Vol. 10 No. 2 (2017): Italian Aesthetics / Estetica italiana (1861-1945)

Amara è la giustizia di Radamante. Carlo Michelstaedter e l’antica discordia tra poesia e filosofia

David Micheletti
Istituto Teologico di Assisi
Published December 28, 2017
  • Carlo Michelstaedter,
  • Parmenides,
  • Socrates,
  • Plato,
  • Aristotle,
  • poetry,
  • philosophy
  • ...More
How to Cite
Micheletti, D. (2017). Amara è la giustizia di Radamante. Carlo Michelstaedter e l’antica discordia tra poesia e filosofia. Aisthesis. Pratiche, Linguaggi E Saperi dell’estetico, 10(2), 85-98. https://doi.org/10.13128/Aisthesis-22411


What makes Carlo Michelstaedter’s life and work (1887 - 1910) worthy of a reflection on Italian aesthetics is his erratic attitude when taking a stance in the ancient discord between Philosophy and Poetry. This, since Plato’s times (Republic 607b-608b), as an original item, expects and transcends each historical chapter of the literary critique and each kind of philosophy of history. Michelstaedter justapoxes names such as Parmenides, Sophocles, Socrates, Christ and the Ecclesiastes in an anti-genealogical manner, that is against fathers and masters as well as sons and disciples. Everything that, in his short life, he could read and study in Latin, Greek, German and Italian, was bound to death against institutions and codes, against the family and the University, against the audience and every literary genre attended by the world in which he was born. Michelstaedter reads Parmenides’ Carminum reliquiae as a poetic emergency and sees in Socrates the one who becomes this poetry. The bold link between Parmenides’ ontology and Socrates’ dialectics constitutes the climax of an iconoclastic and anti-mimetic poiesis. Rhadamanthus’ justice (Gorgias 523e), results bitter to Michelstaedter. It discerns, that is, the original relationship of Socrates with death (a dreamless slumber) from that which was superimposed by Plato (the dream of a naked soul in the isles of the blissful); he distinguishes Socrates’ beautiful death from that which was enticed by Hegesias, the death-persuader, in the naive; he places Socrates next to Sophocles and the Ecclesiastes, against the mortal event of the birth. Socrates, in case, did not die because of the “cicuta” which parted him from the pain of living, nor because of the eternal idea that he’s been contemplating ever since with his immortal soul. He died, instead, after having become something divine and devilish, something that distracts him since his childhood from everything he is about to do, every time, and eventually leads him nowhere (Apology 31c-d). From this anti-contemplative perspective, Michelstaedter acknowledges in every philosophy intended to reconcile the absolute and relative, the rhetoric artifice aimed at concealing an original aporia which can only be dishonestly swayed, rather than overcome.


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