Jean Améry (31 October 1912 in Vienna – 17 October 1978), born Hanns Chaim Mayer, was an Austrian-born essayist. He was a survivor and memoirist of the Holocaust, whose most widely-read work is At the Mind's Limits: Contemplations by a Survivor on Auschwitz and Its Realities (1966), often called At the Mind's Limits.
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At the Mind's Limits: Contemplations by a Survivor on Auschwitz and Its Realities (1966)
- If one speaks about torture, one must take care not to exaggerate.
- It would be totally senseless to try to describe here the pain that was inflicted on me. Was it 'like a red-hot iron in my shoulders,' and was another 'like a dull wooden stake that had been driven into the back of my head'? One comparison would only stand for the other, and in the end we would be hoaxed by turn on the hopeless merry-go-round of figurative speech. The pain was what it was. Beyond that there is nothing to say. Qualities of feeling are as incomparable as they are indescribable. They mark the limit of the capacity of language to communicate. If someone wanted to impart his physical pain, he would have to inflict it and thereby become a torturer himself.
- ... nowhere else in the world did reality have as much effective power as in the camp, nowhere else was reality so real. In no other place did the attempt to transcend it prove so hopeless and so shoddy.
- Trust in the world, which already collapsed in part at the first blow, but in the end, under torture, fully, will not be regained. That one's fellow man was experienced. as the antiman remains in the tortured person as accumulated horror. It blocks the view into a world in which the principle of hope rules.