Tag Archives: Miguel de Unamuno

Castille and Catalonia: a kulturkampf much older and psychologically complex than we think

14 Oct


The Spanish — and/or/together, autonomously together, autonomously independent but dialectically related — Basque philosopher Miguel de Unamuno, one of my highest-ranking intellectual heroes, wrote in 1905:

“Los ensayos que constituyen mi libro En torno al casticismo […] son un ensayo de estudio del alma castellana, me fueron dictados por la honda disparidad que sentía entre mi espíritu y el espirítu castellano.  Y esta disapridad es la que media entre el espíritu del pueblo vasco, del que nací y en el que me crié, y el espíritu castellano, en el que, a partir de mis veintiséis años, ha madurado mi espíritu.  Entonces creía, como creen hoy no poco paisanos míos y muchos catalanes, que tales disparidades son inconciliables e irreductibles; hoy no creo lo mismo.”

“The essays that make up my book Regarding Casticismo […] are an attempt at a study of the Castillian soul, essays I felt obligated to write due to the profound disparity between my own soul and that of Castille.  Yet this disparity is what mediates between the spirit of the Basque people, into which I was born and raised, and that of Castille, in which, since my twenty-six years of age, my own spirit began to mature.  At the time I believed, as do not a few of my compatriots and many Catalans, that these disparities were irreducible and irreconcilable: today I no longer believe so.” [my translation]

I’ve chosen to leave “casticismo” untranslated, and not take Amazon’s suggestion that it means “purity”, precisely because it means so much more than that and has a much more complex, nearly untranslatable meaning.  I mean, it’s explainable, just not with one word.  But a good explanation, to the best of my instinct, since I’m not Basque or Castillian or Spanish at all, is what I need to give readers.

I have to go back to Unamuno’s essays, which are unfortunately not available in English, to do so, however.  Just posting this as a coming attraction and to get my own head working on the issue.


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Unamuno: “…life worth living consists in communing with others…”

28 Nov

Miguel-de-Unamuno(reblogged from Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish)

The Upside Of Being A Downer

Nov 27 2014 @ 3:39pm

Though ’tis the season to give thanks, Mariana Alessandri maintains that voicing dissatisfaction isn’t all bad:

The 20th-century Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno didn’t recommend banishing the negative emotions or “keeping on the sunny side of life.” In “The Tragic Sense of Life” he described his anxiety over the prospect that there might be no afterlife, adding that he failed to understand people who had not once been similarly tormented by this or by the certainty of their own death.

Unamuno believed that a life worth living consists in communing with others, and that this happens most genuinely through negativity. In “My Religion,” Unamuno wrote: “Whenever I have felt a pain I have shouted and I have done it publicly” in order to “start the grieving chords of others’ hearts playing.” For Unamuno, authentic love is found in suffering with others, and negativity is necessary for compassion and understanding. If we try to deny, hide or eradicate the negative from our lives, we will be ill-equipped to deal with people who are suffering.

[My emphases]

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Unamuno: witty and human

23 Jan


Miguel de Unamuno (click)

“El hombre, dicen, es un animal racional. No sé por qué no se haya dicho que es un animal afectivo o sentimental. Y acaso lo que de los demás animales le diferencia sea más el sentimiento que no la razón. Más veces he visto razonar a un gato que no reír o llorar. Acaso llore o ría por dentro, pero por dentro acaso también el cangrejo resuelva ecuaciones de segundo grado.”

“Man is said to be a reasoning animal. I do not know why he has not been defined as an affective or feeling animal. Perhaps that which differentiates him from other animals is feeling rather than reason. More often I have seen a cat reason than laugh or weep. Perhaps it weeps or laughs inwardly — but then perhaps, also inwardly, crabs resolve equations of the second degree.”

See a beautiful full-length piece by Stefany Anne Golberg: The Philosophy of Death: Miguel de Unamuno was a man of contradictions. He saw tragedy and death in life, and that was why he loved it.


Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com


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