Saturday, January 26, 2008

Kraus & Language

Language is a pivotal cultural force in every society. When language changes so does the face of that society. Kraus states that, “…literature is bracing for a period of homelessness…” In this comment, it is evident that Kraus sees the up-and-coming writers as inferior to the previous generation. He realizes that their contributions will serve to change Vienna just as surely as the architectural restructuring will change Vienna. He decries the rise of this modern lack of respect toward language, stating, “The modern movement…has produced among us only purely technical variations.” This clearly shows his contempt for the lack of creativity among these writers. Creative ability and technical ability are two distinct things; anyone can achieve technical mastery of language. Technical mastery will not breed creativity, according to Kraus it leads to the type of writer that spends, “…years working on the third line of a novel, since he ponders every word in several changes of dress.” These “Young Viennese” do not have the same respect for the creative and the original that they should, instead embracing the idea of “rarified nerves” as a creative outlet. This translates for Kraus into something ridiculous. He comments of one success, “Hectic verses filled him with a sense of satisfaction, and he acquired literary weapons that bore his name; a tired old heart, a cold withered soul, and a struggle with consumptive tuberculosis, all entwined with rarified nerves. Success relieves him of all sense of responsibility and, while still in his youth, he is today already and experienced old man.” This is certainly not success, to Kraus it is instead chaos. He expresses his dismay at the state of literature as he describes way these so-called writers sit and gossip when he says, “No literary false note upsets the pure stage craze of these people; no Young Vienna artist goes astray here.”

No comments: