Things Intimate and Indifferent

For our ancestors, a house, a fountain, even clothing, a coat, was much more intimate. Each thing, almost, was a vessel in which what was human found and defined itself.

Now, from America, empty, indifferent things sweep in — pretend things, life-traps. . . . A house, in the American sense, an American apple, a grapevine, bears no relation to the hope and contemplation with which our ancestors informed and beheld them.

— Rilke, Letter to Witold Hulewicz
November 13, 1925

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