June 5, 1929 [Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens/Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror]

Another long wait rewarded--and again I make myself a bit uneasy, realizing how much I’m drawn to the macabre, the weird, the unwholesome. But why uneasy? I agree with Poe on the sublimity of terror: It is a pure sensation--yes, like joy, which of course is so much more to be desired; but in this fallen world, terror is easier to come by. I’ll admit I wonder what will become of this appetite. Am I like those ecstatic Christians who can drink poison, handle venomous snakes, and live? But why take the risk? Is this merely the--What? Reward? Hazard?--of a liberal mind?

Oh, why worry. Life has become a mad spree--and downward spiral, heading toward some calamity, where money and men will crumble here as they do in Germany--where, seven years ago, Murnau composed and conducted his Symphonie des Grauens. And how fitting that such music should issue from Berlin--albeit via Stoker’s ghastly seducer--but Nosferatu is more rodentia than rouĂ©, hunched over like an old man gnawing on something tender.

Murnau seemed to know me, and winked a bit in snickering glee before lugging me along the ditch of my own desires. A strange evening, unrelieved by irony, the hungry old wretch chiding my interest in his skulking, slithering approach. And in the end, I found I’d lost my natural appetite, declining the rare roast beef on my plate, Murnau’s angular notes rasping like the smell of something burning.


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