Quotes by Thomas Harrison

"To put it in the terms Musil wields so ironically (namely, those appropriate to the “skim-romanticism and yearning for God that the machine-age had for a time squirted out”), by the second decade of the century it had come to seem that spirit (Geist) lacked spirit. For, in post- Kantian usage, spirit means both the motivation of historical becoming and also its “phenomenology,” its formal result. However ironic the context in which he places the project, Musil, like many of his contemporaries, was concerned with recuperating spirit at the “first” and deeper level—not as the arbitrary sum of its formal expressions but as the formative process itself, the self-configuring whole. At this deeper level Geist is a word for that all- pervading pneuma, or breath, diffused throughout the universe and holding all contraries together in tension, the “sympathy of the Whole” of the ancient Stoics. Geist, writes Musil, “mixes things up, unravels them, and forms new combinations.” It was in deference to this Geist that the man without qualities lived so undecidedly. “Undoubtedly—he said to himself— what banished him to an aloof and anonymous form of existence was nothing but the compulsion to that loosing and binding of the world that is known by a word one does not like to encounter alone: spirit,” Arnheim, his arch- antagonist, is willing to admit this much about his young colleague: “the man had reserves of as yet unexhausted soul."

Books by Thomas Harrison

Thomas Harrison
  • Thomas Harrison