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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

 

schiller


reason notes a guardian piece regarding the newfound popularity of german idealist friedrich schiller on the english stage.

one thing we have come to grasp in the past 20 years is the close kinship between German romanticism and our own dramatic tradition.
what has done most of the work in rehabilitating the english romantics is the resurgence in (infection of?) romanticism in the anglophone world in the last 30 years. what we see transpiring politically -- a heroic and noble global crusade of naked utopian idealism marked by tragedy and solitude in search of promethean ecstasy -- is not isolated from the rest of angloamerican culture. that it is now popularly acceptable by so many when it so clearly would have been rejected a century ago is evidence of that profound cultural change.

all of the noble moralizing and ostentation of schiller was revolting to british pragmatism for centuries for the same reason hegelian german idealism was found dangerous. that his plays are experiencing a revival can come as a real surprise only to the extent that one doesn't see the growth and pervasiveness of romantic idealism in the anglophone world.

it is also, quite frankly, more good reason to be concerned about that world's fall into hero-cultism and fascism.

this turn may well mark the end of the extremely constructive materialist/empiricist tradition that has marked british and american philosophy, politics and culture going back to hobbes. that is a very sad advent for western civilization.


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