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On music

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Yes, triumph over self, that may well have been the essence of his triumph over this love – over this enchantment of the soul with dark consequences. In the solitude of night, Hans Castorp’s thoughts, or intuitive half-thoughts, soared high as he sat before his truncated musical coffin [a gramophone] … ah, they soared higher than his understanding, were thoughts enhanced, forced upward by alchemy. Oh, it was mighty, this enchantment of the soul. We were all its sons, and we could all do mighty things on earth by serving it. One need not be a genius, all one needed was a great deal more talent than the author of this little song about a linden tree to become an enchanter of souls, who would then give the song such vast dimensions that it would subjugate the world. One might even found whole empires upon it, earthly, all-too-earthly empires, very coarse, very progressive, and not in the least nostalgic … his truncated musical coffin, inside which the song decayed into some electrical gramophone music. But the song’s best son may yet have been the young man who consumed his life in triumphing over himself and died, a new word on his lips, the word of love, which he did not yet know how to speak. It was truly worth dying for, this song of enchantment. But he who died for it was no longer really dying for this song and was a hero only because ultimately he died for something new – for the new word of love and for the future in his heart.

Those, then, were Hans Castorp’s favorite recordings.

-The Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann, Pg. 643

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