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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 — 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.
i. stand with israel
I listen to a lot of conservative talk radio. Confident masculine voices telling me the enemy is everywhere and victory is near — I often find it affirming: there’s a reason I don’t think that way. Last spring, many right-wing commentators made much of a Bloomberg poll that asked Americans, “Are you more sympathetic to Netanyahu or Obama?” Republicans picked the Israeli prime minister over their own president, 67 to 16 percent. There was a lot of affected shock that things had come to this. Rush Limbaugh said of Netanyahu that he wished “we had this kind of forceful moral, ethical clarity leading our own country”; Mark Levin described him as “the leader of the free world.” For a few days there I yelled quite a bit in my car.
The one conservative radio show I do find myself enjoying is hosted by Dennis Prager. At the Thanksgiving dinner of American radio personalities (Limbaugh is your jittery brother-in-law, Michael Savage is your racist uncle, Hugh Hewitt is Hugh Hewitt) Dennis Prager is the turkey-carving patriarch trying to keep the conversation moderately high-minded. While Prager obviously doesn’t like liberals — “The gaps between the left and right on almost every issue that matters are in fact unbridgeable,” he has said — he often invites them onto his show for debate, which is rare among right-wing hosts. Yet his gently exasperated take on the Obama–Netanyahu matchup was among the least charitable: “Those who do not confront evil resent those who do.”
Pairs of moose-dung earrings sold each year at Grizzly’s Gifts in Anchorage, Alaska:
An Alaskan brown bear was reported to have scratched its face with barnacled rocks, making it the first bear seen using tools since 1972, when a Svalbardian polar bear is alleged to have clubbed a seal in the head with a block of ice.
A former prison in Philadelphia that has served as a horror-movie set was being prepared as a detention center for protesters arrested at the upcoming Democratic National Convention, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fired his campaign manager.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”