The Outsider as Insider

From Peter Gay’s Weimar Culture: The Outsider as Insider;

The Italian Futurist movement received widespread attention in advanced German circles from 1912 on; when its chief ideologist, Marinetti, came to Berlin in 1913, he felt very much at home there. “He was engaged in conversation everywhere,” Rudolf Leonhard remembers…

I love the idea of visiting a city and being “engaged in conversation everywhere”, absorbing the ideas of the time and place.

What the war did was to destroy the ties of German culture, both to the usable past and to the congenial foreign environment, for all but the most determined cosmopolitans. A very few kept communications open; in 1915, in the midst of the war, the Fabian Socialist and distinguished psychologist Graham Wallas wrote to his friend, the German revisionist Socialist Eduard Bernstein: “Nowadays one lives from day to day and scarcely dares to think about the future. But sometimes I hope that when peace comes you and I may meet and shake hands, and tell each other that we never had one thought of each other that was not kind, and then sit down to consider whether we can help in any way to heal the wounds of civilization”

I don’t know what to say about this, other than that I find it really inspiring and uplifting. What a perfect friendship.


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