Artists like Mann are miraculously able to suppress genuine scruples and guilt. Otherwise, they would not be able to defy convention the way they do. Or concentrate. Good art requires a mind that operates continuously below please and thank-you, below obligations and errands. As Mann puts it: “in that ardent heart there must also be a splinter of ice.”
This is helpful to me, in particular, because I’ve agreed to speak to a group of businesspeople about “The Role of the Poet in Society.” I wonder if I can make them understand the ardent heart with its splinter of ice….