Herman Bahr

hen at the dawn of time man first awakened, he was startled by the world. To recover himself, to 'come to', he had to sever himself from nature; in his later memory this event is echoed and repeated in the impulse to break away from nature. He hates her; he fears her; she is stronger than he; he can only save himself from her by flight, or she will again seize and devour him. He escapes from her into himself. The fact of having the courage to separate from her, and to defy her, shows him that there must be a secret power in himself, and to this power he entrusts himself. From its depths he draws his own God and sets him up against nature. He requires a stronger power than himself, but stronger also than the world; enthroned above him, and above her, it can destroy him, but it can likewise protect him against her. Should his offering find favor, his God will banish the terrors of nature. And thus primeval man draws a magic circle of worship round himself and pricks it out with the signs of his God: Art begins, an attempt of man to break the grip of appearance by making his 'innermost' appear also; within the outer world, he has created another world which belongs to him and obeys him. If the former frightens him into mad flight, alarming and confusing all his senses - the eye, the ear, the groping hand, the moving foot - the latter pacifies and encourages him by its calm, by the rhythm and consonance of its rigid, unreal, and unceasing repitition of form.

Excerpted from "Expressionismus" by Herman Bahr | Munich 1916, translation R.T. Gribble, London, 1920.