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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:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Years ago, I lived in Montana, a land of purple sunsets, clear streams, and snowflakes the size of silver dollars drifting through the cold air. There were no speed limits and you could legally drive drunk. My small apartment in Missoula had little privacy. In order to write, I rented an off-season fishing cabin on Rock Creek, a one-room place with a bed and a bureau. I lacked the budget for a desk. My idea was to remove a sliding door from a closet in my apartment and place it over a couple of hastily cobbled-together sawhorses.
Amount of U.S. military aid given to the government of El Salvador each minute during the 1980s:
A team of European sexologists reported that 40 percent of Italian couples were not having sex, due in part to Italian men’s declining sex drive and growing predilection for prostitutes and cybersex.
Telecommunications company AT&T agreed to buy Time Warner for $85.4 billion in a bid to find new ways to reach consumers, and hackers took control of Internet-connected cameras and baby monitors to overwhelm the routing company Dyn with traffic, causing worldwide disruption to outlets such as Netflix and Amazon.
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"She never thanked me, never looked at me—melted away into the miserable night, in the strangest manner I ever saw. I have seen many strange things, but not one that has left a deeper impression on my memory than the dull impassive way in which that worn-out heap of misery took that piece of money, and was lost."