Words of an Archangel
BodyI didn’t write this, but hey, I’m an unoriginal man and have no problems using this for my own purposes. A good read, written on a forum by the son of a Korean and German Jesuit.
Because the level of knowledge has gone up, while the level of genius has gone sharply down.
Actually, it’s not even true knowledge that has prospered. It’s raw data that has been accumulated, and our arrogance regarding it; the common man is still dumb as shit, but because of the achievements of a few, and the fact that we have elevated the worship of knowledge to the detriment of everything else, he somehow believes himself to be superior to those who came before. Thing is, people who don’t know what Saturn V was fueled with deem themselves greater than Nietzsche or Descartes because “we went to the moon”.
Thing is, if I look at Germany during romanticism and, say, Oklahoma or Iran (or Germany, for that matter) in the 21st century, I get the idea that they’re catastrophically wrong.
Genius has no place in our society anymore. Any original thought is jeered out of the lecture halls, and anything not regarding pure empirical pragmatism is considered unnecessary. Ironically, Hölderlin described that very thing even back then:
Is not sacred my heart, filled with greater life,
Since I love? Why did you hold me in higher esteem,
When I was prouder and wilder,
Fuller of words, yet emptier?
Alas! The mob only loves that which is good for the market,
And the servant honours but the violent;
The divine is only believed in
By those who are divine themselves.
(translation: my own. It sucks, but it’s still better than most of what I found on the web – also, for all their purported differences, Goethe wrote the same thing)
And today, we’ve reached the culmination of that trend: anything that has to do with the market is worshipped, whereas the divine is ridiculed and denigrated. Some may think it makes us smarter; I think it makes us infinitely poorer. And while feeling superior to bygone epochs is a trait common in most modern western societies (it started with the Renaissance), we have taken it to a whole new level – everything older than 20 years is utterly benighted. Just desserts, then, that we’ll suffer the same fate by 2026.
We have reduced man to one facet of his existence and neglected the other, going as far as to deny its necessity, even its existence. Another German romantic, Novalis, formulated it thus:
Are the keys to all creatures,
When those who sing or kiss
Have deeper knowledge than the learned scholars,
When the world returns to free life
And at the same time into itself,
When then, light and shadow
Reunite again to form true clarity[…]
(yeah, yeah, I know, my translation is bad…)
Pretty much every philosophy from Laotse to Aristotle acknowledges some form of duality. Yet we think only of the light, the yin.