Study Guide

György Lukács Files

Lukács's Personal Diary, 1918

Dear Diary,

Changes are happening, like, now. All around us. This is more revolutionary than the short-lived retirement of the Twinkie. Everything is moving so quickly—am feeling the pull of politics even though my big thing right now is aesthetics. I admit: I am losing focus. I want to be part of a big thing. Might it be the Russian Revolution? I'm here in Budapest, and it's all happening 1,100 miles away. I feel sort of outside the radical zone. What to do? What to do?

GL

Dear Diary,

Feeling drearier than ever about the increasing gap between form and life. I am working hard to make this kind of abstract philosophical talk make sense to other people, but it's not easy. Now I know how Nietzsche felt. (At least I think I do—I always found him hard to interpret and digest.) As a budding aesthetician, I feel profound pangs over the decreasing meaningfulness of art and its form. My clandestine readings of Oscar Wilde are coming back to haunt me. I would rather be purged than accept the emptiness of "art for art's sake." Take me now!

GL

Dear Diary,

I have been running a few ideas up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes. An issue I would like to sort out in the next few weeks or so: what is the relationship between the individual and the collective life in which he or she exists? We are not singular molecules without context. We are flowing through the arteries of life!

While I ponder this, I am wondering where totality in art went? It was here one day, and now it's gone. I am hoping my tweets at #whithertotality will stir discussion and perhaps lead to its rediscovery. I miss totality a lot—more than I thought I would. Gone are the days when everything was interrelated, when people were seen as humans who were part of nature and history's grand tapestry. Now, we're just commodities who are only as good as the number of products we crank out.

I have to go hide under my blankets.

GL

Dear Diary,

I must pull myself up by my bootstraps and get out of this funk. Yes, I am only one man, but I can create change, make things happen. Why? Because my actions are related to the actions of other people, my experiences are theirs, and so on and so forth. Why? Because I am an individual in society; that's why.

Well, that and the fact that I just got a great lecturing gig that will allow me to spread the bad but important news about literature's great fall from meaning. I will teach Homer and then teach Gertrude Stein, and everyone will see firsthand the crumbling of Western Civilization. Gone is objective reality! Gone is the harmonious whole! Hello, alienation! Hello, the-individual-is-all-that-matters! Grab your banners—we're hitting the streets!

Must go read some historical novels to self-soothe.

More later. Much more.

GL