Novalis, a legendary Romantic poet
. "Novalis" means "one who opens up new lands", and was the pen name of one Friedrich von Hardenberg as well as the name of a German prog rock
band of the Seventies
. Von Hardenberg was born in 1772 and was an active member of the German
philosophical community of his time
. As a protest
against the long, discursive polemic
s that constituted traditional philosophy, Novalis followed the style
of his cohort of German Romantic philosophers by writing "fragments": short, largely self-contained thoughts.
I was introduce to Novalis the band by a naked, green fairy on the cover of one of their albums, "Summerauben", when I was in highschool, and so when I saw the name when I was looking for some Nietzsche at a bookstore, I just had to open the book. The following quotes are from Novalis: Philosophical Writings translated and edited by Margaret Mahony Stoljar:
50. Every beloved object is the center of a paradise.
100. The wisdom of story telling contains the history of the archetypal world - it embraces times past present and future.
The human world is the common instrument of the gods. Poetry unites them as it does us.
- From Miscellaneous Observations
30. Writing poetry is creating. Each work of literature must be a living individual. What an inexhaustible amount of materials for new individual combinations is lying about! Anyone who has once guessed this secret - needs nothing more than to decide to renounce endless variety and the mere enjoyment of it and to start somewhere - but this decision is at the expense of the free feeling of an infinite world - and demands restriction to a single appearance of it.
Ought we perhaps to attribute our earthly existence to a similar decision?
I can't tell you how much my souls resonate to that thought.
40. Poetry dissolves the being of others in its own.
47. In the ancient world religion already was to a certain extent what it will be for us - practical poetry.
69. Magic is the art of using the world of the senses at will.
70. We have two sense systems which, however different they appear, are yet entwined extremely closely with one another. One system is called the body, one the soul. The former is dependent on extgernal stimuli, whose essence we call nature or the external world. The latter originally is dependent in the essence of inner stimuli that we call spirit, or the world of spirits. Usually this last system stands in a nexus of association with the other system - and is affected by it. Nevertheless frequent traces of a converse relation are to be found, and one soon notices that both systems ought actually to stand in a perfect reciprocal relation to one another, in which, while each of them is affected by its world, they should create harmony, not a monotone. In short, both worlds, like both systems, are to create free harmony, not disharmony or monotony. The transition from monotony to harmony certainly will pass through disharmony - and only in the end will harmony ensue. In the age of magic the body serves the soul or the world of spirits. Madness - enthusiasm. Communal madness ceases to be madness and becomes magic. Madness governed by rules and in full consciousness.
All arts and sciences rest on partial harmonies.
Poets, madmen, saints, prophets.
71. We shall understand the world when we understand ourselves, because we and it are integral halves, We are God's children, divine seeds. One day we shall be what our Father is.
87. To become a human being is an art.
90. The perfect person should be a beautiful satire, capable of giving anything any desired form, of filling each form with the most diverse life and moving it.
92. Everything must become food. The art of drawing life out of everthing. To vivify everthing is the goal of life. Pleasure is life. The absence of pleasure is a way to pleasure, as death is a way to life.
100. Everything is seed.
- From Logological Fragments I
3. It is only because of the weakness of our organs and of our contact with ourselves that we do not discover ourselves to be in a fairy world. All fairy tales are only dreams of that familiar world of home which is everywhere and nowhere. The higher powers in us, which one day will carry out our will like genies, are now muses that refresh us with sweet memories along this arduous path."
7. Every spiritual touch is like the touch of a magic wand. Everything can become the tool of magic. But whoever thinks the effects of such touch are so fabulous, whoever finds the effects of a magic spell so marvelous, need only remind himself of the first touch of his beloved's hand, her first meaningful glance, where the magic wand is the detached beam of light, the first kiss, the first word of love, and ask himself whether the spell and magic of these moments is not also fabulous and wondrous, indissoluble and eternal?
-From Logological Fragments II
Novalis died at the age of 29.