Monday, July 20, 2015

Yes, Reading Schiller's Historical Works Was Idiotic

But don't worry, I stopped after a few dozen pages' worth of Geschichte des Abfalls der vereinigten Niederlande von der spanischen Regierung. So awful! Let me ask you, when you think of Lutheranism and Calvinism, is the first thing which comes to your mind -- freedom?

Yeah, me neither. But to Schiller it seemed much too plain to need any discussion that they equaled freedom, and that Catholicism equaled pure wretched evil, human misery and slavery. Except when it didn't, like when he talked about the brilliant Templars, or other brilliant Catholic orders.

When Schiller thought of Protestant freedom in the 16th century, did he think of peasants' revolts? No. To him, that sort of thing was "Rebellion," which was an even worse horror than Catholicism itself -- the horrible kind of Catholicism, not the brilliant knights in shining armor on white horses.

No, freedom was exemplified by Dutch businessmen. Catholicism was the religion of artists (if Schiller was saying here that he wasn't an artist, then finally we agree on something, except that I'm afraid he's not nearly that consistent), and Protestantism was the religion of commerce. And freedom.

I don't know. Maybe Schiller had some money invested in businesses and was a libertarian, and when he said "freedom" he meant laissez-faire, and when he said "tyranny" he meant taxes, just like a 21st-century libertarian bozo, and there was nothing more complicated about him than that.

Whatever. Earlier today I gave up on Schiller, and I started looking for the passage in Nietzsche where Nietzsche says that it is a measure of Beethoven's genius that he could take something as pedestrian as Schiller's "Ode to Joy," put it in his 9th symphony and turn it into something great, thus giving a great gift to an entire nation which until then had been suffering under endless non-musical recitations of Schiller's extremely-popular poem.

I couldn't find that passage. I googled nietzsche beethoven schiller, and looked and looked and looked, and man oh man has there been a lot of nonsense written about Nietzsche and Beethoven and Schiller. But it's okay, I just got back into my volumes of Nietzsche. I prefer the editions from Insel-Verlag. So everything turned out okay. (Standard disclaimer: everything Nietzsche writes about women and war in his philosophical works is nonsense, the rest is incomparably brilliant.)

No comments:

Post a Comment