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WRB—July 9, 2022
Rather a lot about Schelling
[I’m going to be honest: this one got away from me. There was a lot going on last night, and we have a pretty bare-bones newsletter with almost no links to show for it. I’m waiving the paywall for this reason.
We have a lot of big things planned in the next few weeks and months, and we’ll be back on Wednesday with a lot of great content to share with you. —Chris]
To do list:
Follow us on Twitter [Or Instagram. Or Facebook.] to keep up with the Barely-Managing WRB Summer Intern [He barely has anything to do with this issue—I hope he at least makes an Instagram post. —Chris];
order a tote bag [We are working on mugs. —Chris], and;
avail yourself of our world-famous classified ads, now stored on this page for non-paying readers to access, either by placing or responding to one.
There’s a review essay in our sister publication about wheat. Wheat! They also have an expansive review by James Romm of, among other things, the history of Persia we mentioned on April 2. It’s not entirely positive.
And in The New Atlantis, Jon Askonas has been writing quite a bit, after Walker Percy, about reality.
Jeez there are some great deals available from the Harvard Book Store’s ongoing sale, through the 18th.
And locally, today, there is a book sale in Canal Park down in Southeast from 10–5.
The July 11 & 18, 2022 Issue of The New Yorker includes no
“SHOUTS & MURMURS.”
[But I did like the Shirley Jackson story (pg. 27), and we’ve already mentioned Joy Williams’ Road Trip report (pg. 33). I still haven’t figured out what the right caption for this week’s comic is. —Chris]
“To Dante” by Friedrich Schelling
First you ascended into the eternal pits with fear
Into the land of the night, the places never seen,
To ogle where the old ghosts slumber.
Indeed, the heart trembled at the fearful words:
‘You who enter here, let all hope die,’
But still you pressed on through the dismal portal.
Then through the force of hell and decay
The souls, and the appalling visages
Worked through you to win the highest victory,
Not through that door of divine judgement,
Which is eternal and which none overcome.
Through the earth itself’s own heart to the eternal light.
Erste stiegst du furchtsam in die ewigen Tiefen
Ins Land der Nacht, die nie gesehenen Orte,
Zu schauen, wo die alten Geister schliefen.
Das Herz erbebte zwar dem furchtbaren Worte:
Die ihr hier eingeht, laßt die Hoffnung sterben,
Doch gingst du vorwärts durch die grause Pforte.
Dann durch den Zwang der Hölle und das Verderben
Der Seelen und die schrecklichen Gesichte
Drangst durch du, den höchsten Sieg dir zu erwerben,
Nicht durch das Thor der göttlichen Gerichte,
Das ewig ist und keinem überwunden.
Durch Herz der Erde selbst zum ewigen Lichte.
[This is another translation that I uncovered going through my notes. My first encounter with Schelling was when I was reading the fifth volume of The Glory of the Lord, where Balthasar devotes a huge section to evaluating his thought from the perspective of his “theological aesthetics.” I had to hunt down an internet scan of the old Schelling collected works and comb through it to find the full text of this poem, I recall. This may have all been to impress a girl.
The few lines you get in the Ignatius Press volume of Balthasar is:
The heart wavered at the fearful word:
‘Give up all hope, ye who enter here’.
But still you passed on through the terrible gate. . .
Through the earth’s very heart to the eternal light.
And this (leaving out a lot) for Balthasar was meant to illustrate the claim:
The final stance of the philosopher is thus for Schelling that of a heroic defiance in the face of the sibylline vision of the abyss, which even here (as later in Freud and Scheler) is called ‘the anarchic’, ‘primal instinct’, ‘hunger’, ‘dependency’, ‘dark will’ (=‘drive’), and which pours out a form of melancholy over all that is. One must hold out against the ‘truly terrible thing’, one must ‘descend into the horrendous depths’, which is why Dante has such importance for Schelling.
I’ve obviously favored a very literal translation here. The question this verse poses is why Dante (and everyman, as the form of the Comedy implies) must wander through hell in order to reach heaven—and Schelling’s solution is a geographical one! I would just suggest that the image Schelling give of the man fighting through the ugly faces he meets among the damned, in order to get through the ordeal and out the other side, barely resembles the pilgrim in that great poem, who is never able to resist his incredible attraction to the unhappy souls he sees. —Chris]
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