Some Day We Must Really Talk Things Over

We have known thousands who as young men at the University were volcanoes of originality and poetry, and promised to remain so, and now are either servile or liberal philistines. We, on the contrary, are steadily becoming strangers to the world and its ways, and live a private life which (silently for the moment) runs clean contrary to present trends.
Doesn’t it sometimes seem to you as though one fine day on a lonely path you would meet a dwarf who would open a secret door in the moss and stones of the forest and lead you into a new world?
Do drop your hostility to the Middle Ages! What weighs upon us, somewhat, are the apes of the Middle Ages, not the real, genuine age of Dante and his consorts, who were, au contraire, wonderful people. Classical antiquity, if it were imposed par ordre de Mufti, would not be much less irksome. I have in my hands the historical proofs of how wonderfully people enjoyed themselves in the Middle Ages, when life was more colorful and rich than can possibly be imagined. But that is by the way. Only don’t let yourself be imposed upon by the Liberals in historical matters; at bottom they are still only jabbering away in the wake of the Encyclopaedists. ‘But look ye, I am going to tell you something, the culture we have now, etc.’ - is not worth a fig, and the only result is that everyone is made on one last. It is a long story, Hermann, the spread of culture and the decrease of originality and individuality, of will and capacity; and the world will suffocate and decay one day in the very dung of its own philistinism. I’ve said it!
 - Jacob Burckhardt, letter to H. Schauenberg. 22 March 1847. (The Letters of Jacob Burckhardt, translated by Alexander Dru, p. 105.)


  1. This guy who seems to know what he's talking about has more on the misrepresentation of the middle ages.

  2. Thanks for the link. The cartoon conception of the Middle Ages is just lazy and stupid.

    The Medievals get blamed for stupid ancient beliefs that persisted in their books, and for Renaissance witch burning. I'm a fan of the Medieval habit of not making distinctions between sources.

    The above mention of a dwarf produced a strange bit of synchronicity.

  3. Yes Mr Van Carter, I noticed a comment in my ACD feed from Judge F. and I wondered what had provoked it.

    Speaking of attitudes towards the Middle Ages let us remember the Great Don Colacho:

    Our contemporaries denigrate the past so that they do not commit suicide out of shame and nostalgia.

    To discover the fool there is no better reagent than the word “medieval.”
    He immediately sees red.

  4. Gómez Dávila has so many great aphorisms it's difficult to digest them all. He was, if I am remembering correctly, influenced by and a scholar of Burckhardt. Nietzsche, of course, was an actual student of Burckhardt.


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