*—on the Dionysian sublime & (/as) the ‘purgation’ of lived experience…

*(… —follows on from *the artist’s metaphysics & —on “incorporation”, & the Apollinian sublime. …).

*—on ‘purgation’, & the Dionysian sublime. …


For the rapture of the Dionysian state with its annihilation of the ordinary bounds and limits of existence contains, while it lasts, a lethargic element, in which all personal experiences of the past become immersed. (BT, §7, 59)

 

*. —The key, then, to truly understanding the Dionysian—as a mode of the sublime—here, lies in the two crucial elements of the ‘rapture’, and the ‘lethargic’ (—‘lethargy’. …). …

 

*These elements, much like the Apollinian and Dionysian themselves, I suppose, are interdependent.

*That is,… —the purging of ‘personal experiences’ is reliant upon, and grounded in, the ‘annihilation of the ordinary bounds and limits of experience’ that the ‘rapture’ in-of the Dionysian represents.

And—in turn—the ‘rapture’ in-of the Dionysian has this *lethargic purgation as its goal,… —as its boon. …

 

*Nietzsche’s conception of ‘lethargy’ here, then, derives from a notion of forgetting, which is associated with, or to, the river Lethe,… *—the ‘waters of oblivion’. …

 

*—In his discussion of the legacy of Heidegger’s critique of Nietzsche, and of Nietzsche’s own relation of his philosophy to that of Plato in Crossings: Nietzsche and the Space of Tragedy, John Sallis argues for the identification of Dionysus with Hades (—the Greek underworld), and attributes the ‘lethargic element’ here to Plato’s reproduction of the ‘story of Er’s descent into Hades’, which locates the river Lethe itself in Hades.[1]

 

*—By contrast (—contra Sallis, then, in effect…),—I’d argue that Nietzsche’s allusion here is to Dantean cosmology, which locates the river Lethe on Mount Purgatory *(—Purgatory (Il Purgatorio), the second ‘Cantica’ of The [Divine] Comedy), rather than to the Platonic. … —

 Into the stream she’d drawn me in my faint,

Throat-high, and now, towing me after her,

Light as a shuttle o’er the water went.

Asperges me” *[—‘thou shalt purge me’] I heard, as I drew near

The blissful brink, so sweetly as to drown

Power to recall, far more to write it here.

She stretched both hands, she seized me by the crown,

Did that fair lady, and she plunged me in,

So that I needs must drink the water down;

Then drew me forth and led me, washed and clean [—…][2]

 

*—This latter, Dantean, source is a far better fit, it seems to me, with the (obvious) positive pathos of Nietzsche’s use of the term ‘lethargic’, and of forgetting, in the context of the Dionysian.

*(and I want to return to the relationship between the Lethe, as purgative, and the Eunoe as restorative, of memory (respectively) in my discussion of the relationship between the Apollinian and the Dionysian, (—in due course *(—a place for everything…)…).

 

*—The ‘blissful’ drowning of the ‘[p]ower to recall’ that leaves Dante *(—the pilgrim) ‘washed and clean’, is preceded, and rendered necessary, by what Dorothy L. Sayers, in her notes, refers to as a ‘violent psychological disturbance’, and which Dante the poet describes as a blending of ‘[t]error and shame’ at the memories of his infidelities to Beatrice. (319) …

 

*And it’s this guilt which is purged in his immersion in the waters of the Lethe. (l.13, 315)

 

*—Purgation, then,—‘lethargy’—is precipitated by, and is inextricably bound to, a destructive moment of psychic suffering. …

 

*Following his citation of Schopenhauer’s metaphor of the sailor in the frail bark to define the Apollinian, Nietzsche appropriates and qualifies the conjunction of suffering and bliss in Schopenhauer’s conception of the sublime in The World as Will and Representation, in order to define the Dionysian…

*—‘Schopenhauer has defined for us the tremendous terror which seizes man when he is suddenly dumbfounded by the cognitive form of phenomena because the principle of sufficient reason, in some one of its manifestations, seems to suffer an exception.’ (BT, §1, 36.)

 

—In order to understand what’s at stake in Nietzsche’s account of the Dionysian sublime, I think it’s necessary here to… pause,—in order to offer a definition of Schopenhauer’s conception of the principle of sufficient reason and its undoing in the experience of the sublime in his aesthetics…

 

*Schopenhauer defines the principle of sufficient reason in its broadest and simplest terms through the formula: ‘Nothing is without a reason why it is.’[3]

 

As I argued in the first chapter-string-thread of fragments here *(—on ‘Intuition, Flux and Anti-metaphysics’…), Schopenhauer follows Kant’s argument in the ‘Transcendental Aesthetic’ that space and time are pure forms of intuition, constituting the condition of the possibility of experience.—They constitute the forms of perceived objects: —our representations. …

 

*—In On the Fourfold Root, Schopenhauer argues that all our representations can be seen to ‘stand to one another in a natural and regular connexion that in form is determinable A PRIORI. By virtue of this connexion nothing existing by itself and independent, and also nothing single and detached, can become an object for us.’ (§16, 42) …

 

—For Schopenhauer, just as space and time are the a priori condition of the possibility of experience, understood as the necessary division of the world into the discrete quanta of individuated objects, so there must exist a principle which explains the connection that necessarily exists between these objects.

 

—No object of experience can stand alone but must have a necessary connection to all other objects of experience and ‘[i]t is this connexion which is expressed by the principle of sufficient reason in its universality.’ (Ibid.)

 

The ‘root’ of the principle is fourfold: …

—‘The principle divides explanations of occurrence in the world as representation into four types of lawlike generalizations, including all logical, mathematical, causal and moral motivational phenomena.’[4]

 

—Logical laws ‘satisfy the sufficient reason of knowing.’ (Schopenhauer, FFR, §49, 226.—See Jacquette, 44)…

That is,—they explain the truth of any proposition through empirical truth: that is—of direct experience, the transcendental truth of the necessary presupposition of the a priori (—time and space), the logical truth: that the proposition must follow from the truth of another proposition or from the material truth of true empirical statement, and the metalogical truth of the law of logic: —the laws of identity, contradiction, the law of the excluded middle and correspondence theory. *(—See Magee, 31).

 

‘Physical’ (or causal) laws state that the coming into being and passing away of objects of experience and their interrelations is determined by sequences of causally interconnected events, which, in their entirety, constitute the history of the natural world. (§49, 227.—See Magee, 30)

—Dale Jacquette argues that, for Schopenhauer, these laws can therefore be said to ‘satisfy the sufficient reason of becoming’: they explain the causal reasons for the object’s coming into being and passing away. (Jacquette, 44)

 

Mathematical laws cover the framework of the sufficient reason of being of space and time (the pure forms of intuition) and form the basis of geometry and arithmetic.[5]

 

Moral laws satisfy the sufficient reason of acting and concern ‘the empirical or will to life and its motivations’. (Jacquette, 44)—They represent causes ‘experienced from within’. (Magee, 30) …

 

*For Nietzsche, following Schopenhauer, when a phenomenon appears to occupy a space too vast to comprehend, such as a vast stretch of desert or ocean; or evokes a feeling of eternity, such as is the case with ancient ruins,—the phenomenon then appears to exceed the bounds of space, time, and causality, and the principle of sufficient reason thus suffers an exception. …

 

*—This exception takes place, then,—in the exaltation of the sublime. …

 

*Schopenhauer’s conception of the sublime develops from an engagement with the tradition, emerging in, and from the eighteenth century, of aesthetic theories of the contrast between the sublime and the beautiful, and, in particular, that of Kant, in the Critique of the Power of Judgment.

 

—Schopenhauer’s aesthetic is grounded in his appropriation of philosophical concepts from the philosophies of both Kant and Plato. …

 

*—The third book of The World as Will and Representation is dedicated to his analysis of the Platonic Idea as the object of art. …

 

—In particular, he appropriates, and attempts to… marry, the Kantian ‘thing-in-itself’ and the Platonic ‘Idea’. …

—‘we find […] those two great and obscure paradoxes of the two greatest philosophers of the West—to be, not exactly identical, but yet very closely related, and distinguished by only a single modification.’ (WWR, I, §31, 170) …

 

*As I argued in the first string-thread, as far as Schopenhauer is concerned, the ‘will’ (the—Will) is the thing-in-itself. …

 

—Following Kant, he argues that time, space and causality *(—the principle of sufficient reason), are the forms of our knowledge, which is knowledge only of the phenomenal realm, constituted by ‘plurality and all arising and passing away,’ to which the thing-in-itself (—the Will) is not subject. (171) …

 

Schopenhauer uses his refutation of Kant’s claim to the objectivity of the thing-in-itself to draw a distinction (—his ‘modification’…) between the thing-in-itself and the Idea. …

 

—He argues that, for Plato, the phenomenal realm represents the realm of becoming.

 

*… —The objects of the phenomenal realm are only the imperfect shadow copies of ‘the real archetypes’ of the Ideas, which ‘always are but never become and never pass away’ and are thus not subject to time, space and causality. (Ibid.)

 

Schopenhauer argues that, for Plato, The Idea is nevertheless ‘necessarily object’,—‘something known, a representation’, and not the thing-in-itself. (Ibid.) …

 

*—The Platonic Idea, then,—as Schopenhauer appropriates and deploys the term-concept—represents the level, or grade, of the will’s most immediate objectivity.

 

—It’s not subject to the principle of sufficient reason, and is, therefore, independent of the ‘subordinate forms of the phenomenon’. (175) …

 

However,—‘it has retained the first and most universal form, namely that of representation in general’,—‘that of being object for a subject.’ (Ibid.) …

 

*—The phenomenon, for Schopenhauer, can only ever constitute the indirect objectification of the will. …

 

*… —(in-)between the phenomenon and the will, then, stands the Idea,… —‘as the only direct objectivity of the will.’ (Ibid.) …

 

*The Idea—under the aegis of Schopenhauer’s self-styled Kantian-Platonic conjunction—represents ‘the most adequate objectivity possible of the will or of the thing-in-itself; indeed it is even the whole thing-in-itself, only under the form of the representation’, of which the spatiotemporal representations (according to the principle of sufficient reason) are only so many plural copies,—‘multiplying the Idea in particular and fleeting individuals’. (175)[6]

 

*Schopenhauer argues that it’s possible to be raised from knowledge of particular things to knowledge of the Ideas through a change in the subject’s apprehension of the object: —from its imperfect extension in(to) space and time, to its timeless Idea. …

 

In order to attain to knowledge of the Ideas, the elevation of the object,—from (mere) representation to the Idea, must be accompanied (—must be matched) by a corresponding elevation of the subject,—above (mere)—individuality. (§33, 176) …

 

—And this,—elevation, consists, for Schopenhauer, in the tearing free of knowledge from service to the striving, suffering and interestedness of the will…

—‘we no longer consider the where, the when, the why and whither in things, but simply and solely the what.’ (§34, 178)

 

*And this elevation occurs (according to Schopenhauer) in—*aesthetic contemplation. …

 

*—In aesthetic contemplation, then,… —just as the object is no longer the particular, individuated spatio-temporal object, but (instead)—the ‘eternal form’ of the Idea,—the subject is no longer an individual, and ‘[w]e lose ourselves entirely in this object’. …

 

*—The subject becomes *the ‘pure will-less, painless, timeless subject of knowledge.’ (-179) …

 

For Schopenhauer, the type of knowledge (so to) which continues to exist outside and independent of phenomenal objectivity and individual subjectivity is *‘art

*(—‘the work of genius’. …) (—§36, 184) …

 

—Art ‘repeats’ the Idea, apprehended through pure contemplation.[7]

 

—And this ‘repetition’, for Schopenhauer, is accomplished through—*the beautiful and the sublime. …

 

*Schopenhauer argues that ‘pleasure’ in the beautiful arises from the coincidence of the Idea and its ‘correlative’, the pure will-less subject of knowing. (§38, 195-196.—Cf. §39, 200-201)

 

—The beautiful, for Schopenhauer (at least), constitutes, then, a ‘delight’ in the ‘pure perception’ of objects…

 

For Schopenhauer, the sublime differs from the beautiful not in kind, but by degree

 

—Through it too we are raised elevated to the level of the pure, will-less subject of knowing. (§38, 199)

 

However,… —our subjective relations (that is,—the objective manifestation of the human subject: —the body) to the ‘significant forms’ of sublime objects are radically different…

 

Sublime objects—in contrast to the beautiful, in which we are disinterested—stand in a stark opposition to the subject, and, indeed, ‘may threaten it by their might that eliminates all resistance, or their immeasurable greatness may reduce it to nought’. (201)

 

—For Schopenhauer this ‘might’,… ‘greatness’,… this… —excess,… engenders the temporary cessation of subjectivity—of the subject—who, although perceiving the obvious threat to his own bodily form (and the gender bias is Schopenhauer’s own here) posed by the objects of the sublime, is nonetheless able to ‘tear himself from his will and its relations’. …

 

—The subject is (seemingly paradoxically) elevated above subjectivity, and is ‘filled with the feeling of the sublime’,…

 

*… —‘he is in the state of exaltation’ (Ibid.—emphases added…)

 

* … For Schopenhauer, the beautiful is universal: —experienced by every subject (as an elevation beyond subjectivity) in the same way.

 

—A beautiful object is universally beautiful.—It elevates us to the state of aesthetic contemplation and the ‘will-free subject of knowing’.

 

Sublime ‘exaltation’—by contrast—is attained via the struggle of an act of will against willing…

[W]ith the sublime, that state of pure knowing is obtained first of all by a conscious and violent tearing away from the relations of the same object [as that of the beautiful] to the will which are recognised as unfavourable, by a free exaltation accompanied by consciousness, beyond the will and the knowledge related to it.[8]

—The ‘willing’ here is no longer simply that of the subject, but of ‘humanity’ (in general)…

 

It’s this which affects the ‘conscious and violent’ tearing of the will from its moorings in its mediated relations to the object, and elevates it to a direct knowledge of the Idea. …

 

—The sublime, for Schopenhauer, then, represents, in effect, an *emancipation from subjectivity and from willing.

 

*Schopenhauer identifies four degrees of the sublime, which he binds to the transition from the beautiful to the sublime, according to its relative force. (—Cf. 203-205) …

 

—The first represents the ‘faintest trace of the sublime in the beautiful’. (203) …

 

—It constitutes the ‘profound peace’ induced by the absence of stimuli which are ‘favourable or unfavourable’ to the will.

 

—Schopenhauer equates it with the geographical phenomenon of a ‘lonely region of boundless horizons, under a perfectly cloudless sky’. (Ibid.) …

 

—The subject’s response to the profound solitude and silence of such scenes drives them to a ‘contemplation’ which elevates them above the concerns of the will.

 

When any trace of organic life or conditions for the subject’s maintained sustenance are removed from this hypothetical vista, the feeling of the sublime is correspondingly heightened to, what Schopenhauer calls, a ‘tragic’ degree.

 

—The emancipation from the will is imbued with ‘a fearful character.’ (204.—emphasis added) …

 

As the excess of force, the scale of the objects, and the associated threat to the will increase, so too the feeling of the sublime itself is heightened. …

 

—The ‘struggle with hostile nature’ becomes visible to the subject,—through the image of their own broken will, in the contemplation of ‘turbulent and tempestuous motion; semi-darkness through threatening black thunder-clouds; immense bare, overhanging cliffs shutting out the view by their interlacing; rushing, foaming masses of water; complete desert [and] the wail of wind sweeping through the ravines’.  (Ibid.) …

 

As long as this ‘personal affliction’ doesn’t overwhelm them, they remain the pure subject of will-less knowledge.

 

The sublime consists here, then, in the stark contrast of the violent motion of the object to the passivity of the subject.

 

—And this contrast brings the sublime to its highest pitch. …

 

All the more radical then is the passivity of the ‘unmoved beholder’ of such spectacles, which in turn serves to… illuminate  *thetwofold nature of consciousness’. …

[H]e feels himself as individual, as the feeble phenomenon of will, which the slightest touch of these forces can annihilate, helpless against powerful nature, dependent, abandoned to chance, a vanishing nothing in the face of stupendous forces; and he also feels himself as the eternal, serene subject of knowing [….] This is the full impression of the sublime. (204-205)

 

Schopenhauer dubs the ‘ability’ of forces and objects to negate subjectivity and emancipate the subject from willing,—‘the dynamically sublime’, adopting the term from Kant. (205)[9]

 

By contrast,—he posits the ability to imagine magnitudes in space and time whose vastness also reduces the subject to nothing, which, again adopting Kantian terminology, he dubs the ‘mathematically sublime’.[10]

 

*In Birth, Nietzsche effectively adopts all of the key terms of Schopenhauer’s account of the sublime… —the inciting of terror and the cessation of subjectivity in the exception to the principle of sufficient reason,—as his starting point in his own account of the Dionysian. …

 

However, he offers a substantial qualification. … —

if we add to this terror the blissful ecstasy that wells from the innermost depths of man, indeed of nature, at this collapse of the principium individuationis, we steal a glimpse into the nature of the Dionysian, which is brought home to us most intimately by the analogy of intoxication. (§1, 36)

 

—Space, time and causality, as the forms of cognition forming the condition of the possibility of experience, give rise to, and are the ground of, the principle of individuation. …

 

—When these forms suffer exception, the *(—Apollinian) principium individuationis collapses. …

 

*… —The individual is lost to the pre-individuated ‘primal unity’. …

 

—And this collapse (of individuation) is a source of terror. …

 

However,… conjoined to this terror is a feeling of, what Nietzsche terms,—‘blissful ecstasy’. …

 

—This arises from the release of the drives and emotions repressed within-by the Apollinian drive to individuation. …

 

*That is,—there’s an element of ineluctable and irreducible violence and ‘terror’ within the Dionysian sublime, which stands as the very condition of the possibility of the feeling of ‘blissful ecstasy’…

 

—This apparent contradiction can be most clearly comprehended, Nietzsche argues, through the analogous physiological phenomenon of ‘intoxication’. …

 

—The over-stimulation of the senses, the loss of self-consciousness, and the frenzy associated with the phenomenon of intoxication, Nietzsche argues, find their analogous artistic counterpart in the Dionysian sublime. …

 

—The Dionysian sublime offers (—represents a mode of) access to the pre-individuated,—pre-Apollinian ‘primal unity’ through the laceration of the individual.

 

The ‘primal unity’ here is understood as the chaotic flux of natural drives preceding, and as the ground of, all individuation, comparable to Bergson’s later definition of the undivided continuity of ‘states’ in the flux of duration.

 

*—Understood in this way, the Dionysian sublime anticipates Nietzsche’s definition of ‘intuition’ in ‘On Truth’ (—echoed in Bergson’s philosophy). …

 

… —In the same way that, for both Nietzsche and Bergson, intuition serves to rend the stale, stultified surface (skin-film) of the concepts of the intellect, in order then to descend into the underlying flux and to return with new metaphors, so the Dionysian sublime, in Birth, represents the laceration of the forms of Apollinian individuation and a descent into the apparently paradoxical ‘bliss’ of the undivided continuity of the flux of natural drives of the ‘primal unity’.

(—and I’d argue that it’s this laceration of the concepts of the intellect and descent into the flux of experience in order to create new ‘unheard-of’ hybrid metaphors in ‘On Truth’ that is ultimately at stake in Kemp Winfree’s argument, (with which I wholeheartedly agree, by-the-by),—that ‘On Truth’ ‘repeats the question of the Dionysian’…).[11]

 

*Whilst Nietzsche here ostensibly appropriates the key terms of Schopenhauer’s definition of the sublime, this appropriation, then, is, nonetheless, ironic. …

 

*As I argued in the first chapter-string-thread *(—see:the will to power),—the ‘primal unity’ remains closer to Nietzsche’s own later formulation of ‘the will to power’,—understood as naming the differential element within the hierarchy of sub-wills from which the individuated ‘thing’ is sculpted, than it does to the metaphysical unity  at stake in the Schopenhauerian ‘will’. …

 

*—Both the Dionysian sublime and the ‘primal unity’, then, I want to argue here, represent *—the beginning of Nietzsche’s attempt to redeem Schopenhauer’s aesthetics from his metaphysics. …

 

As Claudia Crawford has demonstrated, the ‘primal unity’ in Nietzsche’s early writing remains firmly on the side of representation, and can’t be identified with the thing-in-itself. (—Crawford, Beginnings, 161-162[n])

 

Nor can it be identified with the timeless, ‘real archetype’ of the Platonic Idea, specifically in its appropriation by Schopenhauer as the most immediate objective manifestation of the ‘will’. …

 

*—Nietzsche’s concept is fundamentally anti-metaphysical. …

 

—Whereas, for Schopenhauer, the sublime engenders a sudden leap of the subject beyond individual subjectivity, and its transformation into the pure will-less subject of knowing, with a corresponding consciousness of its object shorn of its individual, phenomenal predicates, revealing the Idea,… *for Nietzsche, the Dionysian sublime reveals the undivided continuity of the flux of natural drives repressed and veiled beneath the artistic veneer of (Apollinian) individuation.  …

 

*… —‘Essence’ (so to) remains here, but in the form clarified by Deleuze’s analysis of the will to power, as that ‘one among all the senses of a thing, which gives it the force with which it has most affinity.’ *(—Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy, 4) …

 

*—The ‘primal unity’ and the Dionysian sublime, then, represent Nietzsche’s first provisional formulation of an ironic Platonic—anti-Platonist aesthetic.[12]

 

*—. The Dionysian represents the harnessing of natural drive to the purgation of lived experience into the pre-existing artistic forms of music and dance. …

 

—Just as the Apollinian, the Dionysian represents the transformation of nature through culture.

 

The conjunction of ‘terror’ and ‘blissful ecstasy’, constitute the Dionysian as a mode of the sublime: —the revelling in the excess over which the Apollinian sublime had been seen to triumph (—in the guise of the ‘Homeric hero’), and which now again collapses the Apollinian and the principle of individuation. …

 

The Apollinian was engendered by a necessity—the ‘longing’ on the part of the ‘primal unity’ for redemption through illusion. …

 

Its dissolution is experienced with ‘joy’ by the same ‘innermost depths of man, indeed of nature’ which, indeed, engendered it. (—Cf. 36)…

 

For Nietzsche, in order to be able to elicit this ‘joy’, the release from the delimitation and restraints of the Apollinian must, therefore, represent an equal and opposite natural, psycho-physiological necessity.

*—The ‘Dionysian emotions awake, and as they grow in intensity everything subjective vanishes into self-forgetfulness.’ (Ibid.) …

 

—The ‘growth’ of the Dionysian emotions is comparable to the process of the evolution of Apollinian ‘order’ from the ‘titanic’. *(—see *on ‘incorporation’, & the Apollinian sublime’. …)

—These emotions are awakened by the need of the ‘primal unity’.

The Apollinian can only veil or repress them,… —it can never, fully, extinguish them…

 

*—Their repression causes frustration and a tension, which grow in intensity until the Apollinian is no longer able to restrain them, and they ‘burst forth’ and are purged in the ‘self-forgetfulness’ of the Dionysian state. (§2, 39) …

 

Nietzsche argues that in the Dionysian ‘the union between man and man’, which was severed in the Apollinian process of individuation, is ‘reaffirmed’.

 

Nature,— rendered ‘alienated’ and ‘hostile’ through the interposition of the restraint and delimitation of the Apollinian,—‘celebrates once more her reconciliation with her lost son, man.’ (Ibid.) …

—The ‘rigid, hostile barriers that necessity, caprice, or “impudent convention” have fixed between man and man are broken’ and give way to ‘universal harmony,’ a state in which all individuals feel ‘as one’.[13]

 

Nietzsche argues that this unity within a ‘higher community’ (that is,—one no longer simply composed of individuals) was expressed by the Hellene through song and dance.

 

And he contrasts these with-to the plastic art forms of the Apollinian.

 

—Whereas the Apollinian Hellene only saw the gods,—‘walking in his dreams’, the Dionysian Hellene, by contrast,—‘feels himself a god’. …

* … —‘He is no longer an artist’. …

*—‘he has [himself—] become a work of art’. (§1, 37. *—all emphases added here…) …

 

The Dionysian Hellene experienced existence and the ‘primal unity’ directly and intuitively,—without the need for the mediation of abstract concepts.

 

Nietzsche refers to the physicality of the Dionysian—spontaneous movement, sound, dancing,…—as the ‘paroxysms of intoxication’: —the unconscious and uninhibited physiological response to the ecstatic, in and through which ‘the artistic power of all nature reveals itself to the highest gratification of the primordial unity.’

 

This ‘gratification’ is higher than that afforded by Apollinian art because of its immediacy, power and direct expression through the spontaneous and unrestrained discharge of physical-emotional energies. (—Cf. 37)

 

Nietzsche contrasts the ‘Dionysian Greek’, with their necessary shattering of the fetters of individuation, to the ‘pre-Apollinian’ ‘Dionysian barbarian’. …

 

*—The barbaric Dionysian festivals, he argues, were marked by ‘extravagant sexual licentiousness’, and through-during them,—‘the most savage natural instincts were unleashed’. (§2, 39) …

 

In stark contrast to the Hellenic Dionysian, Nietzsche refers to the effect of these festivals as a ‘horrible mixture of sensuality and cruelty,’ as that ‘which has always seemed to me to be the real “witches’ brew.”’ (Ibid.)

 

—It was in response to the ‘terror and horror’ of this barbaric Dionysian state that the Apollinian was originally inaugurated as the remedy. …

 

Nietzsche alludes to the myth of Perseus and the Gorgon Medusa as the symbolic analogue of this triumph: …

*—‘the figure of Apollo, rising full of pride, held out the Gorgon’s head to this grotesquely uncouth Dionysian power’. (Ibid.) …

 

*—The Apollinian doesn’t destroy the Dionysian… —It merely petrifies it,… —freezing it and holding it in place… —like a statue. …

 

*However,… when Apollo’s interdependence with the ‘titanic’ forces, and with it the necessity of the Dionysian, was realised,—the ‘opposition between Apollo and Dionysus became more hazardous and even impossible’. …

 

*When the Dionysian ‘impulses finally burst forth from the deepest roots of the Hellenic nature’ Apollinian culture could no longer simply draw a veil over these drives and forces, with their equal and undeniable claim to necessary expression.

 

In response, Hellenic culture effected a compromise and a ‘reconciliation’, in which the ‘barbaric’ forces were divested of their ‘destructive weapons’. (§2, 39)…

 

Nietzsche argues that this ‘reconciliation’ of the Apollinian and the Dionysian represents *‘the most important moment in the history of the Greek cult’. …

 

*—a moment, in fact, of cultural revolution. …

—‘The two antagonists were reconciled; the boundary lines to be observed henceforth by each were sharply defined’. (Ibid.) …

 

This reconciliation and (apparent) mutual respect, however, were incapable of putting an end to the antagonism, but served to inaugurate a new era in culture, and a re-birth, in a new and more powerful form, of the Dionysian art impulse.

 

—In the bursting forth of the Dionysian the ‘destruction of the principium individuationis for the first time becomes an artistic phenomenon.’ (Ibid.)

*(—an ‘artisticphenomenon’. …).

 

For Nietzsche,—the Hellenic Dionysian represents the sublimation of the drive to the purgation of natural drives and forces (repressed within the Apollinian) into the pre-existing artistic forms of music and dance.

 

—If the Apollinian sublime appeared as the redemption of existence from the ‘titanic’, then the Dionysian, by contrast, appears as the equal and opposite redemption of those forces. …

 

—The Apollinian redeems existence from the ‘titanic’, but is nonetheless compelled (despite itself, and against its own interests, perhaps) to admit its interdependence with it. …

 

And it’s this admission which precipitates the Hellenic re-birth of the Dionysian.

 

Nietzsche identifies a contradiction at the heart of this purgative and redemptive re-birth of the Dionysian in ‘the curious blending and duality in the emotions of the Dionysian revellers.’

 

—For Nietzsche, this duality takes the form of ‘the phenomenon that pain begets joy.’ (Ibid.)

 

… —I’ve already traced this ‘phenomenon’ through reference to the parallel between Dante’s poetic conception of purgation in the waters of the Lethe, and the paradoxical sense in which ‘ecstasy’ has a moment or state of ‘agony’ (self-mortification) as the condition of its possibility and at the root of its necessity.

 

Nietzsche’s description of this paradoxical ‘phenomenon’ emphasises its strong sexual element as the harnessing and discharge of physiological energies. …

 

—As with Dante’s sublimation of erotic love for Beatrice into a spiritual and artistic quest, Nietzsche argues that sexual physical energies are sublimated into an incarnate and immanent ‘spirituality’ (sic) in art. …

 

*Nietzsche focuses on ‘Dionysian music’ as sublime: —exciting ‘awe and terror’. (Ibid.)

 

—The elements which form the essence of this sublimity are—‘the emotional power of the tone, the uniform flow of the melody, and the utterly incomparable world of harmony.’ (Ibid.)

 

This essence (—the ‘spirit’, then) of music, Nietzsche sees as embodied—typified (that is,—made type)—in the Dionysian dithyramb. …

*—In Dionysian music, ‘man is incited to the greatest exaltation of all his symbolic faculties’. …

*—‘something never before experienced struggles for utterance’. …

 

The Dionysian Hellene was impelled to engage all of the ‘symbolic faculties’ of movement, sound, and rhythm (—etc.),… in order to express the ecstatic rapture in which the ‘essence of nature’—the drives and extreme emotions veiled and transfigured by the Apollinian—find ‘symbolic’ (sic) expression,—are embodied and discharged directly without interposition:

—‘we need a new world of symbols; and the entire symbolism of the body is called into play’. Nietzsche calls this the ‘spirit’ of music: the ‘collective release of all the symbolic powers’. (—Cf. 40-41)

 

—In music, the experience of the Dionysian is expressed and discharged immediately through the simultaneous and mutually augmenting ‘faculties’ and ‘powers’ of bodily movement and gesticulation, rhythm, and sound.

 

For Nietzsche, the release of the ‘symbolic powers’ results from the laceration and ‘ecstasy’ of the Dionysian state:

*—‘man must have already attained that height of self-abnegation which seeks to express itself symbolically through all these powers’ in order to create music. (41)

 

He continues his thinly veiled evocation of the sexual element in the constitution and purgative affect of the Dionysian…

—Into the Apollinian ‘world, built on mere appearance and moderation and artificially dammed up, there penetrated, in tones ever more bewitching and alluring, the ecstatic sound of the Dionysian festival’. (§4, 46)

 

—The Apollinian Hellene was forced to acknowledge their (thinly veiled-repressed) desire *(—need) to unleash these ‘titanic’ drives through the enjoyment of an unrestrained ecstatic celebration. …

 

*—‘The muses of the arts of “illusion” paled before an art that, in its intoxication, spoke the truth’,—the truth, indeed, which the Apollinian had itself been engendered precisely in order to veil: …

*… —‘excess in pleasure, grief, and knowledge’. (Ibid.)

 

—The individual surrendered to ‘the self-oblivion of the Dionysian states, forgetting the precepts of Apollo.

*—‘Excess revealed itself as truth.

Contradiction—‘the bliss born of pain’,—‘spoke out of the very heart of nature.’ (—46-47)…

The need to veil the truth,—the longing for redemption through illusion, was shattered and was overcome. …

No longer did the Hellene need to hide from the truth beneath a veil.

Now,—their ‘bliss’ in the excess of pleasure, grief and knowledge was born from the ‘pain’ of ‘laceration’ and revelation.

 

This irresistible ‘penetration’ of the Dionysian precipitated the final and most powerful reincarnation of the Apollinian in its militaristic apotheosis in Sparta: —‘the Doric state’. (47)

 

—Against the ‘new power’ of the Dionysian, the Apollinian in turn, in the fourth great period of Hellenic art (late VI and V, B.C.), then, was incited to rise to the ‘austere majesty’ of ‘the Doric state’—Sparta—‘Doric art and the Doric view of the world’.

And Nietzsche dubs this culminating period in the history of Hellenic culture the ‘permanent military encampment of the Apollinian.’ (BT, §4, 47.—See Silk & Stern, Nietzsche on Tragedy,—66.)

 

*Having thus completed his reading of what he effectively therefore defines as a four-fold shape of ancient Greek cultural and artistic history,… —Nietzsche proceeds to use his intuition of the central role played by the Dionysian and Apollinian modes of the sublime in this history as the basis for reaching what he dubs the ‘real goal’ of his—‘investigation’…

*(That is)—‘knowledge of the Dionysian-Apollinian genius and its art product’. (§5, 48.—emphases added)…

*… —the conjunction (then), *(—the marriage?), of Apollinian discipline, selection, delimitation, and restraint *(—incorporation), and the freedom and excess *(—purgation) of the Dionysian *(—of Dionysian music). …

 

*—the birth of tragedy. …

 

 

 


[1] John Sallis, Crossings: Nietzsche and the Space of Tragedy (London: The University of Chicago Press, 1991), 1-2, 5.—See Plato, The Republic, trans. H.D.P. Lee (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1955), 621 C

[2] Dante, Purgatory, trans. Dorothy L. Sayers (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1955),—‘CANTO XXXI’, 315-321, ll.94-103 (317-318).—see 320n—l.97 b.

[3] Schopenhauer, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason (hereafter FFR), trans. E.J.F Payne (USA: Open Court Publishing Co., 2003), §5, 6… —Schopenhauer adapts the formula from one adopted from Wolff: ‘Nothing is without a ground or reason why it is rather than is not’. (—Ibid.)

[4] Jacquette, The Philosophy of Schopenhauer, 2 (—Cf. 41-47). Schopenhauer, FFR, §49, 225-227.

[5] Schopenhauer, FFR, §49, 227 Magee, 30. Jacquette, The Philosophy of Schopenhauer, 44

[6] —To reiterate Nietzsche’s example (in ‘On Truth’), that I gave in the first string-thread of fragments,… —phenomenal leaves represent only the plural, imperfect copies of the Idea of the leaf, itself the most immediate objectification of the leaf-as-it-is-in-itself (the leaf = X). *(‘OTL’, 117)

[7] On Schopenhauer’s relationship to Platonic Forms or Ideas and their place in his aesthetics, see Julian Young, Schopenhauer, 77-78, 129-134 and Jacquette, ‘Introduction’ (8-9) and Paul Guyer, ‘Pleasure and Knowledge in Schopenhauer’s Aesthetics’, in Jacquette, ed., Schopenhauer, Philosophy, and the Arts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 109-132 (109).

[8] 202. On the relationship of the sublime to the beautiful in Schopenhauer’s aesthetics see Jacquette, ‘Introduction’, in Jacquette, ed., Schopenhauer, Philosophy, and the Arts. (20-22)

[9] —See Kant, Critique of the Power of Judgment, trans. Paul Guyer and Eric Matthews (Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press, 2000),—143-149

[10] WWR, I, §39, 205.—For Kant’s definition of the Mathematical sublime see Critique of the Power of Judgment, 131-143. See also Jacquette, ‘Introduction’, (21-22) and Guyer, ‘Pleasure and Knowledge in Schopenhauer’s Aesthetics’, (114-115) in Jacquette, ed., Schopenhauer, Philosophy, and the Arts 

[11] Kemp Winfree, ‘Before the Subject: Rereading Birth of Tragedy’, 68 …

[12] Cf. GS, §99, 153, where Nietzsche returns to his earlier definition of tragedy in Birth. …

*—Though he here explicitly rejects the terms of Schopenhauer’s sublime (in the exception to the principle of sufficient reason and the principle of individuation, especially as what Nietzsche now identifies as the source of all morality) appropriated in Birth, he also explicitly rejects Schopenhauer’s ‘One Will’ and the philosophical prejudice of the Platonic Idea (that—‘all lions are at bottom only one lion’…).—See also §355, 300-302…

[13] ‘[I]mpudent convention’ is a quotation from Schiller’s hymn ‘An die Freude (to joy)’ which Beethoven used in the final movement of the Ninth Symphony (the ‘“Hymn to Joy”’).

—See Kaufmann’s editor’s note, —37.

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*the incorporation of lived experience & the Apollinian sublime. …

*(… —follows on from *‘the “artist’s metaphysics”’. …).

 

*on ‘incorporation’, & the Apollinian sublime. …

 

*(ASIDE:—An appended disclaimer,… (—of sorts)… —

 …

 —It’s not within the scope of this present work (—of what it is that I want to do here) to address Nietzsche’s relationship to Wagner, and as such,—as I’ve already indicated in a note to my reading of Nietzsche’s early anti-Schopenhauerianism—I won’t be addressing the argument of the latter, and patently Wagnerian, sections of Birth here…

—Nor will I address Nietzsche’s argument concerning the death of tragedy (—at the hands, in particular, of Euripides and Socrates…).

*—Instead, I’m going to be focusing here, specifically, on a close reading of Nietzsche’s definition of the Apollinian and Dionysian and of the phenomenon of the Lyric Poet in the opening sections—the earlier part—of the text. … *—§§1-8. … ).*[1]

 …

*and so, then. …

 

*I’m going to argue here that the Apollinian represents the sublimation of the natural drive of-to ‘dreams’—understood here as the primary, physiological, means of incorporating lived experience—into art and culture. …

*—on ‘incorporation’. …

 *I’m… borrowing (so to.—appropriating (—?)) the term ‘incorporation’ here from Nietzsche’s later writing-philosophy, where it (it seems to me) plays a recurrent and crucial role (and referring it back to Birth)…

 *—In ‘On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life’, the second of the Untimely Meditations, Nietzsche defines ‘the plastic power of a man, a people, a culture’ as ‘the capacity to develop out of oneself in one’s own way, to transform and incorporate into oneself what is past and foreign, to heal wounds, to replace what has been lost, to recreate broken moulds’.[2]

—The capacity to incorporate experience is, for Nietzsche, the sign of health and creativity… —It’s the ‘power’ of a ‘nature’ (—an individual, a people, a culture) to ‘draw to itself and incorporate into itself all the past, its own and that most foreign to it, and as it were transform it into blood.’

Such a ‘nature’ draws nourishment and sustenance from experience.—is able (in essence,—in effect) to digest it, and to dispense with whatever is waste-dross: —superfluous or useless (—62-63). …

 

*‘Incorporation’ also forms a crucial term in Nietzsche’s first written record of ‘the eternal recurrence of the same’.[3]

In his ‘Outline’ for the exposition of ‘The Recurrence of the Same’, a passage whose terms echo the concerns of Birth of Tragedy as I have begun to outline them, the term ‘incorporation’ becomes crucial…

—Amongst those elements whose incorporation Nietzsche deems necessary he ranks ‘the passions’ and ‘knowledge’ (Wissen and Erkenntniss), and indeed sees the teaching of the ‘doctrine’ of eternal recurrence as ‘the most powerful way of incorporating it in ourselves,’ of assimilating it and affirming it as part of our experience… —

so as to create eyes for ourselves, temporarily abandoning ourselves to life so as to rest our eyes on it temporarily afterwards: to maintain the drives [of knowledge—the ‘errors’ and the ‘passions’] as the foundation of all knowing but to know at what point they become enemies of knowing: in sum to wait and see how far knowledge and truth can be incorporated.[4]

 …

 

—. *Nietzsche defines the Apollinian as the expression of ‘the principle of individuation’ *(—the principium individuationis: a term he borrows-appropriates from Schopenhauer’s philosophy…). …

 

—That is, it represents the drive to impose order (delimitiation,—delineation, restraint) on the, otherwise, inchoate-chaotic flux of experience, through limitation, selection, and restraint, —in order to forge first linguistic consensus, and, then, ultimately, culture and society themselves. …

 

*—in the plastic art forms to which it gives rise, and in particular within epic poetry (—the epic), the Apollinian drive is represented by the sublime triumph of an heroic protagonist over (seemingly) overwhelming, ‘titanic’ forces.

—As individuals, we are created by the drive (—the need) of the pre-individuated ‘primal unity’ to be redeemed through appearance.

Apollinian art,—engendered by our need to incorporate our individuated experience, appears as the highest incarnation of this natural drive to individuation. …

 

*At the outset of Birth, Nietzsche ascribes the genesis of the human experience of the gods to dreams, citing Lucretius Carus—On the Nature of Things

—‘the truth is that even in more remote antiquity the minds of mortals were visited in waking life, and still more in sleep, by visions of divine figures of matchless beauty and stupendous stature.’ (BT, §1, 33)[5]

—Although Nietzsche follows Lucretius in ascribing experience of the gods to ‘visitation’ by ‘visions’ in dreams, he doesn’t adhere to the Lucretian-Epicurean ‘theory of images,’ which describes these ‘visions’ and ‘images’ as being formed by the reception in-by the mind of particles emitted from the surface of the gods, who themselves exist in an eternal state of apathetic serenity in the intermundane interstices in-between worlds.[6]

Rather, Nietzsche ascribes these dream visions to the incorporation of lived experience, and continual (and otherwise unconscious) physiological processes, such as digestion.[7]

—Poetic inspiration, for the Apollinian Hellenic poet, Nietzsche argues, citing Hans Sachs in Richard Wagner’s Meistersinger, constitutes the experiencing, and subsequent interpretation, of dreams. (Cf. BT, §1, 34)

*Apollinian art, then, represents the harnessing of the drive to incorporation of lived experience, finding its fundamental expression in dreams, into the pre-existing plastic art forms.

—It embodies the transformation of the natural through culture.

*For Nietzsche, the gods themselves, then, are translations—derived from dreams—which transpose physiological and psychological responses to lived experience into mythic personages and narratives.

He’s thus able to compare the experience of the dreamer, or—the poet-interpreter, to the claim made by Schopenhauer that the philosopher is often able to ‘see’—to perceive or to intuit—people and phenomena as mere ‘phantoms or dream images’. …

—the task, then, for both the dreamer and the philosopher, is to try to tear these phantoms aside, and to arrive at a knowledge of what lies beneath them: … —what it is that they are the phantoms or images of.[8]

*—Understood in this light,—the dreamer-poet is conceived of as the ‘close and willing observer’ of dreams, which thus afford an ‘interpretation of life’. (Ibid.) …

—Dreams, and the mythic figures and personages that the poet derives from them, then, embody and can thus be made to betray the physiological and psychological processes and drives which are their ground and which give rise to them.[9]

—They’re a transposition and an interpretation of lived experience in(to) ‘images’. …

*(—This is opposed to Sallis’s reading, in which he claims that the Apollinian and Dionysian represent a ‘certain monstrous break with nature.’ (21) …

—Instead,—the Apollinian here, as I will also argue is the case for the Dionysian, is inaugurated by nature, not as its ‘imitation’, as Sallis suggests (Ibid.—and see also 35), but as the transposition of natural drives into images. …).

*—In dream, and in myth, experience isn’t grasped conceptually, but rather intuitively and aesthetically,—‘in the immediate understanding of figures,’ which embody experience symbolically (sic—*in images), and help render it ‘universally intelligible’. (BT, §1, 34) …

In dreams, then, Nietzsche claims, ‘all forms speak to us; there is nothing unimportant or superfluous,’ since all the ‘forms’ are transpositions of experience.

Even when the… ‘reality’ of a dream is at its ‘most intense’, he argues,—some sort of a… prescience somehow persists that it is, nevertheless, a ‘mere appearance’. (—34-35) …

He contrasts this to a clear allusion to Plato’s (—Socrates’) *‘myth of the cave’ in Book VII of The Republic

*—the images ‘pass before’ the dreamer ‘not like mere shadows on a wall—for he lives and he suffers with these scenes—and yet not without that fleeting sensation of illusion’. (Ibid.)[10]

Nietzsche argues that—in contrast to the fettered and frustrated ignorance of the Platonic cave-dweller—‘our innermost being, our common ground experiences dreams with profound delight and a joyous necessity’, citing his own experience ‘amid the dangers and dangers of dreams’ of having had the capacity to will the dream to continue’:

—‘“It is a dream! I will dream on!”’ (Cf. 35) …

—The experience of the ‘joyous necessity’ of dreams is engendered by their function as the incorporation of lived experience.—Dreams fulfil a necessary natural function as an affirmation even of pain, suffering, and all that is terrible and questionable in existence.

 

Nietzsche argues for (in favour of) the ‘higher truth’ and the ‘perfection’ of dream ‘states’ over ‘the incompletely intelligible everyday world’. (BT, §1, 35.—See Sallis, Crossings,—29)

—Through dreams, experience is rendered intelligible and digestible. …

In this sense, dreams stand in the same hierarchical relation to quotidian existence as the gods stand in relation to the human.

and, for this reason, Nietzsche can therefore speak of having revealed a contradiction…

*—Whereas it would appear that of the ‘two halves of our existence, the waking and the dreaming states,’ the waking is the ‘infinitely preferable, more important, excellent, and worthy of being lived, indeed as that which alone is lived’, Nietzsche performs an ironic inversion of this valuation, by demonstrating ‘the very opposite value of dreams’… —their superiority over waking existence. (§4, 44) …

Nietzsche does warn, however, that this conception of the superiority or priority of dreams over waking life (this—‘image of Apollo’) must include within itself a consciousness of the ‘boundary’ which the ‘beautiful illusion’ of dreams should not be made to overstep.

—It would be dangerous to mistake the dream for ‘crude reality’, he argues, for this would elide its function as transfiguration. …

—It’s necessary, then, he argues, to remain conscious of the essential ‘measured restraint,’ enforced ‘calm’, and discipline engendered by the Apollinian.

This—‘restraint’, acts as the measure of something which must itself be restrained (—‘the wilder emotions’), in order for the Apollinian to exist. (Ibid.)

Nietzsche frames this restraint through an image of the sublime, borrowed from Schopenhauer’s presentation of the Kantian distinction between the thing-in-itself and appearance… —

Just as the boatman sits in his small boat, trusting his frail craft in a stormy sea that is boundless in every direction, rising and falling with the howling, mountainous waves, so in the midst of a world full of suffering and misery the individual man calmly sits, supported by and trusting the principium individuationis.[11]

—The Apollinian represents the creation of the individual… —the principle of individuation. …

In the figure of Apollo, Nietzsche argues, the ‘unshaken faith’ and ‘calm repose’ of the ‘man wrapped up’ in the principle of individuation, ‘receive their most sublime expression’.

—The Apollinian represents the necessity of the artistic creation of the individual as an ‘“illusion”’ and, therefore, the ‘joy’ that the fulfilment of this process engenders.

*To understand the nature of this necessity Nietzsche argues that it is necessary to effectively deconstruct ‘Apollinian culture’ in order to render its ‘foundations’ ‘visible’. (Cf. §3, 41)…

He defines this process of deconstruction through a sculptural metaphor. …

—At first, the images or representations of the gods themselves are encountered, their ‘figures’ standing on the ‘gables’ of the Apollinian.

That Apollo seems to take his place among the gods and their deeds is a deception—‘for the same impulse that embodied itself in Apollo [—the artistic impulse to incorporation] gave birth to this entire Olympian world.’ (Ibid.)[12]

Nietzsche’s question is: —what ‘terrific need’ motivated the creation of the Olympian gods… —?

—He argues that this isn’t a question of ‘moral elevation’ (with the emphasis added here),—nor is it one of a ‘disincarnate spirituality’, which would denigrate the body and seek to renounce worldly existence. (Ibid.—and, again, the emphasis is added…)

Instead,… —it’s a question concerned with physiology, psychology, and the incorporation of lived experience…

*—the formation of the individual and the redemption of existence. …

*—For Nietzsche, the question of what need gave rise to the creation of the Olympian gods is one that, essentially, seeks to define the foundation of the ‘fantastic excess of life’ which, he argues, typified Hellenic art and culture and rendered them an exception within history: an example and an artistic model to be revivified…

Nietzsche seeks to comprehend what drives gave birth to the ‘exuberant triumphant life’ of the Hellene ‘in which all things, whether good or evil are deified’—in which all of existence is affirmed. (41.—emphases added)

Abandoning a moral, specifically Christian, perspective for his own form of nascent naturalism, Nietzsche argues that this ‘inexplicable gaiety unfolds itself’ and reveals its origins and constitution in ‘Greek folk wisdom’. (42) …

As the epitome of this wisdom, he cites the story of King Midas’s encounter with Silenus: the ‘demigod’ and ‘companion of Dionysus’…

*—Having captured Silenus after a long pursuit, King Midas asked him ‘what is best and most desirable of all things for man.’ …

After giving a ‘shrill’, sarcastic laugh, Silenus replied… —‘“Oh, wretched and ephemeral race, children of chance and misery, why do you compel me to tell you what it would be most expedient for you not to hear? What is best of all is utterly beyond your reach: not to be born, not to be, to be nothing. But the second best for you is—to die soon.”’ (Ibid.) …

—According to the wisdom of Silenus, Nietzsche argues, suffering lies at the heart of the human condition (existence).

Non-existence, in the most radical form possible,—of never having existed, is revealed as preferable to existence and yet (of course) is impossible…

Pessimism lies at the heart of the ‘Greek folk wisdom’. …

It is this substratum of pessimistic wisdom upon which the edifice of Apollinian culture stands:

*—‘The Greek knew and felt the terror and horror of existence. That he might endure this terror at all, he had to interpose between himself and life the radiant dream birth of the Olympians.’ (Ibid. Sallis, 36-37)

…—Conscious, then, of the terrifying, chaotic flux at the foundation of existence, and in order not to be crushed beneath the weight of the pessimism this consciousness inevitably engendered, the Hellene was compelled to create the beautiful illusions of Apollinian culture… —

That overwhelming dismay in the face of the titanic powers of nature, the Moira [—fate] enthroned over all knowledge, the vulture of the great lover of mankind, Prometheus, the terrible fate of the wise Oedipus […] the entire philosophy of the sylvan god, with its mythical exemplars […] all this was again and again overcome by the Greeks with the aid of the Olympian middle world of art; or at any rate it was veiled and withdrawn from sight. (42)

 For Nietzsche, the fates of Prometheus and Oedipus stand as ‘mythical exemplars’ of the inevitable state of pessimism inspired by the truth embodied in the wisdom of Silenus.—

In order to overcome this pessimism the Hellenes interposed—between themselves and existence—the ‘middle world’ of Apollinian art…

Thus, (and why not?)… —the Olympian gods relate to the wisdom of Silenus ‘as the rapturous vision of the tortured martyr [relates to] his suffering’: as a ‘veil’ and as a remedy. (Ibid.)

—Their creation stems from the Hellenic ‘excess of life’, a will for life to continue in spite of pessimism: ‘it was in order to be able to live that the Greeks had to create these gods from a most profound need.’

—The need to justify life and existence, over and against the pragmatic honesty of pessimism and the ‘titanic forces of nature’, in order thus to maintain them, motivated the birth of the gods.

—In effect, then,—the… ‘edifice’ (so to) of the Apollinian stands on the very foundation of the ‘titanic’. (Ibid.) …

Having thus deconstructed the Apollinian, Nietzsche then proceeds to analyse the process of its historical development from the moment of its instantiation… —‘out of the original Titanic divine order of terror, the Olympian divine order of joy gradually evolved through the Apollinian impulse toward beauty.’ (42-43)

Emerging from the foundation of the ‘titanic’, the Apollinian art impulse was engendered in order to create the edifice of the Olympian world as a ‘veil’ covering and transfiguring existence, overcoming the pessimism which it ineluctably inspired…

—‘How else could this people, so sensitive, so vehement in its desires, so singularly capable of suffering, have endured existence if it had not been revealed to them in their gods, surrounded with a higher glory?’ (43)

The same art impulse which gave rise to dreams and ‘which calls art [itself] into being’ as (both) the interpretation and incorporation of existence, was also then, ‘the cause of the Olympian world which the Hellenic “will” made use of as a transfiguring mirror.’ (Ibid.)

Just as with dreams,—the ‘cause’ (so to) of the creation of the gods was a response to an immanent physiological and psychological need to incorporate existence.

*—art is ‘the complement and consummation of existence’. …

—the ‘complement’, insofar as it is the ‘transfiguring mirror’ held up to existence. …

—the ‘consummation’, insofar as it represents that which makes life possible and desirable…

—‘Thus do the gods justify the life of man: they themselves live it—the only satisfactory theodicy!’ (Ibid.)

*—The ways of the gods are explained as the transfiguration and redemption of existence in and through ‘mere appearance’. …

For Nietzsche, ‘illusion’ is thus necessary to ‘nature’.

—art is a device employed by nature in order to ‘achieve her own ends’…

—And the end, at least in this instance (—for ol’ Fritz, at least), is the seduction of ‘man’ (—humanity) toward a continuation of existence…

—‘The true goal is veiled by a phantasm: and while we stretch out our hands for the latter, nature attains the former by means of our illusion.’ (44)

The Apollinian ‘phantasm’ (—phan–tasm. hmm. …) is the means by which ‘nature’ achieves the goal of redeeming existence from the pessimism inspired by the consciousness of its ‘titanic’ ground.

*—For Nietzsche, to understand the end of this process is to understand the meaning of the terms ‘nature’ and the ‘naïve’, as Nietzsche employs them in Birth.

—The first moment of the process of the evolution of the Apollinian sublime as redemption is the primordial ‘titanic’: ‘the terror and horror of existence’. (42) The conscious acknowledgement of the ‘titanic’ engenders a nihilistic pessimism and desire to renounce existence that threatens the ‘will’…

In response, the same ‘art impulse’ which gives rise to dreams as the incorporation of lived experience, is harnessed to invert the ‘wisdom’ of pessimism into an affirmation of existence.

—This is the moment of theogony

 

*—Apollo gives birth to his fellow Olympian gods…

 

In the same sense that dreams represent the incorporation of experience, myth and the plastic arts are engendered in order to transfigure existence and surround it with a ‘higher glory’.

In the final moment of the process nature attains its goal and redeems itself and existence in the ironic inversion of the pessimism inspired by the wisdom of Silenus into the affirmation inspired by the Apollinian ‘wisdom of illusion’.

This, for Nietzsche, I would argue, is the aetiology of myth and of the ‘plastic’ arts and, simultaneously, his account of Hellenic-Olympian theogony.

*—Both here combine to form Nietzsche’s (—ironic) ‘theodicy’. …

Through the ‘transfiguration of genius and the world of art,’—that is, through the transposition of existence into the ‘higher sphere’ of art—the Hellenic Greeks rendered themselves able to feel ‘worthy of glory’ and therefore to affirm all of existence, without that ‘higher sphere’ acting as a ‘command or a reproach’—a moral judgment against their existence. …

The process of transposition was in-and-of-itself affirmed in this way, and Nietzsche compares this affirmation to his own insight into the nature of dreams: —‘“It is a dream, I will dream on.”’ (Cf. §§3-4, 44)

—This cry, on the part of the dreamer in the midst of illusion, which fails to shatter that illusion, is also, for Nietzsche, the cry of the artist. …

—Just as the function of dreams is felt as necessary, and their experience is therefore accompanied by joy, so the Apollinian arts are experienced with ‘a deep inner joy in contemplation’. (§4, 44)

For Nietzsche, to become absorbed in the contemplation of the plastic art forms which embody the transposition of quotidian experience, is to be raised above this experience,… —to be freed from the confusion and striving which accompany it, and to be able to comprehend it. …

This incorporation and release constitutes the state of ‘joy’. …

Nietzsche argues that the need for the attainment of this state manifests itself as the ‘ardent longing for illusion and for redemption through illusion.’ (45)

He identifies this ‘longing’ at the heart of the drives (‘omnipotent art impulses’) which give rise to the dream and to myth and art. It is this which leads him to introduce what he dubs the ‘metaphysical assumption’ of Birth:

—‘the truly existent primal unity, eternally suffering and contradictory, also needs the rapturous vision, the pleasurable illusion, for its continuous redemption.’ (Ibid.)

—As I argued in the first chapter-string-thread of fragments here *(—‘On Intuition, Flux and Anti-metaphysics’, onward…), —despite Nietzsche’s own… equation of the ‘primal unity’ with the ‘metaphysical’, the concept is far closer to Henri Bergson’s later definition of the flux of the undivided continuity of states of ‘duration’ and to Nietzsche’s own later formulation of ‘the will to power’…

—Distinct from any conception of ‘the thing-in-itself’ and belonging firmly to the realm of representation, it represents the ‘suffering’ and contradiction of the flux of natural drives preceding, and at the foundation of, all individuation.

Nietzsche argues that the ‘primal unity’ finds expression in the ‘titanic’ beings and forces of Hellenic myth and identifies it with the experience of the ‘terror and horror of existence’. It is this which acts as the motivation of the need for the ‘rapturous vision, the pleasurable illusion’ of the Apollinian.

*—The Apollinian is sublime. …

—it represents the heroic triumph of the individual (which Nietzsche sees as exemplified in Homeric epic myth) over the awful and abysmal chaotic ‘titanic’ forces (the ‘primal unity’) which threaten at all times to overwhelm individuation. (BT, §3, 43)[13]

A crucial distinction appears in his definition of the necessity of and ‘longing for’ the illusion of individuation on the part of the ‘primal unity’… —

[I]f we do not consider the question of our own “reality,” if we conceive of our empirical existence, and that of the world in general, as a continuously manifested representation of the primal unity, we shall then have to look upon the dream as a mere appearance of mere appearance, hence as a still higher appeasement of the primordial desire for mere appearance. (Ibid.)

 We are compelled, then, so Nietzsche argues, to accept individuation and thus ‘empirical existence’ as the ‘transfiguring mirror’ interposed between the human and the ‘titanic’ and ‘truly existent’ reality. …

—It is a representation and a transfiguration of the ‘primal unity’ as a result of its ‘ardent longing’ for redemption through illusion.

—The dream, and subsequently myth and the plastic arts of the Apollinian, constitute the ‘mere appearance’ of this ‘mere appearance’.—They… symbolically… (—?) —imagistically *(that isin images)—transfigure empirical existence and render it intelligible. …

They thus represent a ‘higher appeasement’ of the original existential need for redemption through appearance,… —‘that is why the innermost heart of nature feels ineffable joy in the naïve artist and the naïve work of art’: empirical existence and individuation emerge as the redemption of the ‘terror and horror’ of the chaotic flux of the ‘primal unity’. (Cf. 45) In turn, art emerges as the redemption and incorporation of empirical existence…

Nietzsche defines Apollo as an ‘ethical deity’ who hands down an ‘imperative and mandatory’ ‘law’ to his disciples and ‘exacts measure’ and ‘self-knowledge’: ‘the delimiting boundaries of the individual’. (46)

This restraint demanded by Apollo is the condition of the possibility of the individual and thus of society and culture. It appears as an ethical judgment against the ‘excess’ and ‘titanic’ nature of ‘pre-Apollinian’ and ‘non-Apollinian’ cultures. The Dionysian and its effects were also regarded by Apollo and Apollinian culture as ‘“titanic”’ and ‘“barbaric”,’ and yet, as Nietzsche’s symbolic analogue of Raphael’s Transfiguration illustrates, the Apollinian is itself dependent upon these ‘titanic’ forces: (Ibid.)

Transfiguration (ii)

[14]

 …

 

—Sallis, I’d argue, is wrong when he claims that Nietzsche argues that Raphael painted both the Apollinian and Dionysian in the Transfiguration.

—The Apollinian does not ‘become’ Raphael’s painting (in contrast to the Greek temple of his architectural metaphor, or ‘magic mountain’ of his description of the birth of myth and the Olympian). (38) …

—For Nietzsche, I’d argue, the painting acts as a symbolic analogue for the emergence of the Apollinian from the ‘primal unity’. …

—He argues that the lower half of the picture embodies the ‘demotion of appearance to the level of mere appearance,’ (45.—emphasis added).

Appearance here takes only the form of quotidian empirical existence… —The ‘possessed boy, the despairing bearers, the bewildered terrified disciples’ stand as the symbolic embodiment of the ‘primal unity’ and are the ‘reflection’, or ‘“mere appearance”’,—of contradiction and suffering in individuation. …

From this mere appearance of empirical existence there arises ‘like ambrosial vapour, a new visionary world of mere appearances’, just as, for Nietzsche, both the dream and naïve art arise as the incorporation and redemption of experience and existence. This second world of appearance remains invisible to those ‘wrapped in the first,’ who are thus condemned to their suffering. (45)

*—Without art, as the highest manifestation and appeasement of the need for redemption through appearance, the sufferers cannot comprehend and therefore transcend their suffering. They remain trapped in mere empirical existence…

*—The Transfiguration embodies (—acts, for Nietzsche, as a metaphor for) the relationship between the Apollinian and its ‘substratum’, the wisdom of Silenus, and their ‘necessary interdependence.’ (45)

—Apollo represents the sublime ‘apotheosis’ of the principium individuationis ‘in which alone is consummated the perpetually attained goal of the primal unity, its redemption through mere appearance’. This symbolical analogue reveals the necessity of ‘the entire world of suffering’ for ‘by means of it the individual may be impelled to realize the redeeming vision.’ (Ibid.)

 

*If art is revealed as the highest form of fulfilment of the need for redemption through illusion and of the affirmation of existence, this redemption and affirmation, in turn, represent the redemption and affirmation of the necessity of suffering.[15]

—Without suffering and contradiction, Nietzsche argues, there can be no compulsion to individuation, redemption, and existential affirmation.

*Without excess, then, is no restraint. …

and—the interdependence of the Apollinian and the ‘titanic’ is (thus-therefore) revealed. …

*Within Hellenic culture itself, this was revealed to the Apollinian Hellene by the Dionysian: ‘his [—Apollo’s and the Apollinian Hellene’s] entire existence rested on a hidden substratum,’—a substratum which the Apollinian itself was inaugurated—and evolved—in order to veil… —

*—‘And behold: Apollo could not live without Dionysus! The “titanic” and the “barbaric” were in the last analysis as necessary as the Apollinian.’ (Ibid.)

 

—In revealing the ‘ethical’ process of the suppression of ‘titanic’ drives and ‘wilder emotions’ entailed in the formation of individuation and Apollinian art, Nietzsche argues, what is revealed is the indestructibility of these drives and emotions.

—Apollo can-could only ever veil, and never (truly) erase them. …

—In ‘Before the Subject: Rereading Birth of Tragedy’, Kemp Winfree frames this rather beautifully and succinctly, defining the Apollinian as a ‘form always marked by what it would need to exclude’. (—61) …

 

*—In an early draft fragment of Birth, (translated as)—*‘The Dionysiac World View,’ Nietzsche describes the sublime triumph of the Apollinian in terms which embody its role as transposition and incorporation:

—‘It was the Apolline people who laid the chains of beauty on over-mighty instinct, who yoked and harnessed nature’s most dangerous elements, her wildest beasts’.[16]

 

And again,—in contrast to Sallis’s argument, this passage indicates not a monstrous ‘break’ with nature, but (instead)—nature’s transfiguration. …

 

—The apparent contradiction in the image of beauty as a set of imprisoning ‘chains’, is resolved in the appreciation that this represents the triumph of a will to order, selection and restraint over ‘over-mighty instinct’. …

 

*This image of a ‘harnessed’ instinct recurs in ‘On Truth’, in Nietzsche’s description of the ‘fatal curiosity’ of the will to truth in terms which echo the relationship of the Apollinian and Dionysian.

—The will to truth, he argues, ‘might one day have the power to peer out and down through a crack in the chamber of consciousness and then suspect that man is sustained in the indifference of his ignorance by that which is pitiless, greedy, insatiable, and murderous – as if hanging in dreams on the back of a tiger.’ (115)

The sustenance of ‘man’, of the Apollinian Hellene and of the intellect derives from a power to suppress a substratum of powerful barbaric instinct.

*Importantly (I would argue),—these terms also recur in Nietzsche’s later definition of the ‘classical’ (—which I’ve already laid out in a note to the fragment on Nietzsche’s early anti-Schopenhauerianism *[link], and to which I want to return, later…).[17]

 

*—The constitution of the Apollinian in Birth represents Nietzsche’s first articulation of the ‘classical’ and serves to bind Nietzsche’s nascent naturalism in Birth to his later, fully articulated, ‘classical’ aesthetic. …

 

*—The ‘titanic’ drives, suppressed in-by the order, selection, and restraint in-of the Apollinian, then, must (ultimately), however, find some form of release,…

—and it is this need which finally engendered *—the rebirth of the Dionysian. …

 

 


[1] On the relationship of Birth to the influence of Wagner,—see, in particular,—Henry Staten, ‘The Birth of Tragedy Reconstructed’ in Nietzsche’s Voices (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990), —187-216. *(—esp. 192). …

—According to Staten’s reading, it’s Nietzsche’s relationship to Wagner that proves problematic to a clear conception of his relationship to Schopenhauer and Schopenhauerian metaphysics. …

—The influences of both Schopenhauer and Wagner on Birth are intimately connected.

—For a clear biographical study of the intellectual and artistic influence of Wagner on Nietzsche, see Dieter Brochmeyer’s influential essay, ‘Wagner and Nietzsche,’ in Ulrich Müller and Peter Wapnewski, eds., Wagner Handbook, trans. John Deathridge (Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992), 327-342 (—on Birth in particular,—329-335…).

[2] Untimely Meditations, trans. R. J. Hollingdale, ed. Daniel Breazeale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 57-123

[3] —in notebook M III 1, Sämtliche Werke: Kritische Studiensausgabe, ed. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari, 2nd edn., 15 vols (Berlin and New York: de Gruyter; Munich: dtv, 1988; CD-ROM 1995), vol. 9, *(hereafter KSA), trans. Duncan Large, Diane Morgan, and Keith Ansell Pearson, as ‘16. Notes from 1881’ in The Nietzsche Reader, ed. Ansell Pearson and Large, 238-241. …

[4] —11[141], pp. 238-239.—Nietzsche’s own emphases retained here,—words in bold being double underlined in the notebook entries…

[5] —Lucretius Carus, On the Nature of Things, trans. Martin Ferguson Smith (Cambridge: Hackett, 2001), 5.1161-1193, p. 169. Cf. John Sallis, Crossings: Nietzsche and the Space of Tragedy (London: The University of Chicago Press, 1991), 14.

[6] On this theory see especially 4.30-324, pp. 101-109, and on dreams in this regard, 4.453-468, 112.—On the apathy of the gods, especially 1.44-49, p. 4; 2.1093-1094, p. 63; 3.22-24,  68

[7] In a chapter on ‘The Physiology of Dreams’ in The Invention of Dionysus: An Essay on The Birth of Tragedy (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000), James Porter, citing Nietzsche, argues that Lucretius’s Epicurean theory of images draws ‘on a physiological account of religious superstition that stems from Democritus,’ (36-47 [39]): —‘The gods are traced back to natural events (Naturvorgänge) by Democritus and Lucretius.’ (Ibid.) …

—Porter’s argument serves to succinctly link Nietzsche’s allusion to Lucretius to an underlying anti-metaphysical naturalism in which the gods form ‘an expression of an internal, all-too-human need’, (39) which Porter refers to Democritus’ account of the ‘physiological sources of poetic inspiration’. (38, 179n.3).

This naturalistic interpretation of dreams and the origins of artistic inspiration is echoed in Daybreak (Daybreak: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality, trans. R.J. Hollingdale, ed. Maudemaire Clark and Brian Leiter, [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997] hereafter D.),—§72, in which Nietzsche opposes Epicurus and Lucretius’s philosophy to Christianity’s ‘idea of punishment in hell’ and renunciation of the body (43-44).

[8] Nietzsche refers to Schopenhauer’s Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, ed. Julius Frauenstädt (1873). Cf. Schopenhauer, WWR, Vol. 1, I, §5, 16-18

[9] Compare on this: … —Human All Too Human (trans. R.J. Hollingdale [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996]):

– In sleep our nervous system is continually agitated by a multiplicity of inner events, almost all our organs are active, our blood circulates vigorously, the position of the sleeper presses on individual limbs, his bedcovers influence his sensibilities in various ways, his stomach digests and its motions disturb other organs, his intestines are active, the position of his head involves unusual muscular contortions, his feet, unshod and not pressing against the floor, produce an unfamiliar feeling, as does the difference in the way his while body is clad – all this, through its unusualness and to a differing degree each day, excites the entire system up to the functioning of the brain; and so there are a hundred occasions for the mind to be involved in puzzlement and to look for grounds for this excitation: the dream is the seeking and positing of the causes of this excitement of the sensibilities, that is to say the supposed causes. (HH I, §13, 17-19)

*—Nietzsche argues that the figures and images of the dream arise through the dreamers’ attempt to fabricate fantastical causes for—to interpret and transpose—physiological processes and stimuli.

In the preceding section (§12), he argues that the function of the brain upon which sleep and the images of dreams most encroach is memory…

—Whilst he is, in this section, dismissive of dreams as confused and capricious operations of memory, and of what he characterises as our unquestioning belief in dream images during sleep, arguing that they represent an atavistic remainder of archaic man, nevertheless the two passages serve to bind the psychological and physiological characteristics of dreams.

[10] Cf. Plato, The Republic, trans. H.D.P. Lee (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1955), §7, 278-286.

[11] Nietzsche cites Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung (BT, §1, 35-36), and the passage is translated by Kaufmann, along with the rest of the text.

—The translation used here is taken from WWR, I, §63, 350-357 (352-353).

[12] Cf. Sallis, 34-35. …

—Thomas Jonavoski is thus wrong to seek to separate the Apollinian from the Olympian in his reading of Birth, and this also true of his attempt to separate Homeric epic and mythology.

(Jovanovski, Aesthetic Transformation: Taking Nietzsche at His Word [New York: Peter Lang, 2008], xxviii-xxix)

[13] This serves to qualify the readings of Birth offered by Sallis and Rampley…

—Although both offer insightful readings under the rubric of the sublime, neither considers the Apollinian in and of itself as a mode of the sublime. To do so, and to understand this artistic mode of the sublime as analogous to the principle of individuation serves to clearly explicate the naturalistic foundations of the text. (—See Sallis, 9-41 and Rampley, 78-109).

Nietzsche identifies the overcoming of the ‘barbaric’ and ‘titanic’ in the emergence of ‘the Homeric,’ heroic ‘world’ which developed, in approximately X-VIII centuries B.C. ‘under the sway of the Apollinian impulse to beauty’ as the sublime triumph over the ‘empire of Titans’. (BT, §3, 43. cf. Silk, M. S.  & Stern, J. P., Nietzsche on Tragedy [Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press, 1981], 66)

In his essay, ‘Homer on Competition,’ Nietzsche equates this triumph over the abysmal with the emergence of the central importance of competition in Hellenic culture, and especially with the parallel, drawn from Hesiod, of the ‘two Eris-goddesses on earth’. …

*(—The essay is reproduced and translated in Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality, trans. Carol Diethe, ed. Keith Ansell-Pearson 187-194. ‘Homer on Competition,’ ‘The Greek State,’ and ‘three other essays—on the topics of truth, the future of education, and Schopenhauer’ which Nietzsche presented to Cosima Wagner in the Christmas of 1872 as ‘Five Prefaces to five unwritten books’, were, originally, intended by Nietzsche to form parts or chapters of Birth of Tragedy.—See Nietzsche, OGM, viii).

—The first of the goddesses was created by ‘Black Night’ in order to promote wickedness and war amongst men. The second, according to Nietzsche, created as a countermeasure by Zeus, promoted envy, and therefore the motivation for labour, and for competition between men: ‘Even potters harbour grudges against potters, carpenters against carpenters, beggars envy beggars and minstrels envy minstrels.’ (Cf. 189-190[n]. Nietzsche cites Hesiod, Works & Days ll.12-26).

This perpetual contest for excellence of the Hellenic citizens with one another, typified Homeric epic myth, Nietzsche argues, is that which motivated and drove the development of Hellenic culture, led the civilisation to prosper and precipitated its continual process of self-overcoming, over and against the brutality of pre-Apollinian ‘barbaric’ culture.

Allison argues that:

In Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks, Nietzsche remarks that Heraclitus extended the notion of competition to the level of a cosmological doctrine, whereby reality itself consists in the play, the continual strife and resolution, of opposites, resulting in a dynamic world of becoming––a world of constant change and transformation (not a static world of being).

(Allison, Reading the New Nietzsche, 33n. Nietzsche, Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks, trans. Marianne Cowan [Chicago: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1962], §5, 55)

The cosmological conception of a ‘dynamic world of becoming’––derived primarily from the influence of Hesiod and Heraclitus––is significant in this context as it demonstrates that the inauguration of the ‘period’ or age of Homeric myth can be seen to map the emergence (the moment of conception) of Hellenic Apollinian culture, through the extension of competition ‘to the level of a cosmological doctrine,’ which served thus as a glorification and justification of the process or principle of individuation. (BT, §4, 45)

[14] —*©Vaticano, Pinacoteca Apostolica Vaticano, Rome www.anth.ucsb.edu/projects/esm/IAM/Raphael.jpg *(—accessed 16th March, 2014).

[15] See Porter, The Invention of Dionysus, 74-77. …

*—Nietzsche echoes his reading of the Transfiguration in Daybreak, (—§8): …

—‘Transfiguration. – Those that suffer helplessly, those that dream confusedly, those that are entranced by things supernatural – these are the three divisions into which Raphael divided mankind.’ (10) …

He goes on to oppose the naturalism of his own philosophy to entrancement in the supernatural, proffering what he argues is a ‘new transfiguration’. (Ibid., emphasis added)

*—This new transfiguration is precisely that outlined in Birth: *—the transfiguration and incorporation of lived experience through art.

*—See also note 6[30] from 1870 in Writings from the Early Notebooks, 31-32. …

[16] Nietzsche, ‘The Dionysiac World View,’ trans. Ronald Speirs, in The Birth of Tragedy and Other Writings, trans. Ronald Speirs, ed. Raymond Geuss and Ronald Speirs, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999, 117-138 *(—123).

[17] *—See HH IIa, §114 and IIb, §217 and GS V, §370.

*the ‘core’,—JANUS,… *—the ‘artist’s metaphysics’ (an introduction).

*—the ‘core’. …

 *and so, then, … (hmm).

—I’ve gone some way already, I suppose, in trying to… contextualise all of this. —in *‘the eventual artist’.

none-the-less. … (why not?)

… *—what follows represents, for me, the core (so to. …—the heart.—? (sic)) of what it is that I want to do here, and I want to go some way to explaining how (and from where) all of this came about. …

(—in a way, for my own (dubious) edification,—so that I remember how all this developed and where it was intended to go…).

 

—originally, this all (—this project-my thesis) grew out of two… interests (for want). …

*—between the sublime and the aesthetic theory in Joyce’s early fiction. …

  

*JANUS. …

*(with the caveat, carried here (again), of not wanting to become too—self-indulgent. (hmm.) …).

—I’ll go into, and define (as best I can-‘m able), the sublime, in-for Kant and Schopenhauer, in the course of this thread-string of fragments-chapter here, but I remember that my first… impression of the sublime came toward the end of a course on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason on my Master’s degree…   

the sublime.

*—the-a sense, then, (sic)—of something (some thing,—an object, scene, event…) that overwhelms through its (sheer) scale. … —which heightens (I suppose) the-an awareness of own smallness—finitude and vulnerability (—powerlessness)—in the face of scale-forces which threaten to overwhelm-to… (what?)—to lacerate the individual…

—strange blend-admixture of a terror and an… —exhilaration in the face of the scale-laceration. …

*—something,—a concept—which seemed to offer a way of grasping and articulating my experience of music in my early musical and religious… career (sic). …

—terror *(vertiginous) and an exhilaration, in the face of a vast, overwhelming, otherness. …

*—seemed (somehow—in that intuited (felt) way that is never clear at the moment of inception) to… link-be bound (somehow) to (the concept of) *—self-alienation.

… —I remember,—…

—sitting in the ‘Green Room’ café, in the Mable Tylecote building at Manchester Metropolitan

(—a large, slightly sprawling, open L shaped space, decked out-bedecked with nineteen sixties-looking furniture (—light Formica. tables and chairs).—in the semi-booths that lined the walls (a pale, watery, institutional aquamarine, I seem to remember) and the large, broad windows that looked out across at the GeoffreyMantonBuilding…). …

—the Hegel (—Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit) PhD reading group that Simon (Dr Simon Malpas) had invited me to join…

*—reading ‘The Unhappy Consciousness’…

(Hegel introducing his reading of the emergence of self-alienation (—of the self-alienated consciousness, thus),—from Stoicism and Scepticism…

and Simon said (—d’y’see)… —that the passage evoked the image of two gods staring into one another across an abyss…

…—* ‘This unhappy, inwardly disrupted consciousness, since its essentially contradictory nature is for it a single consciousness, must for ever have present in the one consciousness the other also; and thus it is driven out of each in turn in the very moment when it imagines it has successfully attained to a peaceful unity with the other [. …]

—* ‘The Unhappy Consciousness itself is the gazing of one self-consciousness into another, and itself is both, and the unity of both is also its essential nature.’

*(Hegel, The Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A.V. Miller (Oxford: Oxford Univeristy Press, 1977). —’Freedom of Self-Consciousness: B. Stoicism, Scepticism, and The Unhappy Consciousness’, pp. 119-138,—*§207., p.126)

*—two gods (—faces), staring into one another (each the other), across the abyss in-between…

(—‘the gazing of one self-consciousness into another’).

—one consciousness,—labouring under the delusion-illusion if its separation (—its sundering-having been sundered) from its essential nature-essence.—taking its essence for a terrifying and exhilarating other (—sublime)…).

*… —JANUS.

JANUS (gods-abyss)

*while I was at Warwick, I was lucky enough to get the chance to attend courses run by Prof. Christine Battersby,—first on Kant’s first Critique, and then on ‘Modes of the Sublime’, studying the sublime in the works of Longinus, Edmund Burke, Kant, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche. …

*—that the sublime seemed to be the key to my (early-earlier) musical – religious experiences (and whatever the link between those two was), and that Nietzsche prioritised music, and music as the Dionysian art par excellence, in The Birth of Tragedy, was the reason I chose to write my dissertation (which, as I’ve already taken the dubious liberty of indicating in the introduction to this project, was—largely pish) on the sublime (in music-art) in Birth. …

*(—I was trying to do something I didn’t have the knowledge, experience, or resources (then,—as yet?) to do…).

at around the same time (mid-late-summer, in my room on campus, overlooking the lake),… —I was reading Joyce’s early fiction,—in particular, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. …

*and I was drawn (I remember) to (the terms of) Stephen Dedalus’s theory of art. …

… *—the intensely undergone (aesthetic) experience of the artist,—in relation to an object of everyday experience, and the attempt, then, to grasp—to capture and to… incorporate it—in the ‘esthetic image’…

*(—and the (clearly deliberately ironic) relation of the text to the details of Joyce’s own life, and the apparent realisation of the aesthetic theory in the structure and style of the text. …).

and it was this that drew me on, at the time, into researching Joyce, the earlier incarnation of the aesthetic theory in the Stephen Hero draft fragment, and the concept of the ‘epiphany’. …

(and also Lucia Joyce, when I discovered the details of her later fate whilst researching Joyce’s writing…).

*… —and (to me at least) there were… —intimations (so to (sic)) of (some sort of) a… —connection (somehow)—between the two (perhaps),…

—something in the nature of the intensely undergone aesthetic experience and the terror and exhilaration of the sublime…

*(hmm.) and it was working back through my reading of the sublime in The Birth of Tragedy, to develop it in-for my doctoral thesis

(over, I remember, strange and (slightly) nervous evenings in mid-winter, at the beginning of my second year in Edinburgh, making and revising strange, slightly… feverish(—?) notes,—on that rather gaudy and tasteless sofa in my small flat on the edge of Holyrood Park,—in the tower of the old school building, perched on St Leonard’s Crag),

that led me to understand that what I had been interested in, in both Birth and early Joyce (and what I felt was the link between them,—between the sublime and the ‘epiphany’)—what would help me to articulate what had, originally, sparked my interest—was, in fact,—artistic inspiration. …

and so,…

*—all this, then, will have been an attempt to reproduce, re-structure, and revise my reading of Birth and Joyce’s early fiction in my thesis…

—to bring together, and to turn to account, my early experience(s) of music and (Anglican, High-Church, Christian) religion, anti-metaphysics, the sublime, art, and literature,…

and, most of all,—to lay down the philosophical-intellectual terms of my own theory of artistic inspiration. …

*            *            *

*II. —on the ‘artist’s metaphysics’:
—Romantic–anti-Romanticism and the fold of the self-creation of the artist in The Birth of Tragedy. …

 

(*On ‘incorporation’, and the Apollinian sublime…

*On ‘purgation’, and the Dionysian sublime…

*The Lyric Poet
*—the fold in the self-creation of the artist…

*—the end of history.

*on the Rapture and the Nausea.—artistic inspiration.

*Nietzsche’s ‘Classicism’. *—the ‘artists’ metaphysics’
(the self-creation of the artist)…

…).

 

*            *            *

Discussion of the nature of the Apollinian, the Dionysian, and of their relationship in The Birth of Tragedy, of course (oh, but of course…), constitutes (extraordinarily) well-trodden ground within Nietzsche criticism. …

However (—Nonetheless—?) (why not?),… —in what follows here, I want to build on my reading of Nietzsche’s early anti-Schopenhauerianism and anti-metaphysics in the previous string-thread of fragments *(—in *‘Intuition, Flux, and anti-metaphysics’, onward…), in re-examining the Apollinian, the Dionysian, and the relationship between them. …

(hmm).

*—I want to argue against the prevalent critical argument, typified (for example) by Julian Young, that the Dionysian provides access to the ‘thing-in-itself’ and that in Birth Nietzsche is simply an uncritical disciple of Schopenhauer and of his philosophy (and especially his philosophy of art):

—that Nietzsche is (simply and uncritically)—Schopenhauerian.[1]

—this misreading of Nietzsche’s relationship to Schopenhauerian metaphysics, and thus of the Dionysian, inevitably (it seems to me) leads to the further misreading, exemplified by David Allison, that the Dionysian is both ‘more primal’ and ‘more natural’(—?) than the Apollinian.[2]

By contrast, I’ll argue here that Nietzsche’s early anti-metaphysics and anti-Schopenhauerianism underpin the nascent and idiosyncratic form of philosophical naturalism which emerges in the text, attributed in contemporary critical debates exclusively to his later philosophy (—from Human, All Too Human onwards), and that this undermines any attempt to attribute an ontological or temporal priority to the Dionysian.[3]

Rather. … —the Apollinian and Dionysian embody the antagonism between two distinct and fundamental natural drives (Triebe): the drive to the incorporation of lived experience and the (apparently antithetical) drive to the purgation of lived experience, respectively…

—Nietzsche argues that these drives find their most fundamental expression in the physiological phenomena of ‘dreams and intoxication’. (§1, 33)

in Hellenic culture, he argues, the appropriation of the drives of incorporation and purgation into art was represented in the form of mythological analogy:

*—‘in the intensely clear figures of their gods’.[4]

in the first part(-fragment) of what is to follow here, I’ll begin by arguing that the harnessing of (the drive to) the incorporation of lived experience into the pre-existing plastic artistic forms was embodied in the figure of the god Apollo. Nietzsche dubs this artistic drive—analogous to the physiological phenomenon of dreams—the Apollinian…

I’ll then move on to argue that the harnessing of the (apparently antithetical) drive to the purgation of lived experience into non-imagistic art-forms—analogous to the physiological phenomenon of intoxication—was embodied in the figure of the god Dionysus and the artistic drive which Nietzsche dubs the Dionysian.

… *—I will argue, then, that the Apollinian and Dionysian represent the expression (and the fulfilment) of the two fundamental and antithetical natural drives in analogous

*—modes of the sublime.[5]

(and I’ll go into as much detail as I can here to define what I think is Nietzsche’s conception of the sublime in the text (—at this point in his thinking and in his writing career),—particularly in relation to both Kant and Schopenhauer’s definitions of the sublime).

*and so,…

—having established my reading of the Apollinian and the Dionysian, and of the (apparent) antagonism between them,… I’ll move on to argue that Nietzsche’s account of the birth of tragedy represents the process from artistic inspiration to creation through what I’ll characterise as the *conjunction of the Dionysian and Apollinian:

*—the incorporation of the experience of purgation. …

—understanding the Dionysian and Apollinian as the harnessing of the natural drives to purgation and incorporation respectively will allow me to read their conjunction against the prevalent trend in Nietzsche criticism to view their relationship in Birth as simply dialectical.[6]

—by contrast, and in line with my claim to the text’s implicit anti-metaphysics, I will argue that Nietzsche’s account of the Dionysian-Apollinian conjunction is ranged against the (Hegelian) dialectic, denying any possible synthesis, and, through a reading of Nietzsche’s parallel of the fate of the one who experiences the Dionysian to that of Hamlet, is incommensurate with any possible resolution of (the state of) *self-alienation. …

—I will argue that the Dionysian-Apollinian conjunction, exemplified in the phenomenon of the Hellenic Lyric Poet, embodies what I will define as

*(the process of)—the fold in the ironic self-re-creation of the artist.

Although the text appears (—is, effectively,) ostensibly Schopenhauerian and late-Romantic, I’ll argue that the naturalism of Nietzsche’s conception of art in Birth aligns the fold in the self-creation of the artist with his later definition of ‘classical’ art, and rejection of ‘romantic’…

—I’ll argue that Nietzsche’s conception of artistic inspiration and creation in Birth represents an ironic appropriation of the terms of Romanticism to an anti-Romantic aesthetic, in contrast to the prevalent critical trend—concomitant with the misreading of the Dionysian and Apollinian—to conceive of the text as straightforwardly Romantic.

* … —and it’s this, then, that’ll lead into the comparison I want to draw between Nietzsche’s theory of art and artistic inspiration in Birth and neo-classical Modernist aesthetics. …

*I’ll begin by offering a close reading of the terms of Stephen’s aesthetic theory in Joyce’s fiction, in its development between the early draft fragment Stephen Hero, Portrait and Ulysses, and, in particular,—a comparative close-reading of the Stephen’s presentation of the concepts of the ‘epiphany’ and the ‘esthetic image’ in the incarnations of the aesthetic theory in Stephen Hero and Portrait (respectively). …

—I’ll argue that, between Stephen Hero and Portrait, rather than being abandoned,—the concept of the ‘epiphany’ evolves (in effect) into that of the (‘esthetic’) image. …

*in the later (—the last) incarnation of Stephen’s aesthetic theory, in the ‘Shakespeare theory’ of Ulysses, I’ll argue that the whole evolves again,—into (the concept of) *the image (‘of the artist’. …).

and, in its final evolution, I’ll argue, Stephen’s aesthetic theory binds the ‘image’ to a conception of artistic inspiration and the figure of the artist analogous to Nietzsche’s in Birth. …

*—in Ulysses, I will argue, —the process of the creation of the ‘image of the artist’ represents    

*—the foldin the ironic self (re-)creation of the artist. …

—what is at stake in, and what ultimately underpins, this evolution of the concept of the

‘epiphany’ into that of the image, I will argue, is the conception of the ‘classical’, very explicitly at the heart of the Stephen Hero (though—apparently—excised from Portrait) and Joyce’s own early critical writing. …

*—the ‘classical’, then,—vs. the ‘romantic’ (—Romantic).

and this will, in effect, allow to segue (quite neatly I think (hope)) into the reading of the wider context of neo-classical Modernism and aesthetics that I want to conduct here…

*—I’ll draw out the parallels between the key terms of the definition of the ‘image’ and the ‘classical’ in Joyce’s works and those T.E. Hulme’s writing on art (and especially in his readings of Bergson’s philosophy and the ‘aesthetic intuition’,—which allow me to draw on my argument in the first string-thread of fragments here), and Ezra Pound’s definition (with Flint) of the ‘image’ (and key role in the creation of Imagism) and the *vortex (and founding, with Wyndham Lewis, of Vorticism). …

and I’ll draw particularly on Stephen’s allusion to Percy Bysshe Shelley’s conception of artistic inspiration ( in A Defence of Poetry) in arguing that (throughout its textual incarnations) Stephen’s theory represents an ironic appropriation of Romantic conceptions of artistic inspiration and creation to an *anti-Romantic,—anti-metaphysical aesthetic…

and, openly using Yeats—and especially his definition of the ‘symbol’ and ‘Symbolism’ in his earlier critical writing—as a kind of ‘straw man’, I’ll argue in particular that it represents a rejection of the ‘Platonism’ of (self-styled) late-Romanticism and an attempt to redeem the legacy of Romanticism. …

*—on the basis of this, then, I’ll attempt to show that this opens up new possibilities for a critical comparison between Nietzsche’s philosophy and the aesthetics of neo-classical Modernism.

—In my reading of neo-classical Modernism, I’ll draw on the conception of the ‘classical’ in Nietzsche’s later writing, and, to conclude, I’ll use my reading of the ‘classical’ as well as my own conception of the fold in the ironic self-(re-)creation of the artist to read Nietzsche’s argument on the purpose and the affect of tragedy in Birth.


[1] See Julian Young, Nietzsche’s Philosophy of Art (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992). …

—as I argued in the previous thread of fragments, this conception is shared, for  example, by Bowie, in Aesthetics and Subjectivity, 261 (see also 282, 288, 296) and Soll, ‘Pessimism and the Tragic view of Life: Reconsiderations of Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy’ in Solomon and Kathleen M. Higgins, eds., Reading Nietzsche (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 104-107.

[2] David B. Allison, Reading the New Nietzsche (Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 2001), 40-42

[3] See Leiter, Nietzsche on Morality, 3-7. Green, Nietzsche and the Transcendental Tradition, 4. See also Christoph Cox, ‘Nietzsche, Dionysus, and the Ontology of Music’ in Ansell Pearson, ed., A Companion to Nietzsche (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), 495-531.

Cox argues that the Apollinian and Dionysian are not concerned with the thing-in-itself and the appearance and that Nietzsche is not reverting ‘back to metaphysical, anti-naturalist distinctions – ontological distinctions between a “true” and an “apparent” world or epistemological distinctions between an unknowable given and ordinary experience or knowledge.’ (499)

[4] Ibid. As I argued in the first chapter-thread, the contrast of the ‘intensely clear figures of the gods’ to ‘concepts’ at the outset of Birth is clarified in the contrast of the individuated concepts of the intellect to ‘intuition’ in ‘On Truth’.—Cf. Klein, Nietzsche and the Promise of Philosophy, 96-99 and Jason Kemp Winfree, ‘Before the Subject: Rereading Birth of Tragedy’, The Journal of Nietzsche Studies, 25 (Spring, 2003), 58-77 (68).

[5] In Nietzsche’s Voices, Henry Staten differentiates between the *‘state’ of the Dionysian (—rapture), the *‘art’ of the Dionysian (—music and dance), and the *‘reality’ of the Dionysian, which he attempts to identify with the ‘metaphysical’. He argues that the ‘art’ and ‘state’ of the Dionysian remain at a distance from the (metaphysical) ‘reality’. …

—Whilst I’ll aim to refute Staten’s attribution of a metaphysical reality to the Dionysian, his insight into the importance of differentiating between the (physiological/psychological) ‘state’ and the ‘art’ which seeks to embody, prolong and to communicate it, will prove invaluable to my own argument and I’ll seek to extend it also to the Apollinian.

—I’ll also adopt Staten’s qualification of Kaufmann’s translation of the German Rausch as ‘intoxication,’ for what he argues is the preferable translation of *‘rapture’. (194)…

[6] See Cox, ‘Nietzsche, Dionysus, and the Ontology of Music’ in Ansell Pearson, ed., A Companion to Nietzsche, 498.  …

—Cox argues that the relationship between the Dionysian and Apollinian is not Hegelian. … Nietzsche himself is partly responsible, however, for the emergence of the trend to read it in this way… —In his retrospective critical appraisal of Birth in Ecce Homo (1888,—published 1908), he goes so (sarcastically) far as to remark that the text ‘smells offensively Hegelian’ (—On the Genealogy of Morals and Ecce Homo, trans. Walter Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale, ed. Walter Kaufmann [New York: Random House, 1967], 270): …

An “idea”––the antithesis of the Dionysian and the Apollinian––translated into the realm of metaphysics; history itself as the development of this “idea”; in tragedy this antithesis is sublimated into a unity; and in this perspective things that had never before faced each other are suddenly juxtaposed, used to illuminate each other, and comprehended. (271)

*in the notes to his translation, Kaufmann is at great pains to demonstrate the passage’s thinly veiled Hegelian allusions.

—He lays emphasis upon Nietzsche’s appropriation of Hegelian vocabulary such as Aufgehoben (which he translates as ‘sublimated’: negated, preserved, and elevated), points to the use of the term ‘“idea”’ (Idee) as of Hegelian origin and to Nietzsche’s use of the term Gegensatz, which he translates as ‘antithesis’. (ibid.)

—It’s important to stress the irony of Nietzsche’s Hegelian reading of Birth.

—His use of Hegelian terms, I would argue, is intended to parody such vocabulary as much as Birth itself. Nietzsche refers to a ‘translation’ of the opposition of the Dionysian and Apollinian into the ‘realm of metaphysics’. The drives themselves are not metaphysical. The meaning of the allusion to their ‘sublimation’ into a ‘unity’ remains vague and open-ended in this passage, and the reference to their juxtaposition suggests that the opposition remains, in spite of whatever it is that this sublimation might entail.

—In essence,… the Hegelian here remains only a vague, if somewhat threatening odour. …