Sunday, October 07, 2007

responsibility of the word

Thomas Mann, writing about the word and responsibility in a time of fascism, on March 6, 1937, in the Nation magazine:

The mystery of the Word is great; the responsibility for it and its purity is of a symbolic and spiritual kind; it has not only an artistic but also a general ethical meaning; it is responsibility itself, human responsibility quite simply, also the responsibility for one’s own people, the duty of keeping pure its image in the sight of humanity. In the Word is involved the unity of humanity, the wholeness of the human problem, which permits nobody, today less than ever, to separate the intellectual and artistic from the political and social, and to isolate himself within the ivory tower of the "cultural" proper....

A German author accustomed to this responsibility of the Word... should he be silent, wholly silent, in the face of the inexpiable evil that is done daily in his country to bodies, souls and minds, to right and truth, to men and mankind?... It was not possible for me to be silent.

The article was called "I Accuse the Hitler Regime."