This site is intended as an informal space to share international discourse on the Austrian novelist, essayist, dramatist, scientist, mathematician, and thinker, Robert Musil, on his works, and his growing reception, and as a forum for English-speaking members of the International Robert Musil Society (Internationale Robert Musil Gesellschaft)(IRMG) as well as other interested persons.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
What does it mean to find another human being?
Edvard Munch, 1896
Perhaps here and now is a good place to admit that I don't fully understand what it means to "attempt to find another human being." Does it mean to find one other human being, in conjunction, relationship with one's self? Someone to whom one can relate, thereby implying the inherent overwhelming difficulty of this task and the endless alienation of human existence? Or does another human being mean an übermensch of sorts? A different kind of human being, beyond even the lonely self? A new type of person, a new and different way of being human? Another possible understanding of the phrase might be an attempt to find a human being who is truly other, one whom one cannot possibly merge with or be a mirror of. These recent discussions (below) of strangers, exiles, idiots, and artists have made me wonder. I think, of course, also, of another Musil attempt, from the novel, the "attempt to love a scoundrel" with all its connotations for the question of loving one's neighbor as one's self, and of the terrible but thrilling frisson of embracing that extreme other, one's feared or hated self, brother, enemy, beloved. For what is more frightening, after all? Finding one's self subsumed into otherness or the alternative of infinite separation?