The Holy Family

Chapter I
“Critical Criticism
in the Form of a Master-Bookbinder”,
Or Critical Criticism As Herr Reichardt

Critical Criticism, however superior to the mass it deems itself, nevertheless has boundless pity for the mass. And therefore Criticism has so loved the mass that it sent its only begotten son, that all who believe in him may not be lost, but may have Critical life. Criticism was made mass and dwells amongst us and we behold its glory, the glory of the only begotten son of the father. In other words, Criticism becomes socialistic and speaks of “works on pauperism.” It considers it not a crime to be equal to God but empties itself and takes the form of a bookbinder and humbles itself even to nonsense, yea, even to Critical nonsense in foreign languages. It, whose heavenly virginal purity shrinks from contact with the sinful leprous mass, overcomes itself to the extent of taking notice of "Boz" and "all original writers on pauperism" and "has for years been following this evil of the present time step by step"; it scorns writing for experts, it writes for the general public, banning all outlandish expressions, all "Latin intricacies, all professional jargon". It bans all that from the works of others, for it would be too much to expect Criticism itself to submit to "this administrative regulation". And yet it does do so partly, renouncing with admirable ease, if not the words themselves, at least their content. And who will reproach it for using "the huge heap of unintelligible foreign words" when it repeatedly proves that it does not understand those words itself? Here are a few samples:

“That is why the institutions of mendicancy inspire them with horror.”

“A doctrine of responsibility in which every motion of human thought becomes an image of Lot's wife.”

“On the keystone of this really profound edifice of art.”

“This is the main content of Stein's political testament, which the great statesman handed in even before retiring from the active service of the government and from all its transactions.”

“This people had not yet any dimensions at that time for such extensive freedom.”

“By palavering with fair assurance at the end of his publicistic work that only confidence was still lacking.”

“To the manly state-elevating understanding, rising above routine and pusillanimous fear, reared on history and nurtured with a live perception of foreign public state system.”

“The education of general national welfare.”

“Freedom lay dead in the breast of the Prussian national mission under the control of the authorities.”

Popular-organic publicism.”

“The people to whom even Herr Brüggemann delivers the baptismal certificate of its adulthood.”

“A rather glaring contradiction to the other certitudes which are expressed in the work on the professional capacities of the people.”

“Wretched self-interest quickly dispels all the chimeras of the national will.”

“Passion for great gains, etc., was the spirit that pervaded the whole of the Restoration period and which, with a fair quantity of indifference, adhered to the new age.”

“The vague idea of political significance to be found in the Prussian countrymanship nationality rests on the memory of a great history.”

“The antipathy disappeared and turned into a completely exalted condition.”

“In this wonderful transition each one in his own way still put forward in prospect his own special wish.”

“A catechism with unctuous Solomon-like language the words of which rise gently like a dove — chirp! chirp! — to the regions of pathos and thunder-like aspects.”

“All the dilettantism of thirty-five years of neglect.

“The too sharp thundering at the citizens by one of their former town authorities could have been suffered with the calmness of mind characteristic of our representatives if Benda's view of the Town Charter of 1808 had not laboured under a Mussulman conceptual affliction with regard to the essence and the application of the Town Charter.”

In Herr Reichardt, the audacity of style always corresponds to the audacity of the thought. He makes transitions like the following:

“Herr Brüggemann ... 1843 ... state theory ... every upright man ... the great modesty of our Socialists ... natural marvels ... demands to be made on Germany ... supernatural marvels ... Abraham ... Philadelphia ... manna ... baker ... but since we are speaking of marvels, Napoleon brought,” etc.

After these samples it is no wonder that Critical Criticism gives us a further "explanation" of a sentence which it itself describes as expressed in "popular language", for it "arms its eyes with organic power to penetrate chaos". And here it must be said that then even "popular language" cannot remain unintelligible to Critical Criticism. It is aware that the way of the writer must necessarily be a crooked one if the individual who sets out on it is not strong enough to make it straight; and therefore it naturally ascribes "mathematical operations" to the author.

It is self-evident — and history, which proves everything which is self-evident, also proves this — that Criticism does not become mass in order to remain mass, but in order to redeem the mass from its mass-like mass nature, that is, to raise the popular language of the mass to the critical language of Critical Criticism. It is the lowest grade of degradation for Criticism to learn the popular language of the mass and transfigure that vulgar jargon into the high-flown intricacy of the dialectics of Critical Criticism.