Maximilian Harden "Apostate"

Rudolf Steiner, Literary Mercury, Xu. Gen., No. 27, 2 July 1892
Google translate: German to English


For decades, our educated were in love with a brittle beautiful. She had serious features, a pale complexion, dark hair, no fullness; and rarely was there anything like passion in her face. Nobody could be so warm in their presence. It was not always like being with her. Only on in the big markets, where public opinion is offered, one stood proudly by their side. If one wanted to spend a comfortable hour, if one lived only for oneself and one's immediate surroundings, and did not need to give his words the tone that made them seem suggestive of the crowd, then one got rid of the companion. But one also did great and boasted of the chaste relationship.

The woman is called the "faithfulness to principle".

We have a time behind us that has driven the worship of the "principle" to disgust. Original feeling, individual judgment was nothing; With a few principles that you kept coming up with and you judged everything you wanted to make a living. Man was little, the principles to which he swore everything. We did not care about the individual, but whether it was liberal or conservative, national or cosmopolitan, materialistic or idealistic.

There are signs that things are getting better. Latecomers are still to be seen in abundance, latecomers who still sing the old song. But you can see how the understanding of the individual is on the increase. Nothing can prove this more clearly than the success of Maximilian Harden's two «Apostata» volumes. These include the essays that Harden has published in recent years in various German journals on contemporary events and contemporaries. People were always looking for these articles in the places where they could be hoped to find them. It was curious what Harden said about an incident, because one appreciated the peculiar personality of this writer. And you never felt deceiving, because Harden knew something to say, which would have occurred to no one else. And one more thing: Harden is not content to just say his opinion so easily. He knows that you are nourished by foods without added spices, but that they taste better with the same. Harden is noble enough to let his opinions appear only in such a garment that not only the content but also the shell is of interest.

We like it better when someone encourages us than when he wants to convince us. I do not like them who write thin and thick books to teach their peers a conviction. I think it's just tactless. It always requires stupid readers who should be instructed. Most of our writers do not want to talk to us about their subject matter, but demand that we let them teach us. It is only because this attitude is so widespread that so much is written that the Graces do not even want to squint with a contemptuous sidelong glance. We love to read Harden because he does not have a trace of such sentiment. One feels treated as a human while reading his writings. And you are not used to it with authors. He does not push anyone's conviction, but he says his opinion; and it will interest the others, even if he does not share them. Yes, she will be much more useful to him than the one he can immediately sign in full. This is usually the case only for the most banal things.

The unconscious respect Harden has for his reader characterizes him as the type of a distinguished writer. As such, one thing is peculiar to him. That's the audacity of the Judgment and the self-confident way in which he is born. Harden's judgment never clings to that leaden timidity that dares to utter only "modestly" or "with reservation" or "irrelevant," but it is definite, sharp, unreserved. The mind of a right-human reacts not indefinitely, blurred, unclear on anything that approaches him, but violently, sharply. Whoever does not place this vehemence and sharpness in the expression of his views, does not deserve that his fellow-men are interested in him. He remains uninteresting. For he lacks that high sense of truth, which is the characteristic of a distinguished man. Who is true, speaks more or less paradoxically.

Nor can one of our sayings demand that it be absolutely true, for the whole truth will presumably come to light only through the infinite number of one-sidednesses in their connection. Who is afraid to say something paradoxical, and therefore the tips of his off saying as much as possible mitigates, that will accomplish nothing but more or less bland, banal talk. Harden's claims are now as acute as possible. Anyway, he does not need a file to blunt his sharpening, but he's probably a very sharp instrument to sharpen what you can touch with his finger without cutting. We are dealing with a writer whom we often enthusiastically agree with, often annoying us excessively about him. The authors are also the most wretched creatures you never have to worry about. Except, of course, is only the case, if one is annoyed only about stupidity.

How fine Harden's view is, as the article, which opens the second collection of the "Apostate" shows. He is talking about Harden's visit to Prince Bismarck, which took place a few weeks ago. We get a picture of the overwhelming individuality of this monumental personality, as we can not wish it better. This is the real art of the characteristic: to place in a picture the very lines that best represent the represented individuality. And Harden understands that masterfully. Incidentally, other passages of his "Apostate" volumes show how he, too, appreciates the great chancellor. Harden knows that man acts according to individual principles and the philistines according to principles. And his hatred of all philistinism is not slight. Eugen Richter gets away badly. Worst in the concluding article of the second volume: "Duck pond". How could Harden, the idol worshiper of the individual, hate other than the one who wants to substitute for human Tyrannis one of abstract principles.

That Richter could never understand that all useful things must come from the will of the personality, and that one can never come to terms with general principles of reality, made him the enemy of the greatest statesman whom he would otherwise regard as the greatest political accomplice have to. Bismarck, on the other hand, could rightly view a man with resentment, who has no feeling for the factual, but who, time and time again, uses the "liberal principles."

Harden's understanding of the individual also makes him a sensitive psychologist. All those who rear up and claim to want to see everything psychologically could learn much from Harden. Just read his article on Guy de Maupassant. Psychological essays also want to write our young Germans; but it is not right, because they are full of dogmas and arbitrary conditions. And the real can not be dictated, but only observed. Nobody can judge an artist if he approaches the latter with art demands. Only those who are under the impression of full reality, without prejudice, can also see clearly.

But very few people can think of something when they look at an individual piece of reality in such an unbiased way. They have a recipe in their pockets, and their verdict is that they say whether reality is consistent with their recipe or not. But this is not Harden's way of doing things. His way of looking at things is unreceptive, wholly subjective, so quite on a case-by-case basis. The recipe people, of course, have it more convenient. You do not need to try again and again to come to a judgment. Seldom will a judgment as subjective as Harden's accord with the state or social norm. What everybody says should not be written down. But it is not always entirely harmless to oppose the "norm," and the charges of all kinds, which were so belated on Harden's innocent head in the course of the last year, testified officially that something aroused in the general public.

Whenever anyone complained of the shamefulness of a woman, Harden searched for deeper social forces; and what he has taught the trial of Prague-Schweitzer should be recommended for consideration of similar occurrences of consideration of other circles. I do not ask a writer if he has "right" or "wrong" principles. For I know how little it is on such "rightness" or "falsehood"; but I ask if he is a whole man, a right person who, even if he is wrong, still has to be respected. What many people can tell me, I do not hear that, because I can usually say that myself; but what few can tell me, I ask for that. Many are happy if they only hear or read what they themselves realize. Others say to such things: lost time. The latter will resort to Harden's "Apostate" volumes.