M. Eksteins No.3 Journey Into the Interior

M. Eksteins No.3 Journey Into the Interior - VII Journey to...

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VII Journey to the Interior Though we observe the Higher Law And though we have our quarrel just, Were I permitted to withdraw You wouldn't see my arse for dust. A soldier's verse One deserts the realm of the here and now to transfer one's activity into the realm of the yonder where total affirmation is possible. Abstraction. PAUL KLEE W A R A S A R T From its start, the war was a stimulus to the imagination. Probably no other four years in history have produced as much testimony on public events. Artists, poets, writers, clergymen, historians, philosophers, among others, all participated fully in the human drama being enacted. Most intellectuals, notwithstanding proud declamations of independence and rational decision making, responded to ingrained national loyalties and conducted themselves accordingly. If they were not able to enlist because of age or health, they joined the effort in other ways, as propagandists, war artists, ambulance drivers, or orderlies. But beyond the loyalty to king and country, which with few exceptions was foremost, the war exerted a singular fascination by its very monumentality and, as it progressed, its staggering ineffability. Even the introvert Marcel Proust, who composed his great roman fleuve, A la recherche du temps perdu, at night in the cloistered embrace of a cork-lined room, was spellbound by the spectacle: "As people used to live in God, I live in the war.” Edmund Gosse observed Henry James closely during the war. James apparently used to look out across the English Channel toward the faint sound of artillery. "The anguish of his execration," wrote Gosse, became almost the howl of some animal, of a lion of the forest with the arrow in his flank, when the Germans wrecked Rheims cathedral. He gazed and gazed over the sea southeast and fancied that he saw the flicker of the flames. He ate and drank, he talked and walked and thought, he slept and waked and lived and breathed only the War. His friends grew anxious, the tension was beyond what his natural powers, transfigured as they were, would be expected to endure.Page 1 of 22Page 1 of 22 Even those who, like D. H. Lawrence, tried to keep a critical distance from events soon found themselves, owing to the paranoia in society, which cast suspicion on anyone who remained aloof, embroiled in the crisis. Most radical imaginations, whether of a political or aesthetic bent, were engrossed from the outset. The war offered extremes of emotion and effort—Dorgelès called the trenches "this M. Eksteins, Journey into the Interior : Page 1 of 22
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huge confessional”—as well as sights, sounds, and images that bore no relation to the staid Edwardian or even the febrile Wilhelmian world. The war thus acted as a veritable exhortation to the revolutionary renewal for which the prewar avant-garde had striven. "The European war signifies a violent historical crisis, the beginning of a new epoch,"
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M. Eksteins No.3 Journey Into the Interior - VII Journey to...

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