Is fantasy just modern mythology

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Talk about mythology

[311] Given the seriousness with which you adore art, my friends, I would like to urge you to ask yourself: Should the power of enthusiasm in poetry continue to split up individually and when it has [311] fought tiredly against the adverse element, finally silenced lonely? Should the highest holy always remain nameless and formless, left to chance in the dark? Is love really insurmountable, and is there an art that deserves the name if it does not have the power to bind the spirit of love with its magic word, that it should follow it and at its behest and at its discretion the beautiful Must inspire education? -

You before everyone must know what I mean. You yourself wrote, and you must have often felt it in your writing that you lacked a firm hold for your work, on a maternal ground, a sky, a living air.

The modern poet has to work all this out from within, and many have done it splendidly, but so far only each one alone, each work like a new creation from the beginning out of nothing.

I'm going straight to the goal. I maintain that our poetry lacks a central point, as mythology was for that of the ancients, and everything essential, in which modern poetry is inferior to ancient art, can be summed up in the words: We have no mythology. But let me add that we are close to getting one, or rather, it is time we were to seriously contribute to producing one.

Because it will come to us on the completely opposite path, like the old former, everywhere the first bloom of the youthful imagination, immediately following and forming itself on the next, most vital part of the sensual world. On the contrary, the new mythology must be developed from the deepest depths of the mind; it must be the most artificial of all works of art, for it should encompass all the others, a new bed and vessel for the old, eternal source of poetry and even the infinite poem which conceals the germs of all other poems. [312]

You may well smile at this mystical poem and the disorder that might arise from the crowd and the abundance of poetry. But the highest beauty, yes the highest order, is only that of chaos, namely one that only waits for the touch of love to develop into a harmonious world, such as was also the old mythology and poetry . Because mythology and poetry, both are one and inseparable. All the poems of antiquity join one another until the whole is formed from ever larger masses and members; everything interlocks, and everywhere one and the same spirit is only expressed differently. And so it is really not an empty picture to say: the old poetry is a single, indivisible, perfect poem. Why shouldn't what has already been done all over again? In a different way, of course. And why not a nicer, bigger one? -

I ask you not to give space to the disbelief in the possibility of a new mythology. Doubts from all sides and in all directions should be welcome to me, so that the investigation may become all the more free and richer. And now listen carefully to my assumptions! Given the current situation, I cannot give you more than guesses. But I hope these conjectures are to become truths through yourselves. Because if you want to make them, they are, as it were, suggestions for attempts.

If a new mythology can only work its way out of the innermost depths of the mind as if by itself, we find a very important hint and a remarkable confirmation of what we are looking for in the great phenomenon of the age, in idealism! This [313] has arisen in the same way as if from nothing, and a fixed point is now also constituted in the spirit world, from where the strength of man can spread in all directions with increasing development, certainly himself and himself Never to lose return. All sciences and all arts will be seized by the great revolution. You can already see it at work in physics, in which idealism actually broke out for itself earlier, before it was touched by the magic wand of philosophy. And this wonderful, great fact can at the same time be a hint to you about the secret connection and the inner unity of the age. Idealism, in a practical view nothing different from the spirit of that revolution, the great maxims of the same, which we should exercise and spread out of our own strength and freedom, is in theoretical view, however great it is here, but only one part Zweig, a way of expressing the phenomenon of all phenomena, that humanity struggles with all its might to find its center. Like things, it must stand, set, or rejuvenate. What is more likely and what cannot be hoped of such an Age of Rejuvenation? - The gray antiquity will come to life again, and the most distant future of education will already be revealed in premonitions. But that is not what is important to me here: because I do not want to skip anything and lead you step by step to the certainty of the most holy mysteries. How it is the essence of the spirit to determine itself and, in eternal change, to go out of itself and return to itself; just as every thought is nothing other than the result of such an activity: so the same process is also visible in the whole and in large part of every form of idealism, which is itself only the recognition of that self-law, and the new life doubled by the recognition, [314 ] which most gloriously reveals its secret power through the unlimited abundance of new invention, through general communicability, and through living activity. Of course, the phenomenon takes on a different shape in each individual, where often success has to fall short of our expectations. But what necessary laws lead us to expect for the course of the whole, our expectations cannot be deceived. Idealism in every form has to come out of itself in one way or another in order to be able to return to itself and to remain what it is. That is why a new, equally limitless realism must and will rise from his bosom; and idealism is therefore not merely an example of the new mythology in the way it came into being, but also an indirect source of it. You can already see traces of a similar tendency almost everywhere; especially in physics, which seems to lack nothing more than a mythological view of nature.

I, too, have long had the ideal of such a realism in me, and if it has not yet been communicated, it was only because I am still looking for the organ for it. But I know that I can only find it in poetry, because realism will never be able to appear again in the form of philosophy or even a system. And even according to a general tradition, it is to be expected that this new realism, because it must be of ideal origin and, as it were, float on ideal ground and ground, will appear as poetry, which is supposed to be based on the harmony of the ideal and the real. [315]

Spinosa, it seems to me, has the same fate as good old Saturn in fable. The new gods have brought down the glorious one from the high throne of science. He has retreated into the sacred darkness of fantasy, where he now lives and dwells with the other titans in venerable exile. Keep him here! In the song of the muses his memories of the old rule merge into a faint longing. [316] He undresses from the warlike adornment of the system, and then shares the apartment in the Temple of New Poetry with Homer and Dante and joins the larars and household friends of every god-loving poet.

Indeed, I hardly understand how one can be a poet without adoring and loving Spinosa and being entirely his own. In the invention of the individual, your own imagination is rich enough; To stimulate it, to stimulate activity and to give it nourishment, nothing more skillful than the poems of other artists. In Spinosa, however, you will find the beginning and the end of all fantasy, the general ground on which your individual rests and it is precisely this separation of the original, eternal of the fantasy from everything individual and particular that you must be very welcome. Take the opportunity and take a look! You will be given a deep look into the innermost workshop of poetry. As Spinosa's imagination is, so is his feeling. Not irritability for this and that, not passion that swells up and down again; but a clear scent hovers invisibly and visibly over the whole, the eternal longing finds an echo from the depths of the simple work, which breathes the spirit of original love in quiet grandeur. [317]

And isn't this mild reflection of the deity in man the real soul, the spark of all poetry? - The mere representation of people, of passions and actions really does not make it, any more than the artificial forms; and if you throw the old stuff a million times and roll it over each other. That is only the visible outer body, and when the soul is extinguished, only the dead corpse of poetry. But when that spark of enthusiasm breaks out in works, a new appearance stands before us, alive and in a beautiful glory of light and love.

And what is every beautiful mythology but a hieroglyphic expression of the surrounding nature in this transfiguration of fantasy and love?

Mythology has a great advantage. What otherwise consciousness flees forever, is nevertheless to be seen spiritually in a sensual and spiritual way, and recorded, as the soul speaks to our ears in the surrounding body, through which it shimmers into our eyes.

It is that we do not rely so entirely on our minds alone because of the Supreme. Of course, if it is dry there, it will not swell anywhere; and that is a known truth that I am least disposed to rebel against. But we should join in with what has been educated everywhere and also develop, ignite, nourish, in one word the highest by touching something similar, similar or, with equal dignity, hostile. But the highest is really incapable of any deliberate formation; so let's just give up any claim to any free art of ideas which would then be an empty name.

Mythology is such a work of art of nature. The highest is really formed in its fabric; everything is relationship and transformation, formed and transformed, and this formation and transformation is their peculiar process, their inner life, their method, if I may say so.

Here I find a great resemblance to that great joke of romantic poetry, which shows itself not in individual ideas but in the construction of the whole, and which our friend has so often developed in the works of Cervantes and Shakespeare. Yes, this artificially ordered confusion, this charming symmetry of contradictions, this wonderful eternal alternation of enthusiasm and irony, which lives in even the smallest parts of the whole, seem to me to be an indirect mythology itself. The organization is the same, and the arabesque is certainly the oldest and most original form of the human imagination. Neither this joke nor a mythology can exist without a first original and inimitable, which is absolutely indissoluble, which after all transformations still allows the old nature and strength to shine through, where the naive profundity shines through the appearance of the wrong and crazy, or of the simple-minded and stupid leaves. Because that is the beginning of all poetry, to abolish the course and laws of reasonably thinking reason and to put us back in the beautiful confusion of fantasy, in the original chaos of human nature, for which I have not yet known any more beautiful symbol than that colorful swarm of old gods.

Why do you not want to rise up to revive these glorious figures of great antiquity? - Just try once to look at the old mythology full of Spinosa and those views which modern physics must arouse in everyone who thinks, how everything will appear to you in a new splendor and life.

But the other mythologies must also be awakened to the extent of their profundity, their beauty and their education, in order to accelerate the emergence of the new mythology. If only the treasures of the Orient were as accessible to us as those of antiquity! What new source of poetry could flow to us from India if some German artists with the universality and depth of meaning, with the genius of translation that belong to them, were given little opportunity, which a nation that is becoming more and more dull and brutal knows how to need. [319] In the Orient we must look for the highest romanticism, and when we can first draw from the source, the appearance of southern glow, which is now so charming to us in Spanish poetry, will again appear only occidental and economical.

In general, one must be able to reach the goal in more than one way. Everyone goes entirely to his own, with happy confidence, in the most individual way, for nowhere do the rights of individuality apply - if only it is what the word designates, indivisible unity, inner living context - more than here, where the highest is spoken of is; a point of view from which I would not stand to say that the real value of man's virtue is his originality. - [320]

And if I put such a strong emphasis on the Spinosa, it is really not out of a subjective preference (the subjects of which I have rather kept explicitly removed) or in order to elevate him as a master of a new autocracy; but because I was able to show my thoughts on the value and dignity of mysticism and its relationship to poetry in the most striking and illuminating manner with this example. Because of his objectivity in this regard, I chose him as a representative of all others. I think so about it. Just as the doctrine of science, in the opinion of those who have not noticed the infinity and the immortal fullness of idealism, remains at least a perfect form, a general scheme for all science: so also Spinosa is in a similar way the general ground and support for every individual species of mysticism; and I think this will also be willingly recognized by those who understand neither particularly much about mysticism nor about Spinosa.

I cannot close without once more calling for the study of physics [321], from whose dynamic paradoxes the most sacred revelations of nature are now breaking out from all sides.

And so let us then, by light and life! Do not hesitate any longer, but each accelerate the great development to which we are called according to his own sense. Be worthy of the greatness of the age and the mist will fall from your eyes; it will be bright before you. All thinking is divining, but man is only just beginning to become conscious of his divinatory power. What immeasurable expansions will it still experience; and right now. It seems to me that anyone who understands the age, that is, that great process of general rejuvenation, those principles of the eternal revolution, should be able to succeed in grasping the poles of humanity and the actions of the first people, like the character of the golden age that is still to come to recognize and to know. Then the chatter would cease and man would become what he is and would understand the earth and the sun.

This is what I mean by the new mythology.


Antonio. During your lecture I remembered two remarks that I have had to hear many times and that have now become much clearer to me than before. The idealists assured me everywhere that Spinosa was good, but that it was incomprehensible through and through. In contrast, in the critical writings I found that every work of the genius is clear to the eye, but eternally secret to the understanding. In your opinion, these sayings belong together, and I sincerely delight in their unintentional symmetry.

[322] Lothario. I would like to confront our friend about the fact that he seemed to call physics so unique, since he was tacitly based everywhere on history, which is probably the real source of his mythology, just as much as physics; if it is otherwise permitted to use an old name for something that does not yet exist. Your view of the age, however, seems to me something that deserves the name of a historical view in my sense.

Ludoviko. One starts with where one perceives the first traces of life. That's in physics now.

Marcus. Her walk was a little quick. I would often have to ask you to keep up with my explanations.On the whole, however, your theory gave me a new perspective on the didactic, or as our philologist calls it, on the didascalic genre. I now see how this cross of all previous classifications necessarily belongs to poetry. For it is undisputed that the essence of poetry is precisely this higher ideal view of things, both of man and of external nature. It is understandable that it can be advantageous to isolate this essential part of the whole in training.

Antonio. I cannot accept didactic poetry as an actual genre, any more than romantic. Every poem is supposed to be romantic and every poem is supposed to be didactic in that broader sense of the word where it denotes the tendency towards a deep, infinite sense. We also make this demand everywhere without actually using the name. Even in very popular ways, such as in acting, we encourage irony; we demand that the events, the people, in short the whole game of life, should really be taken and represented as a game. This seems to us to be the most essential, and what does it not contain? - So we just stick to the meaning of the whole; What individually stimulates, stirs, occupies and delights the sense, the heart, the understanding and the imagination seems to us only signs, a means of contemplating the whole at the moment when we rise to it.

[323] Lothario. All the sacred games of art are only distant replicas of the infinite games of the world, the eternally self-forming work of art.

Ludoviko. In other words: all beauty is allegory. The highest can only be said allegorically, precisely because it is inexpressible.

Lothario. That is why the innermost mysteries of all arts and sciences are the property of poetry. Everything started from there and everything must flow back there. In an ideal condition of mankind there would only be poetry; namely, the arts and sciences are then still one. In our condition only the true poet would be an ideal man and a universal artist.

Antonio. Or the communication and presentation of all arts and all sciences cannot be without a poetic component.

Ludoviko. I am Lothario's opinion that the power of all arts and sciences meet in a central point, and I hope to the gods that even mathematics will provide you with food for your enthusiasm, and that your spirit will be kindled by its miracles. But I also preferred physics because this is where the touch is most visible. Physics cannot make an experiment without a hypothesis; every hypothesis, even the most limited, if it is thought through consistently, leads to hypotheses about the whole, actually rests on such, even if without the consciousness of who is using it. It is indeed wonderful how physics, as soon as it is concerned not with technical purposes but with general results, without knowing it, falls into cosmogony, into astrology, theosophy or whatever you want to call it , briefly into a mystical science of the whole.

Marcus. And should Plato not have known as much about this as Spinosa, who is simply not enjoyable to me because of its barbaric form.

Antonio. Supposing that Plato would also be what he is not, just as objective in this respect as Spinosa: it was better that our friend chose the last one to show us the original source of poetry in the mysteries of realism, precisely because with him there is no poetry of form to be thought of. For Plato, on the other hand, representation and its perfection and beauty is not a means but an end in itself. That is why its form is, strictly speaking, thoroughly poetic.

Ludoviko. I said in the speech itself that I am only citing Spinosa as a representative. If I had wanted to be more extensive, I would also have talked about the great Jakob Böhme.

Antonio. At the same time you could have shown whether the ideas about the universe in Christian form look worse than the old ones that you want to reintroduce.

[325] Andrea. I ask to honor the old gods.

Lothario. And I ask you to remember the Eleusinian Mysteries. I wish I had put my thoughts on paper so that I could present them to you in the order and detail required by the dignity and importance of the subject. Only through the traces of the mysteries have I learned to understand the meaning of the old gods. I suspect that the view of nature that prevailed would light a great light for the current researchers, when they are already ripe for it. The boldest and most powerful, yes I would almost like to say the wildest and most furious representation of realism is the best. - At least remind me, Ludoviko, that on occasion I will make known to you the Orphic fragment which begins with the double sex of Zeus.

Marcus. I remember a hint in Winckelmann from which I would like to assume that he respected this fragment as highly as you did.

[326] Camilla. Wouldn't it be possible that you, Ludoviko, could represent the spirit of Spinosa in a beautiful form; or better still your own view of what you call realism?

Marcus. I would prefer the last one.

Ludoviko. Anyone who had something like that in mind would only be able and willing to be like Dante. Like him, he would have to have only one poem in mind and heart, and would often have to despair whether it could be represented at all. But if it succeeded, he would have done enough.

Andrea. You have set a worthy role model! Certainly Dante is the only one who, under some favorable and unspeakably aggravating circumstances, invented and formed a kind of mythology, as it was possible at that time, by his own enormous strength, he himself quite alone.

Lothario. Actually, every work should be a new revelation of nature. A work becomes a work only because it is one and all. This is the only difference from studying.

[327] Antonio. I wanted to name studies to you which are then also works in your sense.

Marcus. And do not distinguish poems that are calculated to have an external effect, such as excellent plays, without being so mystical and all-encompassing, if only by their objectivity from studies that initially only focus on the artist's inner training, and his last Aim to prepare that objective external effect first?

Lothario. If they are just good plays, they are only a means to an end; They lack the independent, self-perfected thing for which I can now find no other word than that of works, and which is why I would like to keep it for this usage. The drama is just applied poetry compared to what Ludoviko has in mind. But what in my sense means a work can very well be objective and dramatic in your sense in an individual case.

Andrea. In this way, among the old genres, a work in your larger sense would only be possible in the epic one.

Lothario. A remark that is correct insofar as in the epic one work is usually the only one. The tragic and comic works of the ancients, on the other hand, are only variations, different expressions, of one and the same ideal. For systematic articulation, construction and organization, they remain the highest models, and are, if I may say so, the works among the works.

Antonio. What I can contribute to the feast is a somewhat lighter meal. Amalia has already forgiven me and allowed me to give my special instructions to her in general. [328]