Skip to content

Goethe’s tricks!

October 16, 2009

STUDENT:
Happy he, who has you as teacher
Now I’m almost willing to study theology.

MEPHISTOPHELES:
I wouldn’t want you to be led astray.
To tell you the truth about this branch of learning,
it’s hard to keep from taking the wrong course,
and there’s a lot of latent poison in it
that hardly differs from the medicines it offers.
Here, too, it’s best to listen to a single teacher
and swear by every word he utters.
Make it a principle to give words your allegiance!
You then will enter by the one safe gate
into the temple of certitude.

STUDENT:
But there must be ideas behind the words.

MEPHISTOPHELES:
That’s true, but do not fret too much about it,
since it’s precisely when ideas are lacking
that some word will appear to save the situation.
Words are perfect for waging controversies,
with words you can construct entire systems,
in words you can place perfect faith,
and from a word no jot or tittle may be taken.

p. 51 in “Goethe: The Collected Works: Faust I & II. Edited and Translated by Stuart Atkins.”

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: