why don’t you let my wife say something? I don’t think she ought to be thrust into the background like this.

MRS. LUNN. I’m sorry, I’m sure. Please excuse me, dear.

MRS. JUNO [thoughtfully] I don’t know what to say. I must think over it. I have always been rather severe on this sort of thing; but when it came to the point I didn’t behave as I thought I should behave. I didn’t intend to be wicked; but somehow or other, Nature, or whatever you choose to call it, didn’t take much notice of my intentions. [Gregory instinctively seeks her hand and presses it]. And I really did think, Tops, that I was the only woman in the world for you. J

UNO [cheerfully] Oh, that’s all right, my precious. Mrs. Lunn thought she was the only woman in the world for him.

GREGORY [reflectively] So she is, in a sort of a way.

JUNO [flaring up] And so is my wife. Don’t you set up to be a better husband than I am; for you’re not. I’ve owned I’m wrong. You haven’t. MRS. LUNN. Are you sorry, Gregory? GREGORY [perplexed] Sorry? MRS. LUNN. Yes, sorry. I think it’s time for you to say you’re sorry, and to make friends with Mr. Juno before we all dine together. GREGORY. Seraphita: I promised my mother– MRS. JUNO [involuntarily] Oh, bother your mother! [Recovering herself] I beg your pardon. GREGORY. A promise is a promise. I can’t tell a deliberate lie. I know I ought to be sorry; but the flat fact is that I’m not sorry. I find that in this business, somehow or other, there is a disastrous separation between my moral principles and my conduct. JUNO. There’s nothing disastrous about it. It doesn’t matter about your principles if your conduct is all right. GREGORY. Bosh! It doesn’t matter about your principles if your conduct is all right. JUNO. But your conduct isn’t all right; and my principles are. GREGORY. What’s the good of your principles being right if they won’t work? JUNO. They WILL work, sir, if you exercise self-sacrifice. GREGORY. Oh yes: if, if, if. You know jolly well that self-sacrifice doesn’t work either when you really want a thing. How much have you sacrificed yourself, pray?

MRS. LUNN. Oh, a great deal, Gregory. Don’t be rude. Mr. Juno is a very nice man: he has been most attentive to me on the voyage.

GREGORY. And Mrs. Juno’s a very nice woman. She oughtn’t to be; but she is.

JUNO. Why oughtn’t she to be a nice woman, pray? GREGORY. I mean she oughtn’t to be nice to me. And you oughtn’t to be nice to my wife. And your wife oughtn’t to like me. And my wife oughtn’t to like you. And if they do, they oughtn’t to go on liking us. And I oughtn’t to like your wife; and you oughtn’t to like mine; and if we do we oughtn’t to go on liking them. But we do, all of us. We oughtn’t; but we do.

JuNO. But, my dear boy, if we admit we are in the wrong where’s the harm of it? We’re not perfect; but as long as we keep the ideal before us–

REGORY. How?

JUNO. By admitting we were wrong.

MRS. LUNN [springing up, out of patience, and pacing round the lounge intolerantly] Well, really, I must have my dinner. These two men, with their morality, and their promises to their mothers, and their admissions that they were wrong, and their sinning and suffering, and their going on at one another as if it meant anything, or as if it mattered, are getting on my nerves. [Stooping over the back of the chesterfield to address Mrs. Juno] If you will be so very good, my dear, as to take my sentimental husband off my hands occasionally, I shall be more than obliged to you: I’m sure you can stand more male sentimentality than I can. [Sweeping away to the fireplace] I, on my part, will do my best to amuse your excellent husband when you find him tiresome. JUNO. I call this polyandry. MRS. LUNN. I wish you wouldn’t call innocent things by offensive names, Mr. Juno. What do you call your own conduct? JUNO [rising] I tell you I have admitted– GREGORY { } What’s the good of keeping on at that? MRS. JUNO { together } Oh, not that again, please. MRS. LUNN { } Tops: I’ll scream if you say that again. JUNO. Oh, well, if you won’t listen to me–! [He sits down again]. MRS. JUNO. What is the position now exactly? [Mrs. Lunn shrugs her shoulders and gives up the conundrum. Gregory looks at Juno. Juno turns away his head huffily]. I mean, what are we going to do? MRS. LUNN. What would you advise, Mr. Juno? JUNO. I should advise you to divorce your husband. MRS. LUNN. Do you want me to drag your wife into court and disgrace her? JUNO. No: I forgot that. Excuse me; but for the moment I thought I was married to you. GREGORY. I think we had better let bygones be bygones. [To Mrs. Juno, very tenderly] You will forgive me, won’t you? Why should you let a moment’s forgetfulness embitter all our future life? MRS. JUNO. But it’s Mrs. Lunn who has to forgive you. GREGORY. Oh, dash it, I forgot. This is getting ridiculous. MRS. LUNN. I’m getting hungry. MRS. JUNO. Do you really mind, Mrs. Lunn?

MRS. LUNN. My dear Mrs. Juno, Gregory is one of those terribly uxorious men who ought to have ten wives. If any really nice woman will take him off my hands for a day or two occasionally, I shall be greatly obliged to her.

GREGORY. Seraphita: you cut me to the soul [he weeps].

MRs. LUNN. Serve you right! You’d think it quite proper if it cut me to the soul.

MRS. JUNO. Am I to take Sibthorpe off your hands too, Mrs. Lunn?

JUNO [rising] Do you suppose I’ll allow this?

MRS. JUNO. You’ve admitted that you’ve done wrong, Tops. What’s the use of your allowing or not allowing after that? J

UNO. I do not admit that I have done wrong. I admit that what I did was wrong.

GREGORY. Can you explain the distinction?

JUNO. It’s quite plain to anyone but an imbecile. If you tell me I’ve done something wrong you insult me. But if you say that something that I did is wrong you simply raise a question of morals. I tell you flatly if you say I did anything wrong you will have to fight me. In fact I think we ought to fight anyhow. I don’t particularly want to; but I feel that England expects us to.

GREGORY. I won’t fight. If you beat me my wife would share my humiliation. If I beat you, she would sympathize with you and loathe me for my brutality.

MRS. LUNN. Not to mention that as we are human beings and not reindeer or barndoor fowl, if two men presumed to fight for us we couldn’t decently ever speak to either of them again.

GREGORY. Besides, neither of us could beat the other, as we neither of us know how to fight. We should only blacken each other’s eyes and make fools of ourselves.

JUNO. I don’t admit that. Every Englishman can use his fists.

GREGORY. You’re an Englishman. Can you use yours? JUNO. I presume so: I never tried.

RS. JUNO. You never told me you couldn’t fight, Tops. I thought you were an accomplished boxer.

JUNO. My precious: I never gave you any ground for such a belief.

MRS. JUNO. You always talked as if it were a matter of course. You spoke with the greatest contempt of men who didn’t kick other men downstairs.

JUNO. Well, I can’t kick Mr. Lunn downstairs. We’re on the ground floor.

MRS. JUNO. You could throw him into the harbor.

GREGORY. Do you want me to be thrown into the harbor?

MRS. JUNO. No: I only want to show Tops that he’s making a ghastly fool of himself.

GREGORY [rising and prowling disgustedly between the chesterfield and the windows] We’re all making fools of ourselves.

JUNO [following him] Well, if we’re not to fight, I must insist at least on your never speaking to my wife again.

GREGORY. Does my speaking to your wife do you any harm?

JUNO. No. But it’s the proper course to take. [Emphatically]. We MUST behave with some sort of decency.

MRS. LUNN. And are you never going to speak to me again, Mr. Juno?

JUNO. I’m prepared to promise never to do so. I think your husband has a right to demand that. Then if I speak to you after, it will not be his fault. It will be a breach of my promise; and I shall not attempt to defend my conduct.

GREGORY [facing him] I shall talk to your wife as often as she’ll let me.

MRS. JUNO. I have no objection to your speaking to me, Mr. Lunn.

JUNO. Then I shall take steps.

GREGORY. What steps? Juno. Steps. Measures. Proceedings. What steps as may seem advisable.

MRS. LUNN [to Mrs. Juno] Can your husband afford a scandal, Mrs. Juno?

MRS. JUNO. No.

MRS. LUNN. Neither can mine.

GREGORY. Mrs. Juno: I’m very sorry I let you in for all this. I don’t know how it is that we contrive to make feelings like ours, which seems to me to be beautiful and sacred feelings, and which lead to such interesting and exciting adventures, end in vulgar squabbles and degrading scenes. J

UNO. I decline to admit that my conduct has been vulgar or degrading.

GREGORY. I promised– J

UNO. Look here, old chap: I don’t say a word against your mother; and I’m sorry she’s dead; but really, you know, most women are mothers; and they all die some time or other; yet that doesn’t make them infallible authorities on morals, does it?

GREGORY. I was about to say so myself. Let me add that if you do things merely because you think some other fool expects you to do them, and he expects you to do them because he thinks you expect him to expect you to do them, it will end in everybody doing what nobody wants to do, which is in my opinion a silly state of things. J

UNO. Lunn: I love your wife; and that’s all about it.

GREGORY. Juno: I love yours. What then?

JUNO. Clearly she must never see you again.

MRS. JUNO. Why not?

JUNO. Why not! My love: I’m surprised at you.

MRS. JUNO. Am I to speak only to men who dislike me?

JUNO. Yes: I think that is, properly speaking, a married woman’s duty.

MRS. JUNO. Then I won’t do it: that’s flat. I like to be liked. I like to be loved. I want everyone round me to love me. I don’t want to meet or speak to anyone who doesn’t like me.

JUNO. But, my precious, this is the most horrible immorality.

MRS. LUNN. I don’t intend to give up meeting you, Mr. Juno. You amuse me very much. I don’t like being loved: it bores me. But I do like to be amused.

JUNO. I hope we shall meet very often. But I hope also we shall not defend our conduct.

MRS. JUNO [rising] This is unendurable. We’ve all been flirting. Need we go on footling about it?

JUNO [huffily] I don’t know what you call footling–

MRS. JUNO [cutting him short] You do. You’re footling. Mr. Lunn is footling. Can’t we admit that we’re human and have done with it?

JUNO. I have admitted it all along. I– MRS. JUNO [almost screaming] Then stop footling. The dinner gong sounds.

MRS. LUNN [rising] Thank heaven! Let’s go in to dinner. Gregory: take in Mrs. Juno.

GREGORY. But surely I ought to take in our guest, and not my own wife.

MRS. LUNN. Well, Mrs. Juno is not your wife, is she?

GREGORY. Oh, of course: I beg your pardon. I’m hopelessly confused. [He offers his arm to Mrs. Juno, rather apprehensively].

MRS. JUNO. You seem quite afraid of me [she takes his arm].

GREGORY. I am. I simply adore you. [They go out together; and as they pass through the door he turns and says in a ringing voice to the other couple] I have said to Mrs. Juno that I simply adore her. [He takes her out defiantly].

MRS. LUNN [calling after him] Yes, dear. She’s a darling. [To Juno] Now, Sibthorpe. J

UNO [giving her his arm gallantly] You have called me Sibthorpe! Thank you. I think Lunn’s conduct fully justifies me in allowing you to do it.

MRS. LUNN. Yes: I think you may let yourself go now.

JUNO. Seraphita: I worship you beyond expression.

MRS. LUNN. Sibthorpe: you amuse me beyond description. Come. [They go in to dinner together].