[ I have often observed ]Notes on poetics and ethics
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I have often observed how little importance people attach to words. Let me explain myself. A simple man (by simple I do not mean stupid; I mean not distinguished) has an idea, criticizes an institution or a prevailing opinion; he knows that the majority holds an opposing viewpoint; therefore he remains silent, thinking that it is useless to speak, considering that his words will change nothing. This is a big mistake. I do otherwise. I criticize, for example, the death penalty. I declare this at every available opportunity, not because I think that the states will abolish it tomorrow because of my saying so, but because I am convinced that stating it will contribute to the eventual triumph of my view.  No matter if no one agrees with me. My word will not be in vain. Someone might repeat it, and it may fall on ears which will harken and be encouraged. Perhaps someone of the presently disagreeing might remember it in a favorable circumstance in the future, and, through the coincidence of other cases, might be persuaded, or might harbor doubts about his initial conviction. So in various other social matters, and in some that primarily necessitate Action. I know that I am a coward and I cannot act. That is why I only speak. But I do not think my words are needless. Someone else will act. But my many words those of my cowardly self will facilitate his deed. They clear the ground.

16 October 1902

Translated by Manuel Savidis


- Original Greek Text