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Either/Or

I was always a little prone to the notion that there was a conflict between the transcendental and workaday life.

Now I’ve been reading a very interesting book, written a little didactically, called “Love, Life, Goethe.” It’s a kind of biography of Goethe, written with a view to telling you what you can learn from his life. It may be a little like “How Proust Can Change Your Life” by Alain de Botton (which I’ve never read).

I’ve covered only 100 pages, but one of the main points the writer keeps coming back to is that “Goethe is determined to bridge the gaps between creative art and what is called ‘the real world.’ “

A couple of quotes from a chapter entitle ‘Power’: ——–

Goethe’s immense hope was that there need not be — should not be — a spiritual loathing or artistic contempt for that (bourgeios) life. Which after all, is normal life, broadly speaking.

If depth of thought, maturity of passion and grace of feeling are to be central to a society, these spiritual qualities have to coexist with the normal demands of life.

He is looking at the ways in which the discipline of ‘the real world’ — the demands of power and responsibility — might actually offer special opportunities for personal growth and development.

We tend to think of spiritual growth as a shedding of worldly attachments. Goethe’s beautiful idea is of a fine cooperation between inner and outer.

He’s suggesting to himself that there is no necessary opposition between the world and the spirit.

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