the past as soon as it must necessarily develop out of the highest point of lawful differentiation signifies at

the present. To an unbounded reason, the directionisat the same time the highest unity and freedom.

the same time perfection, and the path has already been Although this primary process of development is

traveled as soon as the journey has commenced." never-ending, the poem nevertheless fulfills the poetic

The concepts of beauty, love, freedom and reason requirement of closure. In a certain sense the final

are all attributed, at the end of the poem, to the strophe is the stretto of the theme sounded in the first

concept of light, and the unity of these concepts has strophe. For, in the first strophe man, whose freedom

been understood by every Neoplatonic poet. comes through reason, is still in the present, lodged

What, then, is the content of the poem as a whole, between past and future; and likewise the reader

the content for which all the themes touched upon cannot conceive of reason in any other way. But by

are mere predictates ?

the end of the poem, when the process of development

After the first strophe, which sets the theme, the has taken its course, reason can be grasped as the

poet leads the reader through the various stages of his vision of light, as the coincidence of past and future in

own development; he portrays man's first emergence the present, as actual infinity.

from the condition of the bronze soul, and from there Once the last strophe is thus conceived of as a

to the silver and finally the golden, or beautiful, soul. stretto, the first four words of the poem take on a new

Instead of merely describing this process and thereby meaning, just like Beethoven's additional two openrunning

the risk that the reader will be kept at a ing tones in the Adagio sostenuto movement of his

distance--the poet uses the method of the Platonic "Hammerklavier" sonata, Schiller's words, "How

dialogue within the poem itself, turning to the artists beautifully, O Man," seen from the standpoint of the ,

three times to admonish them to maintain the highest entire poem, take on a new sense. Hidden within

conception of art. those words lies the entire meaning of the poem.

The first time, he gives a warning not to become "How beautifully, O Man"--this could also be said

the slave of art's handmaids, i.e., not to prefer the at the end of the poem, and, on re-reading, takes on

Dionysian celebration of sensual desires. The second such a more profound meaning.

time, he interrupts the development in order to warn The fact that today virtually no concept is more

against the understanding's false appreciation of art. bowdlerized and variously defined as the concept of

The third time, he addresses reason, that condition in art is well worth examining, because it sheds light on

which the artist/man acknowledges his responsibility, the approximate magnitude of the immense educawarning

him that he alone can preserve the human tional task facing us. The fact that, at present, anyone

dignity man has achieved so far. These three interrup- who demands high prices for human feces packed

tions allow the poet to not only make the reader into tin cans can caUhimselfan artist, or who arranges

follow the succession of humanity's development, but disconnected sounds can call himself a poet, is intolalso

to look back, from an ever higher standpoint, erable. We will not rest until these charlatans are

upon the products of man's previous thought. By confronted with the resounding laughter of tens of

doing this, the poet forces the reader to reproduce thousands of voices whenever they attempt to bring

within his own mind the upward process of develop- their productions into public view. An even more

ment which is embedded in the course of the poem appropriate treatment, perhaps, could be found


within Rabelais's Gargantua.

The poem is a Platonic dialogue in yet another For approximately two thousand years, bitter

respect, namely, as a dialogue between the poet and warfare has raged between two fundamentally opthe

reader. The poet lawfully determines the reader's posed notions of art, the Platonic and the Aristotelian.

associations, not in relation to the literal contents of The Platonic humanist notion of art maintains that by

the individual strophes, but rather through his selec- beauty's mediation of reason, and by presenting of the

tion and developmental ordering of the individual principle of free self-subsisting development within

predicates, which causes the reader's mind tO open up necessity, art should encourage man's creative mental

and grasp the higher universal of the entire poem. activity and ennoble his soul.

This higher universal is the principle of the All other notions of art--or what purports to be

Coincidentia Oppositorum. What is primary is not the art can ultimately be traced back to Plato's opporecitation

of the particular poem, but rather the nent Aristotle, and the centuries-long propaganda

process of development expressed within the poem. campaign in favor of Aristotle's Poeticsmust be char-

By thus conceiving of the process as primary, the acterized as one of the most successful operations

reader also comprehends himself; for the poem treats conducted by the anti-humanist elite, beginning with

the history of humanity as a predicate in the contin- the Peripatetics' undermining of the concept of poetry

uum of a fugal contrapuntal composition, in which Plato developed in the Republic.

50 June 1980 / CAMPAIGNER

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