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So kommt es, daß die meisten Menschen gar nicht wissen, wie schön die Welt ist und wieviel Pracht in den kleinsten Dingen, in irgendeiner Blume, einem Stein, einer Baumrinde oder einem Birkenblatt sich offenbart. Die erwachsenen Menschen, die Geschäfte und Sorgen haben, und sich mit lauter Kleinigkeiten quälen, verlieren allmählich ganz den Blick für diese Reichtümer, welche die Kinder, wenn sie aufmerksam und gut sind, bald bemerken und mit dem ganzen Herzen lieben. Und doch wäre es das schönste, wenn alle Menschen in dieser Beziehung immer wie aufmerksame und gute Kinder bleiben wollten, einfältig und fromm im Gefühl, und wenn sie die Fähigkeit nicht verlieren würden, sich an einem Birkenblatt oder an der Feder eines Pfauen oder an der Schwinge einer Nebelkrähe so innig zu freuen wie an einem großen Gebirge oder einem prächtigen Palast. Das Kleine ist ebensowenig klein, als das Große—groß ist. Es geht eine große und ewige Schönheit durch die ganze Welt, und diese ist gerecht über den kleinen und großen Dingen verstreut; denn es gibt im Wichtigen und Wesentlichen keine Ungerechtigkeit auf der ganzen Erde.
And so it is that most people have no idea how beautiful the world is and how much magnificence is reveal in the tiniest things, in some flower, in a stone, in tree bark, or in a birch leaf. The grown-ups, going about their business and worries, and tormenting themselves with all kinds of details, gradually lose the perspective for these riches that children, when they are attentive and good, soon notice and love with their whole heart. And yet the greatest beauty would be achieved if everyone remained in this regard always like attentive and good children, simple and pious in sensitivities, and if people did not lose the capacity for taking pleasure as intensely in a birch leaf or a peacock’s feather or the wing of a hooded crow as in a mighty mountain or a splendid palace. What is small is not small in itself, just as that which is great is not—great. A great and eternal beauty passes through the whole world, and it is distributed fairly over that which is small and that which is large; for in such important and essential matters, no injustice is to be found on earth.
–Rainer Maria Rilke, letter to Helmut Westhoff, Nov. 12, 1901 in: Briefe, p. 31 (R. Sieber-Rilke ed. 1950) (transl. S.H.)
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Years ago, I lived in Montana, a land of purple sunsets, clear streams, and snowflakes the size of silver dollars drifting through the cold air. There were no speed limits and you could legally drive drunk. My small apartment in Missoula had little privacy. In order to write, I rented an off-season fishing cabin on Rock Creek, a one-room place with a bed and a bureau. I lacked the budget for a desk. My idea was to remove a sliding door from a closet in my apartment and place it over a couple of hastily cobbled-together sawhorses.
Amount of U.S. military aid given to the government of El Salvador each minute during the 1980s:
A team of European sexologists reported that 40 percent of Italian couples were not having sex, due in part to Italian men’s declining sex drive and growing predilection for prostitutes and cybersex.
Telecommunications company AT&T agreed to buy Time Warner for $85.4 billion in a bid to find new ways to reach consumers, and hackers took control of Internet-connected cameras and baby monitors to overwhelm the routing company Dyn with traffic, causing worldwide disruption to outlets such as Netflix and Amazon.
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"She never thanked me, never looked at me—melted away into the miserable night, in the strangest manner I ever saw. I have seen many strange things, but not one that has left a deeper impression on my memory than the dull impassive way in which that worn-out heap of misery took that piece of money, and was lost."