Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Et dixit Koestler 2

It had also been hammered into my head, and into the heads of two hundred million Russians, that to pay undue attention to relics and monuments of the past was the sign of a morbid, sentimental, romantic and escapist attitude...The Communist's duty was not to observe the world but to change it; his eyes were to focus on the present and the future, not on the the past. The history of mankind would start with the world revolution; all that went before was merely a chaotic, barbaric overture...

The same was true of philosphy, architecture and the fine arts...Auden's call to clear from the head of the masses the impressive rubbish expresses a similar attitude...It was less absurd than it appears today; born out of the despair of world war and civil war, of social unrest and economic chaos, the desire for a complete break with the past, for starting human history from scratch, was deep and genuine.
Arthur Koestler, The Invisible Writing, p72

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