A Timeless Present Contemporaneous with Every Other Present

Giorgio de Chirico, The Return of Ulysses
Apropos Joyce and the Odyssey having the most beautiful, human, all-embracing theme of all, here is a quote from Gadamer's Truth and Method:
The “classical” is something raised above the vicissitudes of changing times and changing tastes. It is immediately accessible, not through that shock of recognition, as it were, that sometimes characterizes a work of art for its contemporaries and in which the beholder experiences a fulfilled apprehension of meaning that surpasses all conscious expectations. Rather, when we call something classical, there is a consciousness of something enduring, of significance that cannot be lost and that is independent of all the circumstances of time—a kind of timeless present that is contemporaneous with every other present.
I have this stupid habit of jotting down quotes I want to discuss in posts along with cryptic comments on them, and then never write those posts and forget what I was going to say and what those comments meant. In this case, I think I wanted to take advantage of the fact that, by his own admission later in the text, Gadamer's criterion applies to any kind of classic, not just those of the classical antiquity, and talk about the tension between being timeless and being historically bound in classic literature. 

But I am unlikely to write such a post because I'm a. lazy and b. much more interested in "that shock of recognition" that Gadamer claims we get with contemporary literature (and how it applies beyond that), so... enjoy this rather nice quote about what makes a classic on its own.


  1. Oh, yes, I'm definitely familiar with marking sections of books and scribbling down thoughts that never make it to the actual post.
    That's such a beautiful quote. Thanks for sharing!

    1. It is a nice quote :) That's one advantage of copying stuff and then forgetting about it - it is so nice to stumble across this quotes again.

  2. I've had some trouble with the classics on the past and certainly I'm not in a better relationship with them right now. Yes, I see classics and people who read them and enjoy them and praise them. But, what about contemporary literature? Right now there is someone out there writing a book that you may dismiss because it's not a "classic" but could be for future generations! It's a bone of contention.