By Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht
Reading, we find, is an experiencing of particular moods and atmospheres, or Stimmung. those moods are on a continuum similar to a musical scale. They current themselves as nuances that problem our powers of discernment and outline, in addition to language's strength to trap them. probably the easiest we will do is to indicate of their path. Conveying own encounters with poetry, music, portray, and the unconventional, this ebook therefore gestures towards the intangible and within the procedure, constitutes a daring safety of the subjective event of the arts.
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Extra resources for Atmosphere, Mood, Stimmung : On a Hidden Potential of Literature
In different dimensions and by means of different textual elements, these works make readers encounter past realities. One tends to overlook the effects of immediacy they create; indeed, it is almost a professional obligation for scholars and critics today to overlook them. This immediacy in the experience of past presents occurs without it being necessary to understand what the atmospheres and moods mean; we do not have to know what motivations and circumstances occasioned them. For what affects us in the act of reading involves the present of the past in substance—not a sign of the past or its representation.
One can gesture toward this singularity; however, qua singularity, it can never be defined absolutely by language or circumscribed by concepts. Readings that concentrate on Stimmung—as opposed to efforts to find allegories of philosophical arguments (which, of course, should not be deemed altogether inadmissible)—insist on distance. This does not mean that the “presentification” of past atmospheres and moods cannot be pursued with philosophical aims in mind. At the beginning of the Second World War, for example, the great Romance philologist Karl Vossler—who had already written a number of essays in the 1920s that may be taken as meditations on Stimmung—published a book on the poetics of loneliness in seventeenth-century Spain.
Once Christendom was beautifully arrayed; Now poison has entered it. Its honey is become bile. The world will regret it yet. In the tone and mood one experiences reading these songs and political statements, pleasure and joy occupy a precarious position vis-à-vis the bitterness of the world. In contrast to the haughty and defiant gestures of early troubadours, the intensity of joy, in Walther’s works, is fundamentally menaced. The contrapuntal relationship between joyous warmth and “existential” cold has nothing to do with the tensions of erotic passion and suffering that one finds in the songs of contemporaries.
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