I was going through Goethe and Schiller's Xenions (1797) again, and paused at the section entitled "The Philosophers in Hades," recalling Dante's Inferno, except the two poets make quips at their subjects, their answer to Descartes: "If I am thinking, I am. Very well! But who constantly thinketh?" The phrase only looks inane. And so it is that the different ages of writing are reflected in a mirror composed by the genius or intuition of inspiration and interpretation.
I'd like to pick up a few threads of these thoughts as if they were materials, to attempt to pick threads that may be woven into more sources than listed here and imitate the origin of the word fragment in Latin and Greek, fragmentum and (apo)spasmata, (apo)klasmata which originally denoted bits of material things - like textiles. Each fragment will be preceded by a xenion, untitled to lead back to the original source or to stimulate the imagination to try to complete it.
That you may roast me like Huss, it is possible; but it is certain,
After me cometh the swan who will my mission complete.
Out of one, comes another. Whether we prescribe to the metallic ages, Plato's four regimes in The Republic, Vico's ages of barbarians, heroes, and men, which released a primitive poetry into the more modern imagination and dissolved the subject into the subjective, or whether we believe in the golden age of Arcadia, whether we place it behind or ahead of us, or in the present, like a wine-making professor living with and off the earth, it seems the civilized thing to do, to put history into boxes. Or at the very least, age enough (in terms of wisdom) to appreciate consequence and sequence.
II. HADES AND HEAVEN
Well met! I come here to question concerning the one thing that's needed.
That, philosophical friends, made me descend to this place.
It may seem that every man crafts hell in his own fashion - except what if it were what we did with it that counted. Dante visits the Inferno with Virgil. They share an age, in more ways than one, like in the classics of the common speech. Dante uses Virgil up to a point, it is his work after all. Where Dante emerges from hell to the Paschal stars, Virgil makes a starry, grand pronouncement in the opening lines of Eclogue IV, Magnus ab integro sæclorum nascitur ordo: the great order of the ages is born afresh. And indeed, a Declaration arose to those prophetic words, also borne by Queen Elizabeth I and other seekers of a new age, back when 'age' had not yet become the 'worldly' (i.e. non spiritual) 'secular'. Is there heaven or hell in the secular?
III. TRUTH AND TRUTH IN NAME
Enmity be between both, your alliance would not be in time yet.
Though you may separate now, truth will be found by your search.
Truth dissolves in moral relativism. Socrates in the Cratylus dismisses the study of language in favour of studying things themselves, "surely no man of sense can put himself and his soul under the control of names". What is the essence?
Bom is the poet 'tis said; and we add, the philosopher also.
For it is certain that truth has to be formed to be seen.
It is said that mimesis, the imitating Aristotle says the poets do, came first from seeing the stars and reflecting on their ordered movements. We meet this account also in Plato's Cratylus, "the earliest men in Greece believed only in those gods in whom many foreigners believe today— [397d] sun, moon, earth, stars, and sky. They saw that all these were always moving in their courses and running, and so they called them gods (θεούς) from this running (θεῖν) nature". There are a lot of stars in this fragment.
Science to one is the Goddess, majestic and lofty, — to others
She is the cow that supplies butter to put on his bread
(We remember at this juncture that Goethe was also a successful natural philosopher.) There was no work in Arcadia per se as much as there was some kind of monastic co-habitation. One also imagines Fukuoka's One Straw Revolution, with his 'do-nothing' technique. Farming as the imitation of our relationship towards the earth. Agriculture, the thin veil disguising talk on good and bad government in Virgil's Georgics. Or the great argument in connection with land and justice, Hesiod's Works and Days. We come full circle here - back to the myth of ages, if with the moral tone: to steal the means of life as Prometheus does brings "a shameless mind and deceitful nature" in the guise of a woman with her pithos of other problems - leaving other work in her place, though not leaving man without hope.
What is the purpose of Poetry? Say ! " — By and by I shall tell you.
First of the real, my friend, tell me the purpose and use.