In Bluebeard’s castle

“We cannot think clearly about the crises of Western culture, about the origins and forms of totalitarian movements in the European heartland and the recurrence of world war, without bearing sharply in mind that Europe, after 1918, was damaged in its centers of life. Decisive reserves of intelligence, of nervous resilience, of political talent, had been annihilated. The satiric conceit, in Brecht and Georges Grosz, of children murdered because never to be born has its specific genetic meaning. An aggregate of mental and physical potentiality, of new hybrids and variants, too manifold for us to measure, was lost to the preservation and further evolution of Western man and of his institutions. Already in a biological sense we are looking now at a diminished or “post-culture.”

 

“We are not, I believe, dealing with some monstrous accident in modern social history. The holocaust was not the result of merely individual pathology or of the neuroses of one nation-state. Indeed, competent observers expected the cancer to spread first, and most virulently, in France. We are not-and this is often misunderstood-considering something truly analogous to other cases of massacre, to the murder of the Gypsies or, earlier, of the Armenians. There are parallels in technique and in the idiom of hatred. But not ontologically, not at the level of philosophic intent. That intent takes us to the heart of certain instabilities in the fabric of Western culture, in the relations between instinctual and religious life. Hitler’s jibe that “conscience is a Jewish invention may give a clue

George Steiner: “In Bluebeard’s CastleSome Notes Towards the Redefinition of Culture” 1971 / 2. A Season in Hell Yale University Press © George Steiner 1971

English: A picture taken on June 27, 2008 in P...
English: A picture taken on June 27, 2008 in Prague, Czech Republic of the former house of Franz Kafka. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Real Presences: Is There Anything in What We Say?
Real Presences: Is There Anything in What We Say? (Photo credit: Sol S.)

George Steiner: “In Bluebeard’s CastleSome Notes Towards the Redefinition of Culture” 1971 / 2. A Season in Hell Yale University Press © George Steiner 1971.

You can read the whole article from this genius

George Steiner
George Steiner (Photo credit: fieldus)
  • Kafka (abigail1668.wordpress.com)

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