“And in the end, is not birth the original kind of choice?” – Novalis

To patronize the faculty of taste is to patronize oneself. For taste governs every free — as opposed to rote — human response. Nothing is more decisive. There is taste in people, visual taste, taste in emotion – and there is taste in acts, taste in morality. Intelligence, as well, is really a kind of taste: taste in ideas.

–Susan Sontag


• Does not the mystical sovereign need a symbol, like every idea, and what symbol is more estimable and appropriate than a gracious, excellent person?

• But because the spirit is at the same time at its most effective while in the highest animation, and since the the actions of the spirit are reflections, but reflection of its nature is formative and therefore the beautiful or perfection reflection is linked to the highest animation, then expression of the citizen of the state in the vicinity of the king will be expression of the highest, most restrained fullness of energy, expression of the liveliest stirrings, subject to the most respectful attentiveness, a kind of behavior which is susceptible to being regulated. No court can survive without etiquette. But there is a natural etiquette, the beautiful kind, and an artificial, modish, ugly kind. Production of the first will thus be not an unimportant concern of the intelligent king, since it has a significant influence on taste and devotion to the form of monarchy.

• Similarity with the queen would become the character trait of the new Prussian woman, their national trait. One gracious being among a thousand figures. At every wedding it would be easy to introduce a meaningful ceremony of tribute to the queen; and so with the king and queen one would be able to ennoble ordinary life, as the ancients once did with their gods. There true religious feeling arose through constantly blending the world of the gods with life.

–Novalis


Caspar David Friedrich
Man and Woman Watching The Moon

Hymns To The Night (1800)


The inner workings of a now legendary event: the transformation of the mining student Friedrich von Hardenberg into the romantic poet Novalis.

Novalis’s writings come across as fascinating and seminal as they are in the German original; the collection is a veritable eye-opener for anyone concerned with the wide-ranging impact of the best of German Romantic thought on subsequent developments in European literature, philosophy, history, science, psychology, music, the visual arts, etc., in other words, across the entire cultural landscape through the nineteenth century to the present.

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