*on the ‘classical’ vs. the ‘romantic’ in Joyce, Nietzsche, and T.E. Hulme

*(—follows on from ‘Art and Life’ (from the ‘epiphany’ to the ‘esthetic image’), ‘a paean’, ‘the image.—vs. Platonic ressentiment’, and ‘—toward a disruptive, anti-transcendental “classicism”’. …)

 

 

*on the ‘image’.—vs. Platonic ressentiment.
—part (ii)…

*—the ‘classical’.—vs. the ‘romantic
(—in Joyce, Nietzsche, & T.E. Hulme.) …

 

 It would lead you to believe that he had in mind symbolism or idealism, the supreme quality of beauty being a light from some other world, the idea of which the matter is but a shadow, the reality of which it is but the symbol. (Joyce, Portrait, *—230).

 

(Hmm.).

 

 

*—In the ‘Art and Life’ ‘paper’ which Stephen delivers to the Literary and Historical Society of his college in Stephen Hero, he defines literature in terms of two contrasting and competing artistic ‘tempers’: *—the ‘romantic’ and the ‘classical’.

*(SH, 83. *—See also, Joyce’s own ‘James Clarence Mangan’ article (—of 1902),—CW, 53-60, where he refers to ‘the classical and romantic schools’ [53.—emphasis added here.]).

 

 

—In terms, of which I’d maintain (at least) the later rejection of: ‘a light from some other world, the idea of which the matter is but a shadow, the reality of which it is but the symbol’ in-of Portrait forms (-represents) an… echo, or a reiteration, Stephen (in his earlier textual incarnation in Stephen Hero) defines the ‘romantic’ as an—*‘unsatisfied, impatient temper which sees no fit abode here for its ideals and chooses therefore to behold them under insensible figures’. …

(—SH, 83. And I’d argue that this represents a clarification of sorts of an almost identical and yet perhaps more intemperate passage in ‘James Clarence Mangan’… —

The romantic school is often and grievously misinterpreted not more by others than its own, for that impatient temper which, as it could see no fit abode here for its ideals, chose to behold them under insensible figures, comes to disregard certain limitations, and, because these figures are blown high and low by the mind that conceived them, comes at times to regard them as feeble shadows moving aimlessly about the light, obscuring it. [53]

… ).

 

 

*Stephen, then, castigates what he calls the—*‘romantic temper’ in art, for its idealism:

… a seeking after an ideal-ideals,—a disappointment with life’s inability to furnish that ideal (—those ideals), frustration and dissatisfaction with, and a (subsequent-resultant) renunciation of, lived experience *(—of life): ‘no fit abode here’…, and a presentation of its ‘ideals’ through ‘insensible figures’: —I’d argue intentionally reminiscent of Yeats’s definition of the symbol as the ‘expression of some invisible essence, a transparent lamp about a spiritual flame’, and what Chadwick lucidly and concisely dubs the ‘built in obscurity’ of (transcendental) Symbolism *(—on this, see: *‘on the image vs. the “symbol”’).

 

 

And so,… (why ever not?) …

 

*—Following (on from) my reading of Joyce’s ironic appropriation of the terms of Aquinas’s account of ‘Beauty’ in the evolution of the concept of the ‘epiphany’ (—in-of Stephen Hero) to the (‘esthetic’) *‘image’ (of Portrait) *(see: ‘on “Art & Life”.’ [—link].), I’m now in a position, I feel, to argue that it’s the terms of this castigation of the ‘romantic’ which are (implicitly) at stake in Stephen’s rejection of the ‘Platonic’ metaphysics in-of ‘symbolism and idealism’ in his definition of the ‘image’ in his later textual incarnation in Portrait.

 

—I’ve already argued that Stephen’s interpretation of Aquinas’ claritas and definition of the ‘image’, represents the refinement of the earlier concept of the ‘epiphany’. …

 

*—I want to go further here, and argue that, although the terms may not appear explicitly in Portrait,… his rejection of a ‘Yeatsian’ (or, at perhaps at the very least,—‘Yeats-esque’ (?—sic)) ‘Platonic’ aesthetical metaphysics, represents the synthesis (so to) of the ‘epiphany’—or, perhaps rather,—its *incorporation … —with the terms of Stephen’s rejection of the ‘romantic’, and subsequent definition—and championing—of the ‘classical’, in-of Stephen Hero (—these terms being drawn from Joyce’s own early critical writing).

 

 

*—To conceive of the ‘image’ in-of Portrait as the refinement of the ‘epiphany’, and its implicit incorporation with the earlier material on the ‘classical’ (—vs. the ‘romantic) in this way, I’ll argue, places the text—intellectually and philosophically—in a close relationship to the terms of Nietzsche’s writing on art, T.E. Hulme’s writing on Modern art and Bergson’s philosophy, and to (/as well as) the terms and manifestoes of self-styled neo-classical Modernism more broadly.

 

 

* … —To read the terms of Nietzsche’s writing on art, Hulme’s conception of Modern art and reading of Bergsonian philosophy, and the Modernist manifestoes and works, can reveal a parallel, or (perhaps rather) parallels, that can help define what’s at stake, philosophically, in the ‘romantic’ and the ‘classical’,… *(that is)—the philosophical underpinnings (foundations) and consequences for art *(—form, style, and its proper subject matter) of the ‘image’. …

 

 

 

*—In Stephen Hero (and this is also true of Joyce’s own early critical writing),—it’s specifically over—and against—the… otherworldly life-renunciation, at stake within what he defines as the ‘romantic’, that Stephen offers his definition of the ‘classical’. …

 

*—‘The classical temper on the other hand, ever mindful of limitations, chooses rather to bend upon these present things and so to work upon them and fashion them that the quick intelligence may go beyond them to their meaning which is still unuttered.’ (283) …

*(Cf. ‘James Clarence Mangan’, 53.—Also Stanislaus Joyce, My Brother’s Keeper. …

 

—Stanislaus cites Joyce’s rejection of ‘poets for whom only what is imaginary possesses poetic value’, against which he posits Joyce’s conception of poetry that seeks ‘to capture moods and impressions, often tenuous moods and elusive impressions, by means of verbal witchery that magnetizes the mind like a spell, and imports a wonder and grace’. [—166]. …).

 

 

*—For Stephen,… —the ‘classical’ artist, in contrast to the ‘romantic’, retains an ineradicable consciousness, then, of their finitude,—their… rootedness (sic—so to) in-within the everyday. …

 

—They don’t seek, then, as does the ‘romantic’ artist, to exceed or to escape these bounds. …

 

 

—Instead,… the ‘classical’ artist focuses (—‘bends’…) upon the ‘here’ (and the now) of contemporaneous experience, and upon ‘present things’, in order to present experience and the objects of experience in such a way as to communicate their ‘meaning’…

 

*—the ‘proper conditions’ of the (‘esthetic’) image. …

 

*… —‘Art is not an escape from life. It’s just the very opposite. Art, on the contrary, is the very central expression of life. An artist is not a fellow who dangles a mechanical heaven before the public. The priest does that. The artist affirms out of the fullness of his own life, he creates…’. *(SH,—90-91)

 

 

*And the terms of this—rejection of the ‘romantic’ (—of the ‘romantic temper’)—of its… ‘idealism’ and (thus concomitant) incapacity to find what it’s looking for in(-within) life, and its (subsequent) desire, then, to *escape from life (—into the supposéd: ‘infinite’…)—and championing (by direct contrast) of the ‘classical’, it seems clear to me (at least) anyway, provide the foundation for a direct and a mutually illuminating comparison between the terms of Stephen’s aesthetic theory and those in-of Nietzsche’s later writing on art. …

*(though, as I said in *‘a paean’,… —I’m aware that the terms themselves, and the debate between the differing and often opposed artistic schools or movements they inspired (—who may have rallied, so to, at one time or another, beneath their respective banners), goes back much further than Nietzsche. …

*—Hegel, for example, had used the terms in his ‘Aesthetics’ (which I want to write about elsewhere. eventually…), and they go back at least as far as Pope’s Augustan neo-classicism in the C18th (which Wordsworth later vociferously criticised and rejected in ‘The Preface to the Lyrical Ballads’), and to Goethe and Schiller…

—There is, in essence, far more to be said then about the (terms) ‘classical’ and ‘romantic’,… but I’m going to focus here on their use by-within, and thus the mutually illuminating parallel between, Nietzsche and neo-classical Modernism, and try to demonstrate the place of Stephen’s aesthetic theory and Joyce’s writing in relation to both… ).

 

 

*—The terms of Stephen’s rejection of the ‘romantic’ and championing of the ‘classical’ correspond *(—exactly) to those of Nietzsche’s much earlier opposition of ‘classical’ to ‘romantic’ art and aesthetics,—first formulated in Human, All Too Human… —

 

Classic and romantic. – Both those spirits of a classical and those of a romantic bent – these two species exist at all times – entertain a vision of the future: but the former do so out of a strength of their age, the latter out of its weakness.

*(—‘The Wanderer and His Shadow’ (hereafter HH IIb) in Human, All Too Human, §217, 366)

 

*For Nietzsche,… —the ‘classical’ and the ‘romantic’ aren’t intended, then, to denote the art of any given (—any specific) historical era, but, instead, represent (artistic-aesthetic) *tendencies,… —present, and coexisting, in(within) the artistic works of all ages,… —aimed toward the future, and marked: —by either all that which is affirmative and strong in a given age (as is the case in Nietzsche’s delineation of the ‘classical’), or by all that is reactive and weak (—the ‘romantic’. …).

 

 

*—In The Gay Science, Nietzsche develops this conception of the reactivity and weakness of ‘romantic’ art, and defines the romantic type as they—‘who suffer from the impoverishment of life and seek rest, stillness, calm seas, redemption from themselves through art and knowledge, or intoxication, convulsions, anaesthesia, and madness.’

*(—in The Gay Science, trans. Walter Kaufmann [New York: Vintage Books, 1974] (—hereafter GS),… —V, §370, 327-331 [328]. … —Nietzsche here names both Schopenhauer and Wagner as quintessential ‘romantic’ types…).

 

… —For Nietzsche, ‘romantic’ art is distinguished by a psychological-physiological need to escape from, and to renounce life. …

 

*… —It names a need for a remedy from life—(—a need (felt)) to be anaesthetised,—seemingly paradoxically accomplished through the attainment of states of intoxication (or rapture), convulsion, and madness,… —all framed here as alleviations from life-existence. …

 

 

*… —And I want to argue here that the terms of Nietzsche’s critique of ‘romanticism’, as these are laid out in The Gay Science, corresponds to, and can be usefully read and understood through, those of his later critique, in On the Genealogy of Morality (—expanded upon, to some extent-degree, in Beyond Good and Evil), of what he calls… *—ressentiment (—OGM, 1, §10, 21-25, [esp. 23]), in a way which will help make clear what I feel to be at stake in Joyce’s writing and in neo-classical Modernist definitions of art and Manifestos (more generally). …

 

 

—As an important aspect of his broader critique of the origins, birth, and historical legacy of Christian morality, ol’ Fritz defines ressentiment (retaining the original French term) as belonging to ‘those beings who, being denied the proper response of action, compensate for it only with imaginary revenge.’ (21) …

 

*… —Ressentiment stems (-emerges), then, from an *incapacity to act in response to external stimuli, resulting in a further incapacity to fully discharge the emotional-psychological responses stimulated by them.

 

 

—Instead, such responses become… suppressed, and frustrated, and continue to be harboured, long after any opportunity to fully (meaningfully) purge them has passed. …

 

Nietzsche locates ressentiment at the root of what, in the Genealogy, he calls: ‘slave morality’. … —

 

[S]lave morality says “no” on principle to everything that is “outside”, “other”, “non-self”: and this “no” is its creative deed. This reversal of the evaluating glance – this inevitable orientation to the outside instead of back onto itself – is a feature of ressentiment: in order to come about, slave morality first has to have an opposing, external world. (Ibid.)

 

The ‘reversal’ pointed to here, is that of what Nietzsche calls ‘Master morality’, which, in opposition to modern liberal and humanist politics, he argues, derives its notion of the ‘good’ not from altruism—that is, (for Nietzsche) from those to whom good is done—but, instead, from its own superabundance of life and energy *(that is,… —from within its own capacity to do ‘good’, so to speak…), in contrast to that which it deems lowly and plebeian *(—that which/those who are unable to act…). (—Cf. 1, §2, 12-13).

 

 

—In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche defines the ‘noble’ type who creates values out of a ‘feeling of fullness, of power that seeks to overflow, the happiness of high tension, the consciousness of wealth that would give and bestow’ (BGE, IX, §260, 205), and in the ‘Attempt at Self-Criticism’ preface to Birth *(importantly, at least for my current, broader  purposes here,—written during the same year as BGE),—the ‘joy, strength, overflowing health, [and] overgreat fullness’ which underpin the birth of tragedy. *(—See BT, ‘ASC,’ §4, 21) …

 

 

—In (within) ‘slave morality’, the direction of this ‘evaluating gaze’, then (for ol’ Fritz), is *—inverted. …

 

 

—The ‘slave’ must rely on an opposing ‘external world,’ which it can judge as ‘evil,’ in order to establish itself, then,—*negatively—as ‘good’…

 

*—‘its action is basically a reaction’. (—OGM, 1, §10, 22. Cf. 21-24)

 

 

—Unable to act, ‘slave morality’ transforms impotence to retaliate (—to act) into ‘goodness’, … —‘timid baseness’ into ‘humility’, and its forced submission to those it despises into ‘obedience’… —especially obedience to God. (—§14, 29-31 [30])

 

—‘Slave morality’, and (by extension) *‘the man of ressentiment’, Nietzsche argues, yearn for revenge and seek ‘consolation for all the sufferings of the world’ in the *—‘phantasmagoria of anticipated future bliss’. (31) …

 

*—Nietzsche identifies this—‘phantasmagoria’ with the Christian conception of ‘“the last judgment”, the coming of their kingdom, the “kingdom of God”’,… and argues that ressentiment lies at the root of the need for, and creation of, all ‘other worlds’.  … (Ibid.—emphasis added here. … —and see Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy, 104-138)

 

 

*—Stephen’s rejection of ‘romanticism’ (in Stephen Hero), refined and incorporated (even as it’s rendered far more compact, far less explicit, and far more allusive, perhaps) in the ‘esthetic image’ of Portrait, can thus be understood in terms of a rejection of the ressentiment implicitly at stake in (the example here) of a Yeatsian/Yeats-esque—‘Platonic’—transcendental Symbolism. …

 

 

*The ‘classical,’ by contrast, for Nietzsche, is marked by ‘[r]igorous reflection, terseness, coldness, simplicity, deliberately pursued even to their limit, self containment of the feelings and silence in general.’ (HH I, §195, 93-94.—Cf. HH I, §171, 90)

 

 

*—Nietzsche privileges (—champions) ‘classical’ over ‘romantic’ art. …

 

—In contrast to the ‘romantic’ poet’s frustrated, life-renouncing, other-worldly intoxication, Nietzsche argues that— (…)

 

[T]he good poet of the future will depict only reality and completely ignore all those fantastic, superstitious, half-mendacious, faded subjects upon which earlier poets demonstrated their powers. Only reality, but by no means every reality! – he will depict a select reality! (HH IIa, §114, 239-240)

 

The ‘classical’, for Nietzsche, then, is founded on a metaphysical scepticism (or,—mistrust), and on a form of stoical pragmatism,… *—a refusal of the ‘spiritual’,—rejecting the ressentiment, other-worldly consolation, and anaesthetisation characteristic of the ‘romantic’. …

 

*—It focuses on the ‘reality’ surrounding the poet. …

 

*This ‘reality’ is then subject to a disciplined process of reflection, selection, and refinement.

(—Nietzsche lays emphasis, particularly, on the accuracy, and the simplicity in-of the depiction of the selected reality). …

 

 

 

 

*—completing my reading of The Birth of Tragedy, then.
(a sort of an—aside…). …

 

 

 

*—The terms of Nietzsche’s rejection of the metaphysics, the ressentiment of (at stake within) ‘romanticism’, and definition of the ‘classical’ in the ‘free-spirit trilogy’ of his ‘middle period’ are, I’d argue, already at stake in the—ostensibly—Schopenhauerian and late-Romantic The Birth of Tragedy. …

 

—To take the liberty, then, of recapitulating (at some length.—bear with me, if you would). …

 

 

—In my reading of Birth,… under the rubric of what I (somewhat hesitantly) dubbed Nietzsche’s nascent ‘naturalism’,… —I argued that in Birth the Apollinian—as a mode of the sublime—forms the artistic correlate to, or manifestation of, the (necessary, physiological-existential) drive for-to the *incorporation of lived experience. …

 

By contrast, I argued that the Dionysian forms the correlate-manifestation of the equal but opposite drive to-for the *purgation of lived experience (—a lethargic forgetting). …

 

—The Apollinian finds expression in (—gives rise-birth to) the plastic arts: … —discrete forms…

 

*—(‘heroic’) individuation.

 

 

—The Dionysian, in-by contrast, represents the—intensely undergone—experience of the laceration of individuation (…—of the *discretion of form. …): …

 

*—a form of access (so to) to the undivided continuity of flux (what Nietzsche calls—the ‘primal unity’) beneath the ‘individual’,… —directly captured in the immediate, physical and emotional expression of music and dance.

 

 

—In tragedy, these two drives,—these two modes, then,—of the sublime,… —are conjoined.

 

 

*(…)—In tragedy, the divestiture of (the quotidian) ‘self’, identity with the ‘primal unity’, and the Dionysian-musical ecstasy which embodies this experience, necessarily, spontaneously and organically (—that is, without, or, rather, independent of the volition of the poet) generate mythic or imagistic representations.

*—from within themselves. …

 

*—The individuated,…-discrete (—empirical) ‘self’ is divested in the Dionysian (—the Dionysian is the experience precipitated by its divestiture), only to return—as an image,—(re-)born in-of music, to embody that experience.  …

 

 

*—For Nietzsche, the ‘union’ (so to) of the Dionysian and the Apollinian is not a moment in which the two drives are… —‘synthesised’ to form a third, separate, single phenomenon. …

 

*Instead, it takes the form of a *process in which the two drives are conjoined, and yet remain distinct. …

 

 

*—A temporal hierarchy (priority) subsists, in which the purgative Dionysian mode of the sublime—as first moment,—necessarily engenders the Apollinian sublime mode of incorporation. …

 

*However,… —this is neither a qualitative, nor is it an ontological hierarchy, but the resulting conjunction represents the highest manifestation-incarnations (for ol’ Fritz) of both modes of the sublime…

*—‘the Dionysian in the experience of identity with primordial pain and contradiction, and the primordial pleasure in appearance in the recreation of its effect in music,—the Apollinian in its symbolisation of the Dionysian itself.’ (Birth,—§5, 49)

 

 

*—The process at stake is that of a double transposition… —from the ecstatic divestiture of self and identity with the ‘primal unity’ in the Dionysian into its ‘reflection’ and re-creation in music, and the generation from this in turn of images in the Apollinian whose purpose is the incorporation of the experience of the Dionysian.

 

*—Laceration and self-destruction (—the laceration of individuated subjectivity) in the experience of the Dionysian sublime, constitute the ‘objectivity’ of the artist.

 

—They are the condition of the possibility of-for the revelation of the ‘primal unity’ and the condition of the possibility for the creation of art. …

 

*For Nietzsche, only through undergoing laceration in the experience of the Dionysian can the artist-poet attain to the purgation and the redemption of the drives, and the (subsequent) incorporation of this experience of redemption in the mythic-symbolism of the ‘passions’ and ‘feelings’…

 

*—This is the ironic self-(re-)creation of the ‘I’ of the artist. …

 

—The process of the Dionysian-Apollinian sublime transposition can be understood, then, as a whole, as the process—the *shape—of a *fold… —

*

 

the fold (ii)

 

 

 

 

*… —from the (apparent) empirical (—the quotidian) ‘self’… —this ‘self’ divested in(-by) the intensely undergone Dionysian-musical experience of purgation…

 

released into the flux of the undivided continuity of states in-of the ‘primal unity’ (—the Ur-Eine) behind-beneath the ‘self’ (as felt-as lived). …

 

—prompted (spurred.—sic-so to), then, by the Apollinian drive to individuation,—to the incorporation of experience,…

 

*… —a drive (driven), then, to ‘return’ (so to), to the empirical self—as a register from which to draw words and images that can embody and articulate the experience of purgation. *(—the image… —the ‘I’ of the artist. … ).

 

 

In my reading of Birth, I argued that what underpinned this fold in the ironic self-(re-)creation of the artist was a nascent philosophical naturalism: that ol’ Fritz is concerned to identify a play of natural drives at the heart of artistic inspiration and creation, carefully eschewing recourse to the metaphysical by way of explanation. …

 

—In the preceding fragment—‘toward a disruptive, anti-transcendental “classicism”’ —I cited Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy’s argument in The Literary Absolute that Romanticism (—the ‘Romantic’) present an account of artistic inspiration and creation (—an ‘aesthetic activity of production and formation’) ‘in which the absolute might be experienced and realized in an unmediated, immediate fashion […] a presentation of what in Kant remained unpresentable’, linking this to the attempted (or—staged)… over-leaping (so to) of Kant, and of the (Kantian) limits of the transcendental, in Schopenhauer’s conceptions of the ‘Will’ (—as thing in-itself/=X), and—more particularly—the (Platonic) Idea. (ix) …

 

*In *‘the fold in the self-creation of the artist’, I cited Nietzsche’s later account of ‘inspiration in Ecce Homo, in the context of Birth:

Has anyone at the end of the nineteenth century a clear idea of what poets of strong ages have called inspiration? […T]he idea that one is merely incarnation, merely mouthpiece, merely a medium of overpowering forces. The concept of revelation—in the sense that suddenly, with indescribable certainty and subtlety, something becomes visible, audible, something that shakes one to the last depths and throws one down—that merely describes the facts. One hears, one does not seek; one accepts, one does not ask who gives; like lightning, a thought flashes up, with necessity, without hesitation regarding its form—I never had any choice.

(Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, §3.,—300)

 

 

—Nietzsche describes ‘inspiration’ as the effect of forces that (seemingly) enter the subject from without—as an overpowering ravishment. …

 

Conscious volition, then, (for Nietzsche), can never engender a state of inspiration. …

 

*… —Inspiration is precipitated precisely by the overwhelming, and temporary suspension, of subjective willing.

 

 

*The terms of Nietzsche’s definition of inspiration here echo those of Romanticism—the Romantics. …

 

*I cited Shelley’s account of artistic inspiration in A Defence of Poetry as my example: …

 

A man cannot say, “I will compose poetry”. The greatest poet even cannot say it: for the mind in creation is a fading coal which some invisible influence, like an inconstant wind, awakens to transitory brightness: this power arises from within, like the colour of a flower which fades and changes as it is developed, and the conscious portions of our nature are unprophetic either of its approach or its departure.

(Shelley, A Defence of Poetry, 696-697)

 

 

*—Whilst Nietzsche’s conception of inspiration shares (or,—retains —?) the notions of spontaneity and involuntariness crucial to Shelley’s account, in line with his ironic appropriation of the terms of Schopenhauer’s aesthetics in Birth, Nietzsche rejects the Platonism at stake within it, and, particularly, the claim, later in Shelley’s account, that inspiration affords the poet access to Platonic Forms or Ideas… —*‘to be a poet is to apprehend the true and the beautiful, in a word the good’. (Shelley, 677.— See Clark, The Theory of Inspiration,—143-169)

 

 

*And so, …

 

—I want to conclude my reading of artistic inspiration and creation in Birth here by arguing that Nietzsche’s (nascent) philosophical naturalism, and the fold itself, reject the claims to the transcendental (—the ‘absolute’) within the Romantic, whilst appropriating its conception of the overwhelming of subjectivity in artistic inspiration to an anti-transcendental aesthetic.

 

*—In this sense, Birth can be seen to anticipate (if obliquely) the contrast and the opposition of the ‘classical’ of-to the ‘romantic’, staged explicitly in his later writing on art (and examined above).

 

*—That is,… —Birth represents the first, perhaps faltering articulation of a disruptive anti-transcendental classicism. …

 

*—In *‘on the “artists’ metaphysics”’,—using Henry Staten’s definition of ‘the classical reference-points of what is called Romanticism’ *(that is—‘Rousseauistic primitivism, recourse to a transcendental subject, doctrines of genius and inspiration, idealization of the Greeks, [and] antipathy to the rationalisation of nature’.—Nietzsche’s Voices, 187),… I opposed my reading to:

(i). Jürgen Habermas’s argument that Birth represents a dangerous ‘metaphysically transfigured irrationality’, to which, he suggests, Romanticism offers some sort of preferable alternative (Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, 92-96 [94]);

(ii). —to Aaron Ridley’s argument that the text represents ‘an arresting example of German Romanticism at its headiest’ (Ridley, Nietzsche on Art, 9),

(iii). and to Adrian Del Caro and Judith Norman, both of whom argue that Nietzsche’s position represents a form of (straightforward) anti-Romanticism (—Del Caro, Nietzsche contra Nietzsche, Norman, ‘Nietzsche and Early Romanticism’).

 

 

—In contrast to those readings which would characterise Birth as either simply and straightforwardly Romantic, or anti-Romantic,… it seems clear to me that Nietzsche’s relationship to Romantic metaphysics, aesthetics and conception of artistic inspiration in Birth, represents the creation of an ironic *Romantic–anti-Romanticism,—one which reflects his ironic appropriation of Schopenhauerian metaphysical and aesthetic vocabulary (and, indeed, his attempt to redeem Schopenhauer’s aesthetics from his metaphysics…).

 

*… Thus (—so,). …

 

—Whilst, apparently, an ostensibly late-Romantic text (—under the obvious influence of both Schopenhauer and Wagner),… —the ‘naturalism’, anti-metaphysics, and ironic Romantic—anti-Romanticism in-of Birth serve to align the text far more closely to the explicit outlining-definition of ‘classical’ art *(—of the ‘classical’)—in a deliberately staged, and incredibly stark, contrast to the ‘romantic’—in both the early incarnations of Stephen’s aesthetic theory, and in Nietzsche’s own later writing on art. …

 

—Indeed, the text, I feel (—I’d argue), stages, in-through the shape of the fold (—in-through an awkward and (perhaps) an unready voice, to paraphrase Nietzsche’s own later assessment of Birth in the ‘Attempt at Self-Criticism’), precisely this contrast or opposition (—of a ‘classical’ aesthetic to the ‘romantic’/Romantic), though (as yet) without the resources, and(/or) the vocabulary, to clarify it. …

 

 

*Hulme. … —the finite-finitude in (-of) the ‘classical’.
*—against the false, thwarted ‘infinities’ of the ‘romantic’. …

 

 

*The terms of the opposition of the ‘classical’ to the ‘romantic’, so crucial, then, to both iterations of Stephen’s aesthetic theory,—to Joyce’s own writing on art, and to that of Nietzsche… lie at the heart of, and are clarified and developed within, the theory and criticism of the self-styled neo-classicist ‘Modern’ writers. …

 

—In particular they lie at the heart of, and are (I would argue) expanded and clarified within, what T.E. Hulme was attempting in his writings on Modern Art and on Bergson’s Philosophy. …

 

—I’ve made (fleeting) contextual mention of Hulme’s centrality and importance to ‘Imagism’, to Ezra Pound’s theory and criticism, and to the neo-classical Modenrist nexus of the ‘image’ already here, and his name, and reading of Bergson, came up in connection with my reading of Nietzsche’s ‘On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense’, its links to Birth, the parallel between its key terms and those of Bergson’s philosophy, and its ties (so to) to Nietzsche’s later formulation of the will to power *(… —on all this, see: *[links]. …).

 

To read Hulme’s art criticism can help, then, I want to argue, in understanding what is at stake in the opposition of the ‘classical’ to the ‘romantic’ in both Joyce and Nietzsche, and to draw this parallel with (what I’ve dubbed here) Nietzsche’s *Romantic—anti-Romanticism, can help better understand the philosophical and art-historical stakes of neo-classical Modernist art-theory and criticism.

 

 

*In his writings on Bergson, and on Modern art, in particular, Hulme clearly lays out the ‘classical’ and the ‘romantic’, in terms which, frankly, look as though they could have been straightforwardly cut and paste from Nietzsche…

 

 

—In his essay of 1911, ‘Romanticism and Classicism,’ T.E. Hulme draws on Nietzsche’s earlier critique of the ‘romantic’ and privileging of the ‘classical’. (—Hulme, ‘Romanticism and Classicism’ in Speculations, 111-140)

 

—Hulme effectively qualifies Nietzsche’s conception of the ‘romantic’ by identifying it with what he argues constitutes the conception of the ‘human’ propagated during the French revolution.—This, in turn, he argues, derives from the work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

*(Cf. ‘A Tory Philosophy’.—Hulme, Selected Writings, 61…)

 

—He summarises the ‘romantic’ conception of the ‘human’ as one which claims that ‘man was by nature good, that it was only bad laws and customs that had suppressed him. Remove all these and the infinite possibilities of man would have a chance.’ (‘Romanticism and Classicism’,—116)

 

Hulme argues that the ‘romantic’ conceives of culture as inherently corrupt and corrupting.

 

*… —In a ‘natural’ state, ‘man’ is innately ‘good’ and it is only the false finitude of legal and cultural constrictions which serve to corrupt ‘man’.

 

Remove these constrictions and ‘man’ would be capable of realising ‘his’ innate goodness and infinite possibilities.

(Hulme’s rejection of the ‘romantic’ then, if it doesn’t indeed borrow directly from it, at the very least shares a great deal in common with (to borrow Staten’s formulation) Nietzsche’s rejection of ‘Rousseauistic primitivism’: represents a forthright rejection of culture and a ‘return’ to a state of nature, such as is promoted in Rousseau’s Émile.

In *‘the fold in the self-creation of the artist’, I referenced Keith Ansell Pearson’s argument, (for example), that in his early writings, ‘Nietzsche criticizes Rousseau’s paean to nature, and his belief in man’s natural goodness, which have their basis in romanticism.’ Nietzsche is critical of the ‘modern’ conception of the artist in terms of Émile and its corresponding idealisation of nature…

Rousseau’s portrait of Émile’s realization of his fundamental human nature and the achievement of oneness with nature, achieved by withdrawing the child and adolescent from the degenerative effects of corrupt social institutions and allowing his natural goodness to flourish, fails to recognise the dark and terrible forces of nature which must be overcome.

[Ansell Pearson Nietzsche contra Rousseau, 25]

In a series instalments first published in The New Age, December 1915—February 1916, and reprinted, in an abridged version, by Read as: ‘Humanism and the Religious Attitude’ (— Speculations, 1-71.—See Patricia Rae, The Practical Muse: Pragmatist Poetics in Hulme, Pound, and Stevens [London: Associated University Presses, Inc., 1997], 49, Hulme expands on his conception of the illusory infinitude of Romanticism, and ties it particularly to the politics of Humanism and to the artistic portrayal of sexual relations:

*—‘Romanticism […] confuses both human and divine things, by not clearly separating them. The main thing with which it can be reproached is that it blurs the clear outlines of human relations – whether in political thought or in the literary treatment of sex, by introducing in them, the Perfection that properly belongs to the non-human.’

[—‘A Notebook’, Selected Writings, 180-222 (189)].

*—Hulme’s rejection of ‘romanticism’s’ confusion of the human and the divine, treating of the human as if it were itself the divine, for me, establishes a clear parallel with Stephen’s rejection of  the Platonic projection of a false, and—‘otherworldly’ ideal in Yeats’s formulation of transcendental Symbolism.

*[—on Hulme’s own rejection of Plato, Yeats and the ‘“mystical” account of the creative process, see ‘Notes on Language and Style’ (c. 1907), Selected Writings, 57, and Rae, Practical Muse, 33 … ]. ).

 

 

In essence, Hulme defines the contrast between the ‘romantic’ and ‘classical’ as stemming from the contrast between opposing conceptions of the ‘infinite’ (—?), and of the finite (—finitude). …

 

 

—Echoing Nietzsche (in a sense),—he identifies a fundamental resentment against life in romanticism, emerging from the perspective of the false politics of the infinite capabilities of ‘man’… —

 

The romantic, because he thinks man infinite, must always be talking about the infinite; and as there is always the bitter contrast between what you think you ought to be able to do and what man actually can, it always tends, in its later stages at any rate, to be gloomy. (‘Romanticism and Classicism’, Speculations, 119)

 

 

*—For Hulme, because the romantic attitude emerges from this perspective of the false politics of the infinite capabilities of ‘man’ (—‘what you think you ought to be able to do’), it must (—inevitably-ineluctably) run up against the limitations of ‘man’s’ undeniable and inescapable finitude. …

 

—As such, it becomes motivated by the resentment that its inevitable frustration engenders…

 

*—In terms which again echo those of Nietzsche and those of Stephen, Hulme contrasts the attitude of the classical artist-poet to the gloom of this thwarted idealism of the ‘romantic’… —

 

[E]ven in the most imaginative flights there is always a holding back, a reservation. The classical poet never forgets this finiteness, this limit of man. He remembers always that he is mixed up with the earth. He may jump, but he always returns back; he never flies away into the circumambient gas. (119-120. Cf. 126-127)

 

 

—In contrast to the imaginative ‘flights’ of romanticism,… —away from life and into the rarefied atmosphere-aether of—‘circumambient gas’. … —Hulme defines the ‘flights’ of the classical artist as *leaps, which ineluctably return the artist to their finiteness-finitude,—their ‘limit’,… and to the earth, with which they are (inextricably)… ‘mixed up’ (—read: bound to…), and which forms their proper subject matter.

 

 

*—In contrast to what he characterises as the quasi-mystical, life-abnegating flights of romanticism, then, Hulme posits the—‘dry hardness’ of classicism (and the ‘classical),— ‘strictly confined to the earthly and the definite […] always the light of ordinary day’. (126-127). …

 

*—In opposition to what he sarcastically dubs the ‘abysses’ and ‘eternal gases’ of the ‘romantic’,… ‘classical’ art is concerned with the transposition of quotidian experience.

 

 

*—To the ‘romantic’s’ false politics of ‘man’s’—‘infinitude’,… Hulme opposes what he defines as ‘classicism’s’ conception of *‘original sin’…

Man is by his very nature essentially limited and incapable of attaining any kind of perfection, because either by nature, as the result of original sin, or the result of evolution, he encloses within him certain antinomies. There is a war of instincts inside him.

(—‘A Tory Philosophy’, Selected Writings, 160).

 

—In the later ‘Humanism and the Religious Attitude’, Hulme defines this position as the ‘religious attitude’, in contrast to the politics of ‘humanism’, from which, he argues, the ‘romantic’ itself originally emerged. (Speculations, 1-71 [esp. 47].—Cf. ‘A Notebook’, Selected Writings, 180-222 [208-209]) …

 

He argues that the ‘classical’ attitude begins from a conception of the political and artistic expediency of the concept of ‘original sin’. …

 

*(That is,…) —‘Man’ is essentially a chaotic flux of warring instincts, and the only way in which to extract anything of value(-worth) from ‘man’ is through the imposition of an artificial order… —‘The best results can only be got out of man as the result of a certain discipline which introduces order into this internal anarchy’. (‘A Tory Philosophy’, Selected Writings, 160)

*(… —Elsewhere in ‘A Tory Philosophy’, Hulme alludes to the terms of Nietzsche’s conception of the ‘classical’ (which clearly exercised an influence on his own), but rejects Nietzsche as a closet ‘romantic’, and seeks to distance himself from him… —

Most people have been in the habit of associating these kinds of views with Nietzsche. It is true that they do occur in him, but he made them so frightfully vulgar that no classic would acknowledge them. In him you have the spectacle of a romantic seizing on the classic point of view because it attracted him purely as a theory, and who, being a romantic, in taking up this theory, passed his slimy fingers over every detail of it. (—Hulme, Selected Writings, 61)

Although his own definition so closely echoes Nietzsche’s rejection of the ressentiment at stake in ‘romanticism’, Hulme goes on in particular to reject the terms of On the Genealogy of Morality. (Ibid.)

—Hulme’s ostensible rejection of Nietzsche (perhaps wilfully here) elides the importance and centrality of the ‘classical’ in Nietzsche’s definition of his own philosophical and aesthetic project.

—Hulme’s refutation, I’d suggest, should be taken then, perhaps, as a desire to lay claim to intellectual independence, rather than as a legitimate or thoroughgoing critique of Nietzsche. *(—?)… ). …

 

*—For both Nietzsche and for Hulme, then, just as in Stephen’s rejection of ‘symbolism’ and ‘idealism’ on the grounds of the artificiality of the ‘Platonic’ (hmm) ‘light from some other world, the idea of which the matter is but a shadow, the reality of which it is but the symbol’,… *—the ‘romantic’ attitude is distinguished by its incapacity to reconcile itself with its own finitude and limitations. …

 

 

*Insofar as his interpretation of claritas is conditioned by its implicit satirical caricature and critique of the Platonic aesthetical metaphysics at stake (for example) in Yeats’s ‘transcendental’ Symbolism, Stephen’s definition of ‘artistic apprehension’ and the ‘esthetic image’ in Portrait are therefore firmly located in the philosophical and aesthetic rejection of the ‘romantic’ and championing of the ‘classical’,—stretching from Nietzsche’s writings of the late eighteen seventies to Hulme’s writing on aesthetics. …

 

*And, as such,… *—a strong parallel thus also exists, I’d argue, between the terms of Stephen’s exposition of claritas, the ‘esthetic image’, and of the ‘classical’, and the principles of the later Imagist movement, of which Hulme is regarded to be both one of the original founders/inspiration, and the ‘philosopher’ *(—See Patricia M. Rae, ‘T.E. Hulme’s French Sources: A Reconsideration’, Comparative Literature, 41 (1989), 69-99 *[69]),… and so it’s worth pausing to (briefly) outline the key terms and artistic principles/conditions of Pound and the Imagists on the way to clarifying Dedalus’s conception of the image. …

 

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*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

*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’. …

 

*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.

*On Intuition, Flux and Anti-metaphysics

 

 

*(follows on *’my (anti-) metaphysics’…)

*I. – Intuition, Flux and Anti-metaphysics between
‘On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense’ and The Birth of Tragedy.
—Nietzsche’s early Schopenhauerian—anti-Schopenhauerianism…

(*On ‘intuition’ and the laceration of the concepts of the intellect:
—Nietzsche’s early ironic anti-Schopenhauerianism…

*On the Undivided Continuity of States:
—the ‘primal unity’ & ‘duration’.

*Conclusion. …
*—on the will to power. …).

 

*            *            *

 

*right at the very outset of The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche frames his reading of Attic tragedy through a contentious but, I think, absolutely crucial claim. …

—making a characteristically subtle and modest statement about advancing what he dubs ‘the science of aesthetics’

*(‘science’ in that (late-)nineteenth century usage, of course, as any ‘organised system of knowledge’, —‘aesthetics’ as the creation and reception of art. …

—an organised system of knowledge regarding the creation and reception of art. … —and well, hell,—that’s what we’re all about here, after all…),

Nietzsche distinguishes between proceeding, on the one hand, via ‘logical inference’, which he dismisses in flatly pejorative terms, and what he clearly champions on the other as ‘the immediate certainty of vision’. …

Hellenic culture, he argues, represented the ‘profound mysteries’ of its ‘view of art’ in the ‘intensely clear figures’ of its gods.

 

—in particular, he (famously) singles out the figures of Apollo and Dionysus as embodying the two opposing artistic ‘tendencies’ of the plastic and ‘nonimagistic’ arts, respectively.

these, he argues, find an analogy in the physiological phenomena of ‘dreams and ‘intoxication’. …

what I think is crucial here is that Nietzsche (somewhat emphatically) contrasts this physiological and mythological foundation for the comprehension of Hellenic culture to that of (abstract) ‘concepts’.[1]

though, on first appearances, this might seem a,… what?,… —a slightly… —oracular, unsubstantiated and, frankly, at least as I understand it, *Romantic opening gambit,… it seems to me that the clear privileging made here of immediate (and ‘intensely clear’) ‘vision’ over the conceptual and logical inference, underpins the key claims about art (with tragedy as its apogee) that Nietzsche makes in Birth.

these hinge in particular, as I will argue (and go on to consider in detail), on the relationship between art and language and, ultimately, the idiosyncratic philosophical naturalism in the early stages of its formation in the text…

*. I originally read Birth for a course on ‘Tragedy’ on my Masters course, sat, on night shifts, in a small, (too) brightly lit and hot porta-cabin on a Northampton commercial estate. (oh-hh… good God.,—those heady, hal-cyon days (etc.—Christ.)… ).

I had already been introduced to Nietzsche as an undergraduate, by Dr Simon Malpas (who continues to be a personal hero of mine, and for whom I feel a great deal of gratitude…).—I had even attempted to write on him, in that sort of misguided, dismal, pretentious way that undergraduates have of doing that sort of thing (with such naïve and idealistic abandon)… (oh those. … (etc.)…).

in particular, I think, I was drawn to the terms in which Nietzsche discusses music and privileges it as primary among the arts in the text.

over the course of my Master’s degree, I think I began to understand that those terms had something to do with the sublime (particularly as Kant and Schopenhauer define it).

—I wrote a dissertation, shot through with some, honestly, thoroughly pish ideas and misreadings, on the subject. (—it scraped by on the ‘quality’ of the writing, I remember (—mark: yes.—a gen-u-ine proud boast, there)…).

I used that dissertation (—the subject.—shorn of the pish, if that manoeuvre is indeed possible (how does/would one,—sheer pish?)—hmm. …), as part of the groundwork for my doctoral thesis…

over the course of the three hundred years it actually took me to write that bastard thesis,… —of re-drafting and refining my reading—(time well spent.—indeed…), it became clear to me that my reading of Birth—of the relationship between the Dionysian and the Apollinian—was really, in essence, about artistic inspiration and the self-(re-)creation of the artist.

and so, (to get, circuitously, to the point),—that’s how I want to read the opening sections (§§) of Birth:

*—as an account, by an emerging artist, thinker and writer of the process of inspiration and of composition-creation. …

 

I think that Nietzsche, here, at the beginning of his career, is mired in the influence and legacy of Romanticism and of Schopenhauer (certainly not in itself a controversial critical claim).—I think that he is enthralled by the terms of Romantic accounts of inspiration, but struggling to get (intellectually, artistically) free of Romantic concepts (particularly those of ‘Nature’, ‘freedom’ and the ‘Absolute’…).

I think that he ironically appropriates the terms of Romantic inspiration to a philosophically and artistically thoroughgoing anti-Romanticism.

I want to perform (so to speak) what might seem like a quite convoluted and certainly pretentious series of moves in setting up my reading of Birth

*—I want to begin by attempting to unpack and clarify the opening gambit of the text…

—the terms ‘logical inference’ (‘concepts’) and the ‘intensely clear’, ‘immediate’ ‘vision’, that in themselves here, as I say (to me at least) are ambiguous and give off a distinctly incense-scented, dewy-eyed, syphilitic waft of Romantic—fragrance, I want to argue, are echoed and clarified in the later essay ‘On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense’ (1873).[2]

here, in terms (sharper, cleaner and somehow more caustic-seeming) much more characteristic of his later writing, Nietzsche sets out a critique of language and of the intellect (and its concepts), to which he clearly contrasts a mode of experience he calls—*‘intuition’. (—Anschauung)…

by offering what I hope will be a simple and straightforward reading of ‘On Truth’, in particular drawing out the parallel between Nietzsche’s contrasting of ‘intuition’ (as a projected new philosophical method) to the concepts of the intellect, and the analogous terms of the opening of Birth (—using the latter to illuminate the former),  I want to analyse the terms of Nietzsche’s early rejection of Kantian and Schopenhauerian philosophies, linking ‘On Truth’ to the earlier critique in ‘On Schopenhauer’ (—a fragment from 1868).

thus,… whilst it might appear to be ostensibly Schopenhauerian, the fact that these two texts in particular book-end the composition and the publication of Birth, I will argue, thus effectively implicates the text in Nietzsche’s pre-existing and on-going critique of Schopenhauer’s metaphysics and aesthetics.

this will allow me to argue that Nietzsche’s concept of the ‘primal unity’ (Ur-Eine) in Birth is implicitly anti-Schopenhauerian…

*drawing on a parallel between Birth, ‘On Truth’ and the analogous contrast between ‘intuition’ and the intellect (‘analysis’) and conception of time and ‘duration’ in the works of French philosopher Henri Bergson, I will argue that the ‘primal unity’ points, not, as it might appear, to the metaphysical unity of the Schopenhauerian ‘will’ (—Will…), but to a dynamic, hierarchical arrangement of immanent (natural) forces.

this, in turn, will allow me to argue that the ‘primal unity’ is located in far greater proximity to Nietzsche’s own later formulation of the doctrine of ‘the will to power’, read specifically through On the Genealogy of Morality, the material gathered in Nietzsche’s Late Notebooks, and Gilles Deleuze’s Nietzsche and Philosophy, than to the terms of Schopenhauerian metaphysics.

*it will also serve as a form of philosophical-historical bridge between Nietzsche and the neo-classical Modernists, (and especially T.E. Hulme, upon whom Bergson was an important and a considerable influence).

and so,…

*On ‘intuition’ and the laceration of the concepts of the intellect:
—Nietzsche’s early ironic anti-Schopenhauerianism…

 

 *in ‘On Truth’, Nietzsche criticises what he sees as the arrogance of the human claim to knowledge, through the intellect, of the value of existence.

—he contests what he argues is the conceit of the intellect and the attempt to extend its remit beyond the realm of human experience.

for Nietzsche, the concepts of the intellect are anthropomorphisms.

—in an ironic inversion of perhaps the most obvious and straightforward valuation of the intellect—as some form of vehicle for ascertaining the truth or the value of existence—Nietzsche characterises it as the very paragon of ‘dissimulation’,—‘allotted to these most unfortunate, delicate, and ephemeral beings merely as a device for detaining them a minute within existence.’ (114-115)

The intellect lies as a sort of a veil over existence as a means for the creation and the preservation of the individual (—the subject).

—Without the intellect, Nietzsche argues, existence itself would be unbearable.

Whilst the intellect appears ostensibly as the means to knowledge and to truth, Nietzsche argues that its primary function is to conceal the plethora of phenomena which threaten to overwhelm the individual. It is not, as it might appear, a means to self-knowledge but, instead, to self-deception:

What does man actually know about himself? Is he, indeed, ever able to perceive himself completely, as if laid out in a lighted display case? Does nature not conceal most things from him – even concerning his own body – in order to confine and lock him within a proud, deceptive consciousness, aloof from the coils of the bowels, the rapid flow of the blood stream, and the intricate quivering of the fibers! (115)

For Nietzsche,… —natural existence constitutes a chaotic flux comprised of natural drives and processes.—The intellect is an epiphenomenal, (prosthetic?) artistic creation, appended to this flux in order to repress this flux and thus to render the individual subject (—subjectivity) possible, in order, in turn, to preserve the organism against the suffering that a conscious awareness of, and inability to escape from, the confusion and contradiction this flux would inevitably give rise to.

—By intimation, for Nietzsche, a thoroughgoing knowledge of the effect of physiological drives on consciousness, which the intellect is engendered precisely in order to prohibit, is necessary for any accurate self-perception and self-comprehension to be possible.[3]

This notion (—of the fiction of individuality), shared by ‘On Truth’, and, though in a different manner, as I will seek to demonstrate, by the Apollinian of Birth, anticipates the more thoroughgoing critique of subjectivity in Nietzsche’s later works, which is intimately tied both to his developing naturalism and to his aesthetic conception of what he will later name the ‘classical’. …

*—In a note from a notebook of April—June, 1885, Nietzsche provides an apposite summary of his critique of the concept of the unified subject:

 If I have anything of a unity within me, it certainly doesn’t lie in the conscious “I” and in feeling, willing, thinking, but somewhere else: in the sustaining, appropriating, expelling, watchful prudence of my whole organism, of which my conscious self is only a tool.[4]

The ‘watchful prudence’ of the ‘organism’ equates with the necessity for the formation of the individual in the formation of the intellect in ‘On Truth’ (and, as I will argue, with the inauguration of the Apollinian in Birth).

—the ‘I’ of the (conscious) ‘self’ here appears as a ‘tool’ for the processes of the sustenance of the ‘organism’: of the incorporation of necessary experiences and energies and the purgation of superfluous experience and energies. Nietzsche argues that language represents the means employed by the intellect toward this end. His critique of the intellect represents a theory of the formation of language. It is concerned with the origins and evolution of words and concepts.

 

In The Beginnings of Nietzsche’s Theory of Language, Claudia Crawford argues that Nietzsche’s account of the formation of words and concepts represents their division into two separate languages.

The first constitutes an ‘unconscious formal language arising as the product of the instincts,’ whilst the latter constitutes ‘the translation of this unconscious language into the conscious language of fixity according to convention’.[5] The formation of this first, unconscious and instinctual language is a two-stage metaphorical process. First, ‘a nerve stimulus is transferred into an image [Bild].’—In an unconscious and instinctual reaction to a sensible stimulus the mind forms an image—a mental picture—of that stimulus. This is the ‘first metaphor’…

In the second, ‘the image, in turn, is imitated in a sound.’ (116)—The process evolves from the translation and transposition of a sensible stimulus into a mental image, to the further translation of this image (and not of the original stimulus itself) into a sound.

This is Nietzsche’s naturalistic account of the emergence of language.

—The word is formed as ‘a purely natural reaction to a stimulus, whether a cry, a scream, or any other sound, it is primarily an action which reduces the tension created by the perception of the stimulus.’ (Crawford, 203) The formation of words is an attempt to articulate and discharge the natural reaction to a sensible stimulus.

For Nietzsche, a word becomes a concept at the point at which it transcends its function as referring solely to the unique, original experience ‘to which it owes its origin’:

‘a word becomes a concept insofar as it simultaneously has to fit countless more or less similar cases,’—‘cases which are never equal and thus altogether unequal.’—The word emerges as a response to a particular stimulus (as a vocalisation of the image). It becomes a concept at the point at which a vast field of such experiences are reduced to a small number of similarities and yoked under the aegis of a single word. (117)

For Nietzsche, the concept represents the elision of the differences between diverse experiences (stimuli) and the attempt to equate unequal phenomena.[6]

Utility gives birth to both the word and the concept in response to deeply felt needs.

—The individual word emerges from the need to discharge and articulate a particular sensible experience and stands at two removes from this original stimulus. The concept emerges from a need for this original articulation to be transmitted to and to be understood by others and thus stands at three removes from the original stimulus.

Nietzsche defines this process as the invention of designation: the ‘legislation of language’. It is in this establishment of communal (linguistic) convention, Nietzsche argues, that ‘the contrast between truth and lies arises for the first time.’ In other words, the concept arises from need to reduce the plurality of experience to a finite set of linguistic conventions in order to be able to establish socio-political consensus. (115)

Nietzsche argues that by virtue of their artificiality and elision of difference, all— ‘truths’, or concepts of the intellect, are, in reality, lies. …

—After the advent of the legislation of language, the concept of the ‘liar’ comes to designate the person who misuses the terms sanctioned by consensus for selfish or harmful ends by making ‘something which is unreal appear to be real’. What linguistically enabled human beings avoid, Nietzsche argues, is not deception itself—for this is of the quintessence of language—but being harmed by deception…

‘Truth,’ for Nietzsche, represents ‘the duty which society imposes in order to exist: to be truthful means to employ the usual metaphors’. (117) Language is first engendered in order to suppress the chaotic flux and multiplicity of natural drives in order to render the individual possible as a fictitious unity. The intellect, its concepts, and the notions of truth and lies are engendered as a necessary consequence of this individuation, in order to render communal linguistic consensus and thus society itself, possible.

Like the individual, ‘truth,’ for Nietzsche, is an artifice.—‘Truth’ is art (—an artwork)…

What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions; they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins. (117)

For Nietzsche, ‘truth’ appears as a projection of epiphenomenal, and purely human, utilitarian physiological, psychological and social fabrications. What is crucial for Nietzsche is that this act of artistic projection, and the subsequent artificial legislation of language to which it gives rise, are not recognised by their human progenitors as works of art. The original linguistic act of creation is inevitably followed by an act of forgetting: ‘Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions’. The forgetting of the artistic origin and nature of language allows for the hypostatisation (the poetic or rhetorical intensification) of concepts and the false belief that they correspond absolutely to things as they are in themselves. Through an ironic inversion, Nietzsche argues that truths are revealed as lies.

The condition of the possibility of ‘truth’, then, is seen to rest on a foundation of falsehood, upon which it is utterly dependent.

For Nietzsche, ‘truth’ emerges from lying, which both temporally and (ironically) ontologically precedes it. It is only through the forgetting of the artistic nature of language, he argues, that the ‘will’ or ‘drive’ to truth (the formation of an intellectual conscience), which he identifies as characteristic of the intellect, is at all possible. It is this which gives birth to the unavoidable structural irony within the will to truth: when the will to truth unfolds itself fully through history (is carried to the extreme limits of what it is able to do) it must inevitably reveal, through its own stringent conscience and integrity, that its own foundation lies in falsehood.

*(and, in essence, it is this account which evolves,—remaining always at stake in Nietzsche’s writings—into his later account of the (fate of the) ‘will to truth’ (—especially in Christianity) in On the Genealogy of Morality. …).

Thus, for Nietzsche, ‘truth’ and the will to truth must, ultimately, inevitably undermine and overcome themselves. It is the unconscious nature of lying which allows for the concepts of the intellect to become ‘fixed, canonical and binding’ and to appear to extend beyond their true anthropological (anthropomorphic?) scope, to a correspondence to things as they are in themselves.

 

*—The object of Nietzsche’s analysis is to demonstrate the artistic genesis of language and the fundamentally artistic nature of the concepts of the intellect. For Nietzsche, language is, in essence, purely metaphorical. It neither corresponds to, nor affords access to things as they are in themselves: ‘we possess nothing but metaphors for things – metaphors which correspond in no way to the original entities.’[7] Nietzsche argues that ‘nature is acquainted with no forms and no concepts and likewise with no species, but only with an X which remains inaccessible and undefinable for us.’ (117) For Nietzsche, knowledge of the thing as it is in itself (the thing = X) is impossible. This claim alludes to, and constitutes a criticism of, Schopenhauer’s appropriation of Kant’s distinction between the phenomenal and the noumenal, and serves as an implicit refutation of Schopenhauer’s concept of the ‘Will’ (as a metaphysical unity). …

 

*—Schopenhauer followed Kant in distinguishing between the phenomenon and the thing-in-itself: ‘Kant’s greatest merit is the distinction of the phenomenon and the thing-in-itself, based on the proof that between things and us always stands the intellect, and that on this account they cannot be known according to what they may be in themselves.’[8] For Kant all that can be known of an object is that which appears within the limits of the human intuition of space and time.[9] Space and time constitute the appearance’s form: allowing the manifold of appearance to be ordered according to certain relations. They constitute the condition of the possibility of the realm of appearance and sensible knowledge, but have no meaning if applied beyond it. For Kant, the thing-in-itself is conditioned by neither space nor time. Our understanding cannot transcend the limits of sensibility and therefore we can attain no knowledge of things as they are in themselves.[10] That which is not an appearance cannot be an object of experience.

In his division of the world into ‘will’ and ‘representation’, Schopenhauer retains Kant’s distinction of the thing-in-itself and the appearance. However, he refutes the method by which, he argues, Kant arrives at his deduction of the thing-in-itself. Kant refutes what he argues is ‘the absurd conclusion that there can be appearance without anything that appears’.[11] In the criticism of Kant which he appended to The World as Will and Representation, Schopenhauer accuses Kant of contradicting his own idealist distinction, by claiming that the thing-in-itself has an objective foundation, independent of subjective representation. He argues that Kant reached his account of the thing-in-itself via an erroneous application of the law of causality: that empirical perception and, more fundamentally, sensation, from which the former arises, must have an external cause. In contrast, Schopenhauer emphasises what he argues is the subjective foundation of both causality and empirical perception. (Schopenhauer, 435-436) In opposition to what he claims is Kant’s attempt to locate the objective foundation of the thing-in-itself, Schopenhauer seeks to derive his own conception from the introduction of the element of self-consciousness:

[Self-consciousness is a] knowledge which everyone possesses directly in the concrete, namely as feeling. This is the knowledge that the inner nature of his own phenomenon, which manifests itself to him as representation both through his actions and through the permanent substratum of these his body, is his will. This will constitutes what is most immediate in his consciousness, but as such it has not wholly entered into the form of the representation, in which object and subject stand over and against each other. (109)

Schopenhauer argues that the thing-in-itself lies on the side of the subjective. The body is that of which the subject is most immediately aware. It represents, for Schopenhauer, the manifestation of the subject’s ‘inner nature’ (—? hmm…), but is also an object for the subject. As both subject and object it constitutes the most immediate form of representation. Through the body, Schopenhauer argues, the subject becomes aware of their ‘inner nature’: the force which precipitates their actions.[12] As this precedes, and is the source of consciousness of the body and its actions, and therefore of the relationship of the subject and the object, for Schopenhauer it must thus exist prior to and outside of representation.  He argues that the consciousness of this ‘inner nature’ of the subject’s ‘will’, known both directly and indirectly, can be extended to phenomena known only indirectly, as representations. As such, it becomes for him the ‘key to the knowledge of the innermost being of the whole of nature.’ (109) This, he argues, allows him to extend his understanding of the ‘will’ as the motive ‘force’ underlying subjectivity, to all vegetable and animate life, as well as mineral development and phenomena such as electro-magnetism and gravitation, all of which he thus portrays as phenomenal expressions of  a unified and universal inchoate striving ‘force’.

In contrast to Kant’s attempt to locate its foundation in objectivity, Schopenhauer extends his analysis of the subjective ‘will’ to the thing-in-itself. He argues that the willing of which the subject is conscious is the most immediate and adequate phenomenal expression of the noumenal. As such, he adopts the name of the subjective phenomena of the will in order to name the thing-in-itself. The ‘will’ is, for Schopenhauer, the ‘magic word’ which reveals ‘the innermost essence of everything in nature’. (111)

 

In a fragment of 1868 (thus pre-dating the publication of Birth by four years), and usually now referred to as ‘On Schopenhauer’, Nietzsche offers a critique of what he identifies as the problematic nature of Schopenhauer’s conception of the thing-in-itself.[13]

 

—Nietzsche follows Schopenhauer in refuting Kant’s method of arrival at his conception of the thing-in-itself, but, in his own terms, in a more thoroughgoing way, offers a critique of the deduction of thing-in-itself of both Kant and Schopenhauer.

Nietzsche criticises Schopenhauer for not taking the ‘necessary’ step of going ‘beyond Kant’ and his thing-in-itself. He characterises Schopenhauer’s derivation of the thing-in-itself as will as having been ‘born with the help of a poetic intuition’ and argues that the logical proofs which Schopenhauer offers are, at best, unsatisfactory. (25) For Nietzsche, the Schopenhauerian ‘will’ is a work of art. …

 

At the outset of the fragment, he identifies the fictional, or projected artistic nature of the ‘will’ with what he sees as Schopenhauer’s reluctance or incapacity to ‘feel’ ‘the dark contradictoriness in the region where individuality ceases to be.’ (24)

This point is crucial for Nietzsche’s later argument concerning ‘intuition’ in ‘On Truth’ and also for clarifying the nature of the concept of the ‘primal unity’ (Ur-Eine) in Birth, and I want to return to it in due course…

—What I want to draw specific attention to here is that, for Nietzsche, to use the concept or phenomenon of the ‘will,’ as Schopenhauer does, to characterise the ‘region’ prior to, and beyond, individuation, is to project a false identity onto what is essentially a chaotic and contradictory flux.

 

Nietzsche takes issue in particular with Schopenhauer’s claim that, in order to think the thing-in-itself (and he retains Kant’s expression as what he describes as a ‘standing formula’) objectively, it is necessary to ‘borrow’ (the term is Schopenhauer’s, the emphasis is added by Nietzsche) ‘its name and concept from an object, from something in some way objectively given, and therefore from one of its phenomena.’[14]

Nietzsche argues that Schopenhauer illegitimately drapes what must necessarily remain ‘a completely dark and ungraspable x’ with predicates, drawn from the world of phenomena, which is, ultimately, irresolvably distinct from it.[15] He argues that through his ‘borrowing’ of phenomenal predicates, Schopenhauer effectively (and illegitimately) transforms the thing-in-itself into the ‘will’, which already belongs to the phenomenal realm. Schopenhauer ‘allows himself the human and completely non-transcendental use of the unity of the will, and really only then goes back to that transcendence where the holes in the system present themselves as obvious to him.’ (Nietzsche, ‘On Schopenhauer,’ 27) Both the will and its (metaphysical) ‘unity’ are, for Nietzsche, artistic projections.—The ‘dark drive’ of the Schopenhauerian ‘will’ already belongs to the realm of representation. In contrast to its supposed status as thing-in-itself, Nietzsche argues that the (Schopenhauerian) will is ‘brought about’ through a ‘representation mechanism’. (24)

Claudia Crawford presents the structure of the relationship of the ‘dark contradictoriness’ (in terms of Nietzsche’s later coinage of the Ur-Eine: ‘primal unity’), the ‘will,’ appearance, and representation, diagrammatically:[16]

Crawford (edit)

The ‘primal unity’ (Ur-Eine) is split between ‘Being,’ its intuition of itself (self-Anschauung) as being at rest in its own self-identity, and ‘Will,’ through which it views itself as the perpetual becoming and dissolution of the world of appearances through the ‘representation mechanism’. The realm of appearances constitutes the endless striving of the ‘primal unity’ to form ‘symbols’ by which to represent itself (as will). The human intellect here forms representations much in accordance with the limits of the human intuition of space and time, which constitute the appearance’s form: allowing the manifold of appearance to be ordered according to certain relations, as I discussed above in relation to Kant’s distinction of the thing-in-itself and the appearance. Crawford argues that Nietzsche ‘creates the split nature of the Ur-Eine as being (thing in itself) and will (will acts which create the phenomenal real world of appearances) in order to demonstrate the position that what is real is not the thing in itself, which is no concern of ours, but that reality consists of appearances.’ (218. Cf. 158-178) For Nietzsche, Schopenhauer’s ‘will’ belongs to the realm of appearances, and can tell us nothing of the thing-in-itself, which, to reiterate Nietzsche’s later argument in ‘On Truth,’ constitutes ‘an X which remains inaccessible and undefinable for us.’ (27)

 

Already, in the ‘On Schopenhauer’ fragment, then, Nietzsche can be seen to be positioning himself against metaphysics, the transcendental and what he dubs the ‘otherworldly world’,… —a rejection which he thus reiterates in his critique of the thing-in-itself in ‘On Truth’. These two, patently anti-Schopenhauerian, texts (the one composed four years prior to the publication of Birth, the other, originally intended to form the latter portion of a companion piece, a year later) effectively book end Birth.

 

Paul Swift has argued convincingly that, as such, any attempt to regard Birth itself as unproblematically Schopenhauerian (particularly any account which would seek to argue for an understanding of the ‘primal unity’ as thing-in-itself or for an unproblematic access to the thing-in-itself in the Dionysian) renders the text an unaccountable anomaly in Nietzsche’s bibliography.[17]

Birth is inextricably located within Nietzsche’s existing and continuing critique of Schopenhauerian metaphysics and it is this fundamental and ineluctable anti-Schopenhauerian, anti-metaphysical understanding of Birth which will underpin my own reading of the account of artistic inspiration and creation at stake within the text.[18]

 

In the ‘Attempt at a Self-Criticism’ (appended to Birth 1886), Nietzsche argues that in Birth he attempted ‘to express by means of Schopenhauerian and Kantian formulas strange and new valuations which were basically at odds with Kant’s and Schopenhauer’s spirit and taste!’[19] These ‘strange and new valuations’, I would argue, point to Nietzsche’s naturalism and implicit anti-metaphysical stance in Birth, and establishment of an ironic Schopenhauerian—anti-Schopenhauerianism.

This conception of the ironic appropriation of Schopenhauerian terms and concepts to an ostensibly anti-Schopenhauerian philosophical and aesthetic project refutes the critical position, of which Julian Young can be seen to act as a representative, that Birth ‘incorporates without qualification Schopenhauer’s metaphysics’.[20]

—Young argues that Nietzsche’s career can be divided into ‘four main periods’, ‘distinguished from each other by sharply contrasting attitudes to and about art’, hinging his argument particularly on Nietzsche’s relationship to Schopenhauer’s pessimism. (1)

Describing the ‘circular’ path which he argues the development of Nietzsche’s thought maps out, Young argues that the work of Nietzsche’s early period was uncomplicatedly and uncritically Schopenhauerian and correspondingly pessimistic. Young argues that in his ‘middle period’ (the ‘free spirit trilogy’: Human, All Too Human, Daybreak, and The Gay Science): ‘Nietzsche turned against pessimism and against Schopenhauer. But in the end, reluctantly and making every rhetorical effort to disguise this from us and, more importantly from himself, he came back […] to pessimism.’ (3)

—Reading Birth as implicitly anti-Schopenhauerian undermines the precision of Young’s neatly compartmentalised chronology of Nietzsche’s works. If, from the very start of his published career, Nietzsche was already (ironically) at odds with Schopenhauer’s metaphysical pessimism, and, indeed, was pursuing an implicitly anti-Schopenhauerian project, then this undermines any conception of a straightforward rejection of Schopenhauer in Nietzsche’s subsequent works (whether or not we continue to seek to divide them into distinct periods), for Birth is already engaged in the criticism of Schopenhauer’s metaphysics observable both in earlier (posthumously published) fragments and in his later writings.

In contrast to Young, then, (though the nature of pessimism will play a key role in my reading of Birth) I want to contextualise Nietzsche’s relationship to Schopenhauer, not in terms of pessimism, but in terms of the contrast of his nascent naturalism to metaphysics.

Therefore, though the text may appear ostensibly Schopenhauerian and late-Romantic, acknowledging and foregrounding its anti-metaphysical philosophical naturalism will allow me to argue that, even while Nietzsche can be seen to appropriate the terms of Romantic accounts of artistic inspiration, the aesthetic of Birth is implicitly fundamentally opposed to Romantic and post-Schopenhauerian late-Romantic metaphysics, and that its terms are therefore much closer to Nietzsche’s own later account of the ‘classical’ (from Human, All Too Human onwards). This, in turn, will allow me to argue that the aesthetic of Birth is located in far greater proximity to the claims of neo-classical Modernism (in particular that of Joyce and of T.E. Hulme) than extant criticism of the text has (as far as I am aware) thus far acknowledged.

 

Against the conventional conception of Nietzsche’s early uncritical adoption of Schopenhauer (as typified by Young), and against the terms of, for example, Aaron Ridley’s argument in Nietzsche on Art that Birth does not wholly refute Schopenhauer but must be read as following either a psychological, or a ‘weak metaphysical’ thesis, the quotations and concepts drawn from Schopenhauer in Birth can, instead, be seen to represent an ironic appropriation of Schopenhauer to an anti-Schopenhauerian naturalism.[21]

As Henry Staten argues, the use of the Schopenhauerian concept of the ‘will,’ enters Birth and becomes problematic only in the later sections of the text (§§16ff.), in which Nietzsche attempts to argue for a modern rebirth of tragedy based on the operatic works of Richard Wagner.[22] The ‘primal unity’ (Ur-Eine) of Birth is anti-Schopenhauerian. As Crawford argues, it belongs to the realm of representation: is itself ‘only one appearance among appearances,’ and does not constitute the thing-in-itself. (Crawford, 218) It represents ‘a sign, a linguistic fiction, rather than a metaphysical reality’ and it is this notion of the thing-in-itself as an artistic projection which is at stake in the critique of the intellect and the problem of the thing-in-itself and the supposed metaphysical correspondence of concepts in ‘On Truth’. (Rampley, 79)

*Nietzsche opposes his thesis of the three stages of: …

(i)—the artistic projection,

(ii)—the repression of the memory of act of projection, and

(iii)—the subsequent hypostatisation of the concepts of the intellect,

to what he argues is the false consciousness that they correspond absolutely to a metaphysical reality:

Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions; they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins. (Nietzsche, ‘On Truth’, 117)

Through the gradual process of their hypostatisation, the concepts of the intellect become stale and dead metaphors, which, Nietzsche argues, no longer retain any connection to, or use value for, experience. They are no longer able to capture ‘vivid first impressions’. (118)—They become little more than the mode of expression of a (Platonic) philosophical and of a moral prejudice.

For Nietzsche, existing concepts, as ‘abstractions’ and petrified prejudices, serve to distort human life. In order to overcome the stultification of the exhausted metaphors of the concepts, and in order to revivify the fundamentally artistic drive of the intellect and grasp ‘vivid first impressions,’ Nietzsche opposes ‘intuition’ (Anschauung) to the conceptual:

[The intellect] will now be guided by intuitions rather than by concepts. There is no regular path which leads from these intuitions into the land of ghostly schemata, the land of abstractions. There exists no word for these intuitions: when man sees them he grows dumb, or else he speaks only in forbidden metaphors and in unheard-of combinations of concepts. He does this so that by shattering and mocking the old conceptual barriers he may at least correspond creatively to the impression of the powerful and present intuition. (118)

For Nietzsche, the intensely undergone aesthetic experience—the ‘impression’—of the ‘powerful’ and ‘present’ ‘intuition’, lies outwith the field of possible experience outlined, sanctioned and policed by the concepts of extant linguistic convention. The intellect, he argues, is driven by the need to articulate—to ‘correspond creatively’ to—this experience. In order for this to be possible, it is necessary to lacerate the petrified or stultified surface of the ‘ghostly’ Platonic abstractions of the concepts (the ‘otherworldy world’ of ‘On Schopenhauer’ and of the thing-in-itself), bereft of life and lacking in both substance and any direct, visceral connection to the reality of lived experience.

*—… In the articulation of the intuition, the intellect becomes enmeshed in a process of the bathetic (—‘mocking’) reanimation of the concepts, smashing the ‘framework’ of the concepts ‘to pieces’, throwing it into a state of confusion, and ‘pairing the most alien things and separating the closest.’ (122) In stark contrast to the ‘distortion’ of life, which he argues is implicitly at stake in the forgetting of the act of creation, and false Platonic reification, of the concepts of conventional linguistic experience, ‘intuition’, as a projected philosophical method of the future, is defined, for Nietzsche, by its capacity for self-conscious ‘dissimulation’, enacted with a good (—a clear) conscience.

 

*—Intuition sets the intellect free, and the liberated intellect in turn ‘copies human life’ in its new bathetic, monstrous, hybridised metaphors…

 

In contrast to the hardened veneer of the extant concepts, inaugurated and preserved as a crutch for the ‘needy man’ (the ‘servant’ who requires the legislation of an uncritically accepted linguistic order in order to be able to function and to—persevere)—‘the means by which weaker, less robust individuals preserve themselves’—the intellect, freed through intuition, is enabled to become the ‘master’ of life and of ‘deception’. (122) Freed from its former ‘slavery’, the intellect ‘copies human life, but it considers this life to be something good’ and no longer needing to be redeemed or justified through falsely hypostatised, artistically projected (Platonic) concepts.

 

 

I want to move on in the next section to examine the parallel between Nietzsche’s opposition of ‘intuition’ to the concepts of the intellect in ‘On Truth’ and Henri Bergson’s conception of ‘intuition’ as providing access to the flux of the undivided continuity of states which he claims precedes and subsists beneath the individuated concepts of the intellect and which he calls ‘duration’.

 

I want to be clear that this will not have been an attempt to seek to identify Nietzsche with Bergson’s conception of metaphysics.

As I have already argued here, from his earliest writings onwards Nietzsche is fundamentally opposed to metaphysics.

—Whatever the differences between their respective relationships to, or conceptions of, metaphysics, however, the opposition between intuition and the intellect of ‘On Truth’ is already at stake in Birth, and as such, the parallel between ‘On Truth’ and Bergson’s conception of duration will allow me to draw out what is at stake in Nietzsche’s concept of the ‘primal unity’ (Ur-Eine) in Birth, understood as fundamentally anti-Schopenhauerian and anti-metaphysical.

Instead, I want to use the Bergsonian parallel I will draw here to argue that the ‘primal unity’ of Birth is located in far greater proximity to Nietzsche’s later doctrine of the will to power, as he defines this in On the Genealogy of Morality and the Later Notebooks, than to Schopenhauerian metaphysics and the metaphysical unity of Schopenhauer’s ‘will’.


[1] Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy and The Case of Wagner, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Random House, 1967) (hereafter, BT), §1, 33

[2] Nietzsche, ‘On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense’ (hereafter ‘OTL’), trans. Daniel Breazeale, in The Blackwell’s Nietzsche Reader ed. Keith Ansell Pearson and Duncan Large (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2006), 114-123.

*—Nietzsche originally intended to form part of the second, ‘theoretical’ half of his projected Philosophenbuch, itself intended as a ‘“companion piece” to The Birth of Tragedy’. (Breazeale, Philosophy and Truth: Selections from Nietzsche’s Notebooks of the early 1870s, trans. and ed. Daniel Breazeale [New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1979], xxv-xxvi. Cf. xliv-xlv). See also Writings from the Early Notebooks, ed. Raymond Guess and Alexander Nehamas (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), xiii-xiv and Wayne Klein, Nietzsche and the Promise of Philosophy (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997), 56-58. As such Birth and ‘OTL’ can already be seen to stand in an intimate relationship to one another.

[3] Nietzsche reiterates and expands upon this point in On the Genealogy of Morality, (trans. Carol Diethe, ed. Keith Ansell-Pearson [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003]. Hereafter OGM):

We are unknown to ourselves, we knowers, we ourselves, to ourselves, and there is good reason for this […] like somebody divinely absent-minded and sunk in his own thoughts, who, the twelve strokes of midday having just boomed into his ears, wakes with a start and wonders ‘What hour struck?’, sometimes we too, afterwards rub our ears and ask, astonished, taken aback, ‘What did we actually experience then?’ or even, ‘Who are we, in fact?’ […] We remain strange to ourselves out of necessity, we do not understand ourselves, we must confusedly mistake who we are, the motto ‘everyone is furthest from himself’ applies to us forever,—we are not ‘knowers’ when it comes to ourselves… (‘Preface,’ §I, 3-4: emphases Nietzsche’s own)

Nietzsche argues that by virtue of the nature of our conception of ‘knowing’; that is, the nature of the intellect and its repression of the flux of natural drives, we must remain unknown to ourselves and alienated from ourselves.

In this passage Nietzsche implicitly reiterates the notion of the necessity of this alienation. True self-knowledge and self-identity must remain impossible if the individual (the subject), and thus morality, are to be maintained. It is possible, at least to a certain degree, to read Nietzsche’s claim that no genealogist prior to himself has yet enquired as to the true origins and evolution of morality, as a claim that each has had an ineluctable stake in the maintenance of the illusion of subjectivity.

[4] Nietzsche, Writings  from the Late Notebooks, trans. Kate Sturge, ed. Rudiger Bittner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 2003), 34[46], 2-3 [2]. As I will argue, this conception of the fiction of the ‘I’ is crucial to understanding Nietzsche’s analysis of the process of artistic inspiration and creation in what I will call the fold of the self-creation of the artist in Birth. The philosophical naturalism of the notion of the selection, incorporation and purgation of reality underpins Nietzsche’s later definition of the ‘classical’ poetry of the future:

[T]he good poet of the future will depict only reality and completely ignore all those fantastic, superstitious, half-mendacious, faded subjects upon which earlier poets demonstrated their powers. Only reality, but by no means every reality! – he will depict a select reality! (‘Assorted Opinions and Maxims’ (hereafter HH IIa) in Human All Too Human, trans. R.J. Hollingdale [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996], §114, 239-240)

—I’ll return to Nietzsche’s definition of the ‘classical’ both in defining the nature of the conjunction of the Dionysian and Apollinian artistic drives in Birth and in analysing the terms of self-styled neo-classical Modernist criticism. For now, what I want to note is that I believe that the ‘fantastic, superstitious, half-mendacious, faded subjects’, which Nietzsche derides here, equate to the late-Romantic, and particularly Schopenhauerian and Wagnerian metaphysical aesthetics from which Nietzsche sought to emancipate himself.

—The ‘selection’ of reality, it seems to me at least, equates to the naturalism and ‘classicism’ that Nietzsche is beginning to establish in Birth, and which I will argue are intimately intertwined.

What is significant here is the demonstration that these later categories are already at stake within Birth and ‘On Truth and Lies’. Unfortunately, there will not be sufficient room to address the development of this theme in Nietzsche’s writing in the depth that it deserves. On the ‘self’—the ‘I’—as a fiction, especially in relation to the doctrine of the will to power, the reader is directed to the following material in the Late Notebooks: 34[54]-34[55], 4; 34[131], 9-10; 35[35], 20-21; 37[4], 29-30; 38[8], 36-37; 40[42], 46; 1[58], 59-60; 1[87], 61; 2[91], 77; 2[152], 91; 2[158], 92; 2[193], 96-97; 5[3], 106; 7[1], 127-129; 7[63], 140; 9[91], 154-157; 10[19], 178-179; 11[73], 212-213; 11[113], 221-222; 11[120], 223-224; 14[79], 245-247).

[5] Claudia Crawford, The Beginnings of Nietzsche’s Theory of Language (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1988), 202

[6] 117. Nietzsche gives the example of the concept of the ‘leaf’. In a parody and rejection of the Platonic Idea or Form, he argues that the concept of the leaf is formed by arbitrarily discarding—by forgetting—the differences between individual leaves:

This awakens the idea that, in addition to the leaves, there exists in nature the “leaf”: the original model according to which all the leaves were perhaps woven, sketched, measured, colored, curled, and painted – but by incompetent hands, so that no specimen has turned out to be a correct, trustworthy, and faithful likeness of the original model. (ibid.)

For Nietzsche, the claim to know that such a self-identical Idea or ‘original model’ (the concept) inheres in things is a projection and false hypostatisation.

[7] 116 (cf. Crawford, 203). On Nietzsche’s rejection of the ‘metaphysical correspondence theory’, see Maudemaire Clark, Nietzsche on Truth and Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), esp. 22. Clark argues that Nietzsche (in the works of his early and middle periods) commits himself to a rejection of metaphysical truth because he ‘accepts a theory of truth such that all truth is metaphysical, that is, is correspondence to things as they are in themselves’ (emphasis added).

[8] ‘Appendix: Criticism of the Kantian Philosophy’ in Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, 2 Vols, trans. E.F.J. Payne, (New York: Dover, 1966) (WWR), I, 413-534 (417-418).

[9] See Dale Jacquette, The Philosophy of Schopenhauer (Chesham: Acumen, 2005), 19

[10] Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Norman Kemp Smith (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003) A 30/B 45. Cf. 85 A 45/B 62 (on the ‘transcendental object’), and also A 128. See Howard Caygill, A Kant Dictionary (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995), esp. 79-80 and 393.

[11] Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, B 27.

[12] See Bryan Magee, The Philosophy of Schopenhauer, Revised Edition (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997): ‘The movements of the material object which is my body are known to me not only through external sense, as are the movements of other material objects, but also directly, non-sensorily, non-intellectually from within, as acts of will.’ (137) See also Jacquette, The Philosophy of Schopenhauer, 73-74.

[13] Nietzsche, ‘On Schopenhauer,’ in The Blackwell’s Nietzsche Reader ed. Ansell Pearson Large, 24-29. An alternative translation is provided in Christopher Janaway, Willing and Nothingness: Schopenhauer as Nietzsche’s Educator (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 258-265.

[14] Nietzsche, ‘On Schopenhauer,’ 27. See Schopenhauer, WWR, I,  §22, 110.

[15] Nietzsche, ‘On Schopenhauer,’ 27.  Schopenhauer, WWR, I, 112

[16] Crawford, Beginnings, 161-162(n).

[17] Paul Swift, Becoming Nietzsche: Early Reflections on Democritus, Schopenhauer, and Kant (Oxford: Lexington Books, 2005), 43-50. 

[18] This reading is positioned against the claim to Nietzsche’s early uncritical adoption of Schopenhauer. See Bowie, Aesthetics and Subjectivity, 261 (see also 282, 288, 296); and Ivan Soll, ‘Pessimism and the Tragic view of Life: Reconsiderations of Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy’, in Robert C. Solomon and Kathleen M. Higgins, eds., Reading Nietzsche (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 104-131 (104-107).

By contrast, I want to align my position with the opposing critical trend to problematise and resist this influence. See Martha Nussbaum, ‘The Transfigurations of Intoxication: Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Dionysus’, in Salim Kemal, Ivan Gaskell, and Daniel W. Conway, eds., Nietzsche, Philosophy and the Arts (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1998), 36-69 (esp. 38-39) (see also Nussbaum, ‘Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Dionysus’ in Janaway, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Schopenhauer [Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid: Cambridge University Press, 1999], 344-374 [esp. 344-345]).

[19] Nietzsche, BT, 17-27 (24). See 15n. on the appended title page/flysheet, added in 1886: ‘In the first edition of 1872 the title was The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music. A second edition with very slight textual changes was printed in 1874 and appeared in 1878. In 1886, the same year that saw the publication of Beyond Good and Evil, the remaining copies of both editions were reissued with the new title [The Birth of Tragedy: Hellenism and Pessimism].’ The original title was retained, but now followed the ‘Attempt at a Self-Criticism’.

[20] Julian Young, Nietzsche’s Philosophy of Art (Cambridge, New York, Victoria: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 26

[21] See Aaron Ridley, Nietzsche on Art (London: Routledge, 2007),—esp. 21-31. …

*—Admittedly, I was lucky enough to meet Professor Ridley (in late 2011), and at that time he said that he had changed his mind and recanted on the reading of Nietzsche presented in this text. Nevertheless, I hope that he wouldn’t mind me citing it in order to contextualise my own argument here…

[22] 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 is Nietzsche’s relationship to Wagner that proves problematic to a clear conception of his relationship to Schopenhauer and Schopenhauerian metaphysics.

It is not within the scope of what I want to do here to address Nietzsche’s relationship to Wagner, and, as such, I will not address the argument of the latter, patently Wagnerian, sections of Birth. Nor will I address Nietzsche’s argument concerning the death of tragedy at the hands of Socrates and Euripides. Instead, I will focus on a close reading of Nietzsche’s definition of the Apollinian and Dionysian and of the phenomenon of the Lyric Poet in the earlier part of the text (§§1-8). 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).

*a plan, then…

*(—follows on from ‘part II. —toward some sort of (provisional plan. …’ ).

*an… outline for the project, then. …

 *and so then (and, good God,—why not…—?),… —the-a plan (provisional, of sorts…).

*I. in the first… section-chapter (…—sequence of fragments) here, I want to lay the groundwork for my reading of Birth and of neo-classical Modernist aesthetics.

—I will make the argument that the opening (rather obscure and, apparently, insignificant) gambit of The Birth of Tragedy *(—on: gods—vs. concepts. …) can be illuminated by comparing it to the analogous terms of Nietzsche’s critique of language and the intellect, and championing of ‘intuition’ as a new philosophical and artistic method in the later ‘On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense’ essay. …

*—I will lay out the terms of the rejection of the metaphysical in the essay, linking it to Nietzsche’s (very) early critique of Schopenhauer (and Kant).

—drawing on a comparison of the key terms of ‘On Truth and Lies’ *(—as simplifying and clarifying those of Birth), with those of Henri Bergson’s philosophy (—‘intuitionvs. the concepts of the intellect), I will argue that the ‘primal unity’ (Ur-Eine) of Birth, though seemingly, perhaps, straightforwardly Schopenhauerian, is, in fact, much closer to Bergson’s concept of ‘duration’ and Nietzsche’s own later formulation of the ‘will to power’. …

*II.— *(the core of the thing). …

Nietzsche’s conception of Apollo and Dionysus and, particularly, his claim that the Dionysian artistic drive affords access to the ‘primal unity’, may appear straightforwardly Schopenhauerian and Romantic.

however, drawing on the first chapter, in my reading of Birth I will thus be able to place myself in a position to argue that it is the key contrast between the concepts of the intellect and ‘intuition’, clarified in ‘On Truth’, which truly underpin Nietzsche’s conception of Attic theatre and aesthetics: *—of the gods vs. concepts, and to demonstrate that Birth is (therefore) implicated in Nietzsche’s pre-existing and continuing critique of Schopenhauer and rejection of metaphysics. …

*—I will read the Apollinian and the Dionysian as two modes of the sublime, embodying (in art) the natural drives to the *incorporation and *purgation of lived experience, respectively. …

*—and, for Nietzsche, art reaches its apogee in the form in which these two art impulses (—*modes of the sublime) are conjoined.

(and,—don’t worry (if, indeeed, you were),… —I’ve got a whole damn line on conjunction vs. any idea of (dialectical) ‘synthesis’. … )…

that is,… —the need to purge everyday experience and to experience the ecstatic release and free play of all the desires-drives harnessed,—channeled, or repressed within(-beneath) it, characteristic of the Dionysian, gives birth to a further need (felt) not to lose that experience in the—ineluctable—fall-return (back.—down) into the everyday that follows hard upon it…

—this leads to the drive to retrieve everyday experience in the form of a register from which to draw (discrete, comprehensible) images with which to thus incorporate the experience of purgation. …—in effect,—to the Apollinian. …

*—the conjunction of the Dionysian and Apollinian in the incorporation of the experience of purgation represents the fold in the ironic self-(re-)creation of the artist. …

and, for Nietzsche, this Dionysian-Apollinian conjunction takes place in the birth of tragedy. …

—I will argue that the terms of Nietzsche’s reading of the Dionysian-Apollinian relationship represents his account of the process from artistic inspiration to creation, and, in essence, an ironic appropriation of the terms of Romantic accounts to a fundamentally anti-Romantic aesthetic. …

 

*(II(a).—…).

in the second part (portion) of the chapter, I want to move on, then, to clarify what I think is at stake in the account of the creative process in Birth by drawing a parallel to the terms of neo-classical Modernist aesthetics, in particular the ‘classicalvs. the ‘romantic’.

*—I will ground my reading of Modernism in an examination of the incarnations of Stephen’s aesthetic theory in Joyce’s fiction from Stephen Hero, through Portrait, to Ulysses, and their relationship to the ideas in Joyce’s own critical writings.

in particular, I’ll focus on the use (and abuse) of Aquinas and Shakespeare in the development from the early concept of the ‘epiphany’ to that of the ‘image’.

—this development is marked by its incorporation of (or, rather,—into) a conception of the ‘classical’, and I’ll seek to clarify this by comparing the terms of Stephen’s and of Joyce’s definitions of art with the critical writings of T.E. Hulme (in particular, drawing on the material in the first chapter, Hulme’s reading of Bergson on ‘intuitionvs. the intellect), and those of Ezra Pound, contrasting the terms of neo-classical Modernist aesthetics with those of Yeats’s self-styled late-Romantic aesthetic metaphysics.

*—I’ll use my reading of the fold of the artist in Birth *(—anti-metaphysics and Romantic—anti-Romanticism) to illuminate what I believe to be at stake in neo-classical Modernist aesthetics and, in turn, locate Birth in far greater proximity to neo-classical Modernism than readings of its relationship to Romanticism have (thus far, to the best of my knowledge) allowed for, or considered.

and, in what remains of the chapter, I will finish by using my reading of the philosophical naturalism of Birth, the fold, and the ‘classical’ to give a reading of Nietzsche’s account of the structure, relationship to audience, and (most importantly) the effect of tragedy.

*III— in what will, effectively, constitute the second half (or—portion) of this… project,—everything-all (from here-on in) starts to become—to get—all too sketchy and—speculative. …

(hmm).

having reworked the material from thesis, and presented my theory of the fold (and, as such, then, achieved my original purpose here), I propose to move on to examine some of the philosophical, political and ethical implications it… kicks up (so to). …

*—I want to reproduce and rework some material from Notes of a Vanishing Quantity (such as it is at the current time (of writing)), which I originally prepared for a blog post for a reading group on early twentieth century political thought, which I organised with my very good and dear friends Dr Christos Hadjiyannis (now Research Fellow in English Literature at Wolfson College, The University of Oxford), Dr Silvia Villa (at this time attached to The University of Edinburgh), and Dr Sarah Humayun. …

*(Christos is now, incidentally, involved in running a new reading group—on the History of Ideas, at Wolfson…).

 

*—I will seek to develop my readings of Nietzsche, Bergson and Hulme, and, using E.M. Forster’s essay ‘What I Believe’ as a foil, to lay out the terms—emerging from the rejection of metaphysics and ironic appropriation of Romanticism—of what I see as neo-classicism’s rejection of Humanism. …

 

*—and it is here that I envisage—building on the substance of a review originally written for Edinburgh Spotlight—my criticism of Alain de Botton and of Jo Clifford (as exemplifying certain… problems in contemporary thought and the arts) sitting. …

*in conclusion. …

—I envisage (at the time of writing this) the main substance (so to) of this project concluding in a review and restatement of the ‘classical’, Romantic—anti-Romanticism and (above all) my concept of the fold (of the artist), and, taking issue particularly with Robert Pippin’s ‘On “becoming who one is” (and failing): Proust’s problematic selves’ (in Nikolas Kompridis (ed.)—Philosophical Romanticism), in light of these, to end with a set of reflections on the fate of the Romantic aesthetic of the ‘fragment’ and on fatalism.  …