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Im höchsten Schmerz tritt zuweilen eine Paralysis der Empfindsamkeit ein. Die Seele zersetzt sich. Daher der tödliche Frost, die freie Denkkraft, der schmetternde unaufhörliche Witz dieser Art von Verzweiflung. Keine Neigung ist mehrvorhanden; der Mensch steht wie eine verderbliche Macht allein. Unverbunden mit der übrigen Welt verzehrt er sich allmählich selbst, und ist seinem Prinzip nach Misanthrop und Misotheos.
In cases of intense pain sometimes an emotional paralysis sets in. The soul begins to disintegrate. This explains the deadly frost, the free style of thinking, the incessant blaring wit of this sort of despair. No affinity remains; the human being stands alone as a perishable force. Set loose from the balance of the world he slowly begins to consume himself, and he is in principle a misanthrope and a misotheos [enemy of god].
–Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg (Novalis), Blüthenstaub-Fragment No. 75 (1798) in: Briefe und Werke, vol. 3, p. 71 (1943)(S.H. transl.)
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”