By Otto Friedrich Bollnow
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Additional resources for Crisis and New Beginning: Contributions to a Pedagogical Anthropology
Among such testimony we include first of all the eye witness reports of those directly concerned, in which they confront head on the fate of their bereavement, and-to the extent to which they are capable in that moment-seek to clarify this fate. We are reminded of Lessing's restrained words, in which he expresses his consciousness of being left behind in a completely emptied out world: "I content myself, that there cannot be many more such experiences in store for me, and then I rest easy, "[5) that is, rest easy in the awareness that after such a loss there is not much left to lose.
The condition encountered by the survivor is in fact his own being-dead. Thus we encounter the moving fate of those who in old age are left behind all alone. All of the human beings who stood close to them have died. This does not mean simply that with each new death they are reminded once again of their own imminent death. Rather, in a deeper sense it means that the world in which they have lived fades away ever more. They become ever more world-less with each new death. They themselves fade away in the dying of the other.
This something represents the unique contribution of old age to the consummate fulfillment of humanity. This all can only briefly be outlined here. For simplicity's sake I will limit myself to examples from painting, although precisely corresponding points can be documented in the other arts as well, above all in poetry, but also in the later works of philosophers. There is a typical style of old age, which stands out in the same fashion in all artists, at least in those who have 56 OLDAGE arrived at old age, but which also begins to develop already in relatively earlier years in those artists, such as Rembrandt, who do not survive to an exceptionally old age.