German writer of fantasy and children's fiction (1929-1995)
- See also:
- Time is Life.
- Momo (1973) (Originally "Zeit ist Leben")
- Lots of things take time, and time was Momo's only form of wealth.
- Momo (1973)
- 'You were compelled to?' he repeated. 'You mean you weren't sufficiently powerful to resist?'
'In order to seize power,' replied the dictator, 'I had to take it from those that had it, and in order to keep it I had to employ it against those that sought to deprive me of it.'
The chef's hat gave a nod. 'An old, old story. It has been repeated a thousand times, but no one believes it. That's why it will be repeated a thousand times more.'
The dictator felt suddenly exhausted. He would gladly have sat down to rest, but the old man and the children walked on and he followed them.
'What about you?' he blurted out, when he had caught the old man up. 'What do you know of power? Do you seriously believe that anything great can be achieved on earth without it?'
'I?' said the old man. 'I cannot tell great from small.'
'I wanted power so that I could give the world justice,' bellowed the dictator, and blood began to trickle afresh from the wound in his forehead, 'but to get it I had to commit injustice, like anyone who seeks power. I wanted to end oppression, but to do so I had to imprison and execute those who opposed me — I became an oppressor despite myself. To abolish violence we must use it, to eliminate human misery we must inflict it, to render war impossible we must wage it, to save the world we must destroy it. Such is the true nature of power.'
Chest heaving, he had once more barred the old man's path with his pistol ready.'
'Yet you love it still,' the old man said softly.
'Power is the supreme virture!' The dictator's voice quavered and broke. 'But its sole shortcoming is sufficient to spoil the whole: it can never be absolute — that's what makes it so insatiable. The only true form of power is omnipotence, which can never be attained, hence my disenchantment with it. Power has cheated me.'
'And so,' said the old man, 'you have become the very person you set out to fight. It happens again and again. That is why you cannot die.'
The dictator slowly lowered his gun. 'Yes,' he said, 'you're right. What's to be done?'
'Do you know the legend of the Happy Monarch?' asked the old man.
'When the Happy Monarch came to build the huge, mysterious palace whose planning alone had occupied ten whole years of his life, and to which marvelling crowds made pilgrimage long before its completion, he did something strange. No one will ever know for sure what made him do it, whether wisdom or self-hatred, but the night after the foundation stone had been laid, when the site was dark and deserted, he went there in secret and buried a termites' nest in a pit beneath the foundation stone itself. Many decades later — almost a life time had elapsed, and the many vicissitudes of his turbulent reign had long since banished all thought of the termites from his mind — when the unique building was finished at last and he, its architect and author, first set foot on the battlements of the topmost tower, the termites, too, completed their unseen work. We have no record of any last words that might shed light on his motives, because he and all his courtiers were buried in the dust and rubble of the fallen palace, but long-enduring legend has it that, when his almost unmarked body was finally unearthed, his face wore a happy smile.'
- In the ancient cultural places of the world there was a temple, a church or a cathedral in its center. From there came the order of life. In every modern big city there is a bank building in its center. In my »Pied Piper« I have tried to depict this as a kind of demon cult, where money is something to be prayed to like something sacred. It's even being expressed there in words that it is »God«. It performs miracles, because the multiplication of money itself is yet a miracle. After all, the dealings there are with a miraculous multiplication of money. It has the character of everlastingness. But if there is anything that is just a purely man-made thing, then it's money.
- "Ende no yuigon" ["Ende's Last Message"] (May 1999), broadcast of an interview of February 1994, as quoted in "Michael Ende's Last Words to the Japanese" at Equilibrism (Equilibrismus.de)