September 16, 2021


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Midnight Thoughts by Konrad Paul Lissmann - Culture

Midnight Thoughts by Konrad Paul Lissmann – Culture

In the third penultimate part of Also the Prose of Zoroaster, under the title The Other Dance Song, there is a type of poem to which some of Friedrich Nietzsche’s most famous lines belong. The little action is based on the midnight bell and begins with “Eins/Oh Mensch! Be careful!” Later she says: “Ten!” But all pleasure desires immortality – / “Eleven! – ever wants deep and deep!” After the twelfth blow, silence reigns. It may very much mean that there is no longer any language for what needs to be said now, or it may mean nothing at all, or it may be anything in between. One does not know and will not find out: the lines seem to aim at the whole, which, as is often the case with Nietzsche, he refuses to mention.

Gustav Mahler used lines as a basis for the fourth movement of the Third Symphony, and verses also haunt art and intellectual history in a variety of ways. It has now been used by the Viennese philosopher Konrad Paul Lessmann as an opportunity to reflect on it, verse by verse, and thus in eleven long chapters and one short chapter. With the phrase “Oh man,” Günther Anders reflects on people’s lack of connection with the world, then it comes to artificial intelligence, which “would be superior to people in many respects,” and finally the words are understood as an invitation to listen.

Marking the fifth verse, “The world is deep,” a self-motivated belittling of churches is negotiated to “these worldly NGOs.” Then he is asked if the world is an illusion, after which who should dream of “geoengineering” is clarified in Nietzsche’s question “Who are the masters of the earth?” Don’t be alarmed. And in the end it must be ensured that “lust” is only about itself.

Konrad Paul Lessmann: All pleasure desires immortality. Midnight temptations. Paul Zsolnay Verlag, Vienna 2021. 320 pages, €26.

Konrad Paul Lessman is a general philosopher, unlike most of his colleagues, from whom one hears something only within the subject. He is well educated, with special reference to Søren Kierkegaard, Karl Marx and Karl May. He has written a long series of vivid, witty, and well-written books, including a critique of the future principle (“The Future Comes!”, 2007) and a small work on the beauty of everyday life (“The World of Things”, 2010).

His examination of the ideals of educational reform and its implementation in European universities, published under the title “Theory of Unbildung” in 2006, is among the most comprehensive and best of all examinations of the fatal compatibility of the education system with supposed private sector performance.

The “Midnight Temptations” in which Konrad Paul Lessmann attempts to answer Nietzsche’s Twelve Bells are not among this author’s good books. They seem arbitrary, ambiguous, associative. And they repeatedly lead to generalizations that do not stand up to scrutiny: “In many schools, happiness is now a subject of education.” No, that’s not true, just as it’s not true that “tech-skeptics” are cowards of “our time”. It seems that this philosopher needs an opponent to get to work. Argumentation is his strength, not logic.

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