Ah, Freedom…

This from Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus:

“…for a while [Freedom] achieves what one expected of it. But freedom is really another word for subjectivity, and there comes a day when it can no longer stand itself, despairs at some point of the possibility of being creative on its own, and seeks protection and security in objectivity. Freedom always has a propensity for dialectic reversal. It quickly recognizes itself in restraint, finds fulfillment in subordinating itself to the law, rule, coercion, system–finds fulfillment in them, but that does not mean it ceases to be freedom.”
“In your opinion, that is,” I said with a laugh. “As far as you can see! But in reality that is no longer freedom at all, no more than a dictatorship born of revolution is still freedom.”
“Are you sure of that?” He asked.

(Woods translation)


~ by dblomenb on July 30, 2007.

3 Responses to “Ah, Freedom…”

  1. Yes. I am sure.

  2. Davo–have you ever felt this despair-in-freedom feeling? What’s the remedy? Just “get back to work” or something? Or am I confusing freedom with irresponsibility?

  3. It’s a good question, Casey, as Freedom in some respects indicates irresponsibility, or, at least, a lack of tethering. As far as others have mentioned, Thomas Mann in a famous essay included, Freedom often is another one of those negative traits, defined by its opposite. Freedom, as far as Mann defines it, resides in seeing where the lines in the sand are, where the fences are, and choosing not to cross them… I don’t entirely agree with this, but there is much to be said for it…

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