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Interest and Power – “Goodbye to Berlin”, Christopher Isherwood

May 17th, 2012 · No Comments · Love, Power, Writing

If Otto wishes to humiliate Peter, Peter in his different way, also wishes to humiliate Otto. He wants to force Otto into making a certain kind of submission to his will, and this submission Otto refuses instinctively to make. Otto is naturally and healthily selfish, like an animal. If there are two chairs in a room, he will take the more comfortable one without hesitation, because it never even occurs to him to consider Peter’s comfort. Peter’s selfishness is much less honest, more civilised, more perverse. Appealed to in the right way, he will make and sacrifice, however unreasonable and unnecessary. But when Otto takes the better chair as if by right, then Peter immediately sees a challenge which he dare not refuse to accept. I suppose that – given their two natures – there is no possible escape from this situation. Peter is bound to go on fighting to win Otto’s submission. When, at last, he ceases to do so, it will merely mean that he has lost interest in Otto altogether.

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