10.03.2009

Tadeusz Borowski and Postmodernism

Borowski has written some fine Holocaust literature based on his experiences in Auschwitz and other concentration camps. He delves into the psychology of evil and gives a glimpse of the beginnings of postmodernism in Europe. I disagree with the movement, but I understand that some have suffered much more than I have, and that has led them to conclude that "The world is ruled by neither justice nor morality; crime is not punished nor virtue rewarded, one is forgotten as quickly as the other. The world is ruled by power and power is obtained with money. To work is senseless, because money cannot be obtained through work but through exploitation of others. And if we cannot exploit as much as we wish, at least let us work as little as we can. Moral duty? We believe neither in the morality of man, nor in the morality of systems. In German cities the store windows are filled with books and religious objects, but the smoke from the crematoria still hovers above the forests. . . . Responsibility for the world? But can a man living in a world such as ours be responsible even for himself? It is not our fault that the world is bad, and we do not want to die changing it. We want to live--that is all" (from "The January Offensive," part II).

But is this the only option after experiencing or even just seeing the horrors of Auschwitz? The Enlightenment view of man has certainly been blown out of the water; man cannot save himself by reason (or science, for that matter). Do we then need merely to try to live our lives and avoid moral matters? Should we just look out for ourselves and hope that brutality will never find us?

There is another response, but we'll have to be patient. There is One who has said all along that the heart of man is desperately wicked, and seeks overwhelmingly to do evil, so much so that he is thoroughly depraved. We could hear these stories as a call back, a call to repentance. Perhaps love is the answer. Perhaps Love will conquer all.

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