Friday, December 17, 2010

I Am By Myself . . . .

A brief passage from the essay The Shape of the Inconstruable Question (From the book The Spirit of Utopia) by Ernst Bloch

I am by myself
     Here one finally has to begin.
     But where do I suffer from being not enough? Where am I askew, where have I been corrupted? Where am I secure and genuine? But of course we are neither one nor the other, but rather muddy, tepid and to see us is to want to vomit.
     That is little enough, and almost everything immediately follows from it. Even what is good, because man immediately languishes in weariness, and nothing achieves any color. Only this is finally clear; that we mean little to each other, can pass unsuspectingly by one another. Or when we do know - when the possibility of helping, of becoming another draws near us, while we work, even with ideas - then the nasty way we have of warming our hearts with vanity appears, and the prospect still remains empty. Moreover most people around us, particularly since they have been entangled in a money economy, are so lethargically filthy that none of them, once they are scalded and marked, comes near any more difficult inner stirrings. And the emancipated, intellectual ones decay with all their soul, however elegantly hey may have put talk, sentimental experience, a moral sensibility in the place of action when the other acts, when the other needs help. They are far from feeling: I am at fault, not the others, and if they are dark, then I have not shone enough for them. Instead they split moral life off from itself, contemplate it lifelessly and easily like everything else, and so the collectively inner character of its essence is misrecognized, squandered. It has fallen to the criminals to feel fear, remorse, guilt, the stirring of the germ of the spirit in us, and our hearts stay lethargic.
(Translation by Anthony A. Nassar)


900ft Jesus said...

that's really dark. Can't argue that it doesn't represent a certain reality, but I do believe that altruism exists in some people, true unselfishness. It's not a moral or religious thing, in my opinion, but a combination of genetics and environment. Sacrificing for the greater good helps survival of the species.

Lovely piece of writing.

kirbycairo said...

Yes, pretty dark, funny that Bloch is a philosopher famous for his work on utopia. I think I believe in altruism too, but I am not sure about the genetics thing. I think some people just choose to be good and some people don't.

Anyway, Bloch is pretty interesting, and indeed a very good writer.

Thanks for the comment 900ft

900ft Jesus said...

I like Pope's Essay on Man as well. Near the end - "whatever is, is right" stops me from knocking my head against a wall over bad things that happen. He doesn't say it's good, just that good things happen, and bad things happen, and it's neutral.

I'm not being very clear, but I'm sure you get my meaning. You are obviously very well read.