Page 95 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 15

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is the disillusioned laughter of the pessimist who, according to the
inscription on his tomb, “Poked fun at life as but a jest, laughed
up his sleeve at all that mattered; when other men were happiest,
alas, his heart was bruised and shattered.”
Pinski is, of course, aware that life may be bitter, but he holds
there are blissful moments which make it worth living. These
moments are way-stations for whose sake the whole trip is under­
taken. His play,
The Mountain-Climbers {Die Bergsteiger
, 1912),
is an allegory of the mountain of life we all climb. A t its peak is
the inn where the innkeeper, Death, has arranged for us to spend
the night after our tortuous upward journey. Pinski’s heroine
voices his basic sentiment in her final hour before entering the
inn, saying, “Just to be alive is the highest happiness. To have
come out of the unknown into this life is happiness. Though
we be poor and wretched, sick and disappointed — we are alive.
Every day we should be thrilled by this fact. Our last breath
should be exultation that we have lived. . . We need happiness
but not the happiness of the victor who strides over the corpses
of his victims. We need the inner happiness that warms and
irradiates and which only goodness can confer upon us.”
And Pinski is good. In his opinion, the key to happiness is
goodness, not power or wealth or fame. In the play,
and Diogenes
(1927), the dramatist concludes that Diogenes, who
had no earthly possessions except the barrel in which he lived,
was, by virtue of his inner goodness, happier than his contem­
porary, the world-conqueror Alexander, who sat on a golden
throne surrounded by hundreds of flattering courtiers. When
Alexander reproaches Diogenes as a nay-sayer to life, as a barrel-
dweller and a wearer of rags, Diogenes replies, “It is true that I
have lived in a barrel. It is true that I have worn rags. But I have
not been a scorner of life. I have loved life no less than you. I
have loved the sun by day and I have also known the night with
its charm. A beautiful flower could delight me with its loveliness
and fragrance. I have enjoyed the brook and its murmuring.
Was this not enough of life? What more did I need in order to
to life? I have assimilated all of nature into my being.
I have acquired wisdom and knowledge in fullest measure. Did
you, with all your battles and bloodshed, gain more for yourself?”
Pinski clearly infers that happiness lies not in conquest and
dominion but in peace of mind, in self mastery, in rising beyond
self to pure goodness.
In the original unpublished version of
The Treasure
(Der Oitzer
1906), Pinski’s most successful play, he incorporated two simple
characters who stand aloof from the feverish hunt for the buried