Heroes Ringing True

Robert Musil

On “the writer type”:

One can describe this type as the person in whom the irredeemable solitude of the self in the world and among people comes most forcefully to mind:  as the sensitive person who is never given his due;  whose emotions react more to imponderable reasons than to compelling ones; who despises people of strong character with the anxious superiority a child has over an adult who will die half a lifetime before he will; who feels even in friendship and love that breath of antipathy that keeps every being distant from others and constitutes the painful, nihilistic secret of individuality; who is even able to hate his own ideals because they appear to him not as goals but as the products of the decay of his idealism.  These are only isolated and individual instances, but corresponding to all of them, or rather underlying them, is a specific attitude toward and experience of knowledge, as well as of the material world that corresponds to it.”

On the writer’s region (“nonratioid”):

“There is no better way to characterize this region than to point out that it is the area of the individual’s reactivity to the world and other individuals, the realm of values and valuations, of ethical and aesthetic relationships, the realm of the idea…in this region facts do not submit, laws are sieves, events do not repeat themselves but are infinitely variable and individual…there is in the writer’s territory from the start no end of unknowns, of equations, and of possible solutions.  The task is to discover ever new solutions, connections, constellations, variables, to set up prototypes of an order of events, appealing models of how one can be human, to invent the inner person…which then nevertheless branches out somewhere into a boundless thicket, although not without somehow fulfilling its purpose…”

These quotes come from his exceptional small essay Sketch of What the Writer Knows

which I desperately wanted to reproduce here…

if it “rings true” for you – please find a mentor and friend in Robert Musil:

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4 thoughts on “Heroes Ringing True

  1. gee. Robert Musil. that name- what a blast from my past. The Man Without Qualities ? I think if we ever compare writers we’ve read/admired there would be a lot of equivalences. good to see some of my old heroes resurrected this way

"A word is a bridge thrown between myself and an other - a territory shared by both" - M. Bakhtin

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