The Thing Needful

THE psychology of the Hohenzollern dynasty: The mystical Idea of Grandeur without a sense of humor. Frenzied patriotism without a sense of humor. Alliance with a self-created God without a sense of humor. Messianic Kultur by the far-trumpeted Prometheus of nations without a sense of humor. It is just this absence of the sense of humor that will unhorse William II and lay his empire in the dust. For without that sense of humor nothing can persist a long time. It is proportion, sanity, viability—that sense of humor; and without it one goes very high, rocket-high, in human history, but comes down like the stick. It is just for that reason that the name of Homer will outlive that of Tolstoi and the name of Nietzsche will outlive that of William II. Humor (restraint and proportion) are found in Art—which is the humor of Consciousness. Suppose Tolstoi and William II had had a sense of humor? But maybe they had. Can it be they are fumistes?

Benjamin De Casseres.


Source: Life, June 1, 1916, p. 1028