The abrupt change of texture and orchestration in this section suggests that we are on to a new topic (or at least Aschenbach thinks so!) as his illocution shifts from question to statement. In spite of the new texture, however, the retention of the harp flourishes from the previous section link these phrases so that they sound like an answer to his earlier question, “Why am I now at a loss?” One then hears the connection between effect (loss) and its cause (rejection/repression). As Aschenbach defines himself once again in the negative, (“I reject…”) he reveals his repression to us, if not to himself. Mitchell (1984) puts it this way: “Words fail him, because he has no language, no style, in which to make articulate the feelings that overwhelm him” (p. 240). So instead of using them, he pushes those feelings away.
A scurrying accompaniment in pianissimo strings highlights Aschenbach’s heightened state of anxiety in this section. The violins begin with quick repeated notes that jump around in a jagged descent that manages to ricochet off all twelve tones. Reaching the low octave they reverse direction and ascend directly in “fastidious” whole-tone orderliness, reducing 12 tones to six. When the even-numbered pitch classes have been exhausted, though, the ascent switches to the odd-numbered ones, thus hitting all twelve tones again. Beneath the violins the lower strings repeat the sixteenths in reverse order, entering slightly later than do the violins, continuing in canon. At each high E, the harp descends in glissando and at each low E, the piano ascends in runs. The alternation of runs/glissandi in opposite directions acts to limit the outer boundaries of the strings’ notes. While this busy but harmonically stagnant duet repeats, Aschenbach’s first three phrases (“I reject… I suspect… now passion itself has left…”) ineffectually repeat the same melodic idea. A forte E moves to an accented F expressing the familiar tension, and with a limp descent, recaps in miniature the “I Aschenbach” section. The fourth phrase beginning “and delight” makes one final move from E up to F, now surprisingly more intense in the lower octave at a lower, piano dynamic. The frenetic activity of the accompaniment falters and dies out in response to Aschenbach’s meaningful pause on F. In these measures, Aschenbach again alludes to that opening metaphorical blend of heart and mind with “easy judgments of the heart;” only now, instead of a mind that beats like a heart, he imagines a heart that makes judgments like a mind.