Damien Hirst

On Goethe

Peter H Bloecker, StD

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“ On the 28th of August, 1749, at mid-day, as the clock struck twelve,
I came into the world, at Frankfurt on the Main. My horoscope was
propitious: The sun stood in the sign of the Virgin, and had culminated
for the day; Jupiter and Venus looked on him with a friendly eye,
and Mercury not adversely; while Saturn and Mars kept themselves
indifferent; the Moon alone, just full, exerted the power of her
reflection all the more, as she had then reached her planetary hour.
She opposed herself, therefore, to my birth, which could not be
accomplished until this hour was passed.”

These lines were written by the German Shakespeare: Johann Wolfgang Goethe, born in Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany. He was only 22 years old, when he had already become famous all over Europe for his first novel The Sorrows of Young Werther.

In his later life Goethe became so known and famous all over Europe, that the small town of Weimar not far from Berlin became the secret capital of European Arts and Cultural discourse. Today The Goethe Haus and Schiller’s residence attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, and a week in Weimar can become one of your highlights when visiting Germany and Europe. I prefer to visit in May or June, to enjoy the warm spring days and long nights with the brilliant sunlight, the sun still shining until 9 pm and even longer. What a difference compared with the southern hemisphere …

My life became connected to this genius of German literature and culture automatically, because I was born exactly 200 years later: Even as a boy my parents loved to tell their story of coincidence to their friends, and they had even thought of naming me Johann Wolfgang, as my father’s name was Johann and the first born son in Northern Germany was to carry the father’s or grandfather’s first name, so was the tradition of the family living in the country. Luckily a befriended couple had a son some weeks before I was born, and as he was named Wolfgang, they decided on a different name for me, which was Peter and then followed my grandfather’s name Hanns as this was the rule of those days, where I was born: In the Land of the Horizons between the Baltic and the North Sea and…

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Peter H Bloecker, StD

EDUCATOR of English and German Literature in Berlin, North Germany, Namibia and Australia. Ex-Language Adviser of the Goethe — Institut Sydney based in BNE.