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Werther
04-22-2007, 12:06 AM
As this is my first official post, allow me to introduce myself. I come from a cultural wilderness in the south west Pacific called New Zealand. I do not normally use computers and I am the world's slowest typer - so please bear with me. Last year I finished a diploma in German literature which involved writing a dissertation on the influence of Nietzsche on the early work of Thomas Mann. Prior to that, I did a philosophy degree. My favourite writer is Oscar Wilde to whom I was first introduced by my other great hero, Morrissey (pop-singer). Before the end of this year, I intend to exile myself to Ireland on a working holiday. The last book I read was 'Twilight of Love: Travels With Turgenev' by Australian author, Robert Dessaix. Presently reading Schopenhauer's 'World as Will and Representation' and Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' - works which obviously compliment one another.

Nightshade
04-22-2007, 03:42 AM
hello:wave:

bazarov
04-22-2007, 04:39 AM
Welcome and have fun!

Werther
04-22-2007, 05:11 AM
I must say, Fathers & Sons is one of my favourite novels. I can't say that I totally approve of the character of Bazarov, but like Turgenev, I have a deal of sympathy for him. Well chosen name. I like you.

bazarov
04-22-2007, 05:47 AM
I must say, Fathers & Sons is one of my favourite novels. I can't say that I totally approve of the character of Bazarov, but like Turgenev, I have a deal of sympathy for him. Well chosen name. I like you.

But Bazarov isn't nihilist...Never mind!

muhsin
04-22-2007, 07:02 AM
Hello there! Have a nice staying dear.

kathycf
04-22-2007, 04:20 PM
. Before the end of this year, I intend to exile myself to Ireland on a working holiday.
Oh, I'm jealous. ;) Try not to work too much and just enjoy the country. So many interesting things to see there. Whereabouts will you visit?

Werther
04-22-2007, 09:12 PM
But Bazarov isn't nihilist...Never mind!Of course he was a nihilist, in the same sense that Nietzsche condemned Socrates as a nihilist. He dissected frogs and was solely concerned with "clearing the ground".

kathycf, I hope to base myself in Cork to begin with as it was voted the cultural capital of Europe a couple of years ago. Obviously I will visit Dublin and I would like to spend some time on the Aran Islands living amongst the people depicted in the plays of Synge.
(Have you read Playboy of the Western World?)

kathycf
04-22-2007, 11:58 PM
kathycf, I hope to base myself in Cork to begin with as it was voted the cultural capital of Europe a couple of years ago. Obviously I will visit Dublin and I would like to spend some time on the Aran Islands living amongst the people depicted in the plays of Synge.
(Have you read Playboy of the Western World?)
Yes, I have read Playboy of the Western World in addition to Riders to the Sea, but it was quite a while ago. I think probably about 15 years. We have a member here who is quite a fan of Synge, her name is Niamh.

Your trip sounds like it will be quite interesting. (and I'm still jealous....) :lol:

bazarov
04-23-2007, 05:02 PM
Of course he was a nihilist, in the same sense that Nietzsche condemned Socrates as a nihilist. He dissected frogs and was solely concerned with "clearing the ground".


No, he isn't...Read carefully and you'll change your mind.

barbara0207
04-23-2007, 05:30 PM
Hi, Werther!
Good name. Did you choose it because you are a lover or a sufferer - or both? Or do you simply love the novel?

Werther
04-23-2007, 09:06 PM
Barbara, How good of you to comment on my name (or pseudonym). I was hoping somebody would ask. 'The Sufferings of Young Werther' is really the story of my life - and I fear very much it may also be the story of my death. Not that I have ever really discovered a Lotte. I'm actually quite resigned to solitude and accepted a long time ago that 'love' is something that happens to other people. Have you read 'Tonio Kroger' by Thomas Mann? Though I certainly do not share Tonio's burgerliebe, I identify strongly with that character's outlook. I suppose that means I am more a cynic than a romantic, but we don't really choose these things do we?

Werther
04-23-2007, 09:19 PM
No, he isn't...Read carefully and you'll change your mind.

Bazarov, I don't mean to go on about this but why do you dispute that Bazarov is a nihilist? He is by his own admission a nihilist; he proclaims himself a nihilist several times throughout the story. And does this mean that you approve of the character Bazarov? Please answer in full to all of these questions. I am really, really curious. Also, it's great to have discovered somebody who has read Fathers And Sons.

barbara0207
04-24-2007, 06:34 PM
So you're a cynic, Werther? Comes from reading too much Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. :)
But seriously - you seem to be in the same mood Goethe and his contemporaries were at the time he wrote the novel. Goethe - in spite of writing Werther - survived, while many fans of his book did not. They committed suicide just like their idol. Goethe himself was much too rational and realistic for that - and he loved life too much. Additionally he was by no means of the opinion that love was only for other people - he took what he could get, making quite a few women first happy and then unhappy. The good thing about that is that he gave us some of the most beautiful love poems.

I have read Tonio Kroger, but it seems such a long time ago that I hardly remember what it was about. My favourites by Thomas Mann are Buddenbrooks (best novel ever) and Magic Mountain.

By the way, why don't you try Goethe's Wilhelm Meister? In that work he gives his hero the chance to develop and mature without killing him before the poor fellow knows what life can hold in store for him.:D

bazarov
04-25-2007, 03:23 AM
Wrong thread :)

Lote-Tree
04-25-2007, 03:54 AM
As this is my first official post, allow me to introduce myself. I come from a cultural wilderness in the south west Pacific called New Zealand. I do not normally use computers and I am the world's slowest typer - so please bear with me. Last year I finished a diploma in German literature which involved writing a dissertation on the influence of Nietzsche on the early work of Thomas Mann. Prior to that, I did a philosophy degree. My favourite writer is Oscar Wilde to whom I was first introduced by my other great hero, Morrissey (pop-singer). Before the end of this year, I intend to exile myself to Ireland on a working holiday. The last book I read was 'Twilight of Love: Travels With Turgenev' by Australian author, Robert Dessaix. Presently reading Schopenhauer's 'World as Will and Representation' and Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' - works which obviously compliment one another.

Another Philosopher! :-)

Hello and Welcome - I am new here too :-)

How many Philosophers does it take to change a light-bulb? :-)

See you around the forum :-)

Regards,
Lote

Werther
04-25-2007, 04:42 AM
So you're a cynic, Werther? Comes from reading too much Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. :)
But seriously - you seem to be in the same mood Goethe and his contemporaries were at the time he wrote the novel. Goethe - in spite of writing Werther - survived, while many fans of his book did not. They committed suicide just like their idol. Goethe himself was much too rational and realistic for that - and he loved life too much. Additionally he was by no means of the opinion that love was only for other people - he took what he could get, making quite a few women first happy and then unhappy. The good thing about that is that he gave us some of the most beautiful love poems.

I have read Tonio Kroger, but it seems such a long time ago that I hardly remember what it was about. My favourites by Thomas Mann are Buddenbrooks (best novel ever) and Magic Mountain.

By the way, why don't you try Goethe's Wilhelm Meister? In that work he gives his hero the chance to develop and mature without killing him before the poor fellow knows what life can hold in store for him.:D

Oh Barbara, how kind you are! That was said with all the concern of a doting mother.... or a teacher, at any rate. But really, you needn't worry. There may be a certain danger in romanticism (think 'Madame Bovary') but cynicism is a position of relative security. It is based on an instinct for self-protection, a perceived need to keep life's woes at bay. Humour springs from precisely the same instinct - which explains why cynical people are often very, very funny. Just think of the English. Their entire history of comedic genius is based on nothing other than a predilection for misery. Have you heard this anoynomous proverb: "The Scots are at home but when they are abroad, the Irish are at peace but when they are at war, and the English are happy but when they are miserable". I discern much sanity in this attitude. James Joyce, in comparing the English to the French, suggested that the French lack the talent for humour because they do not possess the Englishman's "humility before life". I think that this spirit informs so much that is (or was) great about English culture. You find it in Winnie the Pooh, Wind in the Willows, Black Adder, the plays of Alan Bennett, the poetry of A.E. Houssman, and the music of Morrissey. The latter once claimed in an interview: "I could never do anything so vulgar as enjoy myself". How brilliant is that!
I've always found it interesting how the genders differ in their attitudes to cynicism. At some level, almost all men are cynics, but women rarely succumb to this frame of mind. Why do you think this is? I have a few ideas but, at the risk of offending any readers (you especially Barbara), I think I'll just toss off some Oscar Wilde quotes instead:
'Idealism precedes experience, cynicism is what follows.'
'No, I am not at all cynical, I have merely got experience, which, however, is very much the same thing.'
'Men know life too early. Women too late'.
I must say Barbara, I had a wee chuckle when you recommended 'Wilhelm Meister' to me. I have not yet read this book but I know some things about it and it is high on my reading list. As I understand, it tells the story of one man's integration into bourgeois society - a plot to which I am bound to relate. And you were right to point out the development in Goethe's thought. In later years, he reacted violently against the pathological elements in romanticism, embracing instead a more serenely classical form of art. You mention his great love poems and so I shall leave you with some lines:
"You kiss with such pointed lips
Like a dove sipping water
You are really too dainty."
P.S. - Writing this has given me a great idea for a new thread, which I am going to start immediately. Feel free to contribute. You are very interesting.

barbara0207
04-25-2007, 07:51 PM
Hm, you're not only cynical, but sharp as well. You found me out - I'm a teacher. But I'm also a comedian (and people part with their money willingly to see my group and have a good laugh) - and I'm not cynical at all. I don't indulge in misery - neither my own nor other people's -, and I enjoy myself as much as I can (right now, as a matter of fact). If I understand Morrissey's quote right, she was having the interviewer on for some reason (don't know the context). In that case it's brilliant. She didn't mean it literally, did she? Because if she did, she would be just another person immersing in their own (imaginary) misery and suffering, carrying the world upon their shoulders - and enjoying themselves immensely by doing just that. Somewhat contradictory, don't you think?

The issue may or may not be a gender problem. I do not think that "almost all men are cynics" - most of the men I know are not. I will concede, however, that from my experience more male than female teachers are inclined to turn to cynicism after several years of teaching. (Cf. your Oscar Wilde quotes #1 and 2; # 3 is - sorry - rubbish, but may have been true in his time).

About your sanity thread: I think the administrator did the right thing. In my view there is no such thing as "national character". I'm an individual, and I don't want people to judge me from my nationality. I don't believe in the wisdom of sentences like "All Americans/Britons/Germans/Belgians... are/do/..." They aren't, and they don't.

Wow, hope that doesn't sound too much like a lecture. (That's the teacher for you. No offence intended.) :D

PS: I like you. arguing with you is fun. Enjoying myself.
PS 2: Enjoy yourself with Wilhelm Meister.
PS 3: You say you leave me with some lines. You leave me baffled. :confused:

Uh oh, mixed up Morrissey and Morissette (Alanis) last night. Must have been late. Sorry!

Werther
04-27-2007, 10:51 PM
Hello Barbara, Today I am typing not from the computer suite in my old university but from an internet cafe in Central Otago. I moved here today to do some vinyard work during harvest. This means I'll be checking this site much less frequently than was previously the case. As I have only an allocated amount of time I am racing against the clock to type this and you must excuse me if it reads a little clumsily.
The main thing that I want to say here is that I am terribly upset about having my thread locked - on intellectual grounds. To compare and contrast nationalities is an endless thrill and it is patently absurd to deny the existence of national identity. There are reasons why Russian literature is sorrowful, French is bitter and German is wistful. Though we may may try to be individualists, we never really escape the cultural milieu into which we are born. In the thread about 'the last film you saw' I made some comments about NZ national identity. This is very much a part of who I am. If you read Thomas Mann's 'Doctor Faustus' you will find one of the most eloquent and moving ruminations on German national identity ever written. In this work, Mann searches for the roots of Germany's tragic fate (post WW2) by telling the life story of a fictitious composer, Adrian Leverkhun. Highly recommended. Anyhow, my time is up so I must leave it at that.

barbara0207
04-29-2007, 05:52 PM
Hello Werther,
I may have been a bit too insistent in my rejection of a national character, and I do admit that there may be some kind of cultural identity in a nation (though dwindling in times of globalization). But you cannot characterize all German literature as "wistful". Not even Thomas Mann's works are wistful throughout (Der Erwählte, Felix Krull). And I don't know about all French literature being "bitter".
Please don't be too upset about your thread being closed. What scared me (and probably the administrator) most was your suggestion to connect a nation's literature with its "sanity". While many people will concede that their nation may be at fault here and there, most of them will draw the line at their own and their country's sanity.
But if you find cultural identity so thrilling why don't you open a thread asking whether people think that e.g. German literature is wistful? I would be happy to contribute.
By the way, how do you characterize American and British literature?

PS: Couldn't find your comments on NZ in the movie thread.

Werther
04-30-2007, 12:31 AM
Hello Werther,
I may have been a bit too insistent in my rejection of a national character, and I do admit that there may be some kind of cultural identity in a nation (though dwindling in times of globalization). But you cannot characterize all German literature as "wistful". Not even Thomas Mann's works are wistful throughout (Der Erwählte, Felix Krull). And I don't know about all French literature being "bitter".
Please don't be too upset about your thread being closed. What scared me (and probably the administrator) most was your suggestion to connect a nation's literature with its "sanity". While many people will concede that their nation may be at fault here and there, most of them will draw the line at their own and their country's sanity.
But if you find cultural identity so thrilling why don't you open a thread asking whether people think that e.g. German literature is wistful? I would be happy to contribute.
By the way, how do you characterize American and British literature?

PS: Couldn't find your comments on NZ in the movie thread.

Hi Barbara, Just another quick word from me. I want to here defend my use of the term 'sanity'. Far too little discussion revolves around this term and that is to be much regretted. If more judgements were made from the point of view of sanity, half the world's problems would be solved over night. But because, in our modern world, we live in paranoid fear of being considered mad or eccentric, we refrain from using such language. It didn't stop Nietzsche - he called Antiquity 'the sanest period in human history'. And my hero, Morrissey, called the English 'the sanest people in the world'. It is really the most effective language in which to express a value judgement. Nietzsche was wholly concerned with diagnosing the mental and spiritual health of modern man, and although Hitler misappropriated Nietzsche's philosophy for his own ends, it is a shame that more social discourse does not centre on the notion of 'decadence', or 'degeneracy'. In my view, the modern capitalist world is a madhouse. Modern art is degenerate and intelligent people need to decry it as such. Our future depends upon it.
I expect that the administrator also felt that comparing cultures would incite conflict. Oh dear! Where do I begin? Recognising and celebrating cultural difference is not only fun, but it is also very healthy. In our increasingly homogenised multi-cultural world, so many ills result from our pretending that we do not differ. It may seem paradoxical, but when we acknowledge difference we get along much better. (Because we know each other much better.) Also, it can be very, very funny. A couple of weeks ago I was watching the British comedy series, 'Absolute Power'. The character playing opposite Stephen Fry exclaims, 'Humour, where would we be without it?' Stephen Fry's pensive response: 'Germany, I should think.' Ha, ha!
Anyhow, I must leave it at that. To find my other posts Barbara, just click on my name and there should be an option: 'read all posts by this person'. My film recommendations are very good! Also, let me say that there is a big difference between Morrissey and Alanis Morrissette. If you do not know much about Morrissey, I urge you to discover him for yourself. Listen to his music, read his interviews (@morrissey-solo.com) and step into his world. He really is a fascinating figure; one of the great cultural icons of our age, in my view.
Best wishes, John
P.S - Glad you like me. (You have good taste)
P.P.S - the Goethe quote was not meant to baffle you, merely to charm you!

barbara0207
05-02-2007, 05:25 PM
So you're concerned about your mental health? Don't worry. The doctor is: in. Here's the prescription. Throw Herr Nietzsche out of the window - no wait, hide him somewhere lest an innocent child might find him and become infected. And while you're at it, you might hide Herr Leverkuhn as well. And as going for a walk will improve your health considerably, leave your musty room of the 19th century and walk in the park of the 21st. In case it rains, you may also walk through a museum of modern art. Don't go to the room labelled "I don't know the first thing about art, but I know what I like". Instead, talk to an expert. Make sure the expert is not Mr Morrissey in disguise. This should be an excellent therapy to cure you from the viruses and bacteria mentioned above. Get well soon!

PS: Took me some time to think about this. Your post gave me the creeps and made me speechless for a while. But no offence intended.

EAP
05-03-2007, 06:08 PM
Young Werther was a whinny, emo lil rear-end.

Edit: Umm. Yeah, definitely rather creepy.

barbara0207
05-03-2007, 06:35 PM
Young Werther was a whinny, emo lil rear-end.


Edit: Umm. Yeah, definitely rather creepy.

Hi, EAP!
I think you are a little harsh on poor old Werther. Consider the time when that was written. Great passion had to be conveyed. It just mirrors how a generation of young poets and intellectuals felt.

Werther
05-26-2007, 01:18 AM
'But Zarthustra became sad and said to his heart: "They do not understand me: I am not the mouth for these ears. I seem to have lived too long in the mountains; I listened too much to brooks and trees: now I talk to them as to goatherds. My soul is unmoved and bright as the mountains in the morning. But they think I am cold and I jeer and make dreadful jests. And now they look at me and laugh: and as they laugh they even hate me. There is ice in their laughter'.

Yes, I am back from the mountains after a long absence and, like Zarathustra himself, I seem to have descended into the marketplace. The reception to my last post - which can only be described as hysterical - was so completely unjustified and spiteful. The Western world is, and has been, a sinking ship for the last 200 years (at least) and if someone dares mention the word 'degenerate' or 'decadent', if someone dares to call the modern world a 'madhouse', this is how they are treated. To acquiesce in the general decline of Western civilisation implies such a terrible lack of feeling and apathy. And whatever one might say against Hitler, he did care - which is more than can be said for most people. When I decried modern art as degenerate, I was speaking of art in the most general sense. Hollywood action films, popular music of the last decade, mindless television, the death of theatre - these are the things that are having such an adverse effect on today's youth. Am I the only one who cares about these things? And for the record, I know an awful lot about art and I feel quite justified in loathing a lot of what finds its way into contemporary galleries. I highly recommend you read Steven Pinker's diagnosis of modern art in 'The Blank Slate'. Steven Pinker is an amazing writer and very perceptive. Let me further add that I am quite content living in my 19th century time-warp. The 21st century appals me and only insensitive barbarians can live through it without being offended on a daily basis. Given this, I would suggest that Nietzsche has never been so relevant and children should be pumped with him from kindergarden onwards. What a sane world that would be! And Barbara, please do not attack Morrissey - some subjects are sacrisanct.
So, if I have been understood, I am really in no need of a diagnosis and am quite secure in the fact of my own sanity. But here, with the very best intentions and no feelings of malice, I will offer you a character assessment. I read your comments on another thread concerning your changing attitude to Mann's 'Buddenbrooks' after having children. As Lisaveta tells Tonio (in Tonio Kroger), I think you are, at bottom, a bourgeois. I do not mean this in an altogether complimentary way. Mann's 'burgherlich' nature - his strong ethical relationship to the bourgeois way of life - is something I have always objected to in his writing. How much SANER Flaubert was in proclaiming that 'hatred of the bourgeois is the beginning of wisdom'. I imagine you as something like the character Gabriele from Mann's novella 'Tristan'; artistically inclined but ultimately drawn to the Kloterjahn's of this world. (I make no secret of the fact that I belong to the side of Herr Spinnell.) Sometimes I think that this is basically the female condition, but then I am reminded of somebody like Germaine Greer (God bless her) who rejects conventionality and is not afraid to be considered mad by the vulgar mob.
Anyway, I don't think I'll contribute anymore to this forum. I've enjoyed our little flirtation but ultimately, I just really hate computers. (Back to my 19th century time-warp!) I think I'll check once more to see if you respond to this post. I hope so.
All the best, Werther.

barbara0207
05-26-2007, 07:14 PM
You feel misunderstood? I thought as much. I should have known that my answer would not keep you from walking a path that must be considered dangerous.

Hitler cared??!! The only one Hitler cared for was himself, was his EGO in capital letters. Being German and no longer quite young, I should know. Visit his dictatorship in books like "1984" or talk to a Jewish survivor of a concentration camp. You seem to loathe democracy and long for a "strong man" (especially man!), a dictator. Fine. Have a look at North Korea. Certainly no degenerated art there. And no degenerated TV, either.

And things were better in the past? Usually I hear that from old people who are perfectly capable of blocking everything bad from their memory of the past and only remember the positive sides. All these old people (the oldest record can be found in ancient Greece) seem to be complaining that times have changed for the worse, that culture is degenerating and that there is decadence all over. And that is - among a few others - a reason why Germans fell for Hitler (especially the bourgeois). Would you really have art go back to Arno Breker, films to Leni Riefenstahl?

Sure, democracy is not ideal. But then, what is? Democracy brings relative freedom, one of them being to speak your mind in a forum or wherever you please. The dangers are that people may misuse their freedoms. But I'd rather have that and fight against it as far as it is possible for me in public than having to fight against a dictatorship stealthily, with my own and my family's life at stake. (There's the bourgeois for you!) Sure, atrocities and crimes against "good taste" (whatever that may be) are committed every day, but if I look at the atrocities and crimes of centuries past I do not find them easier to bear than today's.

I implore you to get off this track. Get real. I wish you all the best. You will mature in time, experience and further study will show you what else there is to see. Bye.

PS: I don't mind being called "bürgerlich" in a certain way. But if your analysis of my character is grounded on that one post you mentioned, I'd like to tell you that I could not tell the whole truth in a public forum. It wasn't entirely the children.

Werther
05-26-2007, 08:21 PM
Alright, I'll leave it at that. There is much I could say in response but I seem to have upset you - which was not my intention. I don't think my views are extreme in the least, and certainly not 'dangerous.' As for Hitler, remember that his favourite writer was Arthur Schopenhauer who espoused an essentially Buddhist philosophy which puts emphasis on the redeeming power of pity and compassion. Schopenhauer's philosophy treats life ('will') as an organic whole which is blind, amoral and malevalent. To organise life in such a way that misery and sorrow is minimised - which was clearly Hitler's aim - is not, per se, a bad thing, surely? He was obviously an extreme megalomaniac but one does a great disservice to history to not try to understand him. 'Tout comprendre, tout pardonner'. And by the way, my criticism of demo-crass-y does not mean I long for a strong man! The 'hard-man' ethos that Nietzsche advocates is always the thing I have found most distasteful in his philosophy. (Again, I recommend Mann's BRILLIANT essay 'Nietzsche's philosophy in the light of recent history'.) No, what I long for is civility and beauty! I long to be ruled by a responsible and flamboyant queen, like Ludwig the second of Bavaria! Remember that my favourite writer is Oscar Wilde. And so as I bid you farewell, I shall leave you with a charming Wilde quote which is sure to bring a smile back to your face.
"It is love, not German philosophy, that is the true explanation of life".
Adieu.

barbara0207
05-26-2007, 08:36 PM
I knew you'd want to have the last word. :D

PS: Hitler- Schopenhauer: misconception.
King Ludwig: rather a "fairy queen" ... :lol: Did you know he wasted his subjects' money for his own purpose? Oh, decandence wherever the eye may wander ...

Go on dreaming, my boy, but not too long. Wake up some time.
All the best and farewell,
Barbara

Edit: How about the paintings by Max Beckmann which StLukesguild posted in the art thread? Hitler thought that was degenerated.