No Comment, Quotation — November 8, 2008, 12:25 am

Schiller’s Rules of Engagement

blechen-alpine-pass-1833

Lebe mit deinem Jahrhundert, aber sei nicht sein Geschöpf; leiste deinen Zeitgenossen, was sie bedürfen, nicht was sie loben. Ohne ihre Schuld geteilt zu haben, teile mit edler Resignation ihre Strafe und beuge dich mit Freiheit unter das Joch, das sie gleich schlecht entbehren und tragen. Durch den standhaften Mut, mit dem du ihr Glück verschmähest, wirst du ihnen beweisen, daß nicht deine Feigheit sich ihren Leiden unterwirft. Denke sie dir, wie sie sein sollten, wenn du auf sie zu wirken hast, aber denke sie die, wie sie sind, wenn du für sie zu handeln versucht wirst. Ihren Beifall suche durch ihre Würde, aber auf ihren Unwert berechne ihr Glück, so wird dein eigener Adel dort den ihrigen aufwecken und ihre Unwürdigkeit hier deinen Zweck nicht vernichten… Verjage die Willkür, die Frivolität, die Rohigkeit aus ihren Vergnügungen, so wirst du sie unvermerkt auch aus ihren Handlungen, endlich aus ihren Gesinnungen verbannen. Wo du sie findest, umgib sie mit edeln, mit großen, mit geistreichen Formen, schließe sie ringsum mit den Symbolen des Vortrefflichen ein, bis der Schein die Wirklichkeit und die Kunst die Natur überwindet.

Live with your century, but do not be its captive; render to your contemporaries what they need, not what they praise. Without sharing their guilt, share with noble resignation their punishment and bow with freedom under the yoke with which they can dispense no better than they can bear it. By the steadfast courage with which you disdain their good fortune, you will demonstrate to them that it is not your cowardice that submits to their sufferings. Consider them as they ought to be when you practice to influence them, but consider them as they are when you contemplate acting on their behalf. Seek their approval through their dignity, but reckon their good fortune to their unworthiness; in this manner your own nobility will summon up their own but their unworthiness will not obstruct your goal… Expel the arbitrary, the frivolous, the coarse from their amusements, and ultimately from their natures. Wherever you find them, surround them with noble, great and ingenious forms, encompass them with the symbols of all that is excellent, until at length reality is overcome by appearance and art by nature.

Friedrich Schiller, Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen in einer Reihe von Briefen, 9. Brief (1791) in: Sämtliche Werke, vol. 5, pp. 595-96 (H. Göpfert ed. 1980)(S.H. transl.)

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

From the June 2014 issue

The Guantánamo “Suicides,” Revisited

A missing document suggests a possible CIA cover-up

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

December 2014

Poison Apples

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Growing Up

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Gateway to Freedom

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Guns and Poses

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Christmas in Prison

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Beeper World·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The beeper, for a certain kind of Miami teenager in the Nineties, was an essential evolutionary adaptation.”
Photograph by Curran Hatleberg
Article
Hammer Island·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The place could have sprung from someone’s jealous dream about white people.”
Photograph by Emily Stein
Article
Growing Up·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The best coming-of-age stories have a hole in the middle. They pretend to be about knowledge, but they are usually about grasping, long after it could be of any use, one’s irretrievable ignorance.”
Photograph by Ben Pier
Article
Guns and Poses·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“‘It’s open shopping,’ he said. ‘A warehouse. The whole of Libya.’”
Map by Mike Reagan
Article
Christmas in Prison·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Just so you motherfuckers know, I’ll be spending Christmas with my family, eating a good meal, and you’ll all be here, right where you belong.”
Photographer unknown. Artwork courtesy Alyse Emdur

Amount that President Obama has added to America’s “brand value” according to the Nation Brands Index:

$2,100,000,000,000

A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.

A Utah woman named Cameo Crispi pleaded guilty to having drunkenly attempted to burn down her ex-boyfriend’s house by igniting bacon on his kitchen stove.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today