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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

360                   MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

their own passionate heart into their matter and flood it with
light; that at least is their intention. €Be ecstatic!' they cry; and
the result is TLtzuschkunstJ* which expresses das rasende Leben, life in
fevered haste to exhaust existence. Since, as Bergson teaches, only
time that has lived has permanence, and since there is no life with
sluggishness of heart,2 the expressionists live their life with a fiery
heart full to overflowing; and their expression of this life is eem
geballter Schrei\ a clenched cry of ecstasy, a spate of ideas too fierce
and young for dignity, so rushing and rapid that they would be
profaned by beauty of form - there can be no calm and patient
shaping in the white heat of ecstasy. In short, the idea is to give
the palpable essence of things, their qualities sharply intensified,
not their appearance in reality.

The expressionists cry for a more real reality; but to them reality
is not the outer world, it is the inner world of thought and vision.
Thought is real, for it exists. The momentary semblances of natur-
alism are not real; what is real is not the image of time, but the
very essence of it. The outer world presents itself through the eyes
of the mind; but what the expressionists render is not reality as
seen by eyes, but as seen, with the eyes as a gateway, by the mind.
The expressionist creates his vision just as the composer creates
his music: neither need be anything like anything ever heard or
seen in nature; but they exist, for they are seen and heard. Art
reproduces things seen, i.e. art is vision fixed on paper or in marble
or in colours. But what is vision? The eye is an intermediary be-
tween the outer world and the mind: the eye passively receives the
vision of reality, but conveys this vision to the mind, which actively
receives, i.e. transforms this reality - differently according to indi-
viduality. There is an apparent distortion (the eye of the body
cannot see all four sides of a cube at the same time, the eye of the
mind can), but the image attempted - all representation in space
of inner vision can only be approximate - is that of an instant-
aneous conception inwardly visualized. In literature much of this
expressionistic distortion might be traced back to the unanisme of
Jules Remains, who (e.g.) visualized the morning debouchement
at a city railway station 'as poured out of a bent full bottle's neck*,
or said of a man and wife in bed (Parisian gourmands no doubt)
that their bellies 'swell out towards each other like two clouds*.
It is not far from this to Hanns Johst's description in Der Konig,
1 See pp. 94, 104, 307.                  2 See p. 301.