Even that a lot has been said about Mihai Eminescu years in Berlin I still wanted to visit Humboldt University and try to feel the atmosphere of today and “ghosts” of yesterday.
It was an early morning covered with first snow of previous night. Berlin was in white even that it was obvious that the snow will gradually melt in the next few hours. Still I have managed to enjoy the walk, with eyes full open not to miss the University I was visiting for the first time. I had a strange feeling that Mihai curious and hungry for more knowledge, had also his eyes wide open at that December 18th 1872 not to miss the building and get enrolled to start attending the courses apart others and that of Dr. Eugene Duhring. With an experience of studying in Vienna, I am sure that he had also some extra excitement combined with a lot of questions about his future and what he really wanted to achieve in the life ahead.
My first meet was with the university main building having the monument of Herman Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz, famous scientist and professor of Physics at Humboldt from 1871. Inside and opposite of the entrance door you receive greetings in the form of the Marx quote, known as eleventh Feuerbach thesis which says
“Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point however is to change it”!
May be that Eminescu did not say the above,however he certainly practice it!
Marx first wrote the quote as part of the outline for the “The German ideology” book in 1845. However the quotes were published as pamphlet only in 1888 by Friedrich Engels.
Even if it was not available for reading at the time of Mihai Eminescu Berlin study it amazingly, really reflects very much his thoughts.
He, all agree, was studying very deep and at the same time working as a translator and secretary to Theodor Rosetti, the first Romanian diplomatic agent in the capital of the Prussian Empire, appointed on May 13, 1872.
Eminescu's activity at the Romanian diplomatic agency gave him the opportunity to meet a number of outstanding Romanians: Mrs. Ghica Roznovan, Mrs. Beldiman, I. Al. Samurcaş - the official secretary of the agency, the brothers Nicolae and Mihai Mandrea.
At first semester he attended the courses of The Logic and Principles of Philosophy and the Concept of History of Professor Dühring. Famous, independent and free thinker Dr. Eugene Dühring who, one could say, become the source of expanding Eminescu thoughts regarding various issues. Eugene Duhring as lawyer became a docent of Humboldt University in 1864. In 1874 he was deprived of his licence to teach after the quarrel with the professoriate. Coincidence or not it is the year Mihai decided to go back to Romania. But to be honest there are also other events that have marked 1874 in Eminescu life.
Professor Duhring claims that his philosophy is philosophy of reality and anything which is trying to cover the reality, like mysticism and religion is denounced. He supported that human intellect is capable of grasping the whole reality. His work is not widely translated in English except 1881 published treatise “The Parties and Jewish Question”.
In ethics Eugene Dühring makes sympathy with the foundation of morality. In political philosophy he teaches an ethical communism, and attacks the Darwinian principle of struggle for existence! He in many points followed Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach (28 July 1804 – 13 September 1872)who was a German philosopher and anthropologist best known for his book The Essence of Christianity. It is a critique of Christianity which strongly influenced other thinkers like Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Richard Wagner and Friedrich Nietzsche.
He also attended Professor Eduard Zeller course on General History of Philosophy. Professor Zeller moved to Berlin in 1872! He remained best known for his The Philosophy of Greeks in their Historical Development (1844–52). It was translated into most European languages and became the standard textbook on Greek philosophy.
Also a course of famous Karl Richard Lepsius about History and monuments of Egypt and in second semester The Habits and Morals of the Egyptians.
Above courses have sharpen and mostly clear Mihai Eminescu views and contribute further developing of his ideas which became immortal through his essays and poems.
In Berlin he writes: "Emperor and proletarian" (version III), "Miron and the beautiful without a body", "Girl in the golden garden", "Panorama of vanities", "Memento mori", "Cezara". In the "Literary Conversations" appear the poems "Blue Flower" and "Angel and Demon" as well as the short story "Poor Dionys" etc…
His studies were interrupted in 1874, even that his great friend Titu Maiorescu wanted to help him and economically, to obtain his doctorate in order to appoint Mihai as philosophy professor at Iasi.
There are indications that his acquaintance with Veronica Micle which started in Vienna in 1872 before he went to Berlin was one reasons to leave. Or the death of his brother Serban from tuberculosis on 28th November 1874. Or maybe not the main reason but definitely could have helped ;the ousting of Dr. Eugene Duhring from Humboldt University.
Whatever it was it is indicative of Mihai Eminescu character and his genuinity, uniqueness when you read the letter he wrote to his friend Maiorescu(spontaneous translation):
"I thank you from the heart for the possibility that you put me in the perspective of appointing my humble person in the important position of professor of philosophy, but I think that although such a proposal can only be flattering and appropriate to all my natural provisions, my consciousness nevertheless comes too early ... A doctor's title would arrange me with the world and its laws of order, but not with myself."
Doctors title – My self !
He,the great Eminescu has chosen
HIM SELF and his ideas. Genuine,sharp,deep emotional,patriotic ideas.
This is what makes Mihai Eminescu immortal! As it makes him even more immortal that he would trade his immortality just for one kiss!
My visit to Humbolt University finished at cosy university canteen chatting with some of the students, over great coffee and tasty sandwich,about who Eminescu was and what he represents. I could say that a little hedonism moved our conversation deeper to what Eminescu would say today about future of our continent. And there I got information about an event organised at VOLKSBUHNE theatre Berlin with Peter Engelman and Jean-Luc Nancy talking about future of Europe. I went there and listened to the conversation and had a strong feelings that, with all due respect Eminescu personality was missing. Eminescu could explain and teach us,using his tremendous energy and power of genuine,pure ideas that Europe idea is great and can succeed only as synthesis of national ideas.
A great Romanian patriot Eminescu is remembered in his country of Romania and in 1939 on 50th anniversary of his death the soldiers of the 20th Infantry Division led by General Georgescu planted coniferous trees in the form of the Eminescu name on the Seini hills.
Even that it was destroyed it will be done again as in 2015 Seini wants to bring back to life this monument dedicated to the great poet.
It shows that great ideas and unique personalities never die!
"Sanatate si voie buna"
Berlin January 2018
Philosophy of good news
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