The observations and encounters of a devotee of solitude and silence are at once less distinct and more penetrating than those of the sociable man; his thoughts are weightier, stranger, and never without a tinge of sadness. Images and perceptions which might otherwise be easily dispelled by a glance, a laugh, an exchange of comments, concern him unduly, they sink into mute depths, take on significance, become experiences, adventures, emotions.
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The observations and encounters of a solitary, taciturn man are vaguer and at the same times more intense than those of a sociable man; his thoughts are deeper, odder and never without a touch of sadness. Images and perceptions that could be dismissed with a glance, a laugh, an exchange of opinions, occupy him unduly, become more intense in the silence, become significant, become an experience, an adventure, an emotion. Solitude produces originality, bold and astonishing beauty, poetry. But solitude also produces perverseness, the disproportionate, the absurd and the forbidden.
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For a brief moment I felt I was the older, the more mature. "A gift of life," I responded, "if not to say, a gift of God, such as music, should not have the mocking charge of paradox leveled at it for things that are merely evidence of the fullness of its nature. One should love them." "Do you believe love is the strongest emotion?" he asked. "Do you know any stronger?" "Yes, interest." "By which you probably mean a love that has been deprived of its animal warmth, is that it?" "Let's agree on that definition!" he said with a laugh. "Good night!" We had arrived again at the Leverke¼hn house, and he opened his front door.
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Nothing is more curious and awkward than the relationship of two people who only know each other with their eyes - who meet and observe each other daily, even hourly and who keep up the impression of disinterest either because of morals or because of a mental abnormality. Between them there is listlessness and pent-up curiosity, the hysteria of an unsatisfied, unnaturally suppressed need for communion and also a kind of tense respect. Because man loves and honors man as long as he is not able to judge him, and desire is a product of lacking knowledge.
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Who then was the orthodox, who the freethinker? Where lay the true position, the true state of man? Should he descend into the all-consuming all-equalizing chaos, that ascetic-libertine state; or should he take his stand on the "Critical-Subjective, " where empty bombast and a bourgeois strictness of morals contradicted each other? Ah, the principles and points of view constantly did that; it became so hard for Hans Castorp's civilian responsibility to distinguish between opposed positions, or even to keep the premises apart from each other and clear in his mind, that the temptation grew well-nigh irresistible to plunge head foremost into Naphtha's "morally chaotic All.
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Kindly permit me to tell you, sir, that I hate you. I hate you and your child, as I hate the life of which you are the representative: cheap, ridiculous, but yet triumphant life, the everlasting antipodes and deadly enemy of beauty. I cannot say I despise you - for I am honest. You are stronger than I. I have no armour for the struggle between us, I have only the Word, avenging weapon of the weak. Today I have availed myself of this weapon. This letter is nothing but an act of revenge - you see how honourable I am - and if any word of mine is sharp and bright and beautiful enough to strike home, to make you feel the presence of a power you do not know, to shake even a minute your robust equilibrium, I shall rejoice indeed. -
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And life? Life itself? Was it perhaps only an infection, a sickening of matter? Was that which one might call the original procreation of matter only a disease, a growth produced by morbid stimulation of the immaterial? The first step toward evil, toward desire and death, was taken precisely then, when there took place that first increase in the density of the spiritual, that pathologically luxuriant morbid growth, produced by the irritant of some unknown infiltration; this, in part pleasurable, in part a motion of self-defense, was the primeval stage of matter, the transition from the insubstantial to the substance. This was the Fall.
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The accouterments of life were so rich and varied, so elaborated, that almost no place at all was left for life itself. Each and every accessory was so costly and beautiful that it had an existence above and beyond the purpose it was meant to serve - confusing the observer and absorbing attention.
Yet there was a momentary hint of blue sky, and even this bit of light was enough to release a flash of diamonds across the wide landscape, so oddly disfigured by its snowy adventure. Usually the snow stopped at that hour of the day, as if for a quick survey of what had been achieved thus far; the rare days of sunshine seemed to serve much the same purpose-the flurries died down and the sun's direct glare attempted to melt the luscious, pure surface of drifted new snow. It was a fairy-tale world, child-like and funny. Boughs of trees adorned with thick pillows, so fluffy someone must have plumped them up; the ground a series of humps and mounds, beneath which slinking underbrush or outcrops of rock lay hidden; a landscape of crouching, cowering gnomes in droll disguises-it was comic to behold, straight out of a book of fairy tales. But if there was something roguish and fantastic about the immediate vicinity through which you laboriously made your way, the towering statues of snow-clad Alps, gazing down from the distance, awakened in you feelings of the sublime and holy.
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Or was he merely a mollycoddled favorite, enjoying capriciously prejudiced love? Schenback was inclined to believe the latter. Inborn in nearly every artist's nature is a voluptuous, treacherous tendency to accept the injustice if it creates beauty and to grant sympathy and homage to aristocratic preferences.
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Pour qu'un produit majeur de l'esprit soit capable d'avoir aussite´t un effet vaste et profond, il faut qu'une affinite secre¨te, qu'un accord meªme existe entre le destin personnel de son auteur et celui, general, de ses contemporains. Les hommes ne savent pas pourquoi ils cele¨brent une oeuvre d'art. A mille lieues d'eªtre des connaisseurs, ils croient y decouvrir cent qualites qui justifient d'autant leur intereªt; mais la veritable cause de leur approbation est un imponderable, c'est la sympathie. Aschenbach avait une fois declare sans ambages au detour d'une phrase que presque tout ce qui existait de grand existait comme un "malgre", et s'etait accompli malgre le chagrin et la souffrance, malgre la pauvrete, l'abandon, la faiblesse corporelle, le vice, malgre la passion et mille autres entraves.
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Even in a personal sense, after all, art is an intensified life. By art one is more deeply satisfied and more rapidly used up. It engraves on the countenance of its servant the traces of imaginary and intellectual adventures, and even if he has outwardly existed in cloistral tranquility, it leads in the long term to overfastidiousness, over-refinement, nervous fatigue and overstimulation, such as can seldom result from a life of the most extravagant passions and pleasures.
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