Country Path Conversations [210–212]

pressuring me to seek out a standpoint of superiority in an attitude that no longer pays heed to the devastation.

Younger Man: But as long as we let ourselves be driven by a will of aversion, we are morally evaluating the devastation.

Older Man: We are not yet standing truly free in the midst of its essence.

Younger Man: Which we are first able to do when we are truly capable of thinking it.

Older Man: So you mean that we must first be granted the privilege of this thinking.

Younger Man: Perhaps we are both here in this camp, involved in such conversations, in order to receive this privilege. [211] We agreed earlier on the thought that the devastation is probably a far-reaching event through which any and all possibilities for something essential to arise and bloom in its dominion are suffocated at the root.

Older Man: And that which inflicts the suffocating hides itself behind something insidious, something which announces itself in the form of the purportedly highest ideals of humanity: progress, unrestrained escalation of achievement in all areas of creating, equal employment opportunities for everyone, and above all the allegedly highest rationale—the uniform welfare of all workers.

Younger Man: What is really devastating, and that means what is malicious, consists here in the fact that these goals for humanity lead the various realms of humanity to become obsessed with devoting everything to their realization, and so with unconditionally driving the devastation onward while increasingly reinforcing it in its own consequences.

Older Man: We said once—it was at an old village well, by which our troop of prisoners was resting—that this devastation is in no way a consequence of the World War, but rather the World War is for its part only a consequence of the devastation that has been eating away at the earth for centuries.

Younger Man: Therefore, human individuals and gangs—who indeed must instigate and sustain such consequential phenomena of the devastation, though never the devastation itself—can always only be of a subordinate rank. They are the angry functionaries of their own mediocrity, who stand lower in rank than the small and wretched who stand within their genuine limits.

Older Man: “Devastation” [»Verwüstung«] means for us, after all, that everything—the world, the human, and the earth—will be transformed into a desert [Wüste]. [212]

Younger Man: While this desert, however, does not first of all arise little by little as a result of the spread of the devastation. The desert is already previously there, and I mean as though in an instant [im