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Feeling Life: Etty Hillesum Becomes Word

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Chapter Summary

For those who make humane education an integral part of their research, Etty Hillesum's insights are valuable. She is able to get in touch with the depths of our being. She crosses frontiers and discovers the common essence of every single person. This chapter reflects on two mysterious inner movements which gradually take shape in Hillesum: to feel life and to communicate life. In March 1942, she fervently copies the verses of one of Rainer Maria Rilke's poems. She reports that the words are the loveliest ever written, given their harmony and perfection. Rilke's words express what she has come to experience more intensely: "Durch alle Wesen reicht der eine Raum: Weltinnenraum". In the summer of 1941, Hillesum begins to express interior dynamism by using a verb borrowed from Spier: hineinhorchen. It means something more than the Dutch verb 'luisteren,' adopted so far: the Dutch term no longer satisfies her.

Keywords: Etty Hillesum; hineinhorchen; humane education; Weltinnenraum



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