|"Regenschirm Panorama" via FAZ|
Monday, July 14, 2014
Thursday, July 10, 2014
One comes across Goethe in the darndest place, as I have often discovered. My husband, Rick, taught physics and had a huge library of books on the history of science, his special interest. I have been going through these books and listing the more valuable ones on Amazon for sale. A few days ago I received a request for The Mechanization of the World Picture: Pythagoras to Newton, published in 1950 by the Dutch historian of science E.J. Dijksterhuis. (First English translation, 1960.) Paging through it I came across a footnote in section 108 in which appears the poem Goethe wrote after his ascent of the Brocken in 1783:
Wär' nicht das Auge sonnenhaft,
Die Sonne könnt es nie erblicken;
Läg nicht in uns das Gottes eigne Kraft,
Wie könnt' uns Göttliches entzücken?
The poem comes up in Professor Dijksterhuis's discussion of astrology in the ancient world. Apparently, the Babylonian legacy of "star science" was systematized by the Greeks, especially by the Old and Middle Stoa.
|Persian astrologer Mashallah ibn Athari|
So, where did Goethe stand on this question?
Picture credits: Information is Beautiful; Who Guides; Staff Science
Saturday, July 5, 2014
|Thurn und Taxis board game|
|Maximilian I, by Albrecht Dürer (1519)|
It was Charles I who, in 1516, established a contract with the Taxis family who expanded Maximilian's network to Italy and Spain and established a route from Antwerp via Innsbruch to Rome and Naples. The revolutionary development was the permission received by the Taxis family to take letters for private clients. In return, the Habsburgs were relieved of the cost of maintaining the network, and the Taxis family had to invest in infrastructure: purpose-built postal stations, for instance, thereby relieving postal riders with the necessity of staying in inns.
|Post Boys and Horses, by George Morland (1794)|
Picture sources: Hans im Glück; Arteparnasomania; Jane Austen's World
Friday, July 4, 2014
|18th-century London coffeehouse|
The earliest newspapers reported "the facts" as they became known. It was broadsheets, especially during the war years, that "editorialized," slanting the news, so to speak, in favor of the Catholic or the Protestant cause. "The age of the journal," as Pettegree calls it, was inaugurated by two publications, Journal des sçavans, from 1664, and The Philosophical Transactions, from 1665, both catering to new interest groups and both "self-consciously a part of the international community of learning and discovery." Published in French and English, respectively, they marked a decisive break with the Latinate tradition of humanists. Unlike newspapers, journals were not as constrained by official censorship.
It was through The Invention of News that I came across the name of Gottlob Benedict von Schirach, who in 1781 found the Politische Journal, which became the "most widely read periodical in the German-speaking world, with an audience transcending the micro-markets of the German city and princely states." Its readership grew to 8,000 readers. If that was the case, I figured that Goethe must have been familiar with it. A couple of internet sources assert that he and Charlotte von Stein were readers, but my own Goethe reference books contain no mention by Goethe of the publication or of von Schirach. In fact, the only mention of Goethe in connection with von Schirach I could find was an article on the Goethezeit-Portal site; it concerns Karl Philipp Mortiz's Beiträge zur Philosophie des Lebens and von Schirach's Ueber die menschliche Schönheit und Philosophie des Lebens (1772).
|Hitler Youth March Past Baldur v. Schirach, 1933|
Pictures sources: ORF News; Frances Hunter; Magnolia Box
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Gee, the quote below sounds like something from Goethe. Gary Oldman (who once did a great impersonation of Beethoven) used it in an interview in the recent Playboy magazine:
The mediocre are always at their best. They never let you down.
Picture credit: Betsy Streeter (from www.CartoonStock.com)
Monday, June 16, 2014
|The World Is Ruled & Governed by Opinion|
By the way, Professor Behringer is an amazingly wide-ranging scholar. Besides his books on the Thurn and Taxis and, in Im Zeichen des Merkurs, a history of the German postal revolution in the early modern period, he has investigated the history of witchcraft and of climate change.
Picture source: British Museum (1850.0223.244)
Thursday, June 12, 2014
|John Robert Cozens, A Ruined Fort near Salerno, ca. 1782 (The Courtauld Gallery)|
|Carl Philipp Fohr, The Ruins of Hohenbaden, 1814-15 (The Morgan Library)|
|Samuel Palmer, Oak Tree and Beech, Lullingstone Park (The Morgan Library)|
"It is very true," said Marianne, "that admiration of landscape scenery is become a mere jargon. Every body pretends to feel and tries to describe with the taste and elegance of him who first defined what picturesque beauty was. I detest jargon of every kind, and sometimes I have kept my feelings to myself, because I could find no language to describe them in but what was worn and hackneyed out of all sense and meaning."
"I am convinced," said Edward, "that you really feel all the delight in a fine prospect which you profess to feel. But, in return, your sister must allow me to feel no more than I profess. I like a fine prospect, but not on picturesque principles. I do not like crooked, twisted, blasted trees. I admire them much more if they are tall, straight, and flourishing. I do not like ruined, tattered cottages. I am not fond of nettles or thistles, or heath blossoms. I have more pleasure in a snug farm-house than a watch-tower—and a troop of tidy, happy villages please me better than the finest banditti in the world."
Marianne looked with amazement at Edward, with compassion at her sister. Elinor only laughed.
My favorite artist among the Germans is Johann Georg von Dillis, who is represented at the Morgan by an oil sketch of a small, gnarled tree, not the kind of landscape I usually associate with him.
I was surprised to hear from my friend that he is reading, in English Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre. He expressed dismay that he found it very difficult to "get into." Well, every morning I have been reading a small section of the novel, and I am having something of the same experience. Still, I persevere.