Notes to the Future: From the Distant Past


Reading Friederich von Schiller’s (1795) almost continuously magnificent “Naive and Sentimental Poetry,” I encountered the sentence.  (I have grammatically modified his pronoun use to avoid the exclusive “he”):

All peoples who possess a history have a paradise, a state of innocence, a golden age; indeed, every individual has their paradise, their golden age, which they recall, according as they have more or less of the poetic in their nature, with more or less inspiration.

I can imagine many adoptees disagreeing with this vociferously, that with the loss not only of our specific histories (individual and communal) we thus also get stripped of any paradises or golden ages that we might recall. However, Schiller then goes on to say:

For this reason [such a history or a paradise or a golden age] remains always a beautiful, an elevating fiction, and the poetic power in representing it has truly worked in…

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