Paradoxes of Freedom: The Romantic Mystique of a Transcendence

Paradoxes of Freedom: The Romantic Mystique of a Transcendence

Paradoxes of Freedom: The Romantic Mystique of a Transcendence

Paradoxes of Freedom: The Romantic Mystique of a Transcendence

Synopsis

McFarland's newest book elucidates the philosophical and historical conception of liberty. Centering his argument on the Romantic exaltation of freedom, McFarland identifies freedom, along with love and religion, as one of the three chief transcendences by which humanity orients itself. He reveals, through an examination ranging from Shakespeare and Luther through Nietzsche and Wagner, both the reasons for the supreme valuation of freedom and the nature of the theoretical and practical obstacles that hinder its realization.

Excerpt

This book took its origin in repeated ruminations on an objet d'art, a tile bearing the motto 'live free or die'. My encounter with the tile was entirely fortuitous. It was mounted on an interior brick wall in the domicile of my friend Darr Kartychak. Whenever I happened to stop by to see him and his wife Maricy, even if for the briefest of occasions, they always insisted on serving me coffee and cake. It was useless to protest against their warm and invariable hospitality, and so I repeatedly found myself sitting at a table looking directly across at the tile.

I accordingly had much opportunity to ponder its message of 'live free or die' (which, as will appear, was in French). I became increasingly intrigued by the absoluteness of the counsel; it began to set up reverberations and resonances in my contemplation. Those reverberations in their turn began to co-ordinate themselves with pressing urgency, and at length there appeared in my mind, virtually full-blown, the following book. It is unlike any other book I have written. It seemed almost to want to write itself; its thoughts emerged so rapidly, into divisions that had presented themselves with such vivid certainty at the outset, that I found myself working on all its chapters simultaneously.

The word and concept of ekphrasis have lately gained currency in modern genre theory. the present book, by its departure from the contemplation of an object of art, would seem to be, quite without any directing intention, a realization of that form.

T. M.

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