"The feast of the solstice -- midsummer night! Fires on the mountain-top, and ring-around-a-rosy about the leaping flames! I have never seen it; but they say our rude forefathers used thus to celebrate the first summer night, the night with which autumn begins, the very midday and zenith of the year, the point from which it goes downhill again: they danced and whirled and shouted and exulted -- and why, really, all that primitive exultation? Can you make it out? What were they so jolly about? Was it because from then on the world went down into the dark -- or perhaps because it had up till then gone uphill, and now the turning-point was reached, the fleeting moment of midsummer night and midsummer madness, the meeting-place of tears and laughter? I express it as it is, in the words that come to me. Tragic joy, triumphant sadness -- that was what made our ancestors leap and exult around the leaping flames: they did so as an act of homage to the madness of the circle, to an eternity without duration, in which everything recurs -- in sheer despair, if you like."

"But I don't like," growled Joachim.

Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain, Chapter 6, A new-comer

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