Arnheim in Love

Arnheim is an early master of the universe.

The bank directors’ and  industrial magnates’ predecessors had no problems; they were feudal knights who made literal mincemeat of their enemies, leaving the clergy to handle the morals. But while contemporary man has in money, as Arnheim saw it, the surest control of society, a means as tough and precise as the guillotine, it can also be as vulnerable as an arthritic–how painfully the money market limps and aches all over at the slightest draft!–and is most delicately involved with everything it controls. Because he understood this subtle interdependence of al the forms of life, which only the blind arrogance of the ideologue can overlook, Arnheim come to see the regal man of business as the synthesis of change and permanence, power and civility, sensible risk-taking and strong-minded reliance on information, but essentially as the symbolic figure of democracy-in-the-making. By the persistent and disciplined honing of his own personality, by his intellectual grasp of the economic and social complexes at hand, and by giving thought to the leadership and structure of the state as a whole, he hoped to help bring the new era to birth, that age where the social forces made unequal by fate and nature would be properly and fruitfully organized and where the ideal would not be shattered by the inevitable limitations of reality, but be purified and strengthened instead. Objectively put, he had brought about the fusion of interests between business and the soul by working out the overall concept of the Business King, and that feeling of love that had once taught him the unity of all things now formed the nucleus of his conviction that culture and all human interests formed a harmonious whole. (I,422)

He finds the perfect word to describe what he is after, “soul.”

He presumably resorted to it as a device, a flying start, a royal motto, since princes and generals certainly have no souls, and as for financiers, he was the very first to have one….In this he was a man of his time, which had recently developed a strong religious bent, not because it had a call to religion but only, it seems, out of an irritable feminine revolt against money, science, and calculation, to all of which it succumbed with a passion. What was questionable and uncertain, however, was whether Arnheim, in speaking of the soul, believed in it; whether it was real to him, like his stock portfolio. (I,422)

 Belief, though, is no longer absolutely essential to possessing transcendent ideas.

Anyone inclined to find fault should remember that having a  split personality has long since ceased to be a trick reserved for lunatics; at the present-day tempo, our capacity for political insight, for writing a piece for the newspapers, for faith in the new movements in art and literature, and for countless other things, depends wholly on a knack for being, at times, convinced against our own convictions, splitting off a part of our mind and stretching it to form a brand-new whole-hearted conviction. (I,424)

 But something, perhaps his love for Diotima, has made him sensitive to this sort of split in himself.

Something unpleasant of this sort had happened  and left its mark on him just recently. He had made use of the leisure he currently indulged himself in more frequently than was his habit, to dictate to his secretary an essay on the essential accord between government architecture and the concept of the state, and he had broken off a sentence intended to run “Contemplating this edifice, we see the silence of the walls” after the word “silence,” in order to linger for a moment over the image of the Cancelleria in Rome, which had just risen up unbidden before his inner eye. But as he looked at the typescript over his secretary’s shoulder he noticed that, anticipating him as usual, the secretary had already written: “…we see the silence of the soul.” That day Arnheim dictated no more, and on the following day he had the sentence dropped. (I,425)


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