Evening Conversation [206–207]

of contrast to the unwholesome [heillosen] narrowness of the camp, as if it were nothing other than the fleeting appearance of a blessing that for a short time is afforded to such self-deceptions. Yet since early this morning this expanse has abided around me in such a releasing, signifying, and gathering manner that I am no longer able to understand it as a mere deception.

Older Man: The healing expanse is not that of the forest, but rather, the forest’s own expanse is let into [eingelassen] what heals.

Younger Man: But the forest does not become a mere symbol of the healing expanse; it is probably also something other than what merely occasions its appearing, although the enigma of the occasioning which allows for something to happen [Veranlassung] does indeed give enough to be thought, so as to keep us from all too rashly explaining such experiences in terms of what is commonplace. Indeed, I cannot say what was experienced otherwise than in view of what the forest occasioned.

Older Man: And yet you will presumably be able to name some sign in which what heals shows itself to you. I don’t want to press you any further, however, since I know how strictly you bury in your silence all the adversities that have befallen us here these past months. Nevertheless, in order to comprehend what has become healing for you, I would have to know what is wounded in you. And what is not all wounded and torn apart in us?—us, for whom a blinded leading-astray of our own people is too deplorable to permit wasting a complaint on, despite the devastation that covers our native soil and its helplessly perplexed [ratlose] humans. [207]

Younger Man: But you are still thinking about our decision on the march into captivity, the decision not to talk any more about this devastation for a long time. Whenever it might become unavoidable to talk about it, however, such talk should take place only in a collected manner, according to the highest standards, and without false passion. For the devastation we are thinking of has not, after all, existed just since yesterday. And it is not exhausted by what is visible and tangible. It can also never be accounted for by an enumeration of instances of destruction and the obliteration of human lives, as if it were only the result of these.

Older Man: Yet because the essence of the devastation is deeper and comes from farther away, our reflections return to it again and again. In so doing, we may recognize ever more clearly that the devastation of the earth and the annihilation of the human essence that goes with it are somehow evil [das Böse] itself.

Younger Man: By evil, of course, we do not mean what is morally bad, and not what is reprehensible, but rather malice.