Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Farewell to Yesterday

By Norbert Bolz, TELOS

Nietzsche once said that culture was only a thin apple peel over a glowing hot chaos. That is probably to say that even a small shock suffices to confront us anew with barbarism and dizzying stupidity. And now we are actually dealing with a worldwide pandemic. In effect, the thin apple peel tore at once and an abyss of the most dangerous folly has opened up. Thus one headline read in the weekly newspaper Die Zeit: “Mankind takes a break—the planet exhales.” One might simply accept as childish impudence calling the lockdown, the curfew that has practically brought the entire global society to a standstill, a “break.” But the madness lies in the presumptuousness of assuming a perspective above humans and of making oneself the voice of the “tortured” earth. Giovanni di Lorenzo, an intelligent, educated man, is the editor-in-chief of that newspaper. But today he evokes Hermann Melville’s captain Benito Cereno: The barbarians have his ship in their hands—and he can do nothing about it.

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