Tuesday, 18 November 2008


Friedrich Schlegel in 1798 (“Ideen,” No. 6) argued that “all philosophy is idealism and there is no true realism except that of poetry.” Schelling later, in 1802's Vorlesungen über die Methode des akademischen Studiums talks about what he calls Plato's “polemic against poetic realism.” Of course, Plato might argue that his is the true realism, Schlegel's a sort of hallucinatory delusion. Few terms have as utterly fluid (pungently fluid, in the sense that all meanings dissolve in them) than 'realism'. Personally, I prefer the formulation 'all philosophy is realism and there is no true hallucinatory delusion except that of poetry'; not because I am any sort of Platonist, but simply because there's something lovely about that three-word-phrase as a definition of poetry: 'true hallucinatory delusion'.

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