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“If anything is certain, it is that I myself am not a Marxist”*…

 

Marx

 

Photographic portraits of Marx don’t suggest a guy who wrote poetry, loved his wife with a passion, doted on his kids, and was once a hellraiser of a student—getting drunk, causing mayhem, and being chased by the police after one too many for the road. He was also scarred in a duel and exiled from Germany, Belgium, and France over his barbed and satiric attacks on these countries often despotic rulers. Marx was a man of action always willing to lead the fight who eventually settled for a life of sedentary toil to produce works that changed the world.

He was also a voracious reader who loved the works of Shakespeare and could quote entire plays by the Bard—just as his children could—and generally took an interest in everything. “Art,” he said, “is always and everywhere the secret confession, and at the same time the immortal movement of its time.” No idea or philosophy or culture was foreign to him, and there was nothing that didn’t keen his interest.

Yet, he could also be bad tempered and foul to those who went against him. And on occasion was anti-semitic and racist—he described one poor frenemy (Ferdinand Lassalle) as a Jewish n-word. No saint, but all human.

Karl also enjoyed playing parlor games like Confessions, which is now probably better known as the set of questions devised by Marcel Proust. In April 1865, Marx was staying with relatives when he as asked by his daughters to answer a set of confessions. Marx’s responses give an interesting (and at times humorous) insight into the great political and economic philosopher, journalist and writer.

Your favourite virtue: Simplicity

Your favourite virtue in man: Strength

Your favourite virtue in woman: Weakness

Your chief characteristic: Singleness of purpose

Your idea of happiness: To fight

Your idea of misery: To submit

The vice you excuse most: Gullibility

The vice you detest most: Servility

Your aversion: Martin Tupper [popular Victorian author]

Your favourite occupation: Glancing at Netchen [“Netchen, or Nannette, was Antoinette Philips, aged 28 at the time, Marx’s cousin and a member of the Dutch section of the International”]

Your favourite poet: Aeschylus, Shakespeare

Your favourite prose-writer: Diderot

Your hero: Spartacus, Kepler

Your heroine: Gretchen

Your favourite flower: Daphne

Your favourite dish: Fish

Your favourite colour: Red

Your maxim: Nihil humani a me alienum puto [Nothing human is alien to me]

Your favourite motto: De omnibus dubitandum [Doubt everything]

A few of his favorite things: “The ‘Confessions’ of Karl Marx.”

* Karl Marx

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As we hum a few bars of “The Internationale,” we might spare a thought for John Bunyan; he died on this date in 1688.  A Puritan preacher and writer, he is best remembered for the Christian allegory The Pilgrim’s Progress, though he wrote nearly sixty titles, many of them expanded sermons.

John_Bunyan_by_Thomas_Sadler_1684 source

 

Written by LW

August 31, 2019 at 1:01 am

True Confessions…

Librarians come clean on the riveting Tumblr “Librarian Shaming

More.

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As we check it out, we might send free-thinking birthday greetings to Henri Bergson; he was born on this date in 1859.  A philosopher especially influential in the first half of the 20th Century, Bergson convinced many of the primacy of immediate experience and intuition over rationalism and science for the understanding reality…. many, but not the likes of Wittgenstein, Russell, Moore, and Santayana, who thought that he willfully misunderstood the scientific method in order to justify his “projection of subjectivity onto the physical world.”  Still, in 1927 Bergson won the Nobel Prize (in Literature); and in 1930, received France’s highest honor, the Grand-Croix de la Legion d’honneur.

Bergson’s influence waned mightily later in the century.  To the extent that there’s been a bit of a resurgence of interest, it’s largely the result of Gilles Deleuze’s appropriation of Bergson’s concept of “mulitplicity” and his treatment of duration, which Deleuze used in his critique of Hegel’s dialectic.

 source

Written by LW

October 18, 2013 at 1:01 am

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