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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

(Hmm.).

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

… ).

 

 

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

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

 

 

And so,… (why ever not?) …

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

*—(‘heroic’) individuation.

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

*—from within themselves. …

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

*

 

the fold (ii)

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

(Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, §3.,—300)

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

*And so, …

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

*… Thus (—so,). …

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

[Ansell Pearson Nietzsche contra Rousseau, 25]

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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


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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Light as a shuttle o’er the water went.

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

The blissful brink, so sweetly as to drown

Power to recall, far more to write it here.

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

Did that fair lady, and she plunged me in,

So that I needs must drink the water down;

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The ‘root’ of the principle is fourfold: …

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

However, he offers a substantial qualification. … —

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

* … —‘He is no longer an artist’. …

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

*(—an ‘artisticphenomenon’. …).

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

*—‘Excess revealed itself as truth.

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

*—the birth of tragedy. …

 

 

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—See Kaufmann’s editor’s note, —37.