DESIDERIUS ERASMUS AND HIS DIVINE FOLLY

March 29, 2018

 

 

From a single breath, Folly brings its self-praise and revalues its importance in the world and life through contentment, joy and inebriation. Its discourse ascribes to its absence all the sadness, uneasiness, the humor of cave, the darkness, the rigorous winter.

In its Praise of Folly, Desiderius Erasmus leads to the reflection about the predominance of repetition and the minimum of reason in children, what perhaps indicates that the human nature is provided with a trend to madness, impaired by reason that in an old man would become unbearable if lived in its totality with all the burden of his experience; the old man, instead, delights himself with the pleasure of gossiping, an advantage that is up to him/her compared to the children.

Moreover, Folly assures the illusions of deceit, flattery, complacence, games, dissimulation, tricks, friendship, marriage, etc., are a product of its own hands. Contrary to this, the fruits of reason are things like divorces, insecurity, breaking ups, torments, jealousy, confusion, disorder, violence, tragedy.

The lunatics don’t fear death, they know the satisfaction of good consciousness; instead of hells, spirits and souls that afflict and inspire the reasonable men, the madmen only know the skies that bring them peace of mind. The concerns never mutilate them, because they don’t either know shame, fear, ambition, jealousy, tenderness. Madmen are the immaculate brutalized. 

Therefore, even in the splendor of all its divinity, Folly doesn’t feel like a victim of ingratitude because the madmen don’t render it sacrifices similar to those of other gods. It wouldn’t be pleased with so little. It rather considers the cult that a large part of humankind confers to it in their conduct, their impulses and their customs.

Nevertheless, the monks, fathers, priests, traditionalists who don’t want to resemble one another nor any other, not even Christ, are inspired in the happiness the very Folly provides them during the experience they had in ignorance, recital of psalms they didn’t understand, in fasts, ceremonies, in the refusal of money, in the cloister, in loneliness, in singing, etc.

Finally, Erasmus concludes his Praise of Folly like a foretaste of the eternal bliss, and reminds the actual saints are those who have it. Then it asks for its applause and waves goodbye.

 

In: Desidério, Erasmo. Elogio da Loucura. Translation by Paulo Neves. Porto Alegre: L&PM, 2003. 144 p.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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