Songs of Love and Hate, 1971


Grim said...

"Joan of Arc was not stuck at the cross-roads, either by rejecting all the paths like Tolstoy, or by accepting them all like Nietzsche. She chose a path, and went down it like a thunderbolt. Yet Joan, when I came to think of her, had in her all that was true either in Tolstoy or Nietzsche, all that was even tolerable in either of them. I thought of all that is noble in Tolstoy, the pleasure in plain things, especially in plain pity, the actualities of the earth, the reverence for the poor, the dignity of the bowed back. Joan of Arc had all that and with this great addition, that she endured poverty as well as admiring it; whereas Tolstoy is only a typical aristocrat trying to find out its secret. And then I thought of all that was brave and proud and pathetic in poor Nietzsche, and his mutiny against the emptiness and timidity of our time. I thought of his cry for the ecstatic equilibrium of danger, his hunger for the rush of great horses, his cry to arms. Well, Joan of Arc had all that, and again with this difference, that she did not praise fighting, but fought. We know that she was not afraid of an army, while Nietzsche, for all we know, was afraid of a cow. Tolstoy only praised the peasant; she was the peasant. Nietzsche only praised the warrior; she was the warrior. She beat them both at their own antagonistic ideals; she was more gentle than the one, more violent than the other. Yet she was a perfectly practical person who did something, while they are wild speculators who do nothing. It was impossible that the thought should not cross my mind that she and her faith had perhaps some secret of moral unity and utility that has been lost. And with that thought came a larger one, and the colossal figure of her Master had also crossed the theatre of my thoughts."

-Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Narr said...

Cohen had a definite gift for dirges.

Joan is interesting--a saint who battled Catholics on behalf of a French king--so much so that Napoleon encouraged her legend for his own secular, nationalistic-imperialistic ends. (Men!)

We all know of Beethoven's brief infatuation with Bonaparte; one of his lesser-known works is incidental music for a play honoring Leonore Prohaska, a Prussian woman who disguised herself as a man to fight the French and was mortally wounded in wounded in battle. (Beethoven, WoO 96, 1815).

Tolstoy of course had been a junior officer in the Crimean War, while Nietzsche--sickly most of his life--served as a medical orderly in the 1870-71 War. (There's a photo of him in full rig that's worth a chuckle.)

Cousin Eddie