Sunday, May 02, 2010

He who stubbed virgin soil ...

... and planted a blue flower.

Born May 2nd, 1772 as Georg Philipp Friedrich von Hardenberg in Oberwiederstedt Manor / Harz mountains, when choosing his pseudonym he probably bethought himself of the name his ancestors in Großenrode had kept until the sons of Bernhard de Novalis decided to take Hardenberg as their family name. And 'stubbing virgin soil' (which is the meaning of Novalis) he intended to do, this Novalis who when in May 1789 meeting Gottfried August Bürger, felt taken with this ardent advocate of a folksy poetry, but distanced himself, after he had met the Bürger-critical Friedrich von Schiller.
'Everything must be poetic', henceforth is his maxim. Less romantic contemporaries shrug off his work as fustian, others (glorifying him) explain his desire for death (Hymns to the Night) with his not getting over the death of his great love (Sophie von Kühn); but Novalis arguably did more than inventing the symbol of romanticism – the Blue Flower dreamt up by the protagonist in his fragmental novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen:
Studies of law and mining, arts, science, love: the 'dreamer' , who in view of an accelerating celerity commended his contemporaries to exercise slowness, was eager for knowledge, was concerned about many things. Often disputed. Self-critical, too. And he is not given as much time as Goethe. Death comes quickly. March 25th, 1801 Novalis dies, not even 29 years old. Probably he got infected, while tending his from phtisis suffering friend Friedrich.

What remains from Novalis? Much more than Pollen (Blüthenstaub).


  1. This is a poet I don't know. I must rectify that Sean

  2. "accelerating celerity"?

    Is that accelerating acceleration?

    Acceleration squared?

    I haven't heard of this young dead chap either.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Sorry, Sean! I got carried away...All I need to say is:
    Happy Anniversary, Novalis. To the joy of having met you through Omnium!

  5. Ah, Jams,
    but you remember the Hymn(s) to the Night I posted last year? Well, that's Novalis.

    thanks for mentioning this. While translating an old text of mine, at this point I was not sure, but thought 'accelerating celerity' an interesting turn of phrase.
    So, not only does it sound strange, but is entirely wrong?

    Anyway, fascinating that someone at the end of the 18th century would notice and bemoan an increasing pace of [in)] daily life, isn't it?

    still - like Jams - you became acqainted with some of his work.

    there's nothing wrong with getting carried away. Thus, as often repeated: No need to delete.

    you're welcome!
    We are near waking when we dream we are dreaming. [Novalis]

  6. Muss immer der Morgen wiederkommen? Endet nie des Irdischen Gewalt?

  7. I wouldn't say "wrong" Sean. Acceleration (an ever increasing rate of change) can indeed itself accelerate, I'd say. So not wrong, just nicely quirky, as usual.

  8. Bertus,
    Unselige Geschäftigkeit ...

    thanks for that. Much appreciated!

    quite. As long as one does not succumb to another extreme, f.e. letting oneself carry away with taciturnity.
    ... ha ha ha

  9. Seanso, that "ha, ha, ha" at the end of your last comment. Hmmm... They are words though, so I suppose, ok (and I have done it myself in a weak moment), but they are somewhat of a mechanism to convey the infernal colon and parenthesis without getting convicted for it. Following the letter of QuiScottie Law, I suppose, but the spirit of it? We must examine our consciences on that issue.

  10. By the way, Sean, I have just spoken with Ruth about your "Accelerating celerity" and she had thought you were talking about the throwing of vegetables! I gently explained that I did not think you meant "celery", or even "celeriac"; but then a doubt crossed my mind.

  11. @Andrew - The "...hahaha", addressed to me by Sean, was not the 'friendly laughter' of a warm smiley, but 'cold sarcasm'. Sean only meant not to worry, I could NEVER succomb to the extreme of taciturnity.

  12. Ah... A plausible case for the Defence Claudia, I suppose...

  13. [Peeh, my

    mea culpa! Mea culpa!! You caught me in a weak moment.
    Not that I had forgotten Don Quiscottie's Law; sheer compassion let me make one - well, half a step backwards on our windmillish quest, as deep in my heart I suddenly felt how much Claudia's missing what both you and me would prefer to not existing.

    As for the doubt crossing your mind: Take it herewith as scared off.
    And as for Lady Ruth and the celery: It - the celery, mind you - does definitely support / cause the acceleration of this and ... that, doesn't it?
    At least the elders used to say so.

    ... vividly I can imagine daggers sparkling in your eyes while writing the above.
    Ah, Nothing is so hard as a woman's ingratitude.
    Retreating under the rocks of Seanhenge trying to heal my wounded compassionable heart that for a moment let me even forget my quest.

  14. @Sean - HAHAHA....And try to find the meaning of those HAs!