Friday, December 10, 2010

Hofmannsthal on Reading

Hugo von Hofmannsthal said in 1907: "I speak of those who, depending on the different stage of their knowledge, read entirely different books, without any determinate plan, always skipping, seldom resting in one book, driven by a constant longing that is never quite satisfied ... they seek in one book after the other what the content of none of their thousands of books can give them. They seek something that hovers between the contents of all the individual books, something that might connect and unify these contents into one unity. It is the scientist, who can satisfy this longing."

Perhaps ... though I believe the metaphysical longing for the one overarching principle of unity in all knowledge is a romantic impulse that will never be satisfied. Nor should it ... perhaps.

Call me a skeptic (who else would start and end a paragraph with "perhaps")!

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