Thomas Mann is the most intellectual writer of the 20th century. His
only contemporary devotee is Milan Kundera, certainly one of the best
writers in the world.
The plastic concept of "erotic irony" was formulated by
Thomas Mann to express an aesthetic attitude toward those whom Mann
thought he had betrayed, namely his family and friends. A simple method
of demonstrating this concept is to speak of Hamlet's attitude toward
his Mother. He is "cruel to be kind." Erotic irony implies a monstrous
detachment and a global perspective.
It's often those who are closest to you who can harm you the
most. They can turn innocent little happenings into malicious deeds by
their modes of speech. One's first experience of the Other are family
members who are "transferrence" freaks. Erotic irony is what happens
when the transferred emotion comes back to the person who cannot handle
that emotion because of its emotional value (its intensity in
comparison to other emotional experiences within the catalogue of
desire and fear).
Thomas Mann also betrayed his friends. He sees his friends as
fools? bohemians who party while people are being slaughtered. They
take no action; they just complain like crying babies.
On another page of the mind, erotic irony helps one to
respect people whom one does not really respect for the sake of
Just to continue along this set of associations, Thomas Mann
becomes a victim of erotic irony because he knows that life is circular
whereas logic is linear. He becomes enamoured of the blue-eyed,
blonde-haired Aryan youth of Germany? he becomes a pederast due to his
political inaction (Diary of a Profoundly Unpolitical Man). In this, he
is the target of his own contempt.