Monday, June 18, 2007


I've not seen much anywhere about the recent passing of Rudolf Arnheim. Nevertheless, it is a great loss. I recommend his books for their clarity and intelligence; you feel smarter having read them, which is not always the case with books by intellectuals!

Here is a section of an interview with Fidele D'Amico, who became friends with Arnheim when he was in Rome, having fled Nazi Germany:

''The remarkable quality of Rudolf Arnheim, evident in his writings, shows first of all as a prime trait of his character. Essential to his character is his way of facing not just his work but his life. He has a profound interest in all manifestations of life, even the apparently ones, but in a tranquil, unemotional sort of way. He believes in what is positive about life; but he also distinguishes good from evil and truth from error. He does that quite firmly, yet without big words, without flying into a rage, without the aggressive sting. His great passion, a deep pleasure, which, however, is never self indulgent, is the passion for knowledge. He accepts the world in which he lives, but insists on seeing it for what it is. He keeps himself away from its inequities but looks them straight in the eye. Now this is an attitude one discovers easily in his writings, but it is all the more impressive when one meets the man in the flesh. Even a sage does not always live his philosophy; but in Arnheim’s case, the ‘philosophy’, the judgment, is a direct and natural expression of an integrated and thoughtful person. In his presence, one feels a kind of serenity which acts as an unspoken criticism of what is intemperate and intolerant in ourselves. This attitude is all the more convincing in that it belongs to a person who has endured his share of the harshness of live without trying to avoid the experience of pain.''
Fedele D’Amico

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