“a mouthful of brains”

July 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Nothing great can be accomplished without a constant solicitation of madness, which should always be overcome, but should never be utterly lacking. One might do well to assess people as follows. One should say that there is a kind of person in which there is no madness whatsoever. These would be the uncreative people incapable of procreation, the ones that call themselves sober spirits. . . . But where there is no madness, there is certainly no proper, active, living intellect (and consequently there is just the dead intellect, dead intellectuals. . . . Hence the utter lack of madness leads to another extreme, to imbecility [Blödsinn] (idiocy), which is an absolute lack of madness.

— Friedrich Schelling, Ages of the World [3rd Draft]

Poor [Charles Fenno] Hoffman — I remember the shock I had when I first saw the mention of his madness. — But he was just the man to go mad — imaginative, voluptuously inclined, poor, unemployed, in the race of life distanced by his inferiors, unmarried, — without a port of haven in the universe to make. . . . This going mad of a friend or acquaintance comes straight home to every man who feels his soul in him, — which but few men do. For in all of us lodges the same fuel to light the same fire. And he who has never felt, momentarily, what madness is has but a mouthful of brains.

— Herman Melville, Correspondence with Evert Duyckinck (April 1849)

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