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Wenn wir immer vorsichtig genug wären und uns mit Freunden nur von Einer Seite verbänden, von der sie wirklich mit uns harmoniren, und ihr übriges Wesen weiter nicht in Anspruch nähmen, so würden die Freundschaften weit dauerhafter und ununterbrochner seyn. Gewöhnlich aber ist es ein Jugendfehler, den wir selbst im Alter nicht ablegen, daß wir verlangen, der Freund solle gleichsam ein anderes Ich seyn, solle mit uns nur ein Ganzes ausmachen, worüber wir uns denn eine Zeit lang täuschen, das aber nicht lange dauern kann.
Das sicherste Mittel ein freundschaftliches Verhältniß zu hegen und zu erhalten, finde ich darin, daß man sich wechselweise mittheile, was man thut. Denn die Menschen treffen viel mehr zusammen in dem, was sie thun, als in dem, was sie denken.
If only we were always cautious enough and were to ally ourselves with friends from one side only, namely that which really harmonizes with us and upon whose further nature we would stake no claim, then friendships would be longer lasting and without interruption. Usually however it is a mistake of youth which we continue even into old age that we demand of our friends that they be a second I, that they should make with us one whole, about which we then deceive ourselves for a while, but that cannot last long.
The surest means of nursing and preserving a friendship consists, I find, of sharing with one another what one is doing. Humans overlap far more often in what they do than in what they think.
–Johann Wolfgang Goethe, letter to Siegmund August Wolfgang Herder, Dec. 1798 in Goethes Werke (Weimar ed.), Abt. IV, vol. 13, pp. 366-67 (S.H. transl.)
Listen to Claudio Arrau perform Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 26, “Les Adieux”
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.”