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

*—the ‘core’. …

 *and so, then, … (hmm).

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

none-the-less. … (why not?)

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

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

 

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

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

  

*JANUS. …

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

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

the sublime.

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

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

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

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

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

… —I remember,—…

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

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

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

*—reading ‘The Unhappy Consciousness’…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*… —JANUS.

JANUS (gods-abyss)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and so,…

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

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

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

*            *            *

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

 

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

*On ‘purgation’, and the Dionysian sublime…

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

*—the end of history.

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

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

…).

 

*            *            *

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

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

(hmm).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*—modes of the sublime.[5]

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

*and so,…

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

*—the incorporation of the experience of purgation. …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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*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).

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.

*on the ‘eventual artist’. …

*(follows on from: *’the fold of the artist).

the eventual artist.
(—by way of explanation.—by way of apology…).

and so then,…
(hmm).

*I was in love. …

—very deeply in love.
we met (I met you) on what still (oddly) feels to me like it ought to have been the… auspicious (?) occasion of New Year’s Eve, 1999.—on the nervous cusp of the new millennium (century, decade…).

(—on, what felt at the time, like the peculiarly anxious, dying edge of the old-the last millennium… …—like the gradual dissipation of an uncomfortable case of trapped wind… —release (no doubt), but without that feeling of profound relief…).


she was-is (—you are) heart-breakingly beautiful (I remember)…

—beautiful clear, soft pale skin.—elegant, with slightly… elfin (?) features.—long, dark flowing hair and sharp, pure crystal blue eyes.
(—long and slender with gentle curves).

what I was (always) struck by, I think, (looking back) was her (by your)… cool reserve. … —that slightly aloof refinement with which she always held herself.

more than anything, though,—as we talked, then—I was struck by how intelligent and well-read she was (—far more so than me),—and so (caustically) sharp-witted and sarcastic.

—someone smarter and more-informed than me (who also wanted to be a writer), with whom I could talk about books and have a prolonged, flirtatious, caustic battles of wit (and to always lose, of course).

—she was-is (you are)—perfect.

and I loved her (from the beginning, I think).

throughout the course of my undergraduate and Masters study, I became (increasingly) interested in theories of coincidence, the relationship between Philosophy and Literature, Nietzsche’s philosophy, and in the sublime. …

—I was drawn to Nietzsche, I think, because of his writing style and because his philosophy seemed to me to begin and end in or with art, but also because of his conception of the death of God. …

…—not ‘atheism’ (hmm) in any popular sense—as that (sadly widespread) adolescent, petulant misotheism (—hatred of God), espoused by Dawkins (and his ilk). …

—it is not (simply) the case for Nietzsche, as I understand it, that God does not exist (—that God has never existed).

for Nietzsche, God ‘lived’. …

—it is the case that God exists no longer.—that God is dead.

what initially excited and interested me in Nietzsche was the claim itself and, then, his seemingly unflinching examination of its implications for theories of metaphysics, knowledge, truth and to an understanding of morality.

in particular, over what became the hot, glorious summer in-between graduating from my Bachelor’s degree and commencing my Master’s studies (—over successive night-shifts in a stifling cabin that served as security base to a large, grey warehouse on a sprawling industrial estate at the edge of town, where I worked), I read The Birth of Tragedy.

and what I found had a strange and uncanny resonance for me—what I wrote about in my Master’s dissertation under the rubric of the sublime and what I came, later, to feel is concerned with the nature of artistic inspiration and creation and the reception of art—was the relationship between what Nietzsche calls the Dionysian and Apollinian artistic drives, but, more particularly, his claims regarding music and its qualitative and temporal primacy in (or over) the arts…

…—when I was young, my music teacher—a man who I came to think of as a sort of mentor—recruited me, on the basis of vocal talent, into a choir.
(first as a second soprano, then, later, as a (very light) tenor…).

…—he looked like Hegel looks in his sketched portraits—… —like a slightly stern and conservative schoolmaster, with an intense and slightly erratic energy and… zeal (especially when he was conducting), and he was a great musician and organist. though he had a slightly… bumbling and eccentric manner about him, he was essentially very fond of his students and was extremely supportive of their development.

I think that, though I didn’t realise it at the time, he occupied the place of a kind of grandfatherly figure for me…

*his wife, who, even at the time, in a strange and obscure way which I have still failed to resolve properly for myself, I also felt became a mentor-figure for me, became one of the first women priests to be ordained by the Church of England.

—she was quietly wise, dignified and (I think) quite sardonic, and always seemed (knowingly?) to impart a kind of patient calm on those around her (—on her immediate environment), without their awareness…

she had a formal, quiet grace and refinement.

she represented for me, I think (in ways which I have only in more recent times come to begin to understand) as intelligent—an intellectual (form of)—faith.

—she easily and (seemingly) naturally, embodied the… (what?)—qualities (?)—the values she espoused in her (short) ministry.
*(—an unaffected and harmonious seeming correspondence, somehow, between personality (character) and faith, which I think I’ve only ever seen in perhaps one other person…).

I came to love her—to love them both—very much.
she died of cancer while I was still quite young.

and I have always felt that she had been abandoned (by the church), over what still seem to me incredibly petty, narrow-minded, parochial (culturally and artistically bereft) personal and social politics, of the type that seem to dominate the day-to-day functioning of—the predominantly white, middle-class—Anglican and other denominational churches.

and I found (have found.—have clarified for myself), in the intervening time (years) between then and now (—writing this), that had been her (been them) that I had had faith in, and never (truly) in God, or in the church…

and yet.—something (I still feel) remains.—in the music. …

—in works such as Stainer’s The Crucifixion. …

—in the harmonies,—and against the depth—the *volume—of the organ.

*—intensities.
—the sense, felt, of a lift… —something (a condition, or state—?) out, beyond the ‘self’ (subjectivity) as lived everyday.—a state that brings the “self” to a halt.

—an exhilaration and a tension beyond the scale and the scope of the everyday ‘self’ (seeming). and as if the ‘self’ can’t withstand it. …

*—the ‘self’, then,—undone. but in that uncanny start (felt), there is also an exhilaration coupled to the sense of release—the freedom—of all the energy: the drives, forces and desires, leashed and contained in-within the everyday ‘self’. …

*—to, somehow, feel the world raging (there),—against itself (—to feel the way in which the world rages against itself).—the forces harnessed into order: some denied, others willed into compromise, some sublimated to their other ends than their own (willed).

—obliged into a hierarchy of (un)fulfillment. …

—all unveiled,—liberated (unleashed), in(to) full, in-by that experience…

—(the) *sublime.
(—the uncanny, awe, and exhilaration…—?).

—the creation (in art—music), then, of the object-proper of religious feeling (sentiment). …

—that feeling,—that experience, for me now, is always somehow inextricably (as it seems) tied to vague memories of, and my feelings for, her, and to her death.


*—and Nietzsche’s conception of music and of the Dionysian in The Birth of Tragedy, gave me, for the first time, I felt, the intellectual (—intellectual-historical, philosophical, and aesthetic) framework, vocabulary and categories to begin to adequately capture, comprehend and to articulate that experience.

and, at the end of my Master’s degree, I became, yet again, what would now be called a—‘boomeranging adultescent’. …
*(I am now, at the time of attempting to write all this, what would now be termed “underemployed”. and, oh, but good Ch-rist,—the many degrees of (subtle) distinction in the terms of frustration and indignity
(so many,—so very, very many…).).
*a—boo(oo)-muh rang-inga-dul-tessunt(…).

hmm.


my… relationship (—is that the right word… —?) with you seemed to approach (to have been approaching) what felt to me, at least, a… —critical pitch (tension), at that time. …
—it was never, I felt (—it seems to me) a question of capacity, or of capability *(of being capable of loving, or of being loved). …

—it was the case that I never felt *worthy,… —I never felt that I deserved to be loved (by you).
*(—not worthy yet. …

—always waiting for the act, the time,—the accomplishment that would render me—prove me—worthy…).

when I told her that I loved her, I think that, at least in part, I believed—or hoped so fervently that that feeling appeared to border on ‘belief’—that something truly would change between us.—some kind of consummation.—an accomplishment of what I wanted and hoped for
*(—acceptance. recognition. … —a relief from the anxious, nervous tension.—the warmth and safety, the protection, of acceptance…).

but,—nothing happened.


I was too late. …

—too late to stop her getting very badly hurt.
(—in a way, and to an extent which there was no chance of taking back, or of (in any way adequately) offering any understanding, solace, or comfort…

(—I’m sorry).).
—because of my (extreme,—ridiculous) youth,—all my anxieties, apprehension, awkwardness, frustration (—not ready.—no means or resources with which to prove my worthiness, as yet)… I was too afraid—too much of a coward—to tell her that I loved her, until we had (without my having been aware) passed the point at which it could have made a difference,… —had a reached a point at which it was already too late.

and although she told me that my feelings were reciprocated (and I believe that she really did love me,—before all of this), we were never able to overcome all the things that served to keep us apart from one another.

we still saw each other (though not as often as I would’ve liked)—and remained friends, but I always felt that there was an oppressive evasion between us,—something (the thing that remained) always between us, not being said, but always sensibly present (always felt).

over the course of my undergraduate study, I think I had achieved a level of success (—intellectually and in terms of success in writing) than I had believed (certainly been led to believe) myself capable…

and this had seemed to continue, in (what felt to me) like a sort of a (gradual) rising arc, through the course of my Master’s study.
*(and I felt that I was approaching, at least, that… thing,… that state, that I wanted to be—an intelligent, engaging, informed writer, with an accomplishment—an object, in the world—as palpable proof…).

at the end of my Master’s,—uncertain, then, of what I would do next—of what I would be trying to accomplish, I suppose…

—I ‘boomeranged’, then, (back) to the town where I had grown up, and I took work in financial litigations at the solicitor’s firm where I had worked before my undergraduate degree, in essence, to try to earn enough to undertake doctoral study…
it’s strange. …

—that feeling *(—complex of feelings),—of having slowed, somehow. … —of having stagnated (slight). …

*—an uneasy, imbalanced, fluctuating… —mixture (composite-conglomerate) of embarrassment (humiliation would, perhaps, be too melodramatic), a choked-stifled frustration, and a sort of nervous impatience, that comes from being obliged into an return and (what is felt to be) a step back (—down).
*(—. of having to hang back—to hold back. even with a certainty (felt) of what you could and should be doing—are capable of and are ready for…

—of not having the time, or the access to resources, that you feel you need…).

…*—it’s a feeling (or,—a state of mind, perhaps) I think, that must be all-too familiar and widespread to people of my generation (and those immediately following us.—the ‘millenials’,—so-called…),—following in the wake of the regrettable, undeniable, ineluctable failure of ‘free’ (—unregulated, supposedly self-regulating) market economics in the collapse of the U.S. housing market bubble *(as only the very latest historical example of the inevitable self-undoing, self-destructive logic of such economics and of the, now seemingly unstoppable, neo-liberal political ideology which drives and rigourously safe-guards the unregulated market), and the heedless, ill-conceived, ill-executed acquisitions and unchecked, unethical trading of the banks.

*(—in a time of unprecedented and increasing level of access to cultural, historical and artistic artifacts-works, and yet without the time, education, or the intellectual or economic resources to engage with, read or use those resources…).

thanks to the greed (and it is greed), myopia, self-interest and cultural and intellectual poverty of few…

hunh. …
—I’ve never seen the real attraction of money-wealth…

—we are told (by those still in authority, who are supposed to know—) that incomprehensibly large sums of money must be offered as remuneration for work in the contemporary ‘city’,—in order to be able to attract the very brightest and best,—the (intelligent and capable) ‘talent’…

hmm.

—if that were truly the case, and those operating and trading prior to the global economic crash were truly intelligent, prescient and capable enough, surely the crash itself would not have happened… (—?).

and. why?—I find myself asking—must (frankly) obscene financial reward be the sole incentive at stake?

—if there is no innate dignity, skill, accomplishment and satisfaction in (to be derived from) work that obscene financial compensation must be offered, then it is clear (at least so it seems to me) that that is not work worth doing in the first instance…
(and, if indeed there is (innate) dignity, skill, accomplishment and satisfaction in the work, then that obscene compensation is already (in advance) obsolete,—superfluous… …).

—I would understand (I feel) if those so ‘compensated’ (even those summarily removed from office for gross negligence, dereliction of duty or flat incompetence), used their obscene wealth to fund lives of dizzying and unparalleled activity and accomplishment… —travel; geographic, cultural, artistic, scientific exploration and discovery,…

hell.—even just a startling, heinous and depraved burn of drink and drug-fuelled sordid, unnatural sex acts and mad and unconscionable gambling in Vegas…

but. (hmm).—what is that we’re left with… (—with what are we presented)—?

—with a small, drab, indistinguishably homogenous-seeming array of uncultured, inartistic, unintellectual, uninspired and inarticulate grey dullards…

—wet prophylactics, filled with porridge, stuffed into starched suits, whose only (lamentable) course of action, it would appear, is to use exclusive plutocratic, nepotistic cliques to secure further, dull, soulless, wealth-generating positions…

(—(h)wh-ettpro fi lactick-ss…).
hmm.

and well. anyway… —so much for the dull, grey porridge-prophylactic mutants…

*(apologies for that digression…).

 

 

…—to have been living (so close to) the life you wanted and aspired to, and then to have to sacrifice (contact with) it, (if only for a time) and to (have to) step back to the time (and place.—the space) before…

*—at around that time, I saw you again. …

and something changed in our relationship (to each other). …

that one night in particular…

I remember.—she was in the pub we always went to-met in,—sat at a small table with a group of friends (I didn’t know them), to the side of the crowded, noisy bar.

—I’d been away, then,—reaching the end of my studies, and hadn’t seen her for a long while.

I’d been in the beer garden, with some friends, and had gone inside to buy the next round.

I’d hoped that I would see her there. (—I knew that she would be there…).

I walked into the bar (through the side door, there), and I saw you, sitting there, with those others.

and you looked up, and saw me.
—and her face (—her eyes)—lit up (to see me there). …
(I remember that her friends—the others around the table—looked confused as to why it was that I warranted the (obvious)… —quality, and the depth, of that response. …

—everybody she knew (everyone you meet) fell in love with…).

and we talked, alone (at the bar), for a while…

*and there was a (palpable?-a sensible) change in the… energy (sic) between us that night.

…—a kind of nervous (—slightly tense) excitement, I think.
(I felt your excited, nervous, apprehension).

*and she let me know that things (for her) had changed, and that now, given some time, there was a chance for us to be together.

and we both knew, I think, that that was it—how (deeply) in love with each other we were.
(—that thing that I never felt worthy of).

and though I had to leave her, then, and rejoin the others I was with (—a social obligation), (—I wish I hadn’t. … —I know that it’s strange, and more than slightly irrational, but I think I always resented them, after that…).

for the rest of that evening we couldn’t keep our eyes off each other, I remember.

and we agreed to see each other again, soon after, to talk…

but, when we did meet, for reasons I think I understand, the wall (—of aloof evasiveness and reservation) in-between us rose back up. (—those awkward, apprehensive, pregnant silences).—and nothing happened.

*(—a lot (the mass) of what I write will be about my sadness, frustration and regret at all those things which felt so close,—so vital (—necessary), and yet which failed to happen…).

at that time, I remember, I was (painfully) frustrated, anxious, and embarrassed because I lacked momentum, and direction. *(because—to you—I would appear to lack direction, and accomplishment, and momentum.—to be lost and floundering…). …—because, my… (what?)—my career (?—sic),—my development (I suppose), from which I had gleaned any and all satisfaction and self-confidence, had, in effect, stalled…

and though I felt that I had (some sort of) an ambition, I felt that I hadn’t yet found what I was looking for.

*(but that I would know it when I did.

—that it would be (in some way) hard, definite,… —concrete, and would answer for all those things that I was interested in-was drawn to.—all those things about myself that I was still struggling to understand, and to overcome…

and would demonstrate—would prove—(concretely, incontrovertibly) their value, and the value of the attempt to understand them).

—that the attempts I had made had been clumsy, pretentious and inadequate (—had failed to reach, and to articulate, that thing—that… thought (?) that I felt I had been somehow pursuing—? —trying to grasp,—clearly…).

during the course (—toward the end) of my Master’s studies, I had taken (for some—clearly unwholesome—reason that I forget now) to reading Joyce’s early fiction,—particularly A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

I was taken, particularly, I remember, with the struggle against social, political, religious and sexual forces on the part of a protagonist who aspired (however arrogantly, naïvely or misguidedly) to become an artist, and—by extension—with the attempted formulation of a theory of art. *(—of the *‘image’. …).

later, I read the early draft (fragment) of Portrait,—Stephen Hero.—like most readers and critics, I was drawn to the earlier draft/incarnation of the aesthetic theory of Portrait, and especially to the concept of the ‘epiphany’. …

*…—in the process of doing research on Joyce, I came across accounts of the life of his daughter, Lucia. …

—after a turbulent childhood (understandable, given who her father was…), Lucia became a renowned modernist dancer in Paris. it’s rumoured that she had an affair with Samuel Beckett.

—having always been somewhat erratic and disturbed in her behaviour, at some point, Lucia disappeared, and what found later, wandering the streets of Dublin.

despite having consulted numerous therapists and psychoanalysts (amongst them, Carl Jung—always a mistake…), it was eventually decided on the part of the Joyce family, that they were not capable of giving her the care she required.

and what gave me an uncanny start, and interested me in Lucia’s plight, was that the decision was taken for Lucia to be taken into the care of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Joyce’s wealthy patron, and Lucia was moved to be near to her.

—Lucia was moved to St. Andrew’s Hospital in Northampton.—St. Andrews is located, on one side, next door to Northampton General Hospital, where I was born, and, on the other, to the school I attended.
*(—for a mush better and more accurate of the details of Lucia’s life, the reader should consult Carol Loeb Shloss’s Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake (Bloomsbury: London, 2004)…)

—Lucia passed away in December of 1982—five months after I was born.

and I found that coincidence strange, and uncanny. …


though I had received a firm offer of a place on a PhD, working on Joyce and Derrida from The University of Warwick
(—a place for which I have a great deal of gratitude and affection. … —my plan had been to stay at Warwick and move in with a good friend of mine, who had also, originally, planned to stay on for doctoral study)
—I remember I had distinct reservations…

—I had had the extreme good fortune to work with Dr Simon Malpas during my undergraduate study at Manchester Metropolitan University.

—he was a huge influence on me, mostly, I think, because he is a man whose (frankly, intimidating) intelligence, teaching and relationship to his students I admire, and because he was one of the first people (in such a position) who took me seriously (intellectually) and considered me an intelligent student, with potential.

—he introduced me to the study of Philosophy and of critical theory (alongside Literature), invited me to join a PhD reading group on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, was the one who originally encouraged me into further study, arranged the references for my Master’s, helped me submit (successful) funding applications, and, alongside Dr Paul Wake, commissioned me to write my first academic published work for The Routledge Companion to Critical Theory. …

—in short, he was, and remains, a personal hero of mine and I owe him a very great deal (I still feel)…

before I graduated and left Manchester, he had been offered the position of Senior Lecturer in the English Literature Department at The University of Edinburgh, and had suggested that I move there, eventually, to work with him on my doctorate.

toward the end of my Master’s degree, we met, by (what seemed to me) a strange and auspicious coincidence, by chance, at a conference on ‘Rhetoric, Politics & Ethics’ in Ghent, Belgium.

—I had already arranged the position on the PhD at Warwick at that point, and he expressed his disappointment and, in effect, convinced me to reject that offer and to move to Edinburgh.
(my friend had also changed his plans and had arranged to move back to the States (and to Korea), which, I remember, was the final decisive factor in my decision…).
*(and, when I look at it now, framed in those terms, it (still now), to me, looks like the… (what?)—the right, and even, perhaps, the necessary (—inevitable?) (the only, I suppose) decision… (—? is that too strong… —?)…).

but, making that decision left with time. (—with a dull-feeling, frustrating gap-hiatus.—a back step).—waiting…

—to reject one offer—to abandon one proposal—and to have to wait to formulate another (—a new proposal) and secure a new offer…

*and I wanted to accomplish something.—to create an (intellectually and philosophically thoroughgoing) object in the world, as tangible, solid, measurable proof of what, up until that point, I had only ever… felt,—intuited (I suppose),—indistinctly *(exhilaratingly and frustratingly vague, partial and —indistinct) before. …
*(—something more than just another arbitrary and infinitely replaceable thesis, formed around marginal-ancillary intellectual curiosities, with nothing particularly (personally or intellectually) at stake in it, and with no apparent bearing on the world, outside of an esoteric field of effete academic interests. … —not simply another box-ticking, résumé padding, ladder-climbing exercise, engendered solely to gain access to an exclusive (and often nepotistic) clique… …).

over that (late) summer.—working in the law firm. …

reading in all spare moments (time): in breaks, during the evenings,… —late into the night (the early morning).

the long walks.—to work (there). and back.
(to the modern, architecturally non-descript, beige-brick commercial estate, clearly established-built for reasons of the economic advantage on the cheap land on the outskirts of town—out in the fields, by the river…).

with plenty of time. to think.—about her (—about you).—about the embarrassment, frustration and the wounded pride at having ‘boomeranged’ (—yes) back (again)
*(—about being seen to have boomeranged back again.—being seen by you to have—…).

…—about how I seemed (still seem—?) to be incapable of showing you what I feel I am (—could be),—what I felt (feel) I could be capable of accomplishing—but only this… (what?) hmm—this strange, inadequate, fumbling, failing *(—self-pitying) creature *(—nervous, hunched,—simian), I have always felt I must appear to you as (—am)…

*reading Joyce… —the bildungsroman (—the novel of the development of a culture),—the künstlerroman (—the novel of the development of an art)…
—reading Joyce’s earlier fiction. …

—the text which narrates the development of a culture,—of an art, and, at the same time, embodies that art…

—… but most of all, I think, time to think about my study.

* … —have you ever been in the situation, or the position, of… feeling (—some sort of intuition (—?)) that something (some thing) was happening (something with a great deal of personal significance), but, at the same time, of being aware that—at least as yet—you lack the… resources (intellectual, conceptual,—philosophical),—the vocabulary,… —the wherewithal (and, therefore, the confidence), to understand it (fully),—to comprehend it, name it and set it down (to articulate it). …

—could only, ever, comprehend it and set it down retrospectively—after the fact. …

?

*walking beside the park… *(—the long walk back).

I remember that it was a very warm, bright late-summer afternoon (—moving into early evening)…

the sky was perfectly clear and the air was warm but fresh.

the park—the broad, open, rolling commons—were empty.

—there was a dark, liquid blue-green of shade (slightly… dusty at the edges) beneath the trees…
and there (I think), it occurred to me.

—thinking about you, and about humiliation (felt), frustration, and wounded pride.

—that I loved you and yet couldn’t seem to get past all the problems in-between us (and, really, I was just too fucking young. …).

—that I couldn’t seem to stop myself (despite myself) acting and talking like a besotted idiot (—I was (—am?) a besotted idiot…).

—about the embarrassment of having felt I was… moving (forward-onward.—growing-developing—) and coming close to accomplishing what I wanted to accomplish *(again,—to write something with genuine intellectual depth, value and insight, with something at stake in it…), and having halted, and fallen back.

and, most of all, that I had no means (—the resources) to show you, finally and incontrovertibly, that I am (could be) worthy of you…

—anxiety, embarrassment, frustration…

ideas (always felt to have been growing,… —maturing,—becoming more articulate, —more refined), ambition (—that constant, low, pressing ache).

—all seemed now (then,—there) to converge. (—?)
*(as if I was—carried away by a sort of impression: a semi-conscious, partial, obscure idea,—unevolved,—undeveloped…

waiting, somehow, in a way, beneath everything else,—to be realised.

—a moment of (a sort of) revelation.

uncanny. …

*the ‘homely’,—the familiar,—the hidden or secreted (repressed)—suddenly uncovered.—become unhomely (unfamiliar.—new. … —reborn, in a way…).

—a conception had had of myself (—the ‘self’ as-had taken-it-to-be),—undone (in a way).—a misconception of myself.

involuntary.

—a crossing of a sort of threshold. (—a line. …).

a moment (or,—experience), unsought-for and involuntary, in which something that was mistaken or veiled, is revealed…

—an ironic inversion. …

and a distance, then, afterward, occupied—on what was lived before (—before the break).

—a sort of a disconnect.

*(a strange sensation. …

sudden.

a jolt.—a… quake (felt), in, through and across the chest.

a cool, fibrous, empty electric aching surge…

and a distending, aching surge also felt , at the same time, in the head—the mind…

that all that was known—all that I had thought that I knew (for certain—as definite)—had become—was always—unknown.

and I was a fool ever to have thought that I knew…

—a strange sort of displacement

all that I had thought that I knew,—nearly everything I felt when I was labouring under that misconception—had been empty, hollow and false, somehow.

and I wasn’t able to think like that, or to feel that way, anymore. even if I wanted to. …

*(—a realisation, then, of how small I had been (and a sense of how small I still was).—how more there was (is)—to know…).

—that I was not that anymore…).

and there, beside the park, on that (long) walk home on a late summer afternoon,—the thought occurred…

and then I (felt I) knew. (—felt that it had become clear. …).

—an answer. to that cool-burning ache felt—tense, taut—of anxiety, frustration and embarrassment, in the chest and in the mind.

—a (nervous)… thrill. felt.

—a surge: —a warm wave, rising.—a lift

*—to use that… what?… —that situation (sic),—with you.

—to (try to) understand my relationship to her (—my ‘mentor’) and how it (truly) affected me, and my relationship (sic) with ‘religion’—God,—the church (—Anglican Christianity),—my experience of music…

—to take all of my experience (—the anxiety, frustration, embarrassment, wounded pride, ambition,—love…), to bring it (all the fragments) together, and to turn it to account

*to try to use the thesis as a means to understand and to articulate it all—through (reference to) an as intellectually thoroughgoing understanding of a set of (seemingly crucial) philosophical and literary texts and concepts as possible…

to (somewhat surreptitiously) use my readings of Nietzsche (especially on music and the sublime) and of Joyce’s early fiction and critical writing—all of which I felt at the time represented the clearest and strongest influences on me—to read my experience (including that moment itself)…

and to produce, not just another functional, arbitrary, replaceable thesis, but to (try to) create something—a work—with something truly at stake within it.

and, in turn, to use that… (process of) working out as an intellectual ground/foundation for (an attempt to produce) a work of art.

—to produce a novel, closely, honestly and painfully drawn from my experience.
*(—a novel, provisionally entitled *— Notes of a Vanishing Quantity, which I finished quite recently, and have begun to enter the process of attempting to have published…).

—companion pieces, then.

*(influenced, in part by Joyce’s early, quasi-autobiographical fiction, and also by Nietzsche’s project for a drama based on the life of the philosopher Empedocles—originally intended as a dramatic counterpart to the (theoretical) Birth of Tragedy—the original “sketches” for which seem to have evolved, over time, into Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

*—for which, see Daniel Breazeale, Philosophy and Truth: Selections from Nietzsche’s Notebooks of the early 1870s (New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1979)).

…—the experiences I wanted to comprehend and to articulate informing the focus and direction of my thesis (my research…), and, reciprocally, my research and the draft material and various chapters of my thesis informing the substance of the novel (—of Notes)…

*(as (for) an example,… —

I had been drawn, during my Master’s, to the work of Ludwig Feuerbach, (in particular) The Essence of Christianity, and especially to the terms of Feuerbach’s appropriation of Hegel’s conception of *self-alienation (—in The Phenomenology of Spirit) and his own conception of the end of Christianity…

and so,… I would go away, study and produce a reading of Feuerbach’s conception of self-alienation, which I felt could (somehow) be used, in part, to help explain Nietzcshe’s use of the sublime and conception of music in The Birth of Tragedy.

and that reading, then, could in turn, inform how I understood and wrote about my relationship to my mentor and to music…

…).

—and that would be the project (—the plan) for my doctorate…
—and it failed.

my examiners described my work as ‘idiosyncratic’ and ‘intemperate’. … —though the thesis ‘passed’, they, and Simon (my supervisor) actively discouraged me from attempting to have it published (—in its ‘current form’.)…

and though I did have a discussion with an editor for a major academic publisher, proposing (what in effect amounted to) an introductory book on Nietzsche and Modernism, I abandoned this latter project, I think because it would have meant having to abandon my thesis—the comparison of Nietzsche and Joyce’s conceptions of artistic inspiration and the ‘classical’, and their (mutual) ironic appropriation of the Romantic in the fold of the self-creation of the artist—which I felt I still hadn’t had any feedback on or criticism of (—no way to test, revise, modify and justify…)
*(the terms of the comparison had gone unmentioned in viva voce examination).
and, frankly, it seems to me that the world at large simply does not need (yet) another (potted) introductory account of the bloody stream-of-consciousness (in Woolf, et.al), and how ‘isn’t it a bit like, y’know, ‘Becoming’ in Nietzsche, or whatever’ (—fuck. …), etc. …

(hmm).

*—I didn’t get what I had hoped for from my doctorate, in terms of producing a work (—an object). …

—I had passed my Master’s degree on the basis of the ‘quality of the writing’ (—the ideas really were misguided shit).—I felt that I had lost that.

—in the process of editing and re-writing (—learning to write a PhD) I had lost the style and the work I wanted to write…

*in terms of reading (breadth and depth) and comprehension (philosophical, literary and (art-)historical)—I got what I wanted, but felt that that was compromised in (by) the writing *(precisely not compromises, but (involuntary) concessions. …).
and so that is the nature of this experiment now.

—if I can’t escape the ‘idiosyncratic’ and/or the ‘intemperate’, then perhaps there is still a chance, in a way, that I might be able (—capable, somehow) to turn them to account…

*and so, then. …

—this blog—this experiment *(about which I am genuinely anxious)—will represent a development of what became the central concern of my doctoral thesis. …

*—I will focus on a close-reading of Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy (though drawing on his earlier and later writing) as an account of artistic inspiration and creation.—this will form the heart of what I want to do here…

—I will draw a comparison between the terms of this account and those of the (consecutive) incarnations of Stephen’s aesthetic theory in Joyce’s fiction (—Stephen Hero A Portrait of the Artist as a Young ManUlysses) and critical writing, and the critical writing of T.E. Hulme and Ezra Pound.

—I want to draw out a full close-reading here, of the term or concept which becomes crucial to both Nietzche and neo-classical Modernism’s accounts:

*—the ‘classical’. …

—Nietzsche, Joyce and Hulme, in particular, all use the term to distinguish their conceptions of art from (what they dub) *the ‘romantic’ (—indicating the artistic movement, period and figures who became, retroactively, known as Romantic, but also a much broader aesthetic trend)…

*I will argue that, for Nietzsche and for the (self-styled) neo-classical Modernists, the ‘classical’ represented an ironic appropriation of the terms of Romantic accounts of artistic inspiration. …

—that is,… —they seek to maintain the terms of Romantic accounts of an intensely undergone, involuntary aesthetic experience, whilst (however) explicitly, and polemically, rejecting the (oracular,—hyperbolic) register and metaphysical claims (—claims to the metaphysical) of Romanticism.
*(and I’m thinking here of—and will, hopefully grant myself the opportunity to consider in some detail—both the German, ‘Jena’ frühromantik—(in particular) the Schlegels, Novalis and Holderlin, and of British Romanticism… —Coleridge, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats and Byron
though also of (self-styled) late-Romanticism, like that of W.B. Yeats…).

—where, for the ‘romantic’ (—the Romantics), inspiration presents a transcending of the bounds of the quotidian and of subjectivity,—attaining access to the transcendental, to ‘Nature’ (esp. Novalis and Holderlin), or perhaps some conception of a ‘Platonic’, ‘Ideal’ realm (of the ‘Good’, the ‘True’ and the ‘Beautiful’) (—for Shelley and for Yeats misreading and following him), for the self-styled neo-classicists, by contrast, inspiration remains firmly anchored in, and responsible to, the realm of the quotidian (—the everyday).

*—Nietzsche’s and neo-classical Modernist accounts of artistic inspiration and creation represent attempts to negotiate the legacy of Romanticism,—seeking to redeem it from its late-Romantic fate *(—as I will seek to argue, both philosophically and politically)…
*(and a large part of my reason for having chosen Nietzsche and neo-classical Modernism is to be able to articulate (the tenor or pathos of) the experience I felt I underwent,… —in terms explicitly rejecting the metaphysical (—the Death of God)…).

*…—what I am interested in are accounts of what provokes, or stimulates, the process of artistic creation, and, on the basis of these accounts, how art relates to claims regarding
*epistemology: knowledge.—what we can know and from whence and how that knowledge derives.
*(subsequently)—ontology: —claims to (the nature of) truth,
and what, finally, on the basis of epistemology and ontology (knowledge and truth), can be said about how we ought to conduct ourselves *(—what it means to be honest about we can know and what we can claim, as a result, regarding truth)… *—ethics. …

*in the end, then, this will have been about where I think art needs to stand, the claims it is capable of making (and/or is obliged to deny), and what art is, and has to do
*(—the issues that anyone interested in art or with ambitions or, perhaps, pretensions to being an artist can’t help but address, if they’re honest)
—too lightly (or glibly) treated, or simply elided, by some contemporary figures
*(and, when the time comes, I want to draw on the works of playwright Jo Clifford and popular philosopher Alain de Botton as two examples of the problems I think such treatment or elision can lead to…
*(—and I’m going link all of that to what I see as the problems of the ‘romantic’ and of Humanism).

*—I want to… unpack and to develop a set of claims (epistemological, ontological, and ethical) and a model for art from a (hopefully) careful reading of the works of Nietzsche and the neo-classical Modernists, and to, try to, begin to lay the intellectually thoroughgoing (if still woefully philosophically naïve and shamefully easily contestable) foundations for a larger art project…

—to attempt here what I didn’t seem to be able to achieve in my thesis, and couldn’t hope to do in establishing an (early) academic career, of any particular flavour or hue… —not (necessarily) because it simply isn’t possible, or because I’m not capable,—both may genuinely be the case, but I didn’t really have the opportunity to find out—but because it is actively prohibited: it is not in the nature of the résumé-padding, box-ticking, networking, careerist beast that is contemporary academia…

and so,…
(hell)

this will have been an ‘idiosyncratic’, ‘intemperate’, and subjective piece of polemic, I suppose, and not a scholarly work (in any meaningful sense), and most certainly not a piece of Joyce scholarship *(—the way in which I treat Joyce is, as I have had confirmed, partial and inadequate, and, at best, can be said to join a thread or train that most probably ran out of steam, or became obsolescent, some time in the 1960s…).
*(—though my thesis was, of course, supervised and examined,—this will not have been a peer-reviewed work. … ).

*—I don’t want to be misunderstood here. …

(though, as I indicated, I’ll retain and continue to use scholarly apparatuses where I feel they are useful or necessary for the reader, or where I just bloody well feel like it… ).

*—(in the end,) this will have been, in part, a (much-belated) love letter, in part an autobiography, and, in part,—the fragmented remnants of a doctoral thesis. …
(—three-quarter zoo-chimp…—?).

*—a series of self-contained fragments, playing on the blog and the academic article forms, which—nonetheless—aim to add up to an ongoing work…


*and so then,… —toward a form of general (faltering, provisional) outline…

*’the fold of the artist’ – by way of context…

FOLD3

the fold of the artist.
—artistic inspiration and the artist in Nietzsche and Modernism
Dr. M.D. Bolsover

Has anyone at the end of the nineteenth century a clear idea of what poets of strong ages have called inspiration? […T]he idea that one is merely incarnation, merely mouthpiece, merely a medium of overpowering forces. The concept of revelation—in the sense that suddenly, with indescribable certainty and subtlety, something becomes visible, audible, something that shakes one to the last depths and throws one down—that merely describes the facts. One hears, one does not seek; one accepts, one does not ask who gives; like lightning, a thought flashes up, with necessity, without hesitation regarding its form—I never had any choice.
*(Friedrich Nietzsche, ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’ in Ecce Homo, 295-307; §3, 300-301.—300).

*indeed. …

PART FIRST – in which (by way of introduction)
the author apologises, falters, begins…

*notes.

all this will appear fragmentary—disjointed, structureless, abrupt, and arbitrary—for which, I suppose, I owe an apology…

*(—I need to crave the indulgence, and the patience, of any and all of my would-be readers…

—I need to crave your indulgence…).

*—I want to use this as a sort of an experiment. …

about which I am genuinely anxious.
—to present a single work (of sorts) as (in. through.) a series (—ongoing.—indefinite) of posts. …

—to play on the ‘blog’ form…
*—what I want to do is to try to set down a complete account—a complete theory—of artistic inspiration: of what I’ll define as an intensely undergone aesthetic experience, in which a change in the disposition of an observer (—of the eventual artist), coincides with a change in the disposition of the thing observed, revealing (—rendering sensible/knowable/apparent) a *quality—in the thing,—in the observer, which had always been (implicitly) present, and yet which had remained hidden, veiled, or somehow repressed, up until the moment of its revelation.

…in essence,—the experience of an *ironic inversion, in which a shape of consciousness—the thing as-had-taken it to be (—the ‘self’ as-had-taken it to be)—is undone and is revealed to be the very opposite of that which it had been taken to be; this revelation then going on to form the foundation for a new shape of consciousness, liberated from the former self-misapprehension.

—and this revelation, undoing, inversion and reformation are what inspires, and what are captured in, the work of art. …

and it is this process—in its entirety—that I’ll seek to define in what follows as—
*the fold in the self-creation of the artist. …

*before I begin with all of that, though, I want to (try to) explain myself, at least a little…

*(and this means, at times, I’m aware, that I’ll be obliged to take myself too seriously, and that my writing will remain, despite any of what might be my best intentions, I fear, far too self-indulgent.—precious and purple…).

this will have been, in part, an autobiography (—of sorts). …

and I want to lay out the context of all of this:… —all of the (pertinent) details, as it seems to me,—as coldly, cleanly and precisely as I can.—and why it constitutes, for me, precisely an experiment…

*—I will focus on a comparison of the accounts of artistic inspiration in the works of Friedrich Nietzsche and some of the most famous and influential, self-styled, neo-classical Modernist writers and critics,—in particular, James Joyce, T.E. Hulme and Ezra Pound.

(—why?)

(hmm).

—in essence, because (in the more distilled form of a comparison of Nietzsche and Joyce) this formed the focus of my doctoral thesis, which I completed at the University of Edinburgh,—a couple of years ago now…

—in part, I’m simply too lazy and far too anxious to start, from scratch (as is said.—for want), with an entirely new work. but, mostly, I feel, I’m just not really finished with all of this quite yet…

and so, (and hell,—why not?)… —I‘m going to use the mass of that thesis material here, in what will be a substantially re-arranged and (heavily) edited form, with some restored excised material, some further explicatory and exploratory notes and asides, and what I hope will represent a further and deeper development of my thesis, couched in language that actual human beings and readers (it is fervently hoped) might actually stand a chance of being able to follow…

*to begin,—by way of some sort of an introduction—it seems important (—vital?) to me to try to offer an explanation as to why. … —as to what I was originally attempting in my thesis (both personally and intellectually) and of all that led up to it.

and why it failed. …

and why it is that now I want, or feel drawn, to take advantage of the… (what?)—the space and/or the opportunity that this forum provides to conduct this experiment…

most of all, I want to write, I think, to the person who was always at the centre of all this,—of everything to(-for) me, and for whom it was intended. (—for you…).

*(I remember reading Kurt Vonnegut’s advice to writer’s, in his author’s ‘Introduction’ to the collection of his early fiction, Bagombo Snuffbox, to always write for one person.

Vonnegutt always wrote to his sister…

—my ‘ideal reader’ (?), I suppose, is always partly me, but mostly you, I think…

—I write to be recognised and to be understood (and pardoned)—by you…).

…—to redeem (—to retrieve) all of my failed (disappointed,—frustrated) ambition.—to turn all of this… material (? for want) to account, and to make it, now, here, accomplish (in some as yet undefined, unqualified, measure) all that I still seem to feel I need to accomplish. (still feel that dull, persistent aching in the chest for…).