Influential is the word. Once pronounced, it cannot be taken back. Like a thought that flashed through the head only once, just to disappear, but it left traces behind. Never again can one go behind the once thought back again. Even more important is the word. Once it is expressed in space and there is no turning back, no denying and no refusal. It stands there like the staff on which the listener rests, or as a memorial, which eternally recalls, immovable and indestructible. Words can move and raise, enrich and comfort, promising hope, and encouraging confidence. But it can also judge and condemn, inflict pain and suffering, mock and scorn, humiliate and destroy. That is why we bear the responsibility for every word, no matter how thoughtless, the responsibility for the spoken and no longer recoverable thoughts, the responsibility for the hearing of the listener.
Influential is the word, spoken, but still more, written. They act beyond one-time listening, are carried out into the world and create connections across the ages, generations and views. Why would books have been burned so often, if they had no effect on people’s thinking, if they were not empowered, if they did not influence?
Have the courage to use your own mind – said Kant once, and he is still recited even though we still have not realized that one’s own mind could be more than the accumulation of normal, average thoughts, more space and possibilities have.
What one cannot talk about, one should be silent – a truly great sentence, which should stop the chattering and the wannabe-knowing.
I would not want to finish this list, and if I stumble upon one or another sentence, no matter whom or when, and it hits me, then I entered the dialogue with those who were long before us who showed us that the human not loses, the fundamental questions and attempts to answer. Then the words become alive, as thoughts of those who are long gone. Then I sink into another world that opens up to me and enriches mine. I read because I know that there is still so much that is audible, because every thought has already been thought, but it seems to me to be new and worthy at the moment of the dialogue. This is the reason why I am reading because the space of dialogue extends beyond the immediacy of speech because it challenges me beyond the narrow limits of my own life because it raises questions that were not previously expected, to which I had no access. Reading means understanding and accepting beyond our own constraint, beyond ourselves. If we are willing to listen to this openly and impartially, we have entered the dialogue and stand in it, and the words flow between you and me, for every speech, whether it be written, requires answer and opinion . And I answer by letting the words influence and change me.
Reading means dialogue over the narrow limits of a small life.