This is a warning to those professors, and they are in the majority, who spend their careers searching for influences on writers, which they then catalogue in lengthy and irrelevant detail. If they are lucky they will find a publisher who will exhibit their discoveries in books that read like filing cabinets full of carefully indexed facts. Imagine if my words were to outlive my mortal fate to become the material for critical studies. The similarity of my ideas to those in Joachim Radkau’s biography of Max Weber would conclusively establish this book as their source. But this nonsense. For it is the other way round! First I created them. And only then did I find their copies.
Throughout his life Max Weber saw science as a vocation, but the day-to-day routine of academic life was increasingly a torture to him. It is striking that his recovery made constant progress precisely from the moment when his professional ties were severed for good. Having in the past had such a hectic attitude to the use of time, he developed a complete horror of fixed deadlines and retained it for many years after his breakdown. Even when he was feeling well, ‘any compulsion, pressure or obligation involving a deadline brought the danger of a relapse - as though his body, which had until the outbreak of the illness blindly obeyed his demanding intellect, refused once and for all to bow to any necessity’ (Marianne Weber). Weber actually developed a negative obsession with time. In 1908 Marianne was still complaining: ‘This working to a deadline is the greatest torture for him; when you are faced with it, you have to fear any interruption by a bad night or any additional burden.’ A deadline was like a provocative evil spirit; the time pressure that once had a kind of agreeable charm had become a source of anguish. In this respect, Weber may have experienced his nervous troubles as a typical phenomenon of modernity (the modern nervous condition described by the neurologist Wilhelm Erb), and therefore seen his illness as a key to the understanding of his age.