22/27

 

I had never been a 'modern man,' and had always considered Von Hoffmann's 'Pot of Gold' and even Heinrich von Ofterdingen more valuable textbooks than any natural history or history of the world. (In point of fact, whenever I read any of the latter I always looked upon them as delightful fables.) But now I had entered upon that period of life in which it no longer makes sense to continue elaborating and differentiating a personality that is already complete and more than adequately differentiated, in which instead the task becomes that of allowing the estimable I to disappear once more into the universe and, in the face of mutability, to take one's place in the eternal and timeless order. To express these thoughts or attitudes toward life seemed to me possible only by means of fairy tales, and I looked upon the opera as the highest form of fairy tale, presumably because I could no longer really believe in the magic of the word in our ill-used and dying speech, whereas magic continued to seem to me a living tree on whose branches apples of paradise might grow even today. In my opera I wanted to do what I had never quite succeeded in doing in my poetry: to establish a high and delightful meaning for human life.