A Selection of Interesting Passages from Steppenwolf:
These horrors [the horrors of the Middle Ages] were really nonexistent. A man of the Middle Ages would detest the whole mode of our present day life as something far more than horrible, far more than barbarous. Every age, every culture, every custom and tradition has its own character, its own weakness and its own strength, its beauties and ugliness; accepts certain sufferings as matters of course, puts up patiently with certain evils. Human life is reduced to real suffering, to hell, only when two ages, two cultures and religions overlap. A man of the Classical Age who had to live in medieval times would suffocate miserable just as a savage does in the midst of our civilization. Now there are times when a whole generation is caught in this way between two ages, two modes of life, with the consequence that it loses all power to understand itself and has no standard, no security, no simple acquiescence. Naturally, every one does not feel this equally strongly. A nature such as Nietzsche’s had to suffer our present ills more than a generation in advance. What he had to go through alone and misunderstood, thousands suffer today.
... your quiet, flabby and slightly stupefied half-and-half god of contentment.
A wild longing for strong emotions and sensations seethes in me, a rage against this toneless, flat, normal and sterile life.
I like to step across the threshold of my room where all this suddenly stops; where, instead, cigar ash and wine bottles lie among the heaped-up books and there is nothing but disorder and neglect; and where everything—books, manuscripts, thoughts—is marked and saturated with the plight of lonely men, with the problem of existence and with the yearnings after a new orientation for an age that has lost its bearing.
And who over the ruins of his life pursued its fleeting, fluttering significance, while he suffered its seeming meaninglessness and lived its seeming madness, and who hoped in secret at the last turn of the labyrinth of Chaos for revelation and God’s presence.
All interpretation, all psychology, all attempts to make things comprehensible, require the medium of theories, mythologies and lies.
“Yes, that is always the way. Such contrasts, seen form a little distance, always tend to show their increasing similarity. Thick orchestration was in any case neither Wagner’s nor Brams’ personal failing. It was the fault of their time.”
“What? And have they got to pay for it so dearly?” I cried in protest.
“Naturally. The law must take its course. Until they have paid the debt of their time it cannot be known whether anything personal to themselves is left over to stand to their credit.”
When you listen to the radio you are witness of the everlasting war between idea and appearance, between time and eternity, between human and divine. Exactly, my dear sir, as the radio for ten minutes together projects the lovely music without regard into the most impossible places, into respectable drawing rooms and attics and into the midst of chattering, guzzling, yawning and sleeping listeners, and exactly as it strips this music of its sensuous beauty, spoils and scratches and beslimes it and yet cannot altogether destroy its spirit, just so does life, the so-called reality, deal with the sublime picture-play of the world and make a hurley-burley of it.