For anyone that doesn’t yet have a favorite philosopher, I am here to help. I’m not going to push Freud or even Nietzsche, Plato or Kant on you. I’m not going to go all moral old-school on you with Spinoza nor will I try to hook you on modern great thinkers like Daniel Dennett.
No. If you’re an artist, writer or anyone interested in the arts, Johann Wolfgang Goethe has to be your man.
I know after reading the first sentence of that Wikipedia link someone will tell me that Goethe wasn’t even considered a philosopher, but a writer and polymath. And for those that don’t know what a polymath is, it basically means he was someone who knew everything – which you had to be to know anything before the internet came around and made everyone able to know enough about anything to, well, sound really foolish.
But Goethe is the real deal. Years ago, I read “Conversations of Goethe” in which Johann Peter Eckermann recorded very personal conversations with Goethe at various times of his life. I was so enthralled by it that I jotted down notes, swearing I would live by these fine axioms and utterances that richochet truth beams all over the place. (I recently found these notes as I was compiling “I Write on Anything (Written on a Napkin),” my latest work.)
Anyway, Eckermann’s conversations with Goethe are so intimate; it’s actually how I imagine Goethe would tweet if he were around today. Granted, it wouldn’t be so engaging as hearing Charlie Sheen talk about how his one-speed “Go!” mind is from another realm – but it is damn near close.
So taking my notes and modernizing Goethe’s phrases just a bit for you kiddies out there that don’t really know what “doth” means or what a “dollymop” is, I’ll condense each line to 140 characters or less to simulate Goethe tweets if Twitter were around when he lived (1749-1832 for anyone that cares).
First, he would need a name. How about “TheFaustenizer” or “StudofWeimar” or “MarryMeMaria”. It’s not important. Let’s get to the tweets:
TheFaustenator: “The power of a poem lies in the situation, the motif, the subject”
OK Goethe, way to fire a powerful one across the bow to get started – short and sweet, perhaps you don’t realize that 140 characters is more than it seems, but well done. I can tell, you’re going to get the hang of this quickly…
TheFaustenator: “There is nothing in calling ‘bad’ bad. Just negation”
He had to put the quotes around that in order to avoid auto-correct negating that sentence
TheFaustenator: “The poet/artist should seize the Particular and if possible (with that particular chosen) represent the Universal”
He’s starting to get the gist of this now, using the available tweeting landscape. Way to go Johann! Keep them coming, you might get some followers soon!!
TheFaustenator: “@LessonsOfLunacy – thanks for following”
Goethe showing a nice mastery here of the ‘shout out’. Excellent.
TheFaustenator: “Man is born not to solve the problems of the universe, but to find out where the problem applies”
Yes, Goethe. Now you’re picking up your rhythm, catching your stride…
TheFaustenator: “Objectivity in art is preferred. If subjectivity is always the cause of creation, it will get old to viewers, leaving the artist sterile”
Here he’s starting to push the limits of the 140 character tweet. Careful, Johann!
TheFaustenator: “Utter maxims sfatc bnfit da wrld. Da rst we shud keep wthn ourslvs, n dey wl diffuse ovr ur actions a lusture lk da mild radiance ofa hidden sun!”
Notice the creative shortening of words. Goethe has figured out how to use Twit-cronyms.
[WHOA, I think I just coined that phrase!]
Btw, “SFATC” is philosopher-speak for “so far as they can”. You’ll learn that one if you stick around long enough. Goethe also has to realize that to any males between the ages of 15 and 38, the word “Maxim” does not mean ‘a general truth or principle’
TheFaustenator: “Perceive the great in the small!”
Back to some nice short ones to reel in those ADHD tweeple
Just a few more:
TheFaustenator: “A talent cn survive w/out da tchnicl prowess, but could b much improved w da technical abilities. W/out talent there is only bland repeating”
Here, I can only assume Goethe was predicting the rise of Ke$ha. And he was right on the money here with 140 characters. Too bad – he didn’t leave enough room for a RT
TheFaustenator: “All talent must derive its nutriment from knowledge”
Sure, this coming from a polymath
TheFaustenator: “Check out my blog http://bit.ly/f0SUQw”
Whoa, he’s blogging now! AND, he has figured out how to use the URL shortening services. Excellent!!
TheFaustenator: “Check out my books http://amzn.to/fHhbHX”
OK, we already knew you are an established author Goethe, so easy down
TheFaustenator: “Look at this schmuck Charlie Sheen! LOL, is this guy like from another dimension? http://bit.ly/gk5YlF #smh”
Alright, Goethe, we’re done with you. You are now officially assimilated into 21st century culture. Nice hash tag usage btw. That should show up on the trending lists
How many followers do you think he would have by now after over 200 years of tweeting? More than Paris Hilton or Lady Gaga?
Go follow Goethe. You’ll be happy you did: