Chapter 1

Order and Chaos, or “What to Leave Out?”

Taking Measures

In his poem, “In lovely blueness …”, the German poet Friedrich Hölderlin (1770–1843) asks “Is there a measure on earth?” The question is posed, it seems, in response to a terrible loss felt by Hölderlin – a loss that “no mourning can measure”.1 This concerns the demise of an embodied view of the world where all human experience was mediated through a divine Being. This mediation moreover allowed the possibility of a dialogue between the temporal and the eternal, the utterable and the ineffable. Denied such a relationship, and confronted by a new spirit of freedom brought about by triumphs of science and technology, Hölderlin holds out the hope for a poetic measure “on earth” that ...

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