Date of publication: 2017-08-23 10:28
What revolted the mature Goethe in the Kleist, who submitted his work to the elder statesman of German letters &ldquo on the knees of his heart&rdquo the morbid, the hysterical, the sense of the unhealthy, the enormous indulgence in suffering out of which Kliest&rsquo s plays and tales were mined is just what we value today. Today Kleist gives pleasure, Goethe is to some a duty. In the same way, such writers as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Genet and Simone Weil have their authority with us because of their air of unhealthiness. Their unhealthiness is their soundness, and is what carries conviction.
Perhaps there are certain ages which do not need truth as much as they need a deepening of the sense of reality, a widening of the imagination. I, for one, do not doubt that the sane view of the world is the true one. But is that what is always wanted, truth? The need for truth is not constant no more than is the need for repose. An idea which is a distortion may have a greater intellectual thrust than the truth it may better serve the needs of the spirit, which vary. The truth is balance, but the opposite of truth, which is unbalance, may not be a lie.