selected sentences on 19th c. “science” and “art”

On Outer Space

Let me protest first against the expression ‘world war.’ I am sure that no heavenly body, however near, will involve itself in the affair in which we are embroiled. Everything leads me to believe that deep peace still reigns in interstellar space. (Paul Scheerbart, quoted by Benjamin 386)[1]

When I say “of human knowledge” I do not use the phrase with the intention of insulting the inhabitants of other celestial bodies, whom I have not had the pleasure of knowing, but only for the reason that animals also have knowledge, though it is in no way sovereign.  (Engels)[2]

On Toads ,Serpents & Bees

Serpents, however, always have complete command of their feelings. (Ruskin)[3]

But there is easy beauty, like the peacock’s, and difficult beauty, like the snake’s; and Natural History is a discipline in esthetic emotion. (Geddes)[4]

To the question: Why do toads have no tails?—up to now it has only been able to answer: because they have lost them. (Engels)[5]

It is the duty of every biologist to expose the seamy side of the beehive to which we are so often referred. (Geddes)[6]

On the End of the 19th Century

Now the nineteenth century is empty. It lies there like a large, dead, cold seashell. I pick it up and hold it up to my ear. What do I hear? (Benjamin)[7]

We shall therefore no longer say: This child is developing finely, but: It is composing itself magnificently. (Engels)[8]

[some people give going away gifts, i make lists of quotes. this is recycled from my end-of-semester list for ad’s 19th c. seminar last fall—kudos to him for the crazy reading list]

[1] Benjamin, Walter. Selected writings. Cambridge Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003, p. 386.  

[2] Friedrich Engels, Part I – Philosophy: Morality and Law: Eternal Truths, Herr Eugen Dűhring’s Revolution in Science (Anti- Dűhring) (New York: International Publishers, 1939), p. 100.  

[3] John Ruskin, The Eagle’s Nest: Ten Lectures on the Relation of Science to Art (New York: John Wiley and Son, 1873), p. 93. 

[4] Patrick Geddes, Chapter XII, “Biology in its Wider Aspects,” Life: Outlines of General Biology, Vol. II(New York: Harper and Brothers, 1931), p. 1195.  

[5] Friedrich Engels, “The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man,” in Dialectics of Nature (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1934), p. 69. 

[6] Patrick Geddes, p. 1251.

[7] Benjamin, Walter, Marcus Paul Bullock, and Michael William Jennings. Walter Benjamin – Selected Writings, 1938-1940: S. Harvard University Press, 2003, p. 692 

 [8] Engels, “The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man,” p. 88.

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