What we value today

Susan Sontag (1963): »What revolted the mature Goethe in the young Kleist, who submitted his work to the elder statesman of German letters ›on the knees of his heart‹ – the morbid, the hysterical, the sense of the unhealthy, the enormous indulgence in suffering out of which Kleist’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.« http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1963/feb/01/simone-weil/

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