Walpurgis Nacht

One of my favorite passages in all of literature is from Faust:

Das ist die Welt;
Sie steigt und fällt
Und rollt beständig;
Sie klingt wie Glas-
Wie bald bricht das!
Ist hohl inwendig.
Hier glänzt sie sehr,
Und hier noch mehr:
“Ich bin lebendig!”
Mein lieber Sohn,
Halt dich davon!
Du mußt sterben!
Sie ist von Ton,
Es gibt Scherben

It is spoken by the alpha ape in the witches’ kitchen, and means roughly:

The world is a ball;
See it tossed and rolled,
See it rise and fall;
It rings like glass!
See it break, alas!
‘Tis hollow, and resteth never.
How bright the sphere,
Still brighter here!
Now living am I!
Dear son, beware!
Nor venture there!
Thou too must die!
It is of clay;
‘Twill crumble away;
There fragments lie.

For much of my life, I’ve treasured the image of a leering man-ape proclaiming the world to be a ball of glass, just before it breaks. Because I always knew that this would happen. The image of a glass globe is modern, while the image of life disintegrating into fragments of clay is ancient. Men and apes. Goethe is genius.

Today, the unthinkable happened. A German bond auction failed. And we only just learned that the doom is global; this will be worse than the 2008 collapse. It’s simultaneously terrible and beautiful.

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