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Showing posts from June 27, 2010

Underneath the skull

There’s a story about Georg Büchner. While he went from Darmstadt, where he was born, to Strasbourg when he was eighteen to study medicine, by law he had to return for his third year of study to Darmstadt, which he did. He returned to his parent’s house. His father was a well known doctor, a figure who took the enlightened side in town politics. The kind of father that, as critics in the 80s saw it, was similar to the liberal fathers who raised the children of the sixties generation that joined the RAF. Enlightened self interest was the limit of their enlightenment, the horizon. This is a story about Georg Büchner, who already had thought about political events in Strasbourg, which was recovering, or part of which was recovering, from the last revolution (and part of which was plotting the next one); and, evidently, he was also thinking about writing. Which he had a knack for, a knock for, a knock in the brain for. And so the twenty year old Georg Büchner sat in his father’s house. H

Paradise: the most modern thing of all

I sometimes get the feeling that, pursuing my set of themes in this blog, I tend to emit a volcanic eruption of instances and hints that bury the points, instead of doing what I should do, what I, as an editor, am always urging on others: taking the points and putting them, all shiny and new, in the shopwindow. So let me take hold of the point that has been in travail and woe since I took up Kierkegaard: boredom. The point can be put like this: whereas, in the ancient world, and in the Christian world, the taming of the passions and the life that was liberated from the press of necessity by the discipline of askesis was a holy life, or, at least for the Stoics, a natural one, in the culture of happiness, this life is one constantly beset by boredom. In the worlds ruled over by fate or providence, worlds in which, in the end, there was a celestial balance to bow down to – worlds, that is, under the impress of the limited good – lifting necessity through a purification of the impressions