Thursday, October 30, 2008

Which is the terror

“Our old culture in which humanity transmitted its common life from one generation to the next was a moral culture, and the ethical was supreme: no greater good than good, no greater evil than evil. The death of our old culture came about when the evil greater than evil occurred—which is the terror. The good greater than good does not yet exist on earth: it is joy, which wants eternity. Together with terror, joy must replace the old pair of opposites, the old limits, which are now surpassed. Joy beyond good and terror beyond evil—the only principles. Everything else is privation.”

Isaac Rosenfeld, “The Meaning of Terror” (January 1949), in An Age of Enormity: Life and Writing in the Forties and Fifties (Cleveland: World, 1962), pp. 208–09.