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

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

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


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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Light as a shuttle o’er the water went.

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

The blissful brink, so sweetly as to drown

Power to recall, far more to write it here.

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

Did that fair lady, and she plunged me in,

So that I needs must drink the water down;

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The ‘root’ of the principle is fourfold: …

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

However, he offers a substantial qualification. … —

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

* … —‘He is no longer an artist’. …

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

*(—an ‘artisticphenomenon’. …).

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

*—‘Excess revealed itself as truth.

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

*—the birth of tragedy. …

 

 

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—See Kaufmann’s editor’s note, —37.

Advertisements

*concluding early Nietzsche vs. Schopenhauer, & Nietzsche, Bergson, language & intuition… * – the will to power. …

*(follows on from ‘On the “Undivided Continuity of States”.’ …).

 

*conclusion to part I. …
*—on the will to power. …

 

*The origin of the emergence of a thing […] anything in existence, having somehow come about, is continually interpreted anew, requisitioned anew, transformed and redirected to a new purpose by a power superior to it; […] everything that occurs in the organic world consists of overpowering, dominating, and in their turn, overpowering and dominating consist of re-interpretation, adjustment, in the process of which their former “meaning” [Sinn] and “purpose” must necessarily be obscured or completely obliterated.[…T]he whole history of a “thing”, an organ, a tradition can to this extent be a continuous chain of signs, continually revealing new interpretations and adaptations [….] The “development” of a thing, a tradition, an organ is therefore not its progressus towards a goal, still less is it a logical progressus, taking the shortest route with the least expenditure of energy and cost, – instead it is a succession of more or less profound, more or less mutually independent processes of subjugation exacted on the thing, added to this the resistances encountered every time, the attempted transformations for the purpose of defence and reaction, and the results, too, of successful countermeasures. The form is fluid, the “meaning” [Sinn] even more so…

*(Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality, trans Carol Diethe, ed Keith Ansell-
Pearson [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003], *—II, §12, 55).

 

*so,—… (hmm). … —I want to try to conclude this current chapter *(—this thread or string of fragments, here) by moving on to argue that understanding the ‘primal unity’ (the—Ur-Eine) of Birth as representing the ‘eternally suffering and contradictory’ interpenetrating flux of natural drives, as I established this reading in my comparison of Nietzsche and Bergson, places it in far closer proximity to Nietzsche’s later doctrine of the ‘will to power’, than to the (metaphysical) unity of the Schopenhauerian ‘will’ (—Will). …

—This will (it is hoped) help to clarify the anti-metaphysics and naturalism I will argue are at stake in Birth, and (also,—by extension) my reading of Nietzsche’s account of artistic inspiration and creation in the text. …

 

—I want to understand  the ‘will to power’ here in terms of Gilles Deleuze’s reading in Nietzsche and Philosophy, in contrast to that of Rüdiger Bittner (—the editor of Cambridge Press’s recent excellent edition of ol’ Fritz’s later notebooks), who argues that the ‘will to power’ is analogous (in some way) to Schopenhauer’s ‘will’ (—Will…).[1]

 

—In his introduction to Nietzsche’s late notebooks, Bittner claims that ‘[a]s far as its scope is concerned, Nietzsche’s “will to power” simply takes over the place of Schopenhauer’s “will”’, citing Schopenhauer’s claim that ‘it is one and the same will that manifests itself both in the forces of inorganic and the forms of organic nature.’[2]

As such, I would argue, Bittner presupposes the unity, or the—self-identity of the ‘will’ in Nietzsche’s formulation of the will to power. …

—This prejudice leads him to make the mistake, I think, of misreading the formulation, arguing that:

—‘the “will to power” does mean “will for power”: a will to power is a will such as the thing willed is power.’ (LN, xvii.—emphases added here…)

 

so then,…

—Bittner reasons from a falsely assumed original unity of the will to the conclusion that it must be this unitary will which wills for power’. …

*(—Nietzsche’s/the Nietzschean ‘will’, then, (for Bittner), represents a metaphysical unity… —a singular, self-identical, Will, which wills for its own—‘power’. …).

 

He concludes his reading of the will to power as follows:

‘While it is a defect that the present reading makes the doctrine of will to power come out false, it is not a decisive one: I see no reading intelligible in itself and reasonably true to the texts that does better.’ (xxii)

—Such a reading is, in fact, offered by Deleuze. …

 

*—In his analysis of the concept of ‘genealogy,’ ‘sense’, and the philosophy of the will in Nietzsche, Deleuze defines the ‘sense’ of a ‘thing’ as ‘the force which appropriates the thing, which exploits it, which takes possession of it or is expressed in it.’[3]

—For Deleuze (following Nietzsche), the sense of a ‘thing’ (—an event, phenomenon, word or thought) is generated by the accession to dominance of a particular ‘force’ which had been vying for that dominance with rival forces:

*theappropriation, then, of a quantum of reality. … (3-4 (see also 29).—cf. OGM, II, §11, 55). …

—‘The history of a thing’, then (my emph.), expresses—‘the succession of forces which take possession of it and the co-existence of the forces which struggle for possession. The same object, the same phenomenon, changes sense depending on the force which appropriates it.’ (3)

And this precludes any notion of the ‘thing’s’ unity or self-identity…

 

For Nietzsche, Deleuze argues, a thing’s ‘essence’ (so to) would constitute ‘that one among all the senses of a thing, which gives it the force with which it has most affinity.’ (4)

‘Essence’ is that which allows the thing to go to the ends of what it is capable of achieving and does not serve to inhibit or debilitate it, and is neither a priori nor integral to the thing. …

With this conception of force, Deleuze argues, ‘Nietzsche substitutes the correlation of sense and phenomenon for the metaphysical duality of appearance and essence.’ (3)

—In opposition to a Kantian-Schopenhauerian metaphysical distinction between the phenomenon and the thing-in-itself, Nietzsche posits a conception of a flux of natural forces.—The ‘sense’ of a thing names its possession by a dominant force at any one point or moment in time, and its ‘history’ names the succession of such possessions through time. …

 

—Against Bittner’s misreading of a unified, Schopenhauerian, metaphysical Will—the metaphysical unity of the ‘will for power’—according to the terms of Deleuze’s reading (which itself, as I have suggested, closely follows Fritz’s formulation in OGM), ‘Nietzsche’s concept of force is therefore that of a force which is related to another force: in this form force is called will. The will (will to power) is the differential element of force’.[4]

—The will to power, according to the terms of Deleuze’s reading then, represents the ‘differential element’ between the natural forces (sub-wills) struggling for possession of a quantum of reality.—It serves to define the sense of a thing, by expressing the force which has (however temporarily) triumphed in this struggle, and defines the ‘essence’ of the thing, by identifying with which force the thing has the utmost affinity.

Alongside the false assumption of the unity of the will to power, which he thus identifies as a (Schopenhauerian) ‘source’ of events (—? hmm…), one of Bittner’s crucial mistakes is to fail to define the concept of ‘power’ itself correctly…

—He argues that ‘the doctrine maintains that any living thing does whatever it does for the sake of gaining power or of augmenting the power it already has.’ (LN, xx) He is able to misrepresent the will to power as the ‘intention’ of a ‘living thing’ because he at first assumes the (internal) self-identity of the living thing. In fact, what I have already argued is the case in the imposition of the concepts of the intellect on the pre-individuated flux of natural drives in ‘On Truth’ *(and of the parallel with the fictional status of the ‘I’ and the thing in the late notebooks), and is supported by Deleuze’s reading of force and ‘sense’… —for Nietzsche, the discrete, and (only) apparently self-identical ‘thing’ is, in fact, sculpted (—cut away) from the underlying flux of an undivided continuity of states and/or forces through an (essentially) artistic process of ‘individuation’. …

*(and identity (—thing-hood,—(the) I…) itself, then, is—can only ever be—a retrospective fiction,—projected back, onto (what was, in essence) an arrangement—a hierarchy—of forces. …).

*—The will to power names an overcoming within what will be later dubbed the phenomenon (—the Deleuzian ‘sense’ of the thing)…

Power, and the will to power, name, in the first instance, the, a ‘self’-overcoming (so to), and not the ‘intention’ of a living thing with regard to external phenomena, as Bittner argues.[5]

 

 

—As Deleuze argues in his analysis of Nietzsche’s concept of value and evaluation: ‘the value of something is the hierarchy of forces which are expressed in it as a complex phenomenon.’ (7)…

*—the value, then, of any given phenomenon—its will to power—derives as an expression of which force has become dominant within it and which have submitted to this dominance, at any given moment (—at any given point) in-within the arc of that phenomenon…

*(—the retrospective, linguistic, fiction of a given point in-within space,—of an atom in-of-within time,—of the ‘identity’ of the thing (—the ‘I’) itself,… defined by—naming—the succession to dominance of a force and the creation of a hierarchy within a complex of forces constituting a quantum of reality…).

In contrast to the metaphysical unity and myopic struggle ‘for’ power of Bittner’s reading, the Nietzschean ‘will’ is, in fact, a plurality: *—a ‘complex’. …

—As Deleuze argues, this multiplicity and complexity of the ‘will’ is the ‘precise point’ of Nietzsche’s break with Schopenhauerian metaphysics. (cf. 7) …

 

*So. … —Despite Nietzsche’s own claim (within the text itself) that the ‘primal unity’ represents the fundamental ‘metaphysical assumption’ (—?) underpinning Birth, (—and for this see §4, 45), it in fact names the flux of the multiplicity of natural drives, firmly anti-metaphysical and of the realm of representation, prior to and underlying the process of individuation, alluded to in the ‘On Schopenhauer’ fragment, clearly articulated for the first time in ‘On Truth’ and elevated-raised finally to the level of a philosophical doctrine in the formulation of the will to power. …

—In Birth, metaphysical, Schopenhauerian vocabulary is ironically appropriated to a nascent anti-Schopenhauerian, ‘naturalist’ philosophical project. …

 

*and so then,… in what is to follow here *(—the next string-thread of fragments—chapter), I will argue that it is this that underpins Nietzsche’s reading of the appropriation of the drive to the incorporation of lived experience into culture in the forms Apollinian art, and the appropriation of the purgation of lived experience and the suppressed energetic reservoir of the natural drives into culture within Dionysian art, and, finally, in the conjunction of these art forms in the fold of the self-creation of the lyric poet, conceived of as the Apollinian incorporation of the experience of Dionysian purgation.


[1] Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy, trans. Hugh Tomlinson (London: Athlone, 1986); Nietzsche, Writings  from the Late Notebooks, (LN) trans. Kate Sturge, ed. Rudiger Bittner (Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press: 2003)

[2] LN, xxi.—The translation is Bittner’s own from Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, I, §27, 170. Cf. Payne’s translation: ‘in all the forces of inorganic and in all the forms of organic nature, it is one and the same will that reveals itself’. (in Schopenhauer, WWR, I, §27, 143)

[3] 3. Deleuze takes as the basis of his reading of the ‘will to power’ the passage cited as-in the epigraph to the current section-fragment: OGM, II, §11, 55-56…

[4] 6. Cf. Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, trans.Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage Books, 1989), IX, §260, in which,  returning to the definition of the pre-history of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ and the ‘noble’ and ‘base,’ first addressed in Human, All Too Human (HH, I, §45, 36-37), and later more fully developed in the first essay of On the Genealogy of Morality, Nietzsche distinguishes between what he calls the ‘two basic types’ of morality: the master and slave moralities. The former is defined by the nobility of a self-felt prerogative to create and legislate values from an overwhelming feeling of an overfullness or excess of power (cf. 205). The latter is ‘base’: ‘violated, oppressed, suffering, unfree, […] weary’, and from this exhausted, resentful state moralises (cf. 207). Nietzsche argues that in what he emphasises as all ‘higher’ and ‘more mixed  cultures’ there is an ‘interpenetration and mutual misunderstanding of both, and at times they occur directly alongside each other]—even in the same human being, within a single soul.’ (204). This conflict and vying for dominance of the master and slave moralities,—of the active and reactive, supports the Deleuzian reading of the will to power and serves to refute Bittner’s conclusions.

[5] On the importance of the primacy of self-overcoming to the will to power see especially Nietzsche, Writings from the Late Notebooks, 34[250], 16; 35[15], 18; 36[22], 25; 38[8], 36-37; 1[44], 57; 10[87], 188 and 14[79], 245-246.

*On the ‘Undivided Continuity of States’.—’intuition’ in Bergson & Nietzsche…

*(follows on from ‘Intuition, Flux, & Anti-metaphysics’…).

*On the Undivided Continuity of States. …
—on the ‘primal unity’ &(/as)—‘duration’…

—‘analysis’ & ‘duration’.
(—Bergson & ‘On Truth’…).

 

 *In An Introduction to Metaphysics (of 1903), Henri Bergson offers a clear, concise, and apt summary of the distinction between ‘analysis’ (—the conceptual) and ‘intuition’, which he had established in his earlier works (Time and Free Will,—Matter and Memory, (etc.)…)…—

By intuition is meant the kind of intellectual sympathy by which one places oneself within an object in order to coincide with what is unique in it and consequently inexpressible. Analysis, on the contrary, is the operation which reduces the object to elements already known, that is, to elements common both to it and other objects.[1]

so,…

—‘analysis,’ Bergson argues, breaks its object down into parts (—‘elements’) corresponding to pre-existing concepts in which it participates (is made to participate) with other objects. …

*—it strikes me that these terms very closely echo—perhaps in a way not identified before and most certainly not dwelt upon in work on the similarities between Nietzsche and Bergson—Nietzsche’s critique of language, the intellect, and the conceptual in ‘On Truth’, and, in particular here, Nietzsche’s critique of the formation of the ‘Platonic’ concept of the ‘leaf’, which was formed, he argued, by discarding the differences between individual leaves: the awakening of the ‘idea’ that, ‘in addition to the leaves’, there exists in ‘nature’—‘the leaf’.’[2]

—(the process of) ‘analysis’, then, reduces the thing (—its object) to these constituent elements and to their conceptual correspondences.

—by contrast, Bergson wishes to promote the method of ‘intuition,’ which—as it did for Nietzsche in ‘On Truth’—aims to shatter the reduction of its object to pre-existing conceptual prejudices, and to place the observer back into (in closer proximity to) an original state of disinterested, non-conceptual receptivity *(—‘intellectual sympathy’). …

… —in terms which I will argue echo Nietzsche’s appropriation of Schopenhauer’s principle of individuation (principium individuationis) in Birth, beneath the hardened veneer of the fragmented and atomised spatio-temporal realm of the concepts—the ‘crust solidified on the surface’ of experience (cf. Bergson, IM, 25)—Bergson identifies ‘one reality […] which we all seize from within, by intuition and not simply by analysis. It is our own personality in its flowing through time—our self which endures.’ (24) …

—Beneath the artificially differentiated, atomistic experience of things in conceptual space, and of moments in conceptual time, Bergson argues, subsists a foundation of undifferentiated states which he calls *‘duration’ (—durée):

‘beneath these sharply cut crystals and this frozen surface, a continuous flux which is not comparable to any flux I have ever seen. There is a succession of states, each of which announces that which follows and contains that which precedes it.’ (25)

—Duration constitutes ‘one reality,’ seemingly paradoxically comprised of a continual flux of successive ‘states’. …

We are originally made aware of this flux, according to Bergson, through our consciousness of our own personality (internal intuition) and (then, subsequently) extend the principle to the outer phenomena of perception (external intuition).

—apparently autonomous, these… states nonetheless interpenetrate, containing all those states which precede them and unfolding ineluctably into all those which are to follow.

The ‘states’ of duration constitute neither a simple multiplicity, nor a simple unity, but, ‘instead of being distinct, as they are in any other [comparable form of] multiplicity, encroach upon one another.’ (30)—They constitute ‘a continuity of elements which prolong themselves into one another’,—a continuity which ‘participates in unity as much as in multiplicity; but this moving, changing, colored, living unity has hardly anything in common with the abstract, motionless, and empty unity which the concept of pure unity circumscribes.’(30-31)[3]

*—the flux of duration represents an undivided continuity of states’. …

It is the undivided continuity of this flux which the concepts rend asunder through the imposition of artistically projected individuated forms:

Pure intuition, external or internal, is that of an undivided continuity. We break up this continuity in the one case to distinct words, in the other to independent objects. But, just because we have thus broken the unity of our original intuition, we feel ourselves obliged to establish between the served terms a bond which can only be external and superadded.[4]

The concepts are generated through the formation and false hypostatisation of words (an echo of the formation of language in ‘On Truth’) and of independent objects. Once fragmented, for any form of discourse to be possible, it becomes necessary, Bergson argues, to artificially form bonds between the severed entities. This is the role of ‘analysis’. (—cf. CE, 4)

For Bergson, these bonds, whatever their use value (for language and for action), can in no way afford access to the underlying flux, but are, and must remain, external epiphenomena.

(and, again,—this echoes Nietzsche’s critique of the conceptual quasi-Platonic prostheses to experience in ‘On Truth’…).

 

*the ‘Limits of the diaphane’. …
—on the fragments in-of space & the atoms in-of time.

 

Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read, seapspawn and seawrack, the nearing tide, that rusty boot. Snotgreen, bluesilver, rust: coloured signs. Limits of the diaphane.

*(—Joyce, Ulysses, ed. Seamus Deane (London: Penguin, 1992).
—‘Proteus’, 45).

Bergson, then, is concerned with the limits of perception. …

*… (that is)—with the limits of what can be perceived—and be known—within or through the constraints of language and of the intellect,…

—his critique of ‘analysis’ and of the concepts of the intellect, echoes Nietzsche’s sarcastic ‘fable’ on the conceit of the intellect, in ‘On Truth’. … —

how miserable, how shadowy and transient, how aimless and arbitrary the human intellect looks within nature. There were eternities during which it did not exist. And when it is all over with the human intellect, nothing will have happened. For this intellect has no additional mission which would lead it beyond human life. (114)

*Bergson’s key concern, of course, is time, and, in particular, the occlusion of the flux of duration in the formation of our conceptual experience of time. …

—of all that is, in essence, lost in-of time in the formation of the atoms of—(everyday) ‘clock-time’. …

—Bergson is concerned primarily with the nature of the perception of time, and, by extension, the effect of this on the perception of things in time.

*in order to—(what?)… —to unpack all that I think is at stake in Bergson’s conception of time, and thus, of course, by the terms of the parallel I’ve established, in Nietzsche’s,—I want to perform a sort of an experiment here. …

*—I want to read two short films, posted online, on the YouTube channel of *THE SLOW MO GUYS,—Gavin Free and Dan Gruchy. …

as the name suggests—Free, with the assistance of Gruchy, films often banal-everyday phenomena in slow motion using a high-definition Phantom Flex high-speed digital camera…

—their introductions to their films, choices of subject—and the channel itself—all have an irreverent, mock-juvenile charm, and yet they’re surprisingly… —beautiful,… awe-inspiring, and moving… (helped in no small part by the score which accompanies the… drop (—the fall (sic.—for want) into the slow-motion sequences). …

*in particular here, I’m interested in how little (of the world) we actually see (perceive). *(that is,—how little is seen. …). …

—how the detail—the qualities—of *(apparently) whole-discrete, persisting things, changes, and the (what?)… —the elevation (sic) of the (again,—apparently) banal,—dull,… —known, to (the status of)—the *sublime (I suppose) in an alteration in-to the perception of time.

*—I want to focus on two films: ‘Molotov Cocktail in Slow Motion’, and ‘Paint Exploding at 15,000fps’

(though I also recommend, particularly: ‘Exploding Lighters in Slow Motion’, ‘Popping Popcorn in super Slow Motion’, and ‘Paint on a Speaker at 2500fps’…).

*(and so, then. … —a note-disclaimer: …

—all this will have been-is meant, in a sense, to be read alongside those video-posts themselves). …

 

 

*—on ‘Molotov Cocktails in Slow Motion’:

*in time as seen in (-of) the everyday (—perceived). …

—(only ever seen as) a (sudden) burst. …

—a flash. (—of light). …

—the fire. moves—like liquid. (water).—spreads-unfolds like a molten wave (—waves).—points,—channels(-cones) (from the core.—blossoming back in bursting plumes.—into themselves…). spreads, in a burst.—swells. (throbs-pulses melting-clouded).—billows. … (and rolls).—dark (in-at the core).—undulates… to bright (a light yellow-white) at the edges (crest.—the cusp) of waves—through deep (dark) (earthy) orange. …

—can see it. in… forms (separate) shapes. elements. … *(—not seen in the fast quotidian.—(absorbed.—lost in a) flash).

and moves in (isolated,—overlapping) waves… —folds. (creased). … —back-in-through itself.

and—darkens (not sudden.—no-not fades…). *—moves from-through light (bright, electric, intense) to dark (cloudy-molten), before exhausting. …

—takes on the form (as it consumes) of the liquid burning (—as it moves)… *(—not separate: a liquid that then burns-is burning.—a simultaneity-continuity (of liquid–flame) undifferentiated. …). (melts). undulates. aqueous.

beautiful (—stunning …).

*on ‘Paint Exploding at 15,000fps’. …

. —yellow, orange, red,—blue, green, purple. (small bottles.—ranged in a rack)…

(with fire-crackers.—to explode. in a row—a sequence…).

yellow.

—paint spurts. in curling lines and tendrils (drops), then rises,—in a ribbon (flowing in undulat waves.—like fabric.—a viscous membrane).—in (slow, heavy) folds (and creases)—tears at the edges.—up.—into a… cloud (of particles). (—a shape (—ragged)). breaking(-ripped).

and continues (flows)… —distends… —into a thinner ribbon (narrow). and lights (from withinside) with a bright, hot light (of fire—bursting (intense)…).—in bright pulses. with small light sparks. (light seems to darken-dull the paint’s colour). …

and shoots off (tears), into sharp line-ribboned tendrils. …

*(the bottles fall…).

red.

explodes.

bright white ragged light (—to yellow). with (viscous) rays and ribbons (—rivulets) of (deep, dark) red…

(—carried. out. on the crest (the cusp) of the wave—riding-bursting out—of light (—pushed-forced)…).

—and droplets (thick). …

(—lit by the fire, burning—pink-orange. …).

—light tears-shatters into (burning) fragment-pieces.

—the… fabric of the paint tears (from withinside).—torn membrane (pieces). (shapes—sharp-edged)…

still white burning droplets. …

and twisting globules—out. ….

expands (and disappears). …

and blue.

bursts.—a spurt.—a jet. (of tendrils-droplets). …

—a plume of hot light folded into.

(white burning spark-droplets)—fizzles. …

green.

explodes. … out.—into-in two (thin) dark arcing waves (folding over into themselves—pleated. curved (—a crease).). undulat (—distend). unfolding (roll). …

bright core of (electric seeming—generat) white light (intense). in liquid-fabric (viscous membrane) waves (a film (skin).—surging plumes)…

and tear. … —into ragged liquid membrane limbs-tendrils (a star—shaped). …

(—linked by tenuous tenril-ribbons—strands.

—heavy mass at the explosion’s crest (outmost).

—traces the circle (the ring) of the wave. …).

and tear (fly off) (—a release). (dissipation). …

purple.

in a pulse. spits.—forces out the white, electric glowing burst of burning.

(electric droplets. spray—like sparks)…

—a jet (thick) thin (—a slicing line)…

orange.

explodes.—in a heavy, thin, curling (torn) ribbon. …

*(a new line (of bottles)… —purple, orange, blue, yellow, green, red. (—ranged in a rack).).

 

purple.

small pulse of liquid. burst.

shower of spark-droplets. …

(a burst of electric light—white, through yellow-pale to darker (heavier) orange.—at its heart (in-at the bottle’s neck).

light in purple, in-at the bottle-top. …

—plume of dark paint (long.—thin)…

orange.

a burst, more substantial

(shot through with globules of white, hot light).

—a taller, thicker plume (stretched-distended.—creasing…).

blue.

erupts. … —ringed cloud-fringe pleated—a wave (heavy, dark).—thick tapering plume (creased-folded) above.

—around a bright, intense burst of white electric light… (—a shower of orange-yellow sparks) explodes out (—a ring)…

yellow.

burst. dark, thick, voluminous folds of fabric-liquid (viscous skin-membrane). tapering.

wide burst spread of hot, yellow (electric) light behind-beneath. …

bursts of sparks-droplets…

…—erupts and tears apart to fibrous tendrils…

(flashes—spherical bursts of light through).

green.

erupts.

—a thin ring (tendrilled)—the crest-event horizon (cusp) of a heavy (viscous) wave (waves.—billow heavy).

bright, sharp, hot core of light (white.—fades-darkens to deep yellow at its leading-cooling edge). …

sharp, thin, twisting-winding plume.—rises to (creased) tearing billow…

and… —evaporates (seems) in-to tiny sparks.

—a thick, jagged plume (falls-collapses). …

red.

vaporous eruption (—a cloud) around a hot, bright core (intense) of white light—obscured by torn fragments-rags of viscous.

—sharp, narrow plume tapers (above—over)…

—showers out.—in-to droplets-sparks…

and—leaves a thick winding plume…

—shoots upward (thinning,—exhausting).

and falls (a fibre-tendril—thread). …

*time.

(hmm.).

*and, so,—what is shown in time (as-slowed), then—? …

*—‘time’ as-is-seen (in the) everyday *(—broken. atomic.—measured…)… —is not, then, time (as-it-is-in) itself. …

*(—there is no time as-it-is-in itself. …).

—an alteration (alterations) in-within the perception of time (—SLOW. MO. …) reveals the arbitrariness,… —the *stupidity,—the limitlimits (limited) of ‘clock-time’ (quotidian), and the potential (—the necessity—?) of-for the retrieval of new forms from a broader (—(slightly) more comprehensive) perception (sensitivity toward-comprehension of) flux. (—behind.—beneath). …

—what we perceive—we read—as discrete things (quanta), then, (in space,—in-through-of time),… —what appear as phenomena-things,—whole, solid, discrete, (clearly) delineated… —known,… —break down, in-within time-as-slowed (drawn out, unpacked,—extended…).

(or, no,… rather: —shown never to have been the solid-known-discretions (quanta) had been taken for…).

—revealed in time-slowed as the playing out of the processes of forces-elements (—themselves can be broken down (—in infinite divisibility)…). …

—reveals qualities which (had) always inhered (sic. —were always present), but never seen (cognised) (before). …

—far more beautiful than (in) the crude unit-atoms of everyday ‘clock-time’, which are, otherwise, all that is available…

*time-slowed, then… —undoes the prejudices (conceptual) of-in time (—as thought was known). …

and closer, then,—to the continuity of interpenetrating states beneath-behind the fragments of space in-through the atoms of time, forged by the intellect (—‘analysis’),—in-from language (from words and-to concepts)…

*and this—the shattering of prejudices-conceptual (of habit-inertia)—is what, for Bergson, as it had been for Nietzsche, is at stake in ‘intuition’ (—vs. the concepts of the intellect)—as method. …

*on ‘intuition’, then,—as method. …

*Bertrand Russell very beautifully summarises what he (rightly.—why not?) calls Bergson’s ‘ingenious’ conception of the intellect and his conceptions of ‘matter’ and of ‘time’. … —

Intelligence or intellect, “as it leaves the hands of nature, has for its chief object the inorganic solid”; it can only form a clear idea of the discontinuous and immobile; its concepts are outside each other like objects in space, and have the same stability. The intellect separates in space and fixes in time; it is not made to think evolution, but to represent becoming as a series of states [. …] Solid bodies, it would seem, are something which mind has created on purpose to apply the intellect to them.

[…]

The genesis of intellect and the genesis of material bodies, we are told, are correlative; both have been developed by reciprocal adaptation. “An identical process must have cut out matter and the intellect, at the same time, from a stuff that contained both.”[5]

*—‘matter’, then (—so-called),—as a product-creation of the intellect. … —as that which falls away from duration—from-through its own inertia. …

(—frozen-carved (away.—‘Solid bodies’) from duration, in order that the intellect—that the subject (as subject) be able to function at all…).

*(and this is the same for good ol’ Fritz, I think. …

*—‘matter’,—the subject (—the ‘I’-the ‘self’),—the body (as whole-discrete)… (again)—creations of the intellect—as all that which falls away from flux. …).

indeed.

*though, to my mind, he offers what is still by far one of the most sharp and clear readings of Bergson, Russell, I think, is mistaken in the charges of ‘irrationalism’ and the anti-intellectualism, which he lays against him.[6]

Russell is too dismissive and too reductive. …

—this is a point that I want to return to when discussing readings (and misreadings) of Nietzsche’s relationship to Romanticism in my own reading of The Birth of Tragedy (in a later chapter-fragments), but… what I want to do here is this

—I think Russell’s charge of ‘irrationalism’ represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the terms of Bergson’s critique of the intellect, but in a way which is actually genuinely useful to me here and illuminating for my reading of Nietzsche…

*for Bergson, as for Nietzsche… —we are (all of us) trapped in language.—locked. in (within) the inadequacies—the limits—of language… *—of the fragments (of things) in space,… —in the atoms (in-)of ‘time. …

—for both, there can be no —complacency in (with regard to) language. …

—there must, for both, by contrast, be always a (fundamental) wariness-mistrust

*(—of the ability-capacity to ever truly say (have said) anything).

—no,… sitting still in the arbitrary, illusory, inadequate and ineluctably failing quanta (in-) of language. …

language.—as something entered into,… —not (never) as something possessed. …

(—something (sic) thrust into (into which, then, we are thrust). unavoidably.—in-volun-tarily but—necessarily. …). …

‘analysis’ (—the intellect) rends asunder the flux of the continuity of ‘states’.

*—just as for Nietzsche, in his account of the origins of language in ‘On Truth’, for Bergson language emerges as a process of metaphorical transposition:

*—from the original (sense) stimulus, through the word (—the sound), in-to the abstract concept. …

*—T.E. Hulme, in his essays-articles on Bergson’s philosophy, argues that these metaphors ‘soon run their course and die. But it is necessary to remember that when they were first used by the poets who created them they were used for the purpose of conveying over a vividly felt actual sensation.’[7]

Just as for Nietzsche, for Hulme (following Bergson) language originally emerges from a need to articulate a vividly felt sensible stimulus—an internal or external ‘intuition’. …

When this initial stimulus and artistic projection have passed, the metaphor (the word) can then, itself pass into popular usage (—becomes a concept). …

—It becomes hypostatised and its artistic origins are forgotten….

—The metaphor reaches the end of its capacity to articulate the ‘vividly felt actual sensation’ and becomes a mere ‘counter,’ akin to the pieces in a game of chequers, to be manipulated (‘moved about’) according to the demands of practical utility.[8]

*For Bergson, the aim of intuition as method is to ‘recover [the] contact with the real,’ severed in the formation of concepts and of ‘analysis,’ and to ‘restore intuition to its original purity’.[9]

Echoing Nietzsche’s claim for the necessity of the redemption of the intellect through ‘forbidden metaphors and in unheard-of combinations of concepts’ (in ‘On Truth’), Bergson argues that intuition is ‘only truly itself when it goes beyond the concept, or at least when it frees itself from rigid and ready-made concepts in order to create a kind very different from those which we habitually use.’ (Bergson, IM, 30)

—The aim of intuition, then, is, by an ‘effort,’ to break through the artificial surface of the conceptual and regain the undivided continuity of flux (duration) and what Bergson dubs ‘the intention of life’: —‘the simple movement that runs through the lines, that binds them together and gives them significance.’[10]

Bergson, and Hulme following him, dub this the *‘aesthetic intuition’, and both view art as the paragon of the attempt to lacerate the conceptual and to bring back new forms (new language, new metaphors, new images and new concepts) from the flux of duration—an (ironic) re-birth and appropriation of the intellect

*importantly, then… —rather than a form of straightforward ‘irrationalism’ or anti-intellectualism, as Russell’s reading would suggest—intuition, then, *(as method), represents an attempt (perhaps invariably ill-fated.—inevitably fails-failing), to appropriate the process of the formation of language and the concepts—the intellect (—‘analysis’).—from in-within. *—in the laceration and return. —and to revivify. …

(—to revivify language—the concepts of the intellect—and to turn to account. …): …

*—‘This intention is just what the artist tries to regain in placing himself back within the object by a kind of sympathy and breaking down by an effort of intuition the barrier that space puts between him and his model.’ (CE, 177).[11]

For Bergson, as for Nietzsche, the aim of intuition is to overcome the institutionalised and complacent metaphysical prejudice of the concepts and to create new metaphors to in order to capture the ‘vividly felt actual sensation’.

The flux of the undivided continuity of states subsisting beneath the veneer of the individuated concepts of the intellect in Bergson’s conception of ‘duration’ and ‘intuition’ is what is at stake in Nietzsche’s analogous critique of the intellect and championing of ‘intuition’ in ‘On Truth’.

For both Nietzsche and Bergson, the laceration of the concepts of the intellect in ‘intuition’ leads to a descent into the pre-individuated, undifferentiated flux, and a return with new metaphors and previously ‘unheard-of combinations of concepts.’

*and so,… —

In essence, I want to argue that the terms of the opposition of ‘intuition’ to the intellect, rendered explicit in ‘On Truth’, are (already, implicitly) at stake in his contrast of ‘the immediate certainty of vision’ (—the ‘intensely clear figures’ of the gods), to ‘logical inference’ and ‘concepts’ in the opening gambit and establishment of the terms of the argument of Birth.

—The laceration of the falsely hypostatised, individuated concepts of the intellect and descent into the flux of the undivided continuity of states of ‘On Truth’ (illuminated through the Bergsonian parallel), is what is ultimately at stake in the relationship of the Apollinian and Dionysian artistic drives and the ‘primal unity’ of Birth and, as I will argue forms the foundation of Nietzsche’s account of artistic inspiration in the text. …

*In Birth, Nietzsche argues that we should ‘not consider the question of our own “reality”’, but instead ‘conceive of our empirical existence, and that of the world in general, as a continuously manifested representation of the primal unity’. (§4, 45)

Nietzsche argues that the empirical existence of the individual and the world which they inhabit are to be conceived of as artistically projected representations, forged from the underlying undifferentiated flux of the ‘primal unity’. This is thus analogous to his later account of the formation of words and concepts and the sculpting of the ‘thing’ from the underlying flux of the undivided continuity of states in ‘On Truth’ and, as I have argued, this latter must be understood in the light of Nietzsche’s refutation of the thing-in-itself (the thing = x) in the essay, and his contrast of ‘dark contradictoriness’ to the metaphysical ‘unity’ of Schopenhauer’s ‘will’, as the thing-in-itself, in ‘On Schopenhauer’.

As Crawford argues, the ‘primal unity’ remains firmly on the side of representation, prior to the imposition of the artistically projected individuated forms of the concepts. For Nietzsche, in Birth, whatever the stammering he is led into by his awkward adherence to Schopenhauerian and Kantian (metaphysical) ‘formulas’, there can be no access to the thing-in-itself, already discredited in the earlier, unpublished fragment and re-emphasised in the later essay. (—see ‘Attempt at a Self-Criticism’, 20, 24)

*—the ‘primal unity’ of Birth represents the ‘eternally suffering and contradictory’ interpenetrating flux of natural drives. (§4, 45)


[1] Henri Bergson, An Introduction to Metaphysics (hereafter, IM), trans. T.E. Hulme (Cambridge: Hackett, 1999), 23-24

[2] ‘OTL,’ 117.

*—on this, see the previous post on *early Nietzsche—vs. Schopenhauerian metaphysics. …

[3] Cf. Bergson, Creative Evolution (hereafter CE), trans. Arthur Mitchell (New York: Dover Publications Inc., 1998), 1-7

[4] Bergson, Matter and Memory (MM), trans. Nancy Margaret Paul and W. Scott Palmer (London: Swan Sonnenchein & Co., Ltd, 1911), 239

[5] Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1961), 758.

[6] see Russell, 756 and 762, respectively…

[7] T.E. Hulme, ‘Bergson’s Theory of Art,’ in Speculations: Essays on Humanism and the Philosophy of Art, ed. Herbert Read, with a Frontispiece and Foreword by Jacob Epstein (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd., 1924), 141-169 (151).

[8] Cf. Hulme, ‘Bergson’s Theory of Art,’ 151-152, 159-162, 165-166 and ‘The Philosophy of Intensive Manifolds,’ 176. The metaphor is also crucial to the notes gathered together under the title of ‘Cinders,’ 215-245.

[9] MM, 241. Cf. Gille Deleuze, Bergsonism, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam (New York: Zone Books, 1988), 13-35 (esp. 14), and Suzanne Guerlac, Thinking in Time: An Introduction to Henri Bergson (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006), 63-64: ‘This is what Bergson is trying to do: to bring to philosophical awareness what has been absolutely repressed by thought and is structurally inaccessible to it’. (63)

[10] CE, 176-177. Cf. IM, 21-22 and Hulme, ‘Bergson’s Theory of Art,’ 144 where the passage is reproduced verbatim.

[11] Cf. Hulme, 144. Hulme goes on to refer to the artist’s shattering of the conceptual and experience of flux as the ‘essentially aesthetic emotion’ (145). Cf. also 149-150 and 161-162.

*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.  …

part II. —toward some sort of (provisional) plan. …

*(—follows on from ‘the eventual artist’. … ).

PART SECOND.
*(—toward a sort of clumsy, inadequate
and provisional plan…).

so,… (hmm).

—in what follows here, then (for the rest of these—introductory—remarks), I want to try to lay out, as best I’m able, (and why not?) a provisional outline and structure of where (now—at the time of writing this) I feel I want all this to go…

legitimate criticism…

*as I’ve said already (above),—what I’m involved in-with here is a ridiculously personal, pretentious and ambitious work, aiming to establish a complete theory of artistic inspiration (an—*aesthetic theory),… —eschewing any claim to genu-ine, thoroughgoing scholarship ahead of things (in advance).

 

that having been said. …

*— one of the critical comments I received on my thesis—one that at the time disappointed and disheartened me (frankly, struck me as somewhat illegitimate, actually, in a way…), but which, in retrospect (in-with hindsight), strikes me now as completely fair—is that my work lacked *‘depth’. …

(—that, philosophically, it had a (sweeping) breadth, but that it lacked depth).

fair, insofar as it indeed did lack (—it lacks), a depth of engagement. …

for example.—…

in the opening chapter—which I aim (at the time of writing these introductory remarks) to reproduce here, in a heavily revised form—I, essentially, gave a straightforward and not particularly critically thoroughgoing reading of Nietzsche’s essay, ‘On Truth and Lies in a NonMoral Sense’, and drew a parallel between the terms of Nietzsche’s account of the origins of language and contrast between the intellect and *(the crucial term, for me) *‘intuition’ with what I argued were the analogous terms in the work of French philosopher Henri Bergson. … 

—I didn’t dwell, in any meaningful detail, on all the possible problems or critical questions in or of the essay. such as—for example—the problem of what is referred to as ‘correspondence’: the (question of the) correspondence between words and things they are used to designate.

—I relegated references to all such problems to contextual notes…

nor did I, really (truly), engage in any thorough criticism of Bergson.

(and this is true also, I think, of the ways in which I referred to the works of Plato, Kant, and Schopenhauer, elsewhere. …).

*(—for the substance of all of this,—please see below…).

hmm.

 

—whilst the (necessarily) limited scope, space (length), and time given for-to a thesis (—to any given work, come to that, I suppose) do provide some excuse for this—as well as the fact that these things weren’t the focus of the thesis, but, that instead, I used them as means (I suppose), toward the end of clarifying and contextualising my readings of Nietzsche and Joyce—this does, undeniably, leave both myself and the thesis open to charges of *superficiality. …

 

*—. I’m aware, then, that this remains as a problem, and it’s one that I hope to at least go some way toward remedying here…

(—one I (feel I) need to address…).

…—to treat of these things in the detail that they deserve-require. …

(—to develop the depth of the argument and of the textual and critical engagement…).

…*—either (then) to seek to remedy all that lack of depth, or (perhaps)… to turn that superficiality—as an expression of, what feels to me, an… impulsive,… —unschooled (dilettantish?),… (—hopelessly idealistic-optimistic) *—encyclopaedic drive-ambition—to account here (somehow)…

 

hmm.

 

 

fit for purpose

*although I’m broadening my original remit here—foregrounding my readings of the self-styled neo-classical Modernists, letting Joyce (so to speak) take the place I see him as occupying in their midst—I want (—am going) to reproduce large, edited,… fragments from the ‘Introduction’ to my thesis here…

—in part because, upon revisiting that wretched beast in the process of trying to compose all of this, I’ve been surprised to find that both the writing and the substance hold up to reading and scrutiny far better than I had any real right to hope that they would, but, also, because a lot of the points made in it still hold true, here—in this… awkward gamble—and are (still?) fit for purpose…

 

 

an opening gambit
(borrowed).

*—to more fully introduce my argument (—my thesis) here—to outline its (provisionally proposed) structure and lay out some genuine critical and intellectual context,… —a fragment.—from the thesis ‘Introduction’, then. …—

*—recent critical work on the relationship between Joyce and Nietzsche has tended to focus exclusively on the question of influence

 in ‘The Struggle against Meta (Phantasma)-Physics: Nietzsche, Joyce and the “Excess of History”’ *(catchy, engaging title there), for example, drawing his reading in particular from The Use and Abuse of History, Joseph Buttigieg gives a broad account of Nietzsche’s conception of history, but, in effect, uses his reading of Nietzsche to simply augment his reading of Joyce, arguing that his conception of the ‘postmodern’ Nietzsche can ‘illuminate and give depth’ to the works of the ‘modernist’ Joyce. [1] (—?).

 …in The Aesthetics of James Joyce, Jacques Aubert discusses what he calls the ‘Nietzschean overtones’ of Joyce’s work.[2] (?)

 —Aubert focuses on what he argues is Hegel’s crucial influence on Joyce and appears to align Nietzsche, and Nietzsche’s influence on Joyce, with what he somewhat vaguely and allusively refers to as ‘post-Hegelian’ or ‘Neo-Hegelian’ philosophy (though it is never clear precisely what he intends these to denote…).[3]

 in ‘Beyond Truth and Freedom: The New Faith of Joyce and Nietzsche’, Joseph Valente (whose work, elsewhere, on Joyce’s politics I very much admire) gives an illuminating account of Joyce and Nietzsche’s mutual rejection of metaphysics, but focuses exclusively on the later Joyce and Nietzsche.—again, Valente frames his argument specifically in terms of an influence, drawing on an idiosyncratic reading of the concept of the ‘superman’ and identifying Stephen as ‘recognizably Zarathustrian’. [4] (again… —?).

—the central problem with the critical approach that these accounts share in common—which concerns itself with this question of (supposéd) ‘influence’—is that, in effect, it obliges itself to attribute a detailed and philosophically thoroughgoing reading of Nietzsche’s works to Joyce (—one not always necessarily in evidence in the criticism itself). …

—it must therefore be at pains to stretch available biographical information on Joyce’s reading of Nietzsche, as well as examples of ‘Nietzschean’ references drawn from Joyce’s texts, in order to fit a partial, incomplete or inaccurate characterisation of Nietzsche’s thought… —in essence, threatening to transform Joyce into some kind of ‘Nietzschean’ (?) and Nietzsche into some kind of anticipatory (or proto-) ‘Joycean’ (—?).[5]

 

by contrast, then, this thesis *(—the current work) will seek to set aside the problematic question of influence from the outset, instead seeking to examine the mutually illuminating *parallel which it will argue exists between the theorising of artistic inspiration and the resulting conception of the figure of the artist in the works of Joyce and Nietzsche. it will argue that this parallel has mutually illuminating consequences for an understanding of both Nietzsche and Joyce’s relationships to metaphysics and, through this, to Romanticism. …

*(—you see?, hm?… —none too shabby, perhaps, (at least on that one), when you get right down to brass tacks (—to the nub of the thing)… (—?)).

*though for ‘Nietzsche and Joyce’, here should be read: ‘Nietzsche and neo-classical Modernism’ (—more broadly),… the basic substance of this opening gambit from the thesis remains. …

 

—I don’t want to transform the neo-classical Modernist writers into ‘Nietzscheans’—of any given hue, or in any given way—here, nor (indeed) am I trying here to transform Nietzsche in any way into some kind of ‘proto-Modernist’.

*(—I’m really still not sure what would be gained by doing so, without doing a disservice to both parties,—misrepresenting both…).

…*—instead, what I’m (still) interested in here—what will form my focus and underpin my structure here—is what I will argue is the mutually illuminating parallel that exists in the terms of their accounts of the ‘classical’ and rejections of the ‘romantic’, and (most importantly), as I’ve already attempted to describe, above, where all this serves to place art in relation to (claims about) knowledge, truth and ethics.

 

 

*—the argument. …
(context).

*my argument here will be grounded in a reading of Nietzsche, focussing on an in-depth close re-reading of the opening sections of The Birth of Tragedy.

indeed. …

and my aim in this re-reading (—this ‘critical reappraisal’ of Birth. and,… yes.—I’m aware of how ambitious and how arrogant that sounds…) is to bring into question its commonly critically perceived status as a (lamentably?) overtly and straightforwardly Schopenhauerian, Wagnerian and Romantic text, the substance of which Nietzsche was to abandon in his later work…

by contrast, I will argue that, though in an (admittedly) somewhat obscure and nascent form, the text contains the seeds of the major concepts and claims of Nietzsche’s later, mature (?) works—particularly his later rejection of metaphysics and of Romanticism, critique(s) of Schopenhauer, and, most importantly (for me), the concept of the ‘classical’.

*… —in particular I will argue for the need for a critical reappraisal of the Apollinian and Dionysian within the text, and of the relationship between them. …

in order to do that I’m going to retain a gambit which I adopted quite late on in the process of my doctoral thesis and really only (fully) incorporated into the final draft. …

—it’s a gambit of which I’m still honestly not wholly sure…

*—I want to locate this reading in the context of recent critical debates which have sought to interpret Nietzsche’s work through the rubric of philosophical *naturalism.[6]

hmm.

… —I’m still not sure that I’ve understood philosophical naturalism as deeply or as clearly as I ought (or need to), you see, but I offer the following from the thesis ‘Introduction’ in the hopes that a review of some of the most important and influential writers and works on naturalism—specifically in the context of Nietzsche’s work—will help to explain precisely why considering Birth as a naturalist text (so to speak) will serve to illuminate and substantiate my reading…

*… —these debates have focussed exclusively on the nature of  Nietzsche’s naturalism in his later philosophy, from Human, All Too Human (1878-1880), onwards, on the whole dismissing Birth as part of an early Schopenhauerian, Wagnerian  and Romantic ‘phase’ of Nietzsche’s work, which he would later—grow out of… (hmm).

Brian Leiter, for instance, argues that Nietzsche’s naturalism constitutes a ‘Methodological Naturalism’ (‘M-Naturalism’), according to which ‘philosophical inquiry […] should be continuous with empirical inquiry in the sciences’.[7]—It is a naturalism whose claims are not necessarily confirmed in a scientific manner, and which therefore remains a ‘Speculative M-Naturalism’, and yet is also in part a ‘Substantive’ naturalism insofar as it holds ‘the (ontological) view that the only things that exist are natural’. (Ibid.)…

—for Leiter then, Nietzsche’s is a naturalism which remains ‘speculative’ insofar as it is intuitive and artistic and yet is also empirical and, therefore, ‘substantive’ in its rejection of metaphysical explanations of phenomena; limiting its own project to an examination of natural drives and forces. …

*engaging with the terms extracted here from Leiter’s understanding of Nietzsche’s naturalism, as well as Ivan Soll’s argument that Nietzsche’s philosophy of art forms: —‘part of an overarching naturalism that grounds the value of any aspect of culture in the way it serves our most basic needs as living creatures’, I want to extend the range of the extant readings of Nietzsche’s idiosyncratic form of philosophical naturalism and its impact on his philosophy of art to argue for a critical reappraisal that sees it as already at stake in Birth.[8]

*as Nietzcshe’s first major published text, Birth, I will argue, represents an (arguably somewhat clumsily framed) opening gambit. …

*—a statement, then,—of (philosophical and artistic) purpose.

—it contains the (as yet—inarticulate,—incompletely fashioned) substance of his most important mature ideas and represents, in essence, I will argue, Nietzsche’s account of the conception of artistic inspiration and creation that will, indeed, go on to underpin his later works and (importantly) his style. …—

 

*I will argue that to read Birth  in this way—as a naturalistic account of artistic inspiration and creation—allows for a reappraisal of a subject of great concern in recent Nietzsche criticism: namely, that of the relationship of his philosophy of art from Birth onwards to the legacies of both Schopenhauer and Romanticism. …

in particular, I will argue for a re-conception of the relationship of Birth to Schopenhauer’s philosophy…

—against the prevalent contemporary critical trend to attribute an uncritical adoption of Schopenhauerian philosophy to the text, I will instead follow the opposing contemporary trend to locate the text within the wider context of Nietzsche’s early rejection of Schopenhauer’s metaphysics in his posthumously published notes and early writings.[9] This will allow me to argue that the deployment of Schopenhauer’s ideas and philosophical vocabulary in Birth is ironic.[10] … *(y-hip.—there it is…).

—for Schopenhauer, the artist is one who achieves liberation from subjective willing and attains access to the Platonic Ideas of which everyday objects are the imperfect expressions, or shadows.[11]

I will argue that in Birth Nietzsche implicitly opposes Schopenhauer’s ‘Platonic’ (—?) conception of art.

*—(one of my central claims here will be that) Nietzsche ironically appropriates the terms of Schopenhauer’s philosophy of art to his own, idiosyncratic form of philosophical naturalism—itself fundamentally at odds with Schopenhauer’s Kantian and Platonic metaphysics.—As Christopher Janaway (rather beautifully and succinctly) puts it…

[Nietzsche] opposes transcendent metaphysics, whether that of Plato or Christianity or Schopenhauer. He rejects notions of the immaterial soul, the absolutely free controlling will, or the self-transparent pure intellect, instead emphasizing the body, talking of the animal nature of human beings, and attempting to explain numerous phenomena by invoking drives, instincts, and affects which he locates in our physical, bodily existence. Human beings are to be “translated back into nature,” since otherwise we falsify their history, their psychology, and the nature of their values—concerning all of which we must know truths, as a means to the all-important revaluation of values. This is Nietzsche’s naturalism in the broad sense.[12]

Janaway argues here that Nietzsche rejects all concepts which can be seen to rest on claims to a transcendent (or) metaphysical foundation.

—in particular, Janaway frames this as a rejection of the key concepts of Schopenhauer’s metaphysics: ‘the absolutely free controlling will’ and ‘the self-transparent pure intellect’, though also (more broadly) of the religious doctrine of the ‘immaterial soul’.—for Nietzsche, he argues, to try to understand human beings and human history (—the history of the ‘human’) in light of these claims to transcendent metaphysical principles is to effectively misinterpret and to falsify that history. …

—in opposition to transcendent metaphysics, then, the history of ‘humanity’ must be ‘translated back into nature’ and understood as the dynamic interplay of natural drives, forces and affects, specifically in terms of the ways in which this interplay forms the, apparently self-identical, phenomenon of ‘the body’. …

*I will argue here that the key terms which, in the context of his larger argument, Janaway attributes to Nietzsche’s later works, are already at stake in Birth

—to read the account of artistic inspiration and creation at stake in Birth as fundamentally anti-metaphysical in this way will ultimately allow me to argue for a re-conception of the text’s relationship to Romanticism. …

*—in contrast, on the one hand, to contemporary critical readings of Birth which argue for the text’s thoroughgoing Romanticism, and, on the other, contrasting accounts which argue for the text’s thoroughgoing rejection of Romanticism, I will argue that Nietzsche’s account of artistic inspiration and creation represents his ironic appropriation of the terms of Romantic accounts of artistic inspiration to an aesthetic which rejects the metaphysics at stake in these accounts.[13]

*and this (for me, absolutely central and crucial ) claim—to a form of… *ironic Romantic—anti-Romanticism—is what will underpin my reading of the parallel between Nietzsche’s writing on art and the critical writing and aesthetic theorising of the neo-classical Modernists. …

—I will argue that Nietzsche’s ironic appropriation of the terms of Romantic accounts of artistic inspiration, and rejection of Romantic, Schopenhauerian and late-romantic aesthetical metaphysics can be used to illuminate the (corresponding-analogous) philosophical claims underpinning the conception of art in the critical and creative writings of the [neo-classical] Modernists.

—in turn, (yes. hmm. —it’s reciprocal…) the definition of the ‘classical’ and claims as to the nature of artistic inspiration and (the limits of) creation of the Modernists will help to illuminate what I will argue is at stake in Birth.

*(in particular, I’ll draw a parallel between the ‘classical’ as this appears in Nietzsche’s later writing on art (—from Human, All Too Human, onward), T.E. Hulme’s essays on Modern art and Bergson’s philosophy, Stephen’s aesthetic theory in Joyce’s fiction (Stephen Hero, Portrait and Ulysses), and Joyce’s own earlier writing on art…

—I will seek to demonstrate that the ‘classical’ is already at stake, then, in the theory of artistic inspiration and creation in Birth).

*—it’s from the terms of this parallel that I’m going to seek to re-state the thesis of *the fold in the self-creation of the artist, which I first framed in my doctoral thesis and which will underpin my own work, and to develop it here. …


[1] Buttigieg refers to Nietzsche, The Use and Abuse of History, trans. Adrian Collins (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1957). Buttigieg, Joseph A., ‘The Struggle against Meta (Phantasma)-Physics: Nietzsche, Joyce and the “Excess of History”’, boundary 2, 9 (1981), 187-207 (see 189).

[2] Jacques Aubert, The Aesthetics of James Joyce (Chicago: John Hopkins University Press, 1992).

[3] 66. See references throughout. F.C. McGrath also seeks to characterise Nietzsche in this way, arguing that ‘turn-of-the-century aesthetics’ was ‘thoroughly imbued’ with Hegel, and that ‘neo-Hegelianism’ had been made ‘widespread in Britain and Europe through the works of Nietzsche and Wagner’, though, again, he appears to offer little evidence to clarify Nietzsche’s ‘neo-Hegelian’ status, or to substantiate his historical claims. See F.C. McGrath, ‘Laughing in His Sleeve: The Sources of Stephen’s Aesthetics’, James Joyce Quarterly, 23, (1986), 259-275, 259-275 (see 260).

[4] ‘Beyond Truth and Freedom: The New Faith of Joyce and Nietzsche’, James Joyce Quarterly, 25 (1987), 87-103.

[5] In his biography of Joyce, Richard Ellmann claims that Joyce had read some of Nietzsche’s work during 1903, but doesn’t provide any details of the extent or depth of this reading, nor of Joyce’s possible consultation of whatever critical material was available on Nietzsche at that time. This leaves little biographical evidence on which to ground any thesis of ‘influence’… (—See Ellmann, James Joyce: New and Revised Edition [Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press, 1982], 142).

[6] On the critical debate on the nature of Nietzsche’s naturalism in relation to his later philosophy see Richard Schacht, ‘Nietzsche’s Gay Science, or, How to Naturalise Cheerfully’, in Robert C. Solomon and Kathleen M. Higgins, eds., Reading Nietzsche (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 68-86. On the naturalism of Nietzsche’s epistemology and philosophy of art, see Schacht, Nietzsche (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1999). Brian Leiter, Nietzsche on Morality (London: Routledge, 2002). See also, Leiter, ‘Nietzsche’s Naturalism Reconsidered’, University of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 235, 2009 (http://ssrn.com/abstract=1171285).

[7] Leiter, Nietzsche on Morality, 3-7.

[8] Ivan Soll, ‘Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and the Redemption of Life through Art’, in Christopher Janaway, ed., Willing and Nothingness: Schopenhauer as Nietzsche’s Educator (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 79-115 (82).

[9] My reading of the critical trend to assert Nietzsche’s early uncritical adoption of Schopenhauer will focus on Julian Young’s Nietzsche’s Philosophy of Art (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).—I will align my own opposition to the position that Young serves to exemplify, with the opposing critical trend to problematise and resist this influence.—See in particular 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: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 344-374 (esp. 344-345).

[10] See Christoph Cox, ‘Nietzsche, Dionysus, and the Ontology of Music’, in Ansell Pearson, ed., A Companion to Nietzsche (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), 495-531. Cox argues that the Apollinian and Dionysian are not concerned with the thing-in-itself and the appearance and that Nietzsche is not reverting ‘back to metaphysical, anti-naturalist distinctions – ontological distinctions between a “true” and an “apparent” world or epistemological distinctions between an unknowable given and ordinary experience or knowledge.’ (499)

[11] On Schopenhauer’s account of the Platonic ‘Idea’ as the object of art, see in particular Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, 2 Vols, trans. E.F.J. Payne, (New York: Dover, 1966), §§31-32, 171-175

[12] Janaway, Beyond Selflessness: Reading Nietzsche’s Genealogy, 34

[13] On the ‘Romanticism’ of Birth see Aaron Ridley, Nietzsche on Art (London: Routledge, 2007) (9). On Nietzsche’s straightforward ‘Anti-Romanticism’, see Adrian Del Caro, Nietzsche contra Nietzsche: Creativity and the Anti-Romantic, (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989), and also Judith Norman, ‘Nietzsche and Early Romanticism’, Journal of the History of Ideas, 63 (2002), 501-519.