20 October 2008

Schiller on McCain

I was prompted to bring out Schiller's play The Maiden of Orleans because of a famous quote: "Against stupidity e’en gods contend in vain." But it turns out that the speech itself seems oddly relevant to the McCain campaign these days.

Talbot, the English knight, is trying to catch and regroup his forces, who are fleeing in terror from The Maid. Sure that his defeat lies in the superstitious folly of the troops, he pauses to rest beneath a tree and complain that Reason is no longer in control. His characterization of Reason, as the "wise establisher/ Of this world’s edifice" could fit a legislator, and might even match McCain's self-image. Hence, the eerie resonance in his next question:
Who art thou then, if thou, bound to the tail
Of frenzy’s insane steed, and calling out
In vain, must hurl thyself with open eyes
Into the abyss with thy maddened mount?