Tuesday April 13th, 2010

“A kind of loving non-recognition.”

BE041473From the archives of The New Republic comes this piece about Henry and William James by Alfred Kazin, originally published in February 1943:

There is always an obtrusive irony in honoring the Jameses together: they could never fully honor or, after a certain point, really understand each other. This was something that both recognized and that William almost enjoyed. They were always seeking to ratify each other, “as Brother,” for the Jameses loved each other as passionately as they debated their differences, and delighted in each other’s careers. Never as in the James family indeed, was so little envy or indifference brought to so many conflicting intellectual ambitions, and never was so much fraternity brought to so little mutual understanding. . . . [T]hough their devotion to each other was profound, their essential antipathy of spirit went deeper still. But antipathy is not the word: there was only a kind of loving non-recognition. Similar as they were in their studies of human consciousness, in raising to an ideal end the operative supremacy and moral serenity of an individual “center of revelation,” they could only smile to each other across the grooves in which each had his temperament.