German 390/Comp. Lit. 396/Engl 363/CHID 498/JSIS 488/Lit 298
"Freud and the Literary Imagination"

Thomas Mann, Death in Venice

Thomas Mann on modern art and the artist:

"The talent for style, form, and expression already presupposes a cool and selective relation to things human, indeed, a certain human impoverishment and desolation. For healthy and strong emotions have no taste. The artist is finished as soon as he becomes a human being and starts to have feelings."

"To me, at least, it has always seemed that a person who recognizes himself in the image of the soldier is not the worst of artists. That victorious, bellicose principle of today: organization--it is the primary principle, the essence of art. The intermingling of enthusiasm and order; systematization; the strategic formation of foundations; solidity, exactitude, circumspection; courage, steadfastness in enduring hardship and defeat; disdain for all that in bourgeois existence is called 'security' . . . All of this is, in fact, at once both military and artistic. Art has quite justifiably been called a war, an exhausting struggle. . . . The service of the artist is closer to that of the soldier than to that of the priest."

Thomas Mann on Death in Venice

"Ultimately it all comes down to the old perplexing question: culture or proficiency [Tüchtigkeit]. For to seek both at once is probably an impossibility. . . . Art itself is suspect -- and that is the moral of my story."

Mann claims that Aschenbach's love for Tadzio is not "perverse" because "it is not ordinary desire, but intoxication for beauty, the destructive eruption of the 'strange god' in a life contained and shaped by form, . . . a life that has become 'dignified'. But according to the story there is something questionable about this dignity."

Friedrich Nietzsche’s definition of the Dionysian power of art:

"A drive toward unity, reaching beyond personality, the quotidian, society, reality, across the chasm of transitoriness; an impassioned and painful overflowing into darker, fuller, more buoyant states; an ecstatic affirmation of the totality of life as what remains constant–not less potent, not less ecstatic–throughout all fluctuation; the great pantheistic sharing of joy and distress which blesses and endorses even the ghastliest, the most questionable elements in life; the eternal will for regeneration, fruitfulness, recurrence; the awareness that creation and destruction are inseparable." (From Nietzsche’s notebooks dated March-June 1888)