Wednesday, 6 April 2011
Blogs and Hedgehogs
Skimming through Simon Critchley’s entertaining Book of Dead Philosophers, I’ve come across the famous defence of the literary fragment that the German Romantics Novalis and Schlegel published in their journal, the Athenaeum, in the late 1790s: ‘A fragment, like a miniature work of art, has to be entirely isolated from the surrounding world and be complete in itself like a hedgehog’.
Now if we are looking for traditional literary genres on which to model our blogs (see my entry for 1 January 2011), then we could certainly do worse than adopt this Novalis and Schlegel maxim. But it is surely the final memorable simile of the hedgehog that is most telling here. Blog entries, like German Romantic fragments, should sting you and hurt you if you try to pick them up. Whereas John Keats’s Grecian Urn may ‘tease us out of thought’, blog entries, more painfully but therefore also more rewardingly, will prickle us into further reflection!