Our masterful style is falsehood and folly, out renown and prestige are a farce, the public faith in us is utterly ludicrous, and educating the populace, the younger generation, through art is a hazardous enterprise that should be outlawed. For how can a man be a fit educator if he has an inborn, natural, and incorrigible preference for the abyss? We can certainly shun it and gain our status, but no matter where we turn, we are still drawn to the abyss. And so we renounce knowledge, which disintegrates things, for knowledge, Phaidros, has no dignity or severity; knowledge is all-knowing, understanding, forgiving devoid of composure, of form; it sympathizes with the abyss, it is the abyss. And so we can firmly reject knowledge, and hence forth our sole concern is Beauty—that is, simplicity, grandeur, and new severity, a new innocence and form. But form and innocence, Phaidros, lead to euphoria and desire, may lead the noble person to a horrid emotional blasphemy, which his own beautiful severity will reject as disgraceful—and they lead to the abyss, they, too, lead to abyss. They lead us poets there, I tell you, for we cannot soar, we can only be wanton. And now I shall leave, Phaidros, and you shall remain, and do not leave until you can no longer see me.
Death in Venice, Thomas Mann