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Letter XXIV

ACCORDINGLY three different moments or stages of development can be distinguished, which the individual man, as well as the whole race, must of necessity traverse in a determinate order if they are to fulfil the circle of their determination. No doubt, the separate periods can be lengthened or shortened, through accidental causes which are inherent either in the influence of external things or under the free caprice of men; but neither of them can be overstepped, and the order of their sequence cannot be inverted either by nature or by the will. Man, in his physical condition, suffers only the power of nature; he gets rid of this power in the æsthetical condition, and he rules them in the moral state.  

  What is man before beauty liberates him from free pleasure, and the serenity of form tames down the savageness of life? Eternally uniform in his aims, eternally changing in his judgments, self-seeking without being himself, unfettered without being free, a s...

Letter XXIII

ITAKEup the thread of my researches, which I broke off only to apply the principles I laid down to practical art and the appreciation of its works. The transition from the passivity of sensuousness to the activity of thought and of will can be effected only by the intermediary state of æsthetic liberty; and though in itself this state decides nothing respecting our opinions and our sentiments, and therefore leaves our intellectual and moral value entirely problematical, it is, however, the necessary condition without which we should never attain to an opinion or a sentiment. In a word, there is no other way to make a reasonable being out of a sensuous man than by making him first æsthetic. But, you might object: Is this mediation absolutely indispensable? Could not truth and duty, one or the other, in themselves and by themselves, find access to the sensuous man? To this I reply: Not only is it possible, but it is absolutely necessary that they owe solely to themselves th...

Letter XXII

ACCORDINGLY, if the æsthetic disposition of the mind must be looked upon in one respect as nothing—that is, when we confine our view to separate and determined operations—it must be looked upon in another respect as a state of the highest reality, in as far as we attend to the absence of all limits and the sum of powers which are commonly active in it. Accordingly we cannot pronounce them, again, to be wrong who describe the æsthetic state to be the most productive in relation to knowledge and morality. They are perfectly right, for a state of mind which comprises the whole of humanity in itself must of necessity include in itself also—necessarily and potentially—every separate expression of it. Again, a disposition of mind that removes all limitation from the totality of human nature must also remove it from every social expression of the same. Exactly because its “æsthetic disposition” does not exclusively shelter any separate function of humanity, it is favourable to al...

May 31, 2016

 

WHEN I heard the learn’d astronomer; 

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me; 

When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them; 

When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room, 

How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;         

Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself, 

In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time, 

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

 

 

Letter XXI

I HAVE remarked in the beginning of the foregoing letter that there is a twofold condition of determinableness and a twofold condition of determination. And now I can clear up this proposition.  

 

  The mind can be determined—is determinable—only in as far as it is not determined; it is, however, determinable also, in as far as it is not exclusively determined; that is, if it is not confined in its determination. The former is only a want of determination—it is without limits, because it is without reality; but the latter, the æsthetic determinableness, has no limits, because it unites all reality.  

 

  The mind is determined, inasmuch as it is only limited; but it is also determined because it limits itself of its own absolute capacity. It is situated in the former position when it feels, in the second when it thinks. Accordingly the æsthetic constitution is in relation to determinableness what thought is in relation to determination. The latter is a nega...

May 12, 2016


Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, 

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore— 

    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, 

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. 

“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door— 

            Only this and nothing more.” 

 

    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December; 

And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor. 

    Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow 

    From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore— 

For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore— 

            Nameless here for evermore. 

 

    And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain 

Thrilled me—filled me w...

May 7, 2016

Helen, thy beauty is to me 

   Like those Nicéan barks of yore, 

That gently, o'er a perfumed sea, 

   The weary, way-worn wanderer bore 

   To his own native shore. 

 

On desperate seas long wont to roam, 

   Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face, 

Thy Naiad airs have brought me home 

   To the glory that was Greece,       

   And the grandeur that was Rome. 

 

Lo! in yon brilliant window-niche 

   How statue-like I see thee stand, 

The agate lamp within thy hand! 

   Ah, Psyche, from the regions which 

   Are Holy-Land! 

 

 

Letter XX

THAT freedom is an active and not a passive principle results from its very conception; but that liberty itself should be an effect of nature (taking this word in its widest sense), and not the work of man, and therefore that it can be favoured or thwarted by natural means, is the necessary consequence of that which precedes. It begins only when man is complete, and when these two fundamental impulsions have been developed. It will then be wanting whilst he is incomplete, and while one of these impulsions is excluded, and it will be re-established by all that gives back to man his integrity. 
 

  Thus it is possible, both with regard to the entire species as to the individual, to remark the moment when man is yet incomplete, and when one of the two exclusions acts solely in him. We know that man commences by life simply, to end by form; that he is more of an individual than a person, and that he starts from the limited or finite to approach the infinite. The sensuous imp...

Letter XIX

TWO principal and different states of passive and active capacity of being determined can be distinguished in man; in like manner two states of passive and active determination. The explanation of this proposition leads us most readily to our end.  

 

  The condition of the state of man before destination or direction is given him by the impressions of the senses is an unlimited capacity of being determined. The infinite of time and space is given to his imagination for its free use; and, because nothing is settled in this kingdom of the possible, and therefore nothing is excluded from it, this state of absence of determination can be named an empty infiniteness, which must not by any means be confounded with an infinite void.  

 

  Now it is necessary that his sensuous nature should be modified, and that in the indefinite series of possible determinations one alone should become real. One perception must spring up in it. That which, in the pr...

Letter XVIII

BY beauty the sensuous man is led to form and to thought; by beauty the spiritual man is brought back to matter and restored to the world of sense.  

 

  From this statement it would appear to follow that between matter and form, between passivity and activity, there must be a middle state, and that beauty plants us in this state. It actually happens that the greater part of mankind really form this conception of beauty as soon as they begin to reflect on its operations, and all experience seems to point to this conclusion. But, on the other hand, nothing is more unwarrantable and contradictory than such a conception, because the aversion of matter and form, the passive and the active, feeling and thought, is eternal and cannot be mediated in any way. How can we remove this contradiction? Beauty weds the two opposed conditions of feeling and thinking, and yet there is absolutely no medium between them. The former is immediately certain through experience, the other thr...

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Art, Music & Literature:
Facundo Raganato

Artistic Photographs of The Author:
Scott Redinger-Libolt
www.redphoto.com

Book Cover Design:
Patricia Gil &
Facundo Raganato

Book Cover Photo:
Laura Mintz

© 2014 by Facundo Raganato. 

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