Writing, Hearing, Emerson


The maker of a sentence
launches out into the infinite
and builds a road
into Chaos and old Night,
and is followed by those who hear him
with something of
wild, creative delight.


9 comments on “Writing, Hearing, Emerson

  1. dmfant says:

    “We read another commission in the cipher of nature: we were made for another office, professors of the Joyous Science, detectors and delineators of of occult symmetries and unpublished beauties.”

    • efmooney says:

      Emerson — thanks Dirk. And Braka Arsic discusses the professor of Joyous Science (or “Joyful Wisdom,” as it would come out in translations of Nietzsche, who borrowed this thought, no?

      • dmfant says:

        yes, I’m rereading On Leaving, I don’t know for sure but the connection to Die fröhliche Wissenschaft seems likely, can we imagine a chair or a research program of Joyous Science?

      • Ishmael says:

        As you know, Ed and Dirk, both Walter Kaufmann and Josefine Nauckhoff (with the blessing of Bernard Williams) translate Nietzsche’s title as “The Gay Science.” They prefer this translation over “The Joyful Wisdom” because of the Provencal subtitle that Nietzsche himself used on his title page: “La gaya scienza.” The Cambridge translation explains the phrase as follows: “…a term used by the troubadours of the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries to refer to the art of poetry. In Ecce Homo Nietzsche writes that he has used the term ‘gaya scienza’ here to designate the specific unity of ‘singer, knight, and free spirit’ which was characteristic of the Provencal culture.” I don’t know if Emerson was familiar with the troubadour phrase (it’s certainly possible given his wide learning), but it seems to me that Nietzsche, being a “good European” and also marvelously learned, would have known about it from sources other than Emerson. Just a hunch. By the way, can you give a reference for Emerson’s “Joyous Science”? It’s a fine phrase and I’d like to read the full context. Thanks.

  2. efmooney says:

    Ishmael — I mean Steve — I don’t have my Emerson shelf here in Israel, but here’s a google answer:

    In his lecture on ‘The Scholar’, Emerson wrote: “I think the peculiar office of scholars in a careful and gloomy generation is to be (as the poets were called in the Middle Ages) Professors of the Joyous Science, detectors and delineators of occult symmetries & unpublished beauties, heralds of civility, nobility, learning & wisdom; affirmers of the One Law, yet as ones who should affirm it in music or dancing.”

    Which says Emerson and Nietzsche knew the same Ur-source, whether or not they arrived at it independently. And it’s not impossible that Nietzsche, already knowing the Middle Ages usage, was reminded of it as he read Emerson.

    • Steve says:

      Nice to read the complete passage and to see Emerson’s direct mention of the troubadours. The connection with Nietzsche’s “La gaya scienza” really does look temptingly close, especially considering that Nietzsche was reading Emerson at least fifteen years before he titled his book. Thanks, Ed, for doing my homework.

      Hope you’re having fun in Israel.

      • Steve says:

        I have just read in Julian Young’s biography of Nietzsche that the first edition title page of “The Gay Science” contained a quotation from Emerson: “To the poet and the sage all things are friendly and sacred, all experiences profitable, all days holy, all men divine.”

        Closer and closer!

    • dmfantant says:

      I think he read Emerson when he was rather young, how to trace out the ripples of influence, spurs, and sparks?
      Is the generative matter at hand really to establish paternity/author-ity or to amplify resonances, mash-up aspect dawning perspicuous re-presentations?

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