*on the Rapture & the Nausea… —the root & nature of artistic inspiration

*(… —follows on from *‘the artist’s metaphysics’, ‘—on “incorporation”, & the Apollinian sublime, ‘—on “purgation”, & the Dionysian sublime, & ‘the Lyric Poet.
*—the fold in the self-creation of the artist. …).

 

*on the Rapture, then, and the Nausea.
*—the… root, & the nature, of artistic inspiration. …

 

The individual, with all his restraint and proportion, succumbed 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. (BT, §4, 46-47)

 

*—‘Excess revealed itself as truth’.

 

Indeed. …

(hmm).

 

*to summarise. (and, hell,—why not? …—)

 

 

*… —Succumbing to the affect of the Dionysian sublime precipitates a… temporary cessation (—a halting) of self-awareness, and of consciousness of time and of space—in short, of subjectivity—and, thus, a corresponding loss of the formal, ethical and spatial relations of the individual to their neighbours and to their surrounding environs….

 

These constraints-limits—necessary to the formation and the perpetuation (maintenance) of culture—are dissolved, then, in the excess of the Dionysian state. …

 

and the—inchoate flux, thus revealed (in the laceration in-of the Dionysian state), is shown to underly—and, indeed, to be prior toall individuation…

 

 

*—and the terror felt in the face of sublime (—the overwhelming suffering of confusion and chaos in the inchoate, ‘primordial’, flux) is revealed as that which precipitates the very need for, and emergence of, the principle of individuation (—principium individuationis)… —repressing the chaos of flux and forging (—fabricating) the individual (—‘restraint and proportion’)…

 

and it’s this, thus, in turn, which reveals individuation to be the provisional and inadequate—artistic—illusion that it (truly) is…

 

*(—‘Excess’, then, as—*truth. …).

 

 

*—The pain experienced in the laceration of the individuated empirical self gives birth to the ‘bliss’ of the purgation—the release—of the drives—identified by Nietzsche as-at—*‘the very heart of nature’,—repressed within individuation. …

 

*What’s at stake here, then, is a fundamentally antagonistic relationship between quotidian existence, which has the Apollinian ‘precepts’ of individuation as the condition of its possibility, and the purgative excess of the Dionysian state:

—‘a chasm of oblivion separates the worlds of everyday reality and of Dionysian reality’. (§7, 59) …

 

*—The Dionysian, through its… moment (sic) of the laceration of the bounds of individuation, achieves-attains a purgative discharge of repressed drives and forces, and a corresponding forgetting of the empirical self:

—‘[T]he 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’. (Ibid.)

 

—The ‘lethargic’, purgative moment of the Dionysian is what constitutes the ‘chasm of oblivion’ separating it as a fundamentally different mode of experience from the quotidian. …

 

*By the very nature of its extremity and its power, however, the Dionysian state rapidly exhausts itself. …

 

—Nietzsche argues that *the Dionysian ecstatic (—so to) must return to consciousness of time, space and the manifold relations of everyday reality and the self-consciousness these ineluctably engender, but that ‘as soon as this everyday reality re-enters consciousness it is experienced as such with nausea.’ (59-60)

 

*—‘nausea’.

 

—Nietzsche’s definition of the experience of this nausea is crucial. …

 

*—The experience of the finitude and banality of ‘everyday reality’ is now—in the light of the release in-of the Dionysian and the revelation of the inadequate illusion of all individuality—experienced as… absurd and… ignoble.

 

—It’s experienced with revulsion and with nausea when compared to the intoxication—the sublimity—of the experience of the unfettered power of the drives in the Dionysian…

*—‘an ascetic, will-negating mood is the fruit of these states’. (60) …

 

—The—ineluctable—return to the quotidian results in a desire to renounce life. …

 

 

*Nietzsche invokes Hamlet as an artistic analogue for the experience of the return to the quotidian from the rapture of the Dionysian…

 

Through the comparison, Nietzsche both illuminates the experience of post-Dionysian ‘nausea’ and, concomitantly, performs a reading of the play itself…—

*[T]he Dionysian man resembles Hamlet: both have once looked truly into the essence of things, they have gained knowledge, and nausea inhibits action; for their action could not change anything in the eternal nature of things; they feel it to be ridiculous or humiliating that they should be asked to set right a world that is out of joint. Knowledge kills action; action requires the veils of illusion: that is the doctrine of Hamlet, not that cheap wisdom of Jack the Dreamer who reflects too much and, as it were, from an excess of possibilities does not get around to action. Not reflection, no––true knowledge, an insight into the horrible truth, outweighs any motive for action, both in Hamlet and the Dionysian man. (Ibid.)

*Nietzsche’s interpretation of the character of Hamlet is established in contrast to Romantic readings of the text, and, in particular (I’d argue), with that of Coleridge.

 

 

*… —In his lecture on Hamlet, Coleridge argues that Shakespeare’s aim was to ‘portray a person in whose view the external world, and all its incidents and objects, were comparatively dim, and of no interest in themselves, and which only began to be of interest when they were reflected in the mirror of his mind.’[1]

 

For Coleridge, Hamlet represents a type who takes no interest in the outside world until it is significantly reconfigured in his mind.

 

—Apathy and introspection create a stark division between the inner world and the outer world.

 

Coleridge argues that Hamlet is absorbed in ‘endless reasoning and hesitating—constant urging and solicitation of the mind to act, and as constant an escape from action; ceaseless reproaches of himself for sloth and negligence, while the whole energy of his resolution evaporates in these reproaches.’ (Ibid.) …

 

—In contrast to Nietzsche, for whom the revelation of the true constitution of the world renders action futile, for Coleridge, Hamlet’s is a state of procrastination and impotent resolve. …

 

—He is driven by his bad conscience to act, and yet loses himself in internal debate and speculation, failing to implement his resolve. …

 

In response,—he inwardly tortures himself for his failure and procrastination, leading to a deepening of his bad conscience and a renewed resolve to act.

 

This deepening leads (in turn) to further debate and speculation:

—a more profound and pervasive interiority…

 

Coleridge argues that Hamlet’s failure to act stems ‘not from cowardice […] not from want of forethought or slowness of apprehension, for he sees through the very souls of all who surround him, but merely from that aversion to action, which prevails among such as have a world in themselves.’ (Ibid.)

 

*—Hamlet’s inaction (for Coleridge, at least) stems neither from fear, nor from cowardice, but (instead) from a division between the ‘external world’ and the inner world of thought (—the ‘mirror’ of the mind…), founded upon the self-lacerating circularity of the bad conscience.[2]

 

 

—For Nietzsche,—in stark contrast to the ‘Romantic Hamlet’ (—with Coleridge standing as exemplar, here),—the Dionysian ecstatic’s fate is analogous to that of Hamlet: …

*—both have gained insight into the true ‘essence’ and ‘the eternal nature of things’. …

 

—For the Dionysian ecstatic this entails the revelation of the smallness and absurdity of empirical-quotidian existence and its alienation—separated by the ‘chasm of oblivion’—from the profundity of the Dionysian.

 

This knowledge is coupled with the realisation that no action can alter this, even though it must now appear as ‘out of joint’. The demand to amend the ‘nature of things’ appears absurd, humiliating and impossible.

 

The absurdity of quotidian reality when compared to Dionysian reality across the gulf which must, irrevocably, separate them, incites ‘nausea’—‘an ascetic will-negating mood’—in which all action is revealed as futile, for action would require the illusion of the ‘glory’ of individuation, now irrevocably shattered. (§3, 43)[3]

 

—For Nietzsche, then,—the sublime ecstasy of the Dionysian state reveals the powerful chaotic play and contradiction of the ‘primal unity’. …

 

The depth and power of the play of the drives is experienced both with terror and with exultation. (§1, 36)

 

And this ‘state of rapture’ reveals the failure *(—to attain an identity with the ideal which is the full realisation of the potential energy of the drives and forces),—the inadequacy,—the mundanity,… the—infinite replaceability (for want—so to),… *—the   smallness,  of quotidian existence. …

 

*Upon their return to the quotidian, the Dionysian ecstatic gains insight into the true and ineluctable organisation of the Dionysian and quotidian realities (and of the gulf which separates them)…

 

—They… become aware of the profundity and the energy of the drives suppressed within empirical existence in order to render this existence itself possible, and yet,—as an empirically existing individual—they know empirical existence too to be necessary as the redemption of the ‘primal unity’ in-through mere appearance. (§4, 45)

 

—They know, then, that this organisation of realities is itself necessary, and that no effort on their part can alter it. …

 

Nonetheless, the smallness and banality of ‘everyday reality’,—when compared to the exultation in-of the Dionysian, is experienced with incredulity, disappointment, frustration, and resentment (—and with a form of grief (—?), I suppose). …

 

*… —And this reading,—this understanding—of the fate of the Dionysian ecstatic, represents a real, and tenablealternative to what seems to me be the orthodox critical interpretation of the relationship between the Dionysian and suffering in Birth, of which Wayne Klein offers an apposite summary…

[M]usic reveals the essence of the world as eternal contradiction and pain [….] Images, not music, enable one to live on in the face of the knowledge that life is truly abysmal. Images are thus both a prophylactic and a stimulus to life, a necessary antidote to Dionysian music, which if experienced in their absence would cause one literally to expire.

(Klein, Nietzsche and the Promise of Philosophy, 117 *—emphases added here…)

 

Just as Hamlet’s seeing his father’s ghost affords insight into the world’s (the court of Elsinore’s) being—‘out of joint’, so here, the Dionysian ecstatic’s experience reveals the absurdity of quotidian existence, and it is this which precipitates nausea,and not the experience of the Dionysian (—Dionysian music) itself. …

 

*—Both Hamlet and the Dionysian ecstatic are trapped in, what is experienced as, a divided shape of consciousness…

*—in a state of self-alienation. …

 

*—The Dionysian reveller has experienced the ‘feeling of fullness’ which is attained in the ecstatic state of the Dionysian sublime and has ‘gained knowledge’ of the essential nature of existence and ‘the eternal nature of things’.

—Having returned to the absurdity and futility of ‘everyday reality,’ they are now alienated from that essential state of ‘overgreat fullness’ and—‘nausea inhibits action’. …

 

—Quotidian experience and social relations are so constituted as to make it impossible for Hamlet and the Dionysian reveller to express and to realise their ‘true self’ (so to) or ‘character’…

 

—Both are compelled, then, to exhibit a character entirely foreign to them…

How strange or odd soe’er I bear myself;

As I perchance shall think meet

To put an antic disposition on[4]

 

Their essential nature remains irrevocably other, sundered from ‘everyday reality’ by the ‘chasm of oblivion’. They are incapable of expressing and of realising their essential natures, and, so, they suffer…

 

 

*At the heart of Nietzsche’s insight into the nature of ‘nausea’ and resultant pessimism, then, I’d argue, is a fundamental (ironic) inversion. …

 

*—Pessimism, here, is seen to result from a far more fundamental, profound and thwarted optimism…

—a deeply felt experience of the potential for creativity and vitality, inherent in the ‘nature of things’. …

 

—This… ‘optimism’ is, constitutionally, incapable of pragmatic reflection on the chance and finitude in which—‘things’ (—people, places, objects, times, events) are compelled by necessity to exist—to operate-to function…

 

—Disappointment, yearning, frustration and resentment form the ground of pessimism.

 

*… —Quotidian existence fails to attain an impossible perfection…

—‘Now no comfort avails any more; longing transcends a world after death, even the gods; existence is negated along with its glittering reflection in the gods or in an immortal beyond.’ (§7, 60)

 

*Myth is no longer capable of incorporating and redeeming lived experience through its transfiguration into the narratives of the deeds of the gods, for this has been precisely revealed as artifice. …

—Nor can the promise of the immortality of the individuated soul in ‘a world after death’ or ‘immortal beyond’ act as any form of compensation. …

 

—Here, then,—where the danger of the renunciation of life and the threat to the ‘will is greatest’—Nietzsche argues, *—‘art approaches as a saving sorceress, expert at healing.’ (Ibid.) …

 

*That is…

*—The need to redeem existence from ‘nausea’ is what inaugurates-precipitates the Dionysian-Apollinian conjunction and the birth of tragedy from the ironic self-(re-)creation of the artist. …

 

 

[1] Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ‘Hamlet’ in The Major Works, ed. H.J. Jackson (Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press, 2000), 655-659 (—655)

[2] See Charles Mahoney, ‘Coleridge and Shakespeare’, in Frederick Burwick, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press, 2009) 498-514 (500, 506-509). …

*—On the relationship of Coleridge’s reading of Hamlet to the Romantics see Matthew Scott, ‘Coleridge’s Lectures 1808-1819: On Literature’, 185-203 (187-189).

[3] Cf. ‘Why I am so Clever’, in Ecce Homo: ‘Is Hamlet understood? Not doubt, certainty is what drives one insane.—But one must be profound, an abyss, a philosopher to feel that way.—We are all afraid of truth’. (On the Genealogy of Morals,trans. Kaufmann and Hollingdale, ed. Kaufmann, §4, 246)

[4] William Shakespeare, Hamlet, ed. Ann Thompson and Neil Taylor(London: Arden, 2006), 1.5. ll.168-169, 225

Advertisements

*the ‘end of history’ & reconstructing The Birth of Tragedy—the figure of the Lyric Poet…

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

 

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

 

 *and so,… —the end of history. …
(—on ‘conjunction‘, & reconstructing The Birth of Tragedy).

 

*…

 

Having summarised his reading of what he defines as the four-fold shape of Hellenic cultural and artistic history, at the end of §4 of Birth (—§4, 47),… Nietzsche proceeds to use his intuition of the central role played by the Dionysian and the Apollinian modes of the sublime in this history as the basis for reaching the ‘real goal’ of his ‘investigation’…

 

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

 

 

—Nietzsche seeks to define the nature of the conjunction of the Dionysian and Apollinian, symbolised in his hyphenation—‘Dionysian-Apollinian’—and of tragedy as the ‘art product’ which is created in-and-by this conjunction.

*—and  I’ll adopt the term ‘conjunction’ here, in preference to that of ‘synthesis’,—used by, for example, Silk and Stern in Nietzsche and Tragedy. (62-89)

 

—In their ‘synopsis’ of Birth, Silk and Stern refer to the ‘synthesis of the tendencies’ of the Apollinian and Dionysian. (63) …

As I’ll argue,—the Dionysian and Apollinian are not cancelled and resolved into a third and separate term, as the (rather loosely) ‘dialectical’ reading implicit in the use of the term ‘synthesis’ would suggest, but, instead, remain distinct and yet in a relationship defined by a form of co-dependence…

—In Crossings: Nietzsche and the Space of Tragedy, John Sallis reaches a similar conclusion that ‘prohibits regarding tragedy as the mere synthesis of the Apollinian and the Dionysian, as a synthesis in which their opposition would be resolved into a higher unity’.

 *—He argues that Birth ought not to be ‘differentiated’ from Nietzsche’s later writings ‘in the manner proposed, for example by Gilles Deleuze’: ‘namely, by its alleged dialectical […] character’. (57[n].—See Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy, [1-35]…).

 

 

—The *conjunction of the Dionysian and Apollinian modes of sublime, then, takes place, Nietzsche argues, in the process of the self-creation of the artist. …

 

*In order to render the self-creation of the artist and the Dionysian-Apollinian conjunction intelligible, it seem to me that it’s first necessary to reach an understanding of the need which motivates them. …

 

To accomplish this, in what follows, I want to (effectively) disassemble Nietzsche’s argument concerning the origins of lyric poetry and the lyric poet and the evolution of tragedy in §§5-7 of Birth, and to reconstruct it in reverse order. …

*And so,… (hmm) —I’ll begin with a reading of Nietzsche’s argument concerning the effect of the Dionysian and its relation to quotidian existence in §7, and then proceed to an analysis of the process of the self-creation of the lyric poet and the evolution of tragedy from dithyrambic poetry and the chorus in §§6-7, returning to the end of §7 to define the nature of tragedy and to analyse Nietzsche’s final comment in the section on the role of the tragic chorus and the definition of ‘art’. …