Introduction

I’m Emily. I’m a student at a small liberal arts college in mid-Western America, officially studying Classics (Latin and Greek) and German. Otherwise, I live on a sheep farm and Bed and Breakfast in Vermont.

You probably came here from my Germany blog. This new site is a continuation of that project, and also a new experiment. It has arisen out of the encouragement and prodding of various friends and teachers (Dian, Kodiak, Dr. Yaniga…), as well as out of my own occasional dissatisfaction with the confines of college-level academic writing. It is a space to practice breaking out of that mold, and breaking into something more personal and more vast.

I’m interested in the dialogue, the conversation, between centuries and genres and half-mad philosophers. What do they all have to say to each other? What do we have to say to them?

Don’t expect footnotes, bibliographies, specialization, or even complete accuracy. There will probably also be multiple posts rehashing the same sorts of things. I could, for instance, quote Hamlet in every essay I write until the day I die. At the moment I am most curious about tragedy, German opera (Richard Wagner), Shakespeare, postmodernism, Nietzsche, all music, modern art, chiaroscuro, Classical languages, Faust, land, joy, feminism, humanism, Thomas Mann, work.

Right now, I am shooting for two posts a month when I am not in school, one when I am. We shall see how that works out this next semester, along with those six academics and two jobs. Of course, I would love to hear from you, in the comments or otherwise, if you have something to critique or add or suggest.

The title is one of those wonderful Joycean neologisms, from Portrait of the ArtistThoughtenchanted silence is the whole phrase.

And finally, here is a quote from Thomas Mann (his essays on Wagner), who sums up the foundation and telos of this whole affair brilliantly, as usual.

For admiration is the best thing we have; yes, if I were asked what emotion, what reaction to the phenomena of this world, to life and art, I considered the finest, happiest, most constructive, most indispensable, I should answer unhesitatingly: admiration. What other answer can there be? What would man be, above all what would an artist be, without admiration, enthusiasm, absorption, devotion to something not himself, something much too large to be himself, yet something to which he feels most intimately allied, most powerfully congenial–to approach which more nearly, to ‘penetrate with the understanding,’ to make utterly his own, his nature passionately demands?
Admiration is humble and proud at once, proud of itself; it knows jealousy, the youthful challenge: what do you know about it? It is the purist and fruitfullest, the vision and the stimulus to competition, the makes the highest demand, it is the strongest and sternest discipline, the incentive to one’s own contribution; it is the root of all talent. Where it is not, where it withers, nothing more sprouts, all is arid and impoverished.