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Nietzsche, Philosophy and the Arts

edited by

SALIM KEMAL University of Dundee

IVAN GASKELL Harvard University Art Museums


DANIEL W. CONWAY The Pennsylvania State University


Nietzsche's writings .have shaped much contemporary reflection on the relation between philosophy and art. This book brings together a number of distinguished contributors to examine his aesthetic account of the origins and ends of philosophy. They discuss the transformative power which Nietzsche ascribes to aesthetic activity, including his aesthetic justification of existence and its fusion of social and personal existence, and they investigate his experiments with an "aesthetic politics" and a politicization of aesthetics. Together their essays set out the ground for future debate about the interrelation between art, philosophy, and value.

Contributors to this volume Stephen Bonn

Randall Havas

Ernst Behler

Timothy W. Hiles

John Carvalho

Fiona Jenkins

Claudia Crawford

Salim Kemal

Daniel W. Conway

Martha Nussbaum

Adrian Del Caro

Aaron Ridley

Ivan Gaskell

Henry Staten

Nietzsche's writings have shaped much contemporary reflection on the relation between philosophy and art. This book brings together a number of distinguished contributors to examine his aesthetic account of the origins and ends of philosophy. They discuss the transformative power Nietzsche ascribes to aesthetic activity, including his aesthetic justification of existence and its fusion of social and personal existence, and they investigate his experiments with an "aesthetic politics" and a politicization of aesthetics. Together their essays set out the ground for future debate about the interrelation between art, philosophy, and value.


Nietzsche, philosophy and the arts



Advisory board

Stanley Cavell, R. K. Elliott, Stanley E. Fish, David Freedberg, Hans-Georg Gadamer, John Gage, Carl Hausman, Ronald Hepburn, Mary Hesse, Hans-Robert Jauss, Martin Kemp, Jean Michel Massing, Michael Podro, Edward S. Said, Michael Tanner


The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RP, United Kingdom CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS

The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge, CB2 2RU, United Kingdom 40 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011-3211, USA 10 Stamford Road, Oakleigh, Melbourne 3166, Australia

© Cambridge University Press 1998 This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published 1998 Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge Typeset in Melior 10/12.5 pt


A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data Nietzsche, philosophy and the arts / edited by Salim Kemal, Ivan Gaskell, Daniel W. Conway. p. cm. - (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and the Arts) Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 0521 59381 6 (hardback) 1. Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, 1844-1900 - Aesthetics. 2. Aesthetics, Modern - 19th century. I. Kemal, Salim. II. Gaskell, Ivan. III. Conway, Daniel W. IV. Series. B3318. A4N54 1998 97-18726 CIP 111'.85'092 dc21 ISBN 0 521 59381 6 hardback


List of illustrations List of contributors List of abbreviations




.. xu

Nietzsche and art




Nietzsche's conception of irony




The transfigurations of intoxication: Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Dionysus




Nietzschean self-transformation and the transformation of the Dionysian




Socratism and the question of aesthetic justification




What is the meaning of aesthetic ideals?




The splitting of historical consciousness




Gustav Klimt's Beethoven Frieze, truth, and The Birth of Tragedy




Improvisations, on Nietzsche, on jazz JOHN CARVALHO




Contents 9

Performative identity: Nietzsche on the force of art and language




Dionysus lost and found: literary genres in the political thought of Nietzsche and Lukacs




Nietzsche's politics of aesthetic genius




Love's labor's lost: the philosopher's Versucherkunst




Nietzsche's Dionysian arts: dance, song, and silence













Marie-Philippe Coup in de la Couperie, Sully showing his Grandson the Monument containing the Heart of Henri IV at La Fleche, Musee National du Chateau de Pau. Photo © RMN Gustav Klimt, Beethoven Frieze, 1902, detail: "Yearning for Happiness," 2.2 x 34 m. (panel), Osterreichischen Galerie, Vienna Gustav Klimt, Beethoven Frieze, 1902, detail: "The Hostile Powers," 2.2 x 34 m., Osterreichischen Galerie, Vienna Gustav Klimt, Beethoven Frieze, 1902, detail: "Poetry," 2.2 x 34 m., Osterreichischen Galerie, Vienna Gustav Klimt, Beethoven Frieze, 1902, detail: "This Kiss for the Whole World," 2.2 x 34 m., Osterreichischen Galerie, Vienna Gustav Klimt, Philosophy, 1899-1907. Oil on canvas, 43 x 300 cm. Destroyed by fire in 1945. Reproduced with permission of the Verlag Galerie Welz, Salzburg



page 154







Stephen Bann University of Kent Ernst Behlert University of Washington John Carvalho Villanova University Daniel W. Conway The Pennsylvania State University Claudia Crawford North Hennepin Community College Adrian Del Caro University of Colorado, Boulder Ivan Gaskell Fogg Museum, Harvard Art Museums Randall Havas Willamette University Timothy W. Hiles University of Tennessee Fiona Jenkins University of Sydney Salim Kemal University of Dundee


List of contributors Martha C. Nussbaum University of Chicago Aaron Ridley University of Southampton Henry Staten University of Utah




Note: listed editions have been taken as standard unless others are identified by authors; unsourced translations are the authors' own. AC The Antichrist in Twilight of the Idols and the Anti-Christ, trans. by R. J. Hollingdale with an intro. by Michael Tanner (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1991). References are to chapter titles and section numbers. ASC "Attempt at Self-Criticism", in The Birth of Tragedy and The Case of Wagner, trans., with commentary, by Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage Books, 1967). References are to section numbers. BGE Beyond Good and Evil, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage Books, 1966). References are to section numbers. BT The Birth of Tragedy, in The Birth of Tragedy and the Case of Wagner, trans., with commentary, by Walter Kaufmann (New York: Random House, 1967). References are to section numbers. CW The Case of Wagner, in The Birth of Tragedy and the Case of Wagner, trans., with commentary, by Walter Kaufmann (New York: Random House, 1967). References are to section numbers. D Walter Otto, Dionysus Myth and Culture, trans. Robert Palmer (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana " University Press, 1965) .



List of abbreviations Daybreak






"Greek State"




Daybreak, trans. R. J. Hollingclale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982). References are to section numbers. Michael Tucker, Dreaming with Open Eyes: The Shamanic Spirit in Twentieth Century Art and Culture (San Francisco: Harper Collins Publisher, 1992). Ananda Coomaraswamy, "The Dance of Shiva," in The Dance of Shiva: Essays on Indian Art and Culture (New York: Dover Publications, Inc. 1985). "Die dionysische Weltanschauung," in KSA I. References are to page numbers. English translation, "Dionysian Worldview" by Claudia Crawford forthcoming in Journal of Nietzsche Studies. Ecce honlo, in On the Geneaology of Morals and Ecce H0I110, trans. Walter Kaufnlann and R. J. Hollingdale (New York: Vintage Books, 1967). References are to cha pter titles and section numbers. On the Genealogy of Morals, in On the Geneaology of Morals and Ecce Home, trans. Walter Kaufnlann and R. J. Hollingdale (New York: Vintage Books, 1967). References are to essay numbers and section numbers. "The Greek State," in On the Geneaology of Morality, ed. Keith Ansell-Pearson, trans. Carol Diethe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994). References are to page numbers. The Gay Science, trans. Walter Kaufnlann (New York: Vintage, 1974). References are to section numbers. Joseph Campbell, The Hero rvith a Thousand Faces, Bollingen Series XVII (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1941). Human, All Too Hunlan, trans. R. J. Hollingdale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986). References are to section numbers. Xlll

List of abbreviations KSA



"The Philosopher"






Kritische Studienausgabe, ed. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1988). References are to volume numbers and page numbers. Rene Guenon, "The Language of the Birds," in Jacob Neddleman, ed., The Sword of Gnosis (London: Arkana Paperbacks, 1974). "On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral sense," in Philosophy and Truth: Selections from Nietzsche's Notebooks of the Early 1870s, trans. and ed. with an introduction and notes by Daniel Breazeale, (New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1979). References are to page numbers. "The Philosopher: Reflections on the Struggle between Art and Knowledge," in Philosophy and Truth: Selections from Nietzsche's Notebooks of the Early 1870s, trans. and ed. with an introduction and notes by Daniel Breazeale (New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1979). References are to section numbers. The Portable Nietzsche. References are to chapter titles and page numbers. "On the Pathos of Truth," in Philosophy and Truth: Selections from Nietzsche's Notebooks of the Early 1870s, ed. and trans. Daniel Breazeale (NJ: Humanities Press International, Inc., 1979). References are to page numbers. Lectures on Rhetoric, trans. in Sander L. Gilman, Carol Blair, and David J. Parent, Friedrich Nietzsche on Rhetoric and Language (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989). References are to section numbers. Schopenhauer as Educator in Untimely Meditations. References are to section numbers. Tlvilight of the Idols, trans. R. J. Hollingdale (New York: Penguin Books, 1968). References are to chapter titles and section numbers. Nietzsche, The Use and Abuse of History, trans. Adrian Collins (Indianapolis: BobbsMerrill, 1978). XIV

List of abbreviations UDH




The Use and Disadvantage of History for Life, in Untimely Meditations, trans. R. J. Hollingdale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983). References are to section numbers. Untimely Meditations, trans. R. J. Hollingdale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983). References are to section numbers. Will to Power, trans. Walter Kaufman and R. J. Hollingdale, ed. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage, 1968). References are to section numbers. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, trans. R. J. Hollingdale (New York: Penguin Books, 1961). References are to book and chapter titles.



What spoke here - as was admitted, not without suspicion - was something like a mystical, almost maenadic soul that stammered with difficulty, a feat of the will, as in a strange tongue, almost undecided whether it should communicate or conceal itself. It should have sung, this "new soul" - and not spoken! What I had to say then - too bad that I did not dare to say it as a poet: perhaps I had the ability. ASC3

Thus spoke Nietzsche in 1886, in a retrospective preface to his major work in aesthetics, The Birth of Tragedy (1872). As the plaintive tone of this passage suggests, he apparently envisioned for The Birth of Tragedy a complex set of aesthetic aims. In addition to excavating the origins of Attic tragedy in the Dionysian spirit of music, The Birth of Tragedy also might have communicated through song the lyrical voice of its poetical author. His 1886 preface thus confirms the irreducibly dual nature of his thought. He is simultaneously an artist and a philosopher. Indeed, any attempt to disown either of these generative impulses will invariably end, as in the case of The Birth of Tragedy, in stammering and distortion. Unlike most philosophers, in fact, Nietzsche enjoyed a uniquely dual relationship to art. He not only theorized about aesthetics, but also harbored artistic aspirations that were buoyed (and occasionally matched) by his native talents. While he is known today to artists primarily for his original contributions to the study of tragedy and music, he also enjoyed a modest reputation as a poet and composer. Although the enduring merit of his artistic productions remains dubious (to say the least), his experience of himself as an artist was undeniably formative for his philosophical career. In the midst of his review of the "good books" he has penned, he consequently pauses in his faux autobiography to correct a single miscast note in the 1

Salim Kemal, Ivan Gaskell, and Daniel W. Conway score of his unappreciated Hymn to Life, allowing that "perhaps my music, too, attains greatness at this point" (EH "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" 1). Nietzsche's work as a philosopher was so closely bound up with his aspirations to art that he regularly advertised (and criticized) his writings as if they were musical compositions. By way of explaining why he writes such good books, for example, he directs our attention to the "most multifarious art of style that has ever been at the disposal of one man" (EH "Why I Write Such Good Books" 4). Of his Zarathustra, which he elsewhere describes as a "poetical work,"l he writes, "[N]obody was ever in a position to squander more new, unheard-of artistic devices that had actually been created for this purpose" (EH "Why I Write Such Good Books" 4). As these citations indicate, Nietzsche understood his impulses toward art and philosophy as inextricably united within him. This unity in turn furnished the governing frame for his parallel investigations into the nature of philosophy and art. Owing to this uniquely dual relationship to art, Nietzsche's contributions to aesthetics are unusually rich and complex, unmatched perhaps in the history of philosophy. More so than any other philosopher, he understands art as the basic transformative impulse known to human experience. Artists are physiologically defined, he insists, by their natural, involuntary capacity to transform the world around them: A man in this state transforms things until they mirror his power - until they

are reflections of his perfection. This having to transform into perfection is art. Even everything that he is not yet, becomes for him an occasion of joy in himself; in art man enjoys himself as perfection. (TI "Expeditions of an Untimely Man" 4).

From his earliest recorded musings and reflections, moreover, he bears witness to the transformati ve power of art in his own life. His personal experiences of rebirth and transfiguration lead him to seek the meaning of existence itself in a quasi-religious mode of aesthetic attunement or appreciation. His subsequent inquiries into the nature of art and aesthetics all emerge from his basic conviction that art can (and should) contribute to the formulation of an "aesthetic justification" of life itself. While his earliest philosophical writings were primarily concerned to impre!is art into the service of personal transformation, Nietzsche soon became convinced that the nomothetic power of art 2

Nietzsche and art could be harnessed for the benefit and enhancement of entire communities, tribes, peoples, and nations. He consequently extended the scope of his invp.stigations to comprise the ethical and political dimensions of human existence, ultimately proposing art itself as the unacknowledged catalyst of social change, growth, and transfiguration: What does all art do? does it not praise? glorify? choose? prefer? With all this it strengthens or weakens certain valuations ... Art is the great stimulus to life: how could one understand it as purposeless, as aimless, as l'art pour l'art? (TI "Expeditions of an Untimely Man" 24).

Through various philosophical experiments, Nietzsche attempted to translate his personal experience of aesthetic transformation into moral, social, and political terms. Hence his enduring interest in the defining aesthetic issues of the mature, post-Zarathustran period of his career: the redemptive value of art; the genius as a kind of artist; strategies and regimens of self-creation; art as a model of soulcraft and statecraft; the prophylactic and recuperative powers of myth; the physiology of aesthetics; and so on. Nietzsche's dual relationship to art largely accounts for his ongoing role in shaping contemporary reflection on the relation between philosophy and art. He examines the ways in which they mutually inform one another as early as his notes on "The Last Philosopher" or "The Philosopher: Reflections on the Struggle between Art and Knowledge." He furthermore wants to explain our conceiving of the world, the activity of our philosophizing about it, in terms borrowed from the process of constructing art. He develops this idea through his essay "On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense" and, in The Birth of Tragedy, wants to replace the traditional discursive work of philosophy with a justification of "existence and the world as an aesthetic phenomenon." This conception of art and philosophy has a number of implications. By recognizing that we actively contribute to the construction of the order and meaning we "discover" in the world, Nietzsche intends, we should liberate ourselves from submission to the authority claimed for themselves by the purveyors of eternal and unchanging values. By exposing the lack of such values, rejecting their bogus authority, and then justifying the order and meaning of objects and events aesthetically, Nietzsche shows how we constitute and, so, can transfigure our relations to ourselves and events. In this process Nietzsche may seem to "aestheticize" politics, 3

Salim Kemal, Ivan Gaskell, and Daniel W. Conway making the legitimation of order depend on some aesthetic justification. The precise nature of this aestheticized politics will depend, of course, on the meaning he gives to aesthetic value; yet his conception of aesthetic value changes as he develops his understanding of the artistic nature of philosophy. Whereas he had formerly seen it as a matter of beauty, he now sees aesthetic and other values, including the order we valorize as knowledge, in terms of a feeling for life that allows him to seek an "aesthetic necessity" for beauty as well as the other values he transforms. His aestheticization of politics can more properly be seen as a politicization of values. It includes a genealogy of aesthetic values through which we identify the underlying relations of power that give meaning to values. These interconnections raise at least two sets of issues: first, they call for a critical examination of Nietzsche's account of aesthetics in terms of the debts he owes to other thinkers and the heritage his thought yields for the practice of the arts; second, they invite a consideration of his conception of the trans formative power of aesthetic activity and its fusion of personal and political values. And to follow the imbrication of philosophy with art in aesthetic values, this volume begins with papers by Ernst Behler, Martha C. Nussbaum, Adrian Del Caro, Randall Havas, and Aaron Ridley. They demonstrate that Nietzsche's seemingly idiosyncratic interest in aestheticizing politics, in the sense explained above, is neither an aberration of his later thought, nor a gratuitous corollary to his basic orientation to art. Rather, as these authors reveal, the social and political ramifications of art are present in Nietzsche's philosophy of art from the very beginning. This discussion begins with Ernst Behler on "Nietzsche's Conception of Irony." Rehearsing central features of the political uses and abuses of irony in Western philosophy, Behler marks out the transformative possibilities opened by this trope, and attributes Nietzsche's irony to his understanding of the unique crisis that philosophers in late modernity must confront. Faced with the death of a true classicism (as exemplified in the figure of the hyper-rational Socrates), Nietzsche resorts to irony as the closest approximation available to late modernity of the tragic art of Greek antiquity. Behler also traces Nietzsche's affirmation of irony to his theory of language, which constitutes a condition of the possibility (and perhaps the necessity) of iro.y. If all linguistic utterances are irreducibly figural in nature, then any attempt to describe the "reality" of social and 4

Nietzsche and art political existence obliges the philosopher to adopt a posture of ironic distance. But Nietzsche's multifarious deployments of irony are perhaps best explained by his love of masks, Behler concludes, the mask functioning not merely as a rhetorical device, but as the precondition of the "art of living" that he recommends to his fellow "free spirits." In "The Transfigurations of Intoxication: Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Dionysus," Martha C. Nussbaum develops other aspects of Nietzsche's work by examining his contribution to the conception of tragedy. I-Ier investigation offers new insights into both the language of The Birth of Tragedy and the philosophical motivations for its author's account of sexual desire, love, and the body. Although Nietzsche was certainly wrong about Euripides, Nussbaum maintains, his account of the Dionysian in The Birth of Tragedy nevertheless sheds clarifying light on the nature of tragedy. Her essay focuses on two closely interwoven topics that are crucial to Nietzsche's portrait of Dionysus and the Dionysian. First, she explores the tragic hero's relationship to what is arbitrary and mysterious and unjust in life, and the related Nietzschean picture of tragic learning and the spectator. Second, she investigates Nietzsche's remarkable account of the ways in which the intoxication of passion transfigures the self, producing a being who is fictional and yet also real, transformed and transforming, an object of art and an artist, "an ass in magnanimity and innocence," an actor, a god - in short, a lover. This power of love, as Nietzsche sees it, is the energy that generates all delicate and all noble art. By taking as his point of departure the return of Dionysus in the concluding aphorism of Beyond Good and Evil, in "Nietzschean Self-Transformation and the Transformation of the Dionysian" Adrian Del Caro continues this investigation into the transformative powers of Dionysian art. In that important transitional text, Nietzsche boldly characterizes himself as "the last disciple and initiate of the god Dionysus," launching the late Dionysian period of his philosophizing, in which the artistic deity so prominent in the evolution of Greek tragedy adopts mysterious, modern qualities not seen in The Birth of Tragedy. Del Caro details Nietzsche's transformation of this figure from an artistic deity into a so-called "philosopher god," exploring the contradiction that arises when Nietzsche proclaims in Thus Spoke Zarathustra that all gods are dead. This interpretive task requires Del Caro to: review the early artistic Dionysian; appraise the newly emerging Dionysian in the form and 5

Salim Kemal, Ivan Gaskell, and Daniel W. Conway content of Thus Spoke Zarathustra; critically evaluate the Dionysus-Ariadne nexus with respect to Nietzsche's "labyrinthine man"; analyse the transformed Dionysus and the perceived absence of the feminine in the new anti-romantic aesthetic; and finally, to examine the interrelation between Nietzsche's own intellectual transformation and his transformation of the Dionysian. In his conclusion, Del Caro demonstrates that Nietzsche employed a highly sophisticated symbology to convey his new philosophy, one based on a selective Dionysus stripped of certain attributes and infused with others in a willful act of creative philosophizing. In the next chapter, "Socratism and the Question of Aesthetic Justification," Randall Havas contends that so-called "aestheticist" readings of Nietzsche are often premised upon some version of the idea that truth is "made" and not discovered. This picture encourages us to think that Nietzsche wished us in some way to acknowledge the absence of the sorts of reasons Socrates sought - to face up to the contingency of our interpretations of the world. But the idea of truth as a human invention is sharply at odds with the spirit of Nietzsche's critique of Socratism. His attack on the Socratic demand for discursive justification is not meant to undermine our sense that good reasons might be discovered for our favored interpretation of the world, but rather to undercut radically the very idea that we have an interpretation of the world that stands in need of justification at all. Nietzsche means, in other words, to reject the very idea that human beings stand in anything like a "relationship" to the world. Havas defends this interpretation by means of a close reading of Nietzsche's attack on Socratism in The Birth of Tragedy, and he explores the consequences of this interpretation for our understanding of the notion of aesthetic justification as it appears in Nietzsche's early work. He thus argues that Nietzsche's attack on the demand for discursive justifications presupposes a particular understanding of culture on the model of a "linguistic community." To make sense of aesthetic justification, therefore, the reader must understand Nietzsche's reasons for denying the possibility of a discursive, or Socratic, justification of life. Aaron Ridley continues this line of investigation in his chapter, "What is the Meaning of Aesthetic Ideals?," in which he undertakes an interpretation of the competing aesthetics at work in the Genealogy of Morals. Despite its relative indifference to art and artists, Ridley maintaini, the Genealogy in fact attests to an affirmation of the aesthetic, even (and especially) by way of its marginalization of 6

Nietzsche and art standard questions of art. Focusing on Nietzsche's account of the formative, aesthetic activity of the founding of states, Ridley outlines the conditions under which artists might create works of art (contrary to the "official" aesthetic of the Genealogy) with a good conscience. This "·unofficial" aesthetic of the Genealogy thus limns the typology of human souls that underlies Nietzsche's more famous typology of artists and artworks. Artists who create with a good conscience first and foremost fashion their ownnl0st souls into objects of beauty; their subsequent public works of art are simply external emanations of the superabundance that defines (and burnishes) their souls. Despite its oblique articulation of this "unofficial" aesthetic, however, the Genealogy is not, and could not be, an example of the counter-art that its "unofficial" aesthetic attempts to enshrine. Owing to Nietzsche's inadequate familiarity with the counter-art he wished to promote, Ridley concludes, the Genealogy can do no more than gesture vaguely toward the artists of the soul who create themselves anew in good conscience. Nietzsche's deep investment in the redemptive and transformative power of art, central aspects of which these chapters have explored, determines his treatment of particular arts - a treatment evident not only in his own (modest) artistic accomplishments, but also in his influence on practicing artists. The chapters in the second part of this volume, by Stephen Bann, Timothy W. Hiles and John Carvalho, take up the theme of Nietzsche's understanding of, and influence on, particular arts and artistic traditions. These reveal both the genius and the limitations of his investment in the nomothetic capacity of art. In his essay "The Splitting of Historical Consciousness," Stephen Bann finds in Nietzsche's unique attunement to the problem of historical consciousness a solution to a problem of representation in the tradition of French romanticism. Drawing on the categories Nietzsche sets out in the Untimely Meditation on history, Bann charts the shifting relations to the past that are suggested by "nlonumental," "antiquarian," and "critical" approaches to history. These relations in turn suggest a novel way of understanding the development and succession of representational forms. To explain the difficulties in providing an adequate representation of the past, Bann analyzes Sully Showing His Grandson the MonUlnent Containing the Heart of Henri IV at La Fleche, a large historical painting exhibited in 1819 by Marie-Philippe Coupin de la COllperie. 7

Salim Kemal, Ivan Gaskell, and Daniel W. Conway Although intended to convey a "monumental" attitude to history, this painting was perceived as bearing an "antiquarian" relation to the past. Bann thus concludes that this painting faithfully (if unwittingly) enacts the "splitting of historical consciousness" that Nietzsche so expertly theorized. Nietzsche's influence on contemporary art is the topic of Timothy W. Hiles' essay, "Gustav Klimt's Beethoven Frieze, Truth, and The Birth of Tragedy." According to Hiles, the Beethoven Frieze contains Klimt's most profound and literal statement of the Wagnerian and, more directly, early Nietzschean credo concerning the utopian vision of the arts as humanity's salvation. Like Nietzsche, Klimt understood the artist as a conveyer of truth, and his Beethoven Frieze correlates to Nietzsche's optimistic notion of the ability of the artist to uncover the primal unity (or will) of humankind. Klimt's frieze thus conveys not only a Nietzschean conception of the transformative properties of art, but also, Hiles concludes, a Nietzschean account of the decadence of humankind applied to fin de siecle Vienna. Nietzsche's influence on Dionysian modes of art is explored by Professor John Carvalho, in his chapter "Improvisations, on Nietzsche, on Jazz." Carvalho submits that Nietzsche consistently characterizes philosophers of the "higher type" on the model of artists driven to resolve the competing claims of the form-giving principle and divine inspiration, or Apollo and Dionysus. Carvalho furthermore proposes that Nietzsche captures the implications of this model in his exhortation that we "become who we are," whereby he calls for an affirmative will to self-creation. Taking issue with several influential "formalist" interpretations of Nietzschean self-creation, Carvalho rejects the common view of philosophers fashioning their lives into works of art by giving form to the excess of the drives, traits, impulses, and desires that they are. He maintains instead that Nietzsche's philosophy more typically emphasizes music, excessive and incontinent music, much like the music of improvised modern jazz. Carvalho thus proposes the formative impulses in jazz - as captured, for example, in Ornette Coleman's conception of improvising without memory - as suggesting a more fluid, more Dionysian model for the self-formation of the subject that Nietzsche's pronouncements on the "will to power," the will to "become who we are," seek to demonstrate. Carvalho consequently seeks to present ~is somewhat more complex frame inscribed by the "lines of flight" of improvised modern jazz for interpreting Nietzsche 8

Nietzsche and art on subject formation and the "will to power." Read on this score, Carvalho concludes, the tension between Apollo and Dionysus In Nietzsche's philosophy more aptly aspires to a "higher type." Nietzsche's emphasis on the nomothetic power of art gives rise to his explorations of the moral, social, and political ramifications of artistic transformation. As we have seen, his dynamic, transformative conception of art leads him to "aestheticize" politics in a particular way. He also identifies statecraft as a form of poiesis, and he seeks to construct a mixed mode of moral, political, and aesthetic justifications. The transformative power of art, he argues, furnishes the native vitality of any thriving people or community. In his earlier works he proposes that the task of politics is to establish the conditions under which great individuals might "create" themselves as works of art, which would in turn inspire others to attempt similar acts of self-creation. His later work bears more complicated resonances, acknowledging the limits imposed on aesthetic self-creation by the advance of decadence in late modernity, the spread of European nihilism, the collapse of macro-political institutions, and the death of God. The chapters in the last part of the book, by Fiona Jenkins, Henry Staten, Salim Kemal, Daniel W. Conway, and Claudia Crawford, explore this interrelation between social and political values and transfigurative art. While these authors do not pretend to arrive at a definitive resolution of the complex issues raised here, their collective efforts clearly set the ground for future debate. Fiona Jenkins begins the discussion of artistic transformation in her chapter "Performative Identity. Nietzsche on the Force of Art and Language." As her point of entry into the problem of the "production" of selfhood and agency, Jenkins investigates the complex normative-aesthetic project announced in Nietzsche's subtitle to Ecce homo: "how one becomes what one is." Although this beguiling slogan is often summoned as evidence of the voluntaristic excesses of Nietzsche's aestheticism, Jenkins demonstrates that his intention is in fact diametrically opposed to the notion that one might create oneself anew by dint of an act of will. Contrary to popular interpretation, Jenkins believes, Nietzsche does not entrust to art the twin tasks of dismantling the ego and de-centering the self. Rather, the causal relationship is in fact reversed: a genuinely aesthetic response to existence is possible only on the condition of a prior loss of self-possession. One "becomes what one is," Jenkins concludes, not by subordinating art to the demands of morality, but 9

Salim Kemal, Ivan Gaskell, and Daniel W. Conway by allowing one's embeddedness in life to shape one's self. This embeddedness in turn enables the aesthetic response to existence that Nietzsche so famously prizes. In "Dionysus Lost and Found: Literary Genres in the Political Thought of Nietzsche and Lukacs," Henry Staten investigates some crucial features of the tensions resident within Nietzsche's general treatment of art. Although Nietzsche is arguably the single greatest influence on the "liberationist" strain of postmodern thought, his praise of hierarchical social distinctions and his admiration for violent nobility - both of which display what Staten calls Nietzsche's "tyrannophilia" - are also impossible to ignore. Rather than attempt to domesticate Nietzsche's tyrannophilia, Staten instead investigates the possibility of a "communication of energy" within the economy of Nietzsche's texts between his tyrrannophilia on the one hand and the most profound and sublime elements of his teaching on the other. Tracing the complexity of Nietzsche's politics to a basic ambiguity in his treatment of tragedy, Staten documents the common matrix from which Nietzsche's aristocratic-authoritarian and democratic-liberationist tendencies both derive. Citing the significant confluence between Nietzsche's reflections on literary heroism and those of Georg Lukacs, Staten suggests that a Dionysian revulsion from "mere individuality" may ultimately unite the twin registers of Nietzsche's thought. This basic enmity for the ordinary individual, Staten concludes, may mark one of the most significant limitations of Nietzsche's attempt to provide an asthetic justification of political regimes and practices. In "Nietzsche's Politics of Aesthetic Genius," Salim Kemal develops that escape from 'mere individuality.' He analyzes the conception of the relation between subjects subtended by Nietzsche's early conception of genius and art. Following a close textual analysis of such early writings as The Birth of Tragedy and "The Greek State," he explores the implications that Nietzsche's later rejection of the "artists' metaphysics" has for the conception of artistic creativity and the relation between subjects. The chapter argues that Nietzsche's later work supports a liberatory and progressive account of "the aesthetic necessity of beauty" that could unite power and genius with justice. While Kemal's chapter investigates the political context of aesthetic practices, in "Love's Labor's Lost: The Philosopher's Versucherkunst," Da.iel W. Conway investigates the political and aesthetic roles played in Nietzsche's thought by a particular instan10

Nietzsche and art tiation of human genius: the philosopher. According to Nietzsche, the dying cultures of late modernity must rely exclusively for their continued sustenance on the self-transfiguratory labors of their resident philosophers. This political reliance is possible, Conway hypothesizes, only because the genuine philosopher is always also an artist, whose Versucherkunst, or art of experimentation/temptation, nourishes the ethical life of any thriving community. By dint of their signature practices of self-experimentation, philosophers create themselves as artworks of surpassing beauty, and so as objects of eros. The consecratory properties of eros in turn establish the microcommunities that alone can flourish in the twilight of the idols. Amid the rubble of failed reforms and bankrupt political institutions, Nietzsche entrusts to the philosopher the task of safeguarding the aimless will of humankind, in order that some exemplary human beings might survive the advanced decay of late modernity. Conway thus concludes that for Nietzsche, the philosopher's Versucherkunst serves as the basis for the fragile communities that arise within the political micro-sphere, simultaneously satisfying the demands of the ascetic ideal while continuing to preside over the catalysis of culture. Claudia Crawford pursues a similar line of investigation in her exploration of the complex physiological processes involved in aesthetic transformation. Her chapter, "Nietzsche's Dionysian Arts: Dance, Song, and Silence," argues that Nietzsche's ethical/political agenda reflects his wish to lift the Apollonian veil of consciousness, in order that (some on his readers might be transformed into the joyous, healthy overhuman types who are typically associated with the "worship" of Dionysus. Toward this end, Nietzsche not only recommends the transformative arts of dance, song, laughter, and the cry, but also provides exemplary performances of these arts. On Crawford's interpretation, Nietzsche thus recommends the transformative power of art by actually conducting his readers through a rite of initiation into the mysteries of Dionysus. Nietzsche's art is consequently distinguished by its unique goal: to serve and promote the "earth mysticism" celebrated by the votaries of Dionysus. The chapters in this part deal with overlapping and competing conceptions of the complex relations between aesthetics, politics, and art as transformation. They rely on different senses of "aesthetics" and "politics" and therefore of "art." At present the boundaries of political and aesthetic thought are continually shifting. As 11

Salim Kemal, Ivan Gaskell, and Daniel W. Conway the concepts are interpreted and reinterpreted, no account of their interrelation, of the transformations they propose, will be entirely convincing until we go beyond mere interpretation by setting up practices to suit our capacity for self-transformation. The particular senses of art and politics, their implications, may then become clear as we see how particular conceptions of self-transformation affect us. And in forming these institutions, Neitzsche's contrast between being and becoming is germane. As the traditional distInctions between right and left dissolve, we need to search for a new vocabulary adequate to our situation at the turning of the millennium. It was not so long ago that there was a conflict between left and right Nietzscheans; then people sought to explore the relation of aesthetics to morality and politics, only to find themselves paralyzed before the claim to transformative power made by Nazism. It would be precipitous to think that the conditions for fascism and Nazism, even in its more subtle contemporary forms, were so thoroughly defeated that the reprehensible elements of Nietzsche's transformative thought, that the Nazis easily laid claim to, can be dismissed as excessive or hysterical or can be accommodated without doing ourselves much injury. If the boundaries between left and right are breaking down in part at least as a result of Nietzsche's influence, it is important to remember that Nietzsche's work is not entirely innocent; we cannot rely on him alone: the problems of how we should live well persist, voiceless until we speak them, and we need to assess Nietzsche's contribution to this end.

Notes Sadly, Professor Ernst Behler died in September 1997. We are very pleased to include his contribution in this book. 1 Letter of February 10, 1883 to Overbeck. Friedrich Nietzsche: Stimtliche Briefe, Kritische Studienausgabe in 8 Btinden, ed. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter/Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1986), vol. VI, §373, p. 326.


II Nietzsche's conception of irony ERNST BEHLERt

To gain an insight into the important position Nietzsche occupies in the deployment of irony and its impact upon the modern world of art, literature, and philosophy, a brief glance at the previous history of the concept may be useful. Irony can be traced back to as early as 400 Be, but the etymology of the words eiron and eironeia (ironist, irony) remain uncertain. Originally, however, these words had a low and vulgar connotation, even to the extent of being an invective. We come across these terms in Aristophanes' comedies, in which the ironist is placed among liars, shysters, pettifoggers, hypocrites, and charlatans - in other words, with deceivers.l Plato was the first to present Socrates as an ironic interlocutor who by understating his talents in his famous pose of ignorance, embarrassed his partner and simultaneously led him into the proper train of thought. With the Platonic Socrates, the attitude of the ironist was freed from the burlesque coarseness of classical comedy and appeared with that refined, human, and humorous self-deprecation that made Socrates th e paragon of a teach er. Yet even in Plato's dialogues, where the attitude of Socratic irony is so obviously present, the term "irony" itself still retains its derogatory cast in the sense of hoax and hypocrisy, and as such. evinces the Sophist attitude of intellectual deception and false pretension. In his Republic, for example, Plato depicts the scene in which Socrates deliberates, in characteristic fashion, on the concept of dikaiosune, that is, justice. At a critical point in the discussion, his conversational partner Thrasymachus explodes. requesting Socrates to desist from his eternal questioning and refuting and finally to come out with a direct statement and reveal his own opinion. Again assuming his stance of ignorance, Socrates replies that it is utterly difficult to discover justice and they should have pity rather 13

Ernst Behler than scorn for him. At this point, Thrasymachus bursts out: "By Heracles! Here again is the well-known dissimulation of Socrates! I have told these others beforehand that you would not answer, but take refuge in dissimulation." The Greek term rendered here by "dissimulation" is of course eironeia, irony (337a).2 Only through Aristotle did the word "irony" assume that refined and urbane tinge marking the character of "Socratic irony." This significant change in meaning can be detected in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, where eironeia and alazoneia - understatement and boastfulness - are discussed as modes of deviation from truth. Aristotle, however, held the opinion that irony deviates from truth not for the sake of one's own advantage, but out of dislike for bombast. Irony is therefore a fine and noble form. The prototype of this genuine irony was to be found in Socrates, and with this reference, irony received its classical expression (1108a, 19-23).3 From here, irony made its entry into the system of classical rhetoric and became a firmly defined rhetorical device. If in the schematized structure of classical rhetoric we were to seek for the place of irony, we would find it, first, under the heading of "tropes," that is, among indirect modes of speech (including metaphor, allegory, metalepsis, and hyperbaton); and second, under the rubric of figures of speech, that is, of particular verbal constructions (including question, anticipation, hesitation, consultation, apostrophe, illustration, feigned regret, and intimation). The most basic characteristic of all forms of classical irony is always that the intention of the speaker is opposed to what he expresses in speech. We should perhaps add to this description that according to ancient opinion, in order to distinguish irony from mere lying, the entire tenor of speaking, including intonation, emphasis, and gesture, was supposed to help reveal the real or intended meaning. Cicero, who introduced the term into the Latin world and rendered it as "dissimulation" ("ea dissimulatio, quam Graeci eironeia vocant"),4 discussed irony in his work On the Orator in connection with figures of speech. He defined irony as saying one thing and meaning another, explaining that it had great influence on the minds of the audience and was extremely entertaining if it was presented in a conversational rather than declamatory tone. 5 Finally, Quintilian assigned irony its position among the tropes and figures discussed in the eighth and ninth books of his Oratorical Education, where its basic characteristic is that the intention of the speaker differs from what he usually says, that we understand the contrary of what he expresses 14

Nietzsche's conception of irony in speech ("in utroque enim contrarium ei quod dicitur intelligendum est,,).6 In addition to these two formal modes of irony, however, Quintilian mentions a third which transcends the scope of mere rhetoric and relates to the whole manner of existence of a person. Quintilian refers directly to Socrates, whose entire life had an ironic coloring because he assumed the role of an ignorant human being lost in wonder at the wisdom of others. 7 From now on, until the late eighteenth century, the word "irony" kept this strict and consistent connotation of an established form of speech or communication which could be reduced to the simple formula: "a figure of speech by which one wants to convey the opposite of what one says." This is a quote from the French Encyclopedie of 1765 8 and contains the essence of the definitions of irony found in numerous handbooks of various European literatures as they had developed from older manuals of rhetoric concerning the art of public speaking and persuasion. Toward the end of the eighteenth century, however, a decisive shift in the understanding of irony took place which moved irony from the position of a mere figure of speech into the center of a literary work. The first and most decisive evidence for this change is a statement by the romantic author Friedrich Schlegel, who in 1797 wrote in a collection of 127 Critical Fragments: "There are ancient and modern poems that are pervaded by the divine breath of irony throughout and informed by a truly transcendental buffoonery. Internally: the mood that surveys everything and rises infinitely above all limitations, even above its own art, virtue, or genius; externally, in its execution: the mimic style of a moderately gifted Italian buffo.,,9 Schlegel begins this fragment with the sentence, "Philosophy is the true homeland of irony, which one would like to define as logical beauty" - obviously referring to Socratic irony and the Socratic manner of argumentation known as Socratic or Platonic dialectics. Behind the long rhetorical tradition of the West, Schlegel recognized Socratic or Platonic philosophy as the prototype of irony. He goes on to say that there is also a "rhetorical species of irony," which "sparingly used, has an excellent effect, especially in polenlics." Yet compared to the philosophical type of irony, to the "sublime urbanity of the Socratic muse," this rhetorical kind is merely pompous. There is one possibility, however, of approaching and equaling the lofty philosophical style of Socratic irony, and that is in poetry - because "Only poetry can also reach the heights of philosophy in this way, and only poetry does not restrict itself to isolated 15

Ernst Behler ironical passages." Schlegel then concludes this fragment with the statement already quoted according to which there "are ancient and modern poems that are pervaded by the divine breath of irony throughout. ,,10 That Schlegel indeed transposed the Socratic notion of irony to the realm of literature and poetry, or at least saw a strong analogy between the literary and philosophical forms of irony, is evidenced by a fragment from his unpublished notebooks that reads: "Meister [Goethe's novel Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship] = ironic poetry as Socrates = ironic philosophy because it is the poetry of poetry. ,,11 This is precisely what romantic irony came to mean, that is, self-conscious and self-reflective poetry and literature. Goethe viewed irony as "rising above objects, above happiness and unhappiness, good and evil, death and life, and thereby gaining possession of a truly poetic world. ,,12 In spite of its reputation of being mainly a literary device, romantic irony, as Schlegel conceived it, had deep philosophical implications. Schlegel had derived irony from the Platonic Socrates, and its basic structure, whether in philosophy or literature, was a self-critical awareness of the limitations of the finite, the human sphere, versus the infinite. Hegel was clearly aware of the philosophical character of Schlegel's irony, and whereas he treated romantic irony in the literature of Tieck and Hoffmann simply with disdain, he concentrated all the power of his polemics against the irony invented by Herr Friedrich von Schlegel. He denounced this irony as the "absolute evil, ,,13 as the "apex of modern subjectivity closing itself off from the unifying substance,,,14 as a modern form of skepticism. In reality, however, this irony was closer to his own conception of philosophy, especially to his dialectics, than he suspected. Schlegel, in turn, did not think of irony exclusively in negative terms, but saw it as an alternating principle oscillating between "self-creation" and "self-annihilation," affirmation and negation, enthusiasm and skepticism. 15 Indeed, in one crucial instance of his philosophy, the depiction of the fate of the great historical individuals, who are first used for promoting the course of history and then thrown away like empty shells, Hegel exclaims: "universal irony of the world. ,,16 This notion of a general irony of the world dominated the second half of the nineteenth century. Whereas for Hegel this notion was closely related to what he considered "reason" and "meaning" in history, it now became used without the connotation of overriding meaningfulness."Irony now appeared on an anti-Hegelian foundation and from the position of God's death in topics such as world16

Nietzsche's conception of irony historical irony, God's irony, and universal Irony of the world. Heine, for example, describes the world as [the] dream of an intoxicated God who has stolen away a Ja jran(:aise from the carousing assembly of the Gods and lain down to sleep on a lonely star and does not know himself that he also creates everything he dreams - and the dream images take shape, often madly lurid, but harmoniously sensible. The Iliad, Plato, the battle of Marathon, Moses, the Venus of the Medici, the Strassburg cathedral, the French Revolution, Hegel, steamships, etc. are excellent individual ideas in this creative divine dream. But it won't be long before the God will awaken and rub his sleepy eyes and smile! - and our world will have vanished into nothing, indeed, it will have never existed. 17

Kierkegaard maintained irony as a literary device to describe and analyze subjective forms of existence "on the stages of life's way." His manner of communicating was an "indirect communication" accomplished through the split of his personality as an author into a plurality of pseudonyms and "masks. ,,18 It is precisely at this point that Nietzsche appears on the scene of irony and gives its history a powerful new direction.


Nietzsche usually avoided the term "irony," which for his taste had too much romanticism in it, and preferred the classical notion of dissimulation which he translated as "mask." In one instance he referred to the term in its Hegelian sense when he attempted to describe his own attitude in entirely classical terms, but then inadvertently added a decidedly modern ingredient to it, saying: "amor fati [love of my fate] is my innermost nature. But this does not preclude my love of irony, even world-historical irony" (KSA VI 363, GM 324). In his unpublished fragments, he regarded the "increases in dissimulation" as indices of an ascending order of rank among beings: in the inorganic world, dissimulation appears to be lacking; in the organic, cunning begins; plants are already masters in that. The highest human beings like Caesar, Napoleon (Stendhal's word about him), are the same as the highest races (Italians) and the Greeks (Odysseus) in this regard; slyness belongs to the essence in the elevation of the human being" (KSA XII 550). In the few instances where we come across the term in Nietzsche's writings, irony has mostly a negative connotation. The early text On the Use and Disadvantages of History for Life (1876) depicts irony as the 17

Ernst Behler attitude of "practical pessimists," of historical scholarship in the sense of deja vu, without any regard for the future (KSA I 302, UDH 137). The ironic existence and the "kind of ironic self-consciousness" that come to light here have "really a kind of congenital grayness" and manifest themselves in "preoccupations of the aged," that is, those devoted "to retrospection, to tallying and closing accounts, to seeking comfort in the past by means of memories - in short to historical cultivation" (KSA I 303, UDH 138). Combined with such a retrospective attitude was the premonition that the future had little in store in which one could really rejoice, and thus people lived on with the feeling: "If only the ground will continue to support us! And if it ceases to support us, then that's all right, too. - This is how they feel, and they live an ironic existence" (KSA I 302, UDH 137). Nietzsche admits that everything human requires "ironic consideration" as far as its "genesis" is concerned, but this is precisely the reason why irony is so superfluous for him (KSA II 210, HH 252). Habituation to irony spoils the character - "in the end one comes to resemble a snapping dog which has learned how to laugh but forgotten how to bite" (KSA I 260, HH 372). Historically speaking, the origin of irony was in the "age of Socrates," that is, a life "among men of fatigued instincts, among the conservatives of ancient Athens who let themselves go - 'toward happiness,' as they said; toward pleasure, as they acted - and who all the while still mouthed the ancient pompous words to which their lives no longer gave them any right." In this world, irony was needed according to Nietzsche: "irony may have been required for greatness of soul, that Socratic sarcastic assurance of the old physician and plebeian who cut ruthlessly into his own flesh, as he did into the heart and flesh of the 'noble,' with a look that said clearly enough: Don't dissemble in front of me! Here - we are equal" (KSA V 146, BGE 138). Irony was also operative in the modern age as a necessity for existence. Nietzsche found it in the "morality of mediocrity," a morality that spoke of "measure and dignity and duty and neighborly love" while pursuing only the continuation and propagation of its own type. Such a morality, he thought, "will find it difficult to conceal its irony" (KSA V 217, BGE 212). Altogether, irony appeared to Nietzsche as one of the many forms of life that represented decad~nce. Irony was the shoulder-shrugging on the part of the scholar "who sees nothing in philosophy but a series of refuted systems and a prodigal effort that 'does nobody any 18

Nietzsche's conception of irony good' " (KSA V 130, BeE 122). Irony is that "Jesuitism of mediocrity which instinctively works at the annihilation of the uncommon man and tries to break every bent bow, or preferably, to unbend it" (KSA V 134, BeE 126). The ironist is a "person who no longer curses and scolds," who no longer knows how to affirm and to negate (KSA V 135, BeE 126). Yes and no are against his taste. Instead, he likes to maintain a "noble abstinence" by repeating Montaigne's "What do 1 know?" or Socrates' "I know that 1 know nothing!" Or: "here 1 don't trust myself, here no door is open to n1e!" Or: "Even if one were open, why enter right away?" Or: "What use are all rash hypotheses? Entertaining no hypotheses at all might well be part of good taste. Must you insist on immediately straightening that which is crooked? Doesn't time have time? 0 you devilish brood, are you incapable of waiting? The uncertain has its charms, too; the sphinx, too, is a Circe; Circe, too, was a philosopher." (KSA V 137-8, BGE 129-30)

As always, when Nietzsche touches upon subjects of decadence, however, his straightforward evaluations begin to shift and soon let us notice his predilection for such phenomena. The last quote was taken from his section on skepticism. This section moves on to describe contemporary France, which for Nietzsche "now really shows its cultural superiority over Europe by being the school and display of all charms of skepticism." In this fashion, France has always possessed "a masterly skill at converting even the most calamitous turns of its spirit into something attractive and seductive" (KSA V 139, BeE 130-1). Decadence now appears in a favorable light. The section, in turn, is only one of a whole series inspired by Baudelaire, French late romanticism, and symbolism, all closely related to Nietzsche's treatment of irony.19 In this situation, two possibilities appear to be feasible. The first is to go beyond the restrictions set by the word "irony" and to consider the many related terms such as "dissimulation" and "mask" and develop from them Nietzsche's attitude toward these phenomena. 2o The other approach would deal with the topic on a more profound level and investigate the condition under which irony in Nietzsche's philosophical discourse not only becomes possible but necessary.21 This would indeed be an investigation into basic roots of the modern episteme, and will be pursued in the following sections of this chapter. There appear to be three themes which necessitate irony in Nietzsche's discourse: Socrates and the death of a true classicism; Nietzsche's theory of language; and his ideas about the "mask" and the "art of living." 19

Ernst Behler 2

At first glance, Nietzsche's dealing with Socrates does not relate to irony at all and sharply differs in this regard from the Socrates images projected by Schlegel, Hegel, and Kierkegaard. In Nietzsche's writings, Socrates represents a most solemn moment in Greek history: the death of tragedy and the end of a true classicism. The tragic worldview of the older Greeks is defeated by calculating reason and "theoretical optimism." The ambiance of modernity brought into the world by Socrates is viewed with suspicion and described with a pejorative meaning. To establish a connection between this image of Socrates and irony therefore requires a more complicated interpretation. One would have to show that Nietzsche's conception of a true classicism among the Greeks is an enormous facade behind which a more fragile image of Greek culture is hiding. This is precisely, however, what Nietzsche's text seems to indicate. At least in his early writings, Nietzsche seemed to adore the classical world of the Greeks as absolutely exemplary. He emphasized the "undescribable simplicity and dignity of the Hellenic" and thought that the purpose of classical philology with regard to Greek antiquity was "to hold out to the present the mirror of the classical and the eternally valid. ,,22 Nietzsche's writings on classical antiquity can also be read as a search into the origins of modernity, which in his text clearly gives the impression of a fall from the standards of true classicism, a disintegration of classical purity, and the beginning of the monstrous forms of decadence in the modern age. In his direct manner of writing, Nietzsche condensed the origin of modernity into one single figure, that of Socrates, who in exemplary fashion showed what the fall from true classicism entails. He opened this world-historical aspect of Socrates in The Birth of Tragedy, asking "how the influence of Socrates, down to the present moment and even into all future time, has spread over posterity like a shadow that keeps growing in the evening sun" (KSA I 67, BT 93). Socrates a ppears in this presentation as a "type of existence unheard of before him": the "type of the theoretical man" whose "profound illusion" consists in the unshakable faith "that thought, using the thread of causality, can penetrate the deepest abyss of being, and that thought is capable not only of knowing being but even correcting it" (KSA I 99, BT 95-6) . .As the originator of this new attitude, Socrates is first of all the prototype of the "theoretical man" inspired by the "instinct 20

Nietzsche's conception of irony of science," namely, "to make existence appear comprehensible and thus justified." He is the "mystagogue of science, ,,23 after whom "one philosophical school succeeds another, wave upon wave." Through Socrates, "the hunger for knowledge reached a neversuspected universality." He led science "onto the high seas from which it has never again been driven altogether." In his wake, the "universality" of science for the first time "spread a common net of thought over the whole globe, actually holding out the prospect of the lawfulness of an entire solar system." If we take all this into account, Nietzsche argued, along with the "high pyramid of knowledge in our time," we have to recognize in Socrates "the one turning point and vortex of so-called world-history" (KSA I 100, BT 96). But optimism in the realm of science and theory will eventually be shipwrecked, since every honest human being engaged in these fields will come to certain "boundary points" or borderline positions "from which one passes into what defies illumination" (KSA I 101, BT 98). Nietzsche even noted this self-critical element in the boundless drive for knowledge represented by Socrates. This self-criticism manifested itself in feigned ignorance, in irony, through the "daimonium of Socrates," the utterances of a divine voice which spoke up at certain moments and opposed conscious knowledge (KSA I 90, BT 88). Despite his "hunger for insatiable and optimistic knowledge," Socrates came to realize with horror "how logic coils up at these boundaries and finally bites its own tail" (KSA I 101, BT 98). At these points the drive for knowledge will "turn over," and a new form of knowledge will originate, "tragic knowledge," which, merely to be endured, Nietzsche adds, "needs art as a protection and remedy" (ibid.). He found reference to this dimension in Socrates in allusions by the ancients to a "music practicing Socrates" (KSA I 102, BT 98), as, for instance, in Alcibiades' speech on Socrates in the Symposium. What interested the West in the figure of Socrates, however, was its aspect of "theoretical optimism." Fascinated, Western humanity took a pathway of thought toward an ideal of absolute knowledge, of an accomplished enlightenment. During this long process all the requirements of knowledge and theory will be satisfied, one after the other. This appearance of Socrates is also the nloment of departure from classical beauty, the beginning of modernism in aesthetics, and this event is inextricably linked with Euripides. Since the fall from classicism is a result of the interference of reason, rationality, theory, and optimism for Nietzsche, "Euripidism" is closely connected to 21

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"Socratism" and reveals itself in the last analysis as nothing but an "aesthetic Socratism." It is art, poetry, tragedy viewed by the "one great Cyclops eye of Socrates" (KSA I 92, BT 89). Nietzsche's main reproach to the new type of tragedy originating with Euripides is a reformulation of the old argument of Aristophanes: instead of the mythical events of the older times, "the common, familiar, everyday life and activities of the people" became the center of the stage (KSA I 77, BT 78). "Euripides brought the spectator onto the stage and thus qualified him to pass judgment on the drama" (KSA I 78, BT 79). The old Athenian audience had a special affinity for the glimmer of incomprehensibility at the heart of the Aeschylean-Sophoclean tragedy and received it with a pre-rationalistic, pre-calculating mentality. The effect of this older tragedy never depended on "epic suspense," on the "fascinating uncertainty as to what is to happen now and afterwards"; it rested not on action but on passion, on the "great rhetorical-lyrical scenes in which the passion and dialectic of the protagonist swelled to a broad and powerful current" (KSA I 85, BT 84). Euripides' claim that the audience was anxious "to solve the problem of the background history" was therefore mistaken; rather, the anxiety was his own. The audience and the object of his aesthetic speculation were in the first place Euripides himself, "Euripides as thinker, not as poet" (KSA I 80, BT 80). In extension of the Socratic principle "Knowledge is virtue," the supreme law of aesthetic Socratism could be stated as: "To be beautiful everything must be intelligible" (KSA I 86, BT 83-4). Following this principle, Euripides modified all the separate elements of drama - "language, characters, dramaturgic structure, and choric music" (ibid.). Most important, he eliminated the Dionysian elements and intended "to reconstruct tragedy purely on the basis of an un-Dionysian art, morality, and world-view" (KSA I 82, BT 81). Yet Euripides was only a "mask," only the representative of a demonic power speaking through him. The deity that spoke through him was "neither Dionysus nor Apollo, but an altogether newborn demon, called Socrates" (KSA I 83, BT 82). Socrates was the "second spectator" standing behind Euripides, "who did not comprehend and therefore did not esteem the Old Tragedy," and in alliance with him Euripides dared to become "the herald of a new art" (KSA I 87, BT 86). This phenomenon of an aesthetic Socratism is another aspect of the world-historical dimensions of Socratism as Nietzsche sensetl it, now focused on the destructive tendency in the realm of art rather than on the optimistic view of know ledge. It is a 22

Nietzsche's conception of irony force that single-handedly dared to negate that "Greek genius which as Homer, Pindar, and Aeschylus, as Phidias, as Pericles, as Pythia, and Dionysus, as the deepest abyss and the highest height, is sure of our astonished veneration" - a "demonic power" which "dares to spill this magic potion into dust" (KSA I 90, BT 88). Nietzsche put great emphasis on "how the enormous driving-wheel of logical Socratism is in motion, as it were, behind Socrates, and that it must be viewed through Socrates as through a shadow" (KSA I 91, BT 89). Nietzsche made this point in an early essay on Socrates and Greek Tragedy (1870), which articulates for the first time the pernicious influence Socrates had on the development of Greek tragedy and certainly anticipates the basic argument of The Birth of Tragedy. 24 Yet in the earlier text he took a much more sympathetic attitude toward Euripidism and Socratism. Euripides appears in a more human, even comic guise, without the schematized features of the later texts. Nietzsche's tolerance here is probably a consequence of his frequent references to Aristophanes, who lends his conceptualization a greater historical directness and proximity. In the earlier text he also presented the "death of tragedy" as more of a tragic and inevitable event. In this context he emphasized the enormous distance between the "old musical drama," that is, the Aeschylean and Sophoclean tragedy, and the Athenian public sitting on the benches for the spectators. What was for Nietzsche "the highest and most difficult for the poet," obviously the tragic pathos and passion in the lyrical scenes, was perceived by the masses as something of no concern to them, whereas many accidental events seized them "with a sudden effect" (KSA I 537). The principle that "everything has to be understandable in order to be understood" was therefore not invented by Socrates or Euripides and' stuck on to the old tragedy, but resulted from a deeper, more general, and also more inevitable decay: from the historical distance between the Athenian public and the classical form of tragedy (ibid.). This early text reveals not only that Socratism is older than Socrates, but also that Socratism in this fundamental meaning of self-reflection is an intrinsic element inherent and germane to literature itself, not alien and implanted from outside. This "element of dialectics" took its point of departure from dialogue that was originally absent in tragedy. Signs of these developments, however, began to appear "long before Euripides." Nietzsche had the "courage," as he said, to point out "that even the most beautiful figures of Sophoclean tragedy - an Antigone, an Electra, an Oedipus 23

Ernst Behler - at times engage in barely tolerable trains of thought, that the dramatic characters are altogether more beautiful and magnificent than their articulation in words" (KSA I 548). Only Aeschylus would then remain as the true "flowering" and "summit" of the "Greek musical drama," since its decay, which Euripides brings to an end "with tempest-like speed," already begins with Sophocles (KSA I 549). Yet the processes at work here cannot be designated by historical figures, but result from more fundamental' forces. Nietzsche's friend Heinrich Romundt summarized Socrates and Greek Tragedy aptly. He considered it "exemplary" how Nietzsche "proceeded from Euripides, investigated and presented his manner without any imposing tendency, then transformed the concept of Euripidism into that of Socratism, and finally established Socratism as pre-Socratic and post-Socratic, as an eternal disease. ,,25 In The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche had exposed Socratism as a fundamental phenomenon of human expression and historical development "down to the present moment and even into all future time." In the earlier essay on Socrates and Greek Tragedy, he seems to look back and to realize his inability to pinpoint the beginning of this development. The reign of Socratism thereby was infinitely expanded and irony could be viewed as an eternal concomitant of the human race, or at least of literature. 3

Nietzsche's theory of language has a similar relationship to irony. This theory undermines the assumption of objective relationships expressed in our words and thereby renders irony as a necessary component of our language. Nietzsche's most important text on language is his essay "On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense." He dictated the text during the summer of 1873 on the basis of his notes on a lecture course on rhetoric, but never published it. In one instance he referred to the text as a "secretly kept document" (KSA II, 370). Among the writings of this time and within the radius of The Birth of Tragedy, "On Truth and Lies" appears as a little skeptical monster, since it denies fundamentally and categorically our ability to make any truth-related statement about the world surrounding us. Nietzsche begins his text with a fabulous framing and wrote: In some remote corner of the universe that is poured out in countless flickering solar systems, there was once a star on which clever animals invented knowledge. That was the most arrogant and the most untruthful 24

Nietzsche's conception of irony moment in "world history" - yet indeed only a moment. After nature had taken a few breaths, the star froze over and the clever animals had to die. (KSA I 875, RL 246).26

In a language overloaded with metaphors and exotic images, Nietzsche attempts to show "how shadowy and fleeting, how purposeless and arbitrary the human intellect appears within nature." Although this intellect was "given only as a help to the most unfortunate, most delicate, most perishable creatures, in order to preserve them for a moment in existence," it always accomplishes bringing up "the most flattering estimation of this faculty of knowledge." Dissimulation, even "deception, flattery, lying, and cheating" appear as the true essence of the intellect, which makes it hard to comprehend "how an honest and pure desire for truth could arise among men." This question is the focus of the text in its further development. With impressive images, Nietzsche described how the human eye, "deeply immersed in delusions and phantasmagoria," glides "around the surface of things" and engages in "a groping game on the back of things." Nature conceals almost everything from the human being, "even about his own body," and locks him within his consciousness - "unmindful of the windings of his entrails, the swift flow of his bloodstream, and the intricate quiverings of his tissue" - and "threw away the key." Woe to the one who would attempt "peering through a crack out of the room of consciousness" and would suddenly realize "that man is based on a lack of mercy, insatiable greed, murder, on the indifference that stems from ignorance" - "as if he were clinging to a tiger's back in dreams" (KSA I 876-7, RL 247). Considering this situation, Nietzsche asks, "where in the world does the desire for truth originate?" For the conventions of language are hardly products of knowledge, a congruent designation of things, an adequate expression of reality, but rather "illusions" and "empty husks." Only convention, not truth, had been decisive in the genesis of language. Properly speaking, we are not at all entitled to say "the stone is hard" because "hard" is only known to us as a "subjective stimulation." Just as little are we entitled to "arrange things by genders" and to designate the tree as masculine and the plant as feminine. If we placed the various languages side by side, we would realize "that words are never concerned with truth, never with adequate expression; otherwise there would not be so many languages." The "thing in itself' is something toward which the "creator of language" is indifferent, something that for him is "not


Ernst Behler worthy of seeking." He "designates only the relations of things to men, and to express these relations he uses the boldest metaphors" (KSA I 878, RL 248). In describing this creation of language, Nietzsche uses a transformatiorJ. theory which states that during the formation of language "each time there is a complete overlapping of spheres - from one sphere to the center of a totally different, new one." He writes: "First man translates a nerve stimulus into an image! That is 'the first metaphor. Then, the image must be reshaped into a sound! The second metaphor." At any rate, our language does not relate to things too well. We believe that we know something about the things themselves when we speak of trees, colors, snow, and flowers, although "what we have are just metaphors of things which do not correspond at all to the original entities." On the whole, the origin or genesis of language is not a logical process, "and the whole material in and with which the man of truth, the scientist, the philosopher, works and builds, stems if not from a never-never land, in any case not from the essence of things. ,,27 The inadequate relationship of the human being to objects is further elucidated by Nietzsche's analysis of the transformation from metaphor to concept. This occurs when "the unique and absolutely individualized experience" which leads to the origin of a word is relinquished in favor of the concept and now has to fit "countless more or less similar cases, which, strictly speaking, are never identical, and hence absolutely dissimilar." Nietzsche writes: "Every concept originates by the equation of the dissimilar." As if there was something in nature that would correspond to our concepts of "leaf' or "honesty!" Only by overlooking what is individual and actual do we arrive at concepts, "whereas nature knows no forms and concepts, hence also no species" (ibid.). As is obvious in these arguments, Nietzsche's critique of language is a critique of the language of philosophy and the claim to truth traditionally connected with this language. "What is truth?," he asks and responds: A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms, in short,

a sum of human relations which were poetically and rhetorically heightened, transferred, and adorned, and, after long use seem solid, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions about which it has been forgotten that they are illusions, worn-out metaphors without sensory impact, coins which have lost their image and now can be used only as metal, and no longer as coins. (KSA I 880-1; RL 250)

Nietzsche illustrates this thought with numerous examples. When


Nietzsche's conception oj irony an investigator operates on the basis of this language, he ultimately discovers "just the metamorphosis of the world into man." Just as the astrologer observes "the stars in the service of men and in connection with their joys and sorrows," so this investigator observes the whole \r\,70rld as the "infinitely refracted echo of a primeval sound, man; as the reproduction and copy of an archetype, man." Such an investigator forgets "that the original intuitive metaphors are indeed metaphors and takes them for the things themselves." Science originates "only insofar as man forgets himself as a subject, indeed as an artistically creating subject." If the human being could escape "from the prior walls of this belief, then his high opinion of himself would be dashed immediately" (KSA I 883, RL 252). This theory of language is to be seen as the most cogent argument for Nietzsche's affirmation of irony. Similar to his recognition of Socratism as an "eternal" concomitant of humanity, this theory of language constitutes H. precondition for irony, a condition of possibility, even of necessity, for irony. The question now arises: in which way is language capable of comn1unicating thoughts? This is not meant so much as a general question, but more as a question directed to Nietzsche. For after he had realized the unfitness of our language as far as the knowledge and communication of objective facts is concerned, he did not cease talking and writing, but articulated one thought after the other and published one book after the other. On the basis of his theory of language, he was not even entitled to write a text like "On Truth and Lies." When he describes in this writing the transformation of a nerve stimulus into a sound, a sound into a word, and a word into a concept, he undoubtedly communicates objective statements, even based on a theory of origin loaded with unproven presuppositions. According to this text, we cannot peer out of the chamber of our consciousness because nature, after having locked us into it, threw away the key. Nietzsche, ho\vever, certainly peers out of this chamber and tells us that out there the pitiless. greedy, insatiable, and murderous is dominating, and that, in our ignorance, we are hanging on the back of a tiger. The question that cannot be avoided at this point, however, concerns the organizing principle of Nietzsche's writing, the order of his discourse, the communicative value of his text, and, above all, how we are supposed to interpret him. 28 In response to this question, we can say that Nietzsche's theory of language, as it comes forth in the small text "On Truth and Lies". cannot be overestimated in its importance for Nietzsche's subse27

Ernst Behler quent thought and our understanding of it. The linguistic analyses of this text had led to the conviction that our language does not permit a knowledge about the true nature of things and that our language encapsulates us within the world of the human being. These critical thoughts are now expanded and transformed into a more general discourse of a critique of metaphysics. One of these transformations takes place in section 39 of Human, All Too Human and relates the formation of our language to the genesis of our moral concepts. Nietzsche writes in this instance: First of all, we call individual actions good or evil without any concern for their motives, but instead on account of their beneficial or harmful consequences. But soon we forget the origin of these designations and imagine that the quality "good" or "evil" inheres in the actions in themselves, without regard to their consequences: making the same error as when language describes the stone itself as hard, the tree itself as green - that is, by conceiving what is an effect as the cause. (KSA II 62, HH 1,39)

In this instance, the choice of examples makes the relationship of Nietzsche's thought to his theory of language still noticeable. Both examples, the hard stone and the green tree, occur in "On Truth and Lies." In section 121 of The Gay Science, however, Nietzsche formulates a similar thought which no longer reveals any link with his earlier theory of language: "We have arranged for ourselves a world in which we can live - by positing bodies, lines, planes, causes and effects, motion and rest, form and content; without these articles of faith nobody now could endure life" (KSA III 477, GS 124). This transformation of his early theory of language also takes shape when Nietzsche transposes it to related realms like consciousness, reason, ability to communicate, and grammar. The theme of grammar is of particular interest in this context. Grammar is of course not to be understood in a technical, linguistic sense, but as that "unconscious domination and guidance by similar grammatical functions" which governs people of a similar family of languages, of the same "atavisms," as Nietzsche proposes in section 20 of Beyond Good and Evil (KSA V 34, BGE 20). In the preface to this text, he had referred to a "seduction by grammar" as a possible reason for the origin of philosophical systems. In section 34 of the same text, he equals the "faith in grammar" with the "faith in governesses" and asks: "but hasn't the time come for philosophy to renounce the faith in governesses?" (KSA V 54, BGE 34). Many of these-thoughts have parallels in Nietzsche's unpublished fragments. In one instance, he relates language to reason and claims 28

Nietzsche's conception of irony that language has provided reason with the "most naive prejudices." We read "problems and disharmonies into things because we think only in the form of language," and we would cease to think" if we did not do it under the coercion of language." These reflections lead up to Nietzsche's. famous statement: "Reasonable thinking is an interpretation according to a scheme we cannot throw off" (KSA XII 193-4). How Nietzsche thinks about language, grammar, and reason as a unity is best noticeable in a tour de force of his critique of reason in Twilight of the Idols, one of his best works. In section 5 of the section" 'Reason' in Philosophy," Nietzsche says that the question about the origin of language would bring us back into an "age of the most rudimentary form of psychology" and that we would find ourselves "in the midst of a rude fetishism when we call to mind the basic suppositions of the metaphysics of language - that is to say, of reason." Nietzsche concludes this aphorism with the exclamation: " 'Reason' in language: oh, what a deceitful old woman! I fear we are not getting rid of God because we still believe in grammar" (KSA VI 78, TI "Reason in Philosophy" 5). As these few examples demonstrate, Nietzsche's early theory of language extends far into the finest ramifications of his thought and is perhaps affiliated with the entirety of his text. This also applies to the expressive character and communicative value of his writings. Nietzsche remained faithful to his recognition, first formulated in "On Truth and Lies," according to which we cannot achieve objective knowledge, but only register our impressions, reactions, and interpretations. This is what he has done in his writings. In the most extreme manner, as no other author has ever dared it, he has involved in his text his own person, his sickness and states of euphoria, the places where he produced his writings, his own New Year's resolutions, and even his culinary predilections. Every aphorism reflects his own experience. To interpret Nietzsche indeed means, as Derrida has formulated it, to interpret his signatures. 29 Aphorism 119 of Daybreak appears to be most revealing in this regard. This aphorism has the title "Experience and Imagining" and compares our waking with our dreaming state. In both cases, we react to stimuli from the outside and transform them into our human world. This is more obvious in dreams because we can better determine the nervous stimuli for them: "the motions of the blood and intestines" - "the pressure of the arm and the bedclothes" "the sounds made by church bells, weather-cocks, night-revelers, and other things of the kind." Our "imagining reason" imagines


Ernst Behler causes for those stimuli, this is the same in our waking and dreaming state. Yet in the waking state we do not enjoy that freedom of interpretation as in our dreams. Who knows whether "our moral judgments and evaluations too are only images and fantasies based on a physiological process unknown to us." Perhaps, Nietzsche muses, "all our so-called consciousness is a more or less fantastic commentary on an unknown, perhaps unknowable, but felt text" (KSA III 111-14, Daybreak 119). In a more radical manner he asks in the same section 119 of Daybreak: "What then are our experiences? Much more that which we put into them than that which they already contain! Or must we go so far as to say: in themselves they contain nothing? To experience is to imagine?" (KSA III 114, Daybreak 119). What Nietzsche presents in his writings are events which announce their arrival or which still throw a shadow, although they have passed; processes which continue and will perhaps always endure; thoughts which evaporate at the moment one articulates them; acts of self-recognition which do not succeed because we are too far from ourselves. These are by no means ascertainable facts but conjectures for which the language of science and traditional philosophy is totally unsuited. For these phenomena can only be communicated in a language that suggests through images and attempts to persuade through its tone - the language of rhetoric. The language of rhetoric, however, by its nature depends on a listener whose consent this language not only attempts to gain with all the arts of speech, but whom this language also confronts with all rhetorical figures of challenge, condemnation, shock, offense, denunciation, and curse. This appears to be the communicative character of Nietzsche's writings - a character that immediately follows from his theory of language. 4

One good access point to the complex configuration of irony in Nietzsche's writings, often presented as an art of living, an ars vitae, a savoir vivre, is the theme of the mask as he unfolded it in the sections "The Free Spirit" and "What is Noble?" from Beyond Good and Evil. That this topic relates to the classical notions of dissimulation and eironeia is indicated by the impression that the most prominent aphO{ism on the mask, section 40 of Beyond Good and Evil, seems to pick up the ironic image of Socrates, although the 30

Nietzsche's conception of irony name of Socrates does not occur in the text. Nietzsche says in this aphorism: "I could imagine that a human being who had to guard something precious and vulnerable might roll through life, rude and round as an old green wine cask with heavy hoops: the refinement of his shame would. want it that way" (KSA V 58, BeE 51). This contrast is one of the main points in the discussion - as are shame, avoidance of openness, and nakedness - and stimulates the question of whether "nothing less than the opposite" might be the "proper disguise for the shame of a god" (KSA V 57, BeE 50). With regard to human actions, Nietzsche continues: There are occurrences of such a delicate nature that one does well to cover them up with some crudeness to conceal them; there are actions of love and extravagant generosity after which nothing is more advisable than to take a stick and give any eyewitness a sound thrashing: that would muddle his memory in order to have their revenge at least against this only witness: shame is inventive. (KSA V 57-8, BGE 50-1)

Toward the end of the aphorism Nietzsche concentrates on the communicative actions of such a "concealed" human being who "instinctively needs speech for silence and for burial in silence." Such a person is "inexhaustible in his evasion of communication" and obviously" wants and sees to it that a mask of him roams in his place through the hearts and heads of his friends." Here we realize that the original reference points of semblance and truth, appearance and reality, concealment and shame are lost and cannot be reconstituted. Indeed, Nietzsche continues with regard to the desire for a mask on the part of the human being: And supposing he did not want it, he would still realize some day that in spite of that a mask of him is there - and that is well. Every profound spirit needs a mask: even more, around every profound spirit a mask is growing continually, owing to the constantly false, namely shallow, interpretation of every word, every step, every sign of life he gives. (KSA V 58, BGE, 51)

Another form of masking and "one of the most refined disguises" is Epicureanism or "a certain ostentatious courage of taste which takes suffering casually and resists everything sad and profound" (KSA V 225-6, BeE 220-1). Other people "employ cheerfulness because they are misunderstood on its account - they want to be misunderstood" (KSA V 226, BeE 220). Science 30 is another disguise which creates "a cheerful appearance," and those who employ science do so "because being scientific suggests that a human being is superficial - they want to seduce others to this false inference" 31

Ernst Behler (KSA V 226, BGE 220-1). Free and insolent minds want to conceal that they are broken hearts (e.g. Hamlet, Galiani), and sometimes "even foolishness is the mask for an unblessed all-too-certain knowledge." From all this follows for Nietzsche that it is "a characteristic of more refined humanity to respect 'the mask' and not to indulge in psychology and curiosity in the wrong place" (KSA V 226, BGE 221). As a "hermit," Nietzsche also did not believe that any philosopher "ever expressed his real and ultimate opinions in books" and indeed doubted "whether a philosopher could possibly have 'ultimate and real' opinions" (KSA V 234, BGE 229). Perhaps such a philosopher writes books precisely to conceal what he harbors, so that one wonders "whether behind everyone of his caves there is not, must not be, another deeper cave - a more comprehensive, stranger, richer world beyond the surface, an abysmally deep ground behind every ground, under every attempt to furnish 'ground'" (KSA V 234, BGE 229). The conclusion to which we are driven by such considerations a ppears to be: "Every philosophy also conceals a philosophy; every opinion is also a hide-out, every word also a mask" (KSA V 234). Yet here again, it belongs to the mark of a refined style of humanity and philosophizing to respect the mask of the philosopher and not to indulge in skeptical thoughts such as: "There is something arbitrary in his stopping here to look back and to look around, in his not digging deeper here but laying his spade aside; there is also something suspicious about it" (KSA V 234, BGE 229). Such a will to truth at any price belongs to a youthful state of philosophizing which assaults "men and things in this manner with Yes and No." This is the "worst of tastes, the taste for the unconditional," and one needs to be cruelly fooled and abused by this taste before one learns the "art of nuances," puts "a little art into one's feelings," and "risks trying even what is artificial - as the real artists of life do" (KSA V 49, BGE 43). "No," Nietzsche says in his preface to The Gay Science, "this bad taste, this will to truth, to truth 'at any price,' this youthful madness in the love of truth, have lost their charm for us: for that we are too experienced, too serious, too merry, too burned, too profound. We no longer believe that truth remains truth when the veils are withdrawn; we have lived too much to believe this. Today we consider it a matter of decency not to wish to see everything naked, or to be present at everything, or to understand and 'know' everything" (KSA III 352, BGE 38). We could go 00 to show the relevance of the mask to Nietzsche's own existence, his life as a double, a "Doppelganger" (KSA VI 266, 32

Nietzsche's conception of irony GM 225), or to his style: "long, difficult, hard, dangerous thoughts and the tempo of the gallop and the very best, most capricious humor" (KSA V 47, BGE 40-1). However, it already seems sufficiently evident that ironic dissimulation, configurative thinking and writing, double-edged communication, and artistry of living and philosophizing were his response to the universal irony of the world. Nietzsche took up this topic when in The Gay Science he raised the question of "what would happen if everything upon which our ultimate convictions rest would become incredible, if nothing should prove to be divine any more unless it were error, blindness, the lie - if God himself should prove to be our most enduring lie?" (KSA III 577, GS 283). From this vantage point, Nietzsche was not certain whether "wanting not to allow oneself to be deceived" \vas really "less harmful, less dangerous, less calamitous" than allowing oneself to be deceived, "whether the greater advantage is on the side of the unconditionally mistrustful or the unconditionally trusting" (KSA III 575-6, GS 280-1). His answer to this dilemma was the admonition: "Let us be on our guard!" as he developed it in an aphorism with the same title (KSA III 468, GS 168). Irony in the sense of a Lebenskunstlehre, an ars vitae, a savoir vivre, or an art of living relates to the more delicate aspects of Nietzsche's thought and is usually illustrated by examples of how to live and to be in the world. Epicurius is such an example, representing for Nietzsche the "happiness of the afternoon of antiquity" (KSA III 411, GS 110). But such happiness "could be invented only by a man who was suffering continually." Nietzsche thought: "It is the happiness of eyes that have seen the sea of existence become calm, and now they can never weary of the surface and the lines of this tender, shuddering skin of the sea." And he adds: "Never before has voluptuousness been so modest" (ibid.). In the n10dern world, the "good Europeans," that is, "all the more profound and comprehensive men of this century," artists, writers, and philosophers like Goethe, Balzac, Beethoven, Baudelaire, Stendhal, Heinrich Heine, Schopenhauer, and even Richard Wagner, demonstrate this art of living. To be sure, all of them were broken natures, "enemies of logic and straight lines, lusting after the foreign, the exotic, the tremendous, the crooked, the self-contradictory" but on the whole, "an audaciously daring, magnificently violent type of higher human beings" (KSA V 503, BGE 196). When Nietzsche presents these examples of how to be in the world as "the genuine artists of life," he seems to return to the motif of an "aesthetic 33

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justification of life" which stands at the beginning of his writing (KSA I 47, BT 5). Indeed, referring back to his conception of Greek culture and Greek art, Nietzsche derived the highest accomplishment in the art of living from the Greeks, saying: "0 those Greeks! They know how to live. What is required for that is to stop courageously at the surface, the fold, the skin, to adore appearance, to believe in forms, tones, words, in the whole Olympus of appearance. Those Greeks were superficial - out of profundity" {KSA III 352, GS 38).

Notes 1 2

3 4 5 6 7 8


10 11 12


14 15

Translations of Nietzsche not marked by abbreviations are mine. Aristophanes, Nubes 443. Quotations from Plato are taken from Platon, Oeuvres, Completes, ed. Guillaume Bude (Paris: Les Belles, 1953). References to this edition are given with the Stephanus numbering, as used in most editions of Plato. Aristotle is quoted from the edition of the Academia Borussica according to page, column, and line. Cicero, Acad. Pro 2. 5. 15. Cicero, De or. 2.67. 270. Quintilian, Inst. or. 9. 2. 44. Ibid., 9. 2.46. I am using a later edition: EncycJopedie ou dictionnaire raisonne de Sciences des Arts et des Metiers, par une Societe de Gens de Lettres (Geneva: Pellet, 1777), vol. XIX, p. 86. Friedrich Schlegel, Kritische Ausgabe, ed. Ernst Behler in collaboration with Jean-Jacques Anstett, Hans Eichner, and other specialists (Paderborn: Schoningh, 1958-)' vol. II, p. 152. English translation by Peter Firchow in: Friedrich Schlegel, Lucinde and the Fragment (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1971). Schlegel uses the notion of poetry in the broader German sense which includes literature. F. Schlegel, Kritische Ausgabe, vol. XVIII, 24. Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Jubilaumsausgabe in 40 Banden, ed. Eduard von der Hellen (Stuttgart: Cotta, 1902-12). Especially in his Phenomenology of Spirit, see Emmanuel Hirsch, "Die Beisetzung der Romantiker in Hegel's Phanomenologie," in E. Hirsch, Die idealistische Philosophie und das Christen tum (Gutersloh: Berhelsmann, 1926), pp. 117-39. Otto Poggeler, Hegels Kritik der Romantik (Bonn: Bouvier, 1956), p. 96. A more detailed discussion of these relationships can be found in my "The Theory df Irony in German Romanticism," in Frederick Garber, ed., Romantic Irony (Budapest: Akademiai Kiad6, 1988), pp. 43-81.


Nietzsche's conception of irony 16 G.W.F. Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy, trans. E. S. Haldane (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995), I, p. 400. 17 Heinrich Heine, Buch Ie Grand, in H. Heine, Selected Works, trans. Helen M. Mustard (New York: Random House, 1973), p. 49. 18 See my "Kierkegaard's On the Concept of Irony in Constant Consideration of Romanticism," Kierkegaard-Studies (1997), in press. 19 See on this Karl Pestalozzi, "Nietzsches Baudelaire - Rezeption," Nietzsche-Studien 7 (1978), pp. 158-78; Mazzino Montinari, "Nietzsches Auseinandersetzung mit der franzosischen Literatur des 19. Jahrhunderts," in Sigrid Bauschinger, Susan L. Cocalis, and Sara Lennox, eds., Nietzsche heute: Die Rezeption seines Werkes nach 1968 (Bern: Franke, 1988), pp. 137-48; and Jacques Le Rider, Nietzsche in Frankreich, mit einem Nachwort von Ernst Behler (Munich: Fink, 1992). 20 I have pursued this approach in my "Nietzsches Auffassung der Ironie," Nietzsche-Studien 4 (1975), pp. 1-35, and also in my Irony and the Discourse of Modernity (Seattle: University of vVashington Press, 1990), pp.92-100. 21 See on this my Ironie und literarisches ModerniUitsbewuJ3tsein (Paderborn: Schoningh, 1992), pp. 250-78. 22 Nietzsche in drei Banden, ed. Karl Schlechta (Munich: Hanser, 1954), vol. III, pp. 157-9. Not in KSA. 23 Nietzsche is using the term "science" in the broad German sense which includes philosophy. 24 I have dealt with this text in my essay, written in commemoration of Mazzino Montinari, "Socrates und die griechische Tragodie," NietzscheStudien 18 (1989), pp. 141-57. 25 Nietzsche Briefwechsel, Kritische Gesamtausgabe, ed. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari (16 vols., Berlin: de Gruyter, 1976), vol. II, p. 176. 26 The translation of "Ober Wahrheit und Luge im auf3ermoralischen Sinne" is taken from Sander L. Gilman, Carol Blair, and David J. Parent, Friedrich Nietzsche on Rhetoric and Language (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989). 27 Schlegel, Kritische Ausgabe, vol. I, p. 879, RL 249. 28 See my "Nietzsches Sprachtheorie und der Aussagecharakter SeIner Schriften," Nietzsche-Studien 25 (1996), pp. 64-86. 29 Jacques Derrida, Otobiographies. L'enseignement de Nietzsche et 1a po1itique du nom propre (Paris: Minnit, 1984). 30 See note 23.


II The transfigurations of intoxication: Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Dionysus MARTHA C. NUSSBAUM If Schopenhauer ... posited a general depression as the tragic condition, if he suggested to the Greeks ( - who to his annoyance did not "resign themselves" - ) that they had not attained the highest view of the world that is paTti pris, logic of a system, counterfeit of a systematizer: one of those dreadful counterfeits that ruined Schopenhauer's whole psychology, step by step ( - arbitrarily and violently, he misunderstood genius, art itself, morality, pagan religion, beauty, knowledge, and more or less everything). WP851

Do you desire the most astonishing proof of how far the transfiguring power of intoxication can go? - "Love" is this proof: that which is called love in all the languages and silences of the world. WP808


Nietzsche is wrong about Euripides. That judgment is the more or less inevitable starting point for any treatment by a classical scholar of Nietzsche's relationship to the Bacchae and to Dionysus. For among the many hundreds of observations about ancient literature made by Nietzsche in the course of his unfortunately brief philosophical career, many of them deeply illuminating, the treatment of Euripides in The Birth of Tragedy is remarkable for its lack of insight. Here Nietzsche, usually so skeptical of received scholarly views, takes over completely uncritically the notion, current in his day, that Euripides is a "rationalist" and a precursor of Socratic intellectualism. By making tragedy a scene of reasoned dialectical debate, in which everything is clear, everything comprehensible to the inquiring and critical intellect, Euripides wrenched tragedy away - so Nietzsche argues - from its Dionysian origins, and from 36

The transfigurations of intoxication the sense of life's mysteriousness, complexity, and moral arbitrariness that Nietzsche associates with those origins, teaching instead that virtue is knowledge and that the world contains no mystery that reason cannot unravel. In this way, Nietzsche argues, he subverted the achievement of Aeschylus and Sophocles, and so effectively "killed" tragedy (BT 1-12). This account of the role of reason and intellectual debate in Euripidean tragedy astonishes. For it is hard to believe that a reader as astute as Nietzsche could interpret works such as Hippolytus and Medea as defenses of the omnipotence of reason; and equally difficult to understand why he did not see that even the lengthy segments of dialectical argument that do figure in works such as Troiades usually serve to demonstrate the impotence of reason and justice, when face to face with irrational passions. (Hecuba wins the debate; but the practical victory goes to eros and to Helen.) Indeed, it is difficult to think of a single Euripidean play for which the Nietzschean interpretation is even prima-facie plausible. Where the Bacchae is concerned, Nietzsche compounds his error. For having made Euripides a rationalist for most of his career, he is forced to make of the Bacchae - in which even Nietzsche cannot fail to find acknowledgment of the power of irrational forces - a sudden volte-face, a deathbed conversion. This story too flies in the face of the evidence: not only the evidence of works such as Hippolytus, with its insistence on the divinity of erotic passion, and the Helen, its ode in praise of the Mountain Mother, but also the evidence of fragments (especially of the early Curetes) that show a continuous interest in ecstatic religion throughout Euripides' career. Moreover, Nietzsche's comparison of Euripides to Pentheus, driven mad by the vengeance of the god he has so persistently opposed (BT 12), is a somewhat unpromising avenue of approach to a work that displays, throughout, supreme poetic mastery and discipline. But it is not the purpose of this chapter to investigate these strange errors. They have been discussed often and effectively enough.l And I believe that, although they must be a starting-point of an inquiry into Nietzsche's portrait of Dionysus, they are in no sense the end of the story. For despite his peculiar relation to Euripides, Nietzsche's account of the Dionysian - both in The Birth of Tragedy and in later writings - is itself remarkably illuminating, both to the philosopher concerned with the structure and effects of passion and to the student of ancient tragedy. My purpose in this chapter is to investigate that philosophical and historical contribution. 37

Martha C. Nussbaum 2

This investigation will focus on two topics - closely interwoven, in that both are prominent aspects of Nietzsche's portrait of Dionysus and the Dionysian. 2 I shall ask about the tragic hero's relationship to what is arbitrary and mysterious and unjust in life, and the related Nietzschean picture of tragic learning and the spectator. And I shall also investigate Nietzsche's remarkable account of the ways in which the intoxication of passion transfigures the self, producing a being who is fictional and yet also real, transformed and transforming, an object of art and an artist, "an ass in magnanimity and innocence" (WP 808), an actor, a god - in short, a lover. 3 This power of love, as he sees it, is the energy that generates all delicate and all noble art, all that goes beyond "the virtuoso croaking of shivering frogs, despairing in their swamp" (WP 808). And perhaps it even influences the somewhat croaking authors of philosophical papers, when Dionysus is their theme. But in order to understand how Nietzsche's account of the Dionysian and its transformations is related both to his understanding of the Greeks and to other more immediate German origins, we must bring another actor on to the scene. This is Schopenhauer, least likely of all philosophers to be described in the terms reserved by Nietzsche for the artist-lover - Schopenhauer, whose bleak and furious pessimism stands in a relation of enormous complexity to Nietzsche's language and arguments. Nietzsche was by training a philologist, not a philosopher. His knowledge of the important works of his own philosophical tradition - including the works of Kant and Hegel - is demonstrably thin and uneven. But there is one great exception. The works of Schopenhauer, read with passion from an early age, pervade his thought and choice of terms in the 1870s. It would not be misleading to say that at the time he wrote The Birth of Tragedy Nietzsche was so steeped in Schopenhauer that he perceived whatever he perceived through the lens of Schopenhauerian distinctions and categories. Certainly it is hard to make sense of the concepts of the Apollonian and Dionysian, and many other insufficiently explained aspects of Nietzsche's argument in that cryptic work, without relating them to Schopenhauer's more explicit and extensive arguments. This close relationship has frequently been mentioned. But its implications for the interpretation of The Birth of Tragedy and related texts lmve not been described, I believe, with sufficient complexity. For although Nietzsche often simply appropriates 38

The transfigurations of intoxication Schopenhauer's concepts and categories without much explanation, in such a way that the reader who is unacquainted with Schopenhauer will be at a loss to understand why a certain connection is made, or how one step follows on from the previous one, Nietzsche is also, by this time, already profoundly critical of much of Schopenhauer's account of both cognition and desire, and profoundly hostile to his normative "pessimism." Most of the basis for the explicit denunciation of Schopenhauer in later works such as The Case of Wagner and our epigraph (from 1888) is already firmly in place. But Nietzsche's strategy, in The Birth, is not, as later, to use direct argument or explicit polemic against his revered predecessor. Instead, he proceeds by stealth, using Schopenhauer's very terms to undermine his distinctions and arguments, borrowing the surface of his language to subvert the core of his thought. The reader must, in this situation, proceed with the utmost deftness and care, becoming what Nietzsche none too modestly said any good reader of his text must be: "a monster of courage and curiosity; moreover supple, cunning, cautious; a born adventurer and discoverer.,,4 But for a reader of today, whether philosopher or literary scholar, courage and cunning are hardly sufficient, since even rudimentary knowledge of Schopenhauer's views is usually not to hand. Far too few accounts of Nietzsche's thought pause to give any exegesis of Schopenhauer's central notions and arguments - with the result that even the most attentive reader is not put in a position to grasp the origins of a term, the significance of a reference. This is especially unfortunate since Schopenhauer writes with a directness and simplicity none too common in the German philosophical tradition, so that it is not at all ludicrous, but actually quite feasible, to attempt to supply a clear and economical summary of the elements of his thought that most influenced Nietzsche's picture of Dionysus. This, before embarking on my exegesis and defense of Nietzsche, I shall undertake to do. The result, I think, will be a more adequate understanding not only of the language of The Birth, but also of Nietzsche's philosophical motivations for saying what he did about desire, and for defending love, sexual desire, and the body in the way in which he defended them. 3

Like Kant, Schopenhauer argues that our faculties of perception and thought do not and cannot grasp an intrinsic structure of the world 39

Martha C. Nussbaum as it is in itself. apart from the operations of mind. 5 What we grasp we grasp under certain categories of mind. without the use of which nothing could be grasped. Kant repudiates the idealistic way of understanding his arguments. arguing, apparently, that it is not a mental entity, a fabrication of our own minds. that we grasp when we grasp a thing, it is the external world. as demarcated by the categories of mind that are necessary for the possibility of experience. He takes it, furthermore. that by showing these categories to be necessary for the possibility of experience, he has validated them and shown their objective reality. There is. for Kant, no stronger argument for the reality and objectivity of something than a transcendental argument showing that it is necessary for the possibility of experience and thought. Schopenhauer, by contrast. took Kant's line of reasoning in an idealistic direction (at times interpreting Kant this way, at times explicitly criticizing him). What we experience in perception and thought is not, he argues, a world of things out there. things-inthemselves - even as shaped by the categories of mind. Instead, we grasp our own representations of things in perception and thought. Instead of looking out at the world through eyeglasses that structure it in a particular way, we are looking, so to speak, into mirror glasses that simply give us back what we ourselves are and have made up.n Even the distinction between subject and object. and the relation of cause and effect that links them, are our mental representations. growing out of our activity and existing only in it. (Schopenhauer insists that this position marks a difference between his views and those of "every philosophy ever attempted" [po 25].) Thus it is not even possible to speak of our grasp of things as "subjective," since the very contrast between subject and object is something that we ourselves make; thus it cannot be used to characterize the contrast between what we make and what we do not. As for the linking relation of causality, it, too, exists "only in the understanding and for the understanding" (p. 15). It is not, as Kant thought. objectively valid, and a priori. In short, the activity of the representing mind brings into being the entire world of things, and the relations that obtain between them (cf. p. 30). From his readings in Indian philosophy. Schopenhauer borrows the metaphor of thinking as dreaming. and of its contents as a web of maya or illusion (pp. 17. 365). Our whole cognizing of the world. he insists, is like l~oking at a dream that we ourselves have made (p. 365, cf. p. 98). We are dimly aware that we are dreaming, and we 40

The transfigurations of intoxication dream on. Citing Shakespeare, Plato, Sophocles, Pindar, and Calderon, as well as "Vedas and Puranas," he concludes: "Life and dreams are leaves of one and the same book ... we find no distinct difference in their nature, and are forced to concede to the poets that life is a long dream." (pp. 17-18). The special role of one's own body in the scheme of representation must now be mentioned. The body seems to be known to the agent directly and immediately. And indeed, Schopenhauer concedes that it is "for us immediate object, in other words, that representation which forms the starting-point of the subject's knowledge, since it itself with its immediately known changes precedes the application of the law of causality and thus furnishes this with its first data" (p. 19). But it is most important to emphasize that representation, however immediate, is what a person's body is. Our especially intimate perceptual connection with it does not suffice to place it outside the veil of maya. "For the purely knowing subject as such, this body is a representation like any other ... Its movements and actions are so far known to him in just the same way as the changes of all other aspects of perception" (p. 99).7 But our experience of the world contains something else, something different. And here we arrive at the more obscure and tantalizing, but also more profoundly original, aspect of Schopenhauer's thought. We have, says Schopenhauer, the feeling that this story of dreaming cannot be the entire story about our lives. "We ask whether this world is nothing more than representation. In that case, it would inevitably pass by us like an empty dream, or a ghostly vision, not worth our consideration" (pp. 98-9). We cannot get at this something more by looking at the world from without, so to speak: for this approach, characteristic of all conventional inquiry, confines us to representations. We get a hint about the further element, however, if we consider further our relation to our own body. Our bodies are for us objects of sense-perception and thought. But there is another relation we have to them: for we move and act. There is a striving, desiring, straining something about it that does not coolly contemplate and represent, but surges and pushes. This kinetic and desiderative aspect of the person Schopenhauer calls will. (And indeed, like Nietzsche much later, he argues that will is present not only in human beings, but in all of nature. B) Will is inseparable from body: "Every true, genuine, immediate act of the will is also at once and directly a manifest act of the body" (p. 101). 41

Martha C. Nussbaum The notion of will subsumes, and somehow connects, movement from place to place, all forms of desire, and the experience of pleasure and pain. It appears that will is a kinetic reaching-out or striving that explains all movement; the experience of willing is painful, and Schopenhauer seems to believe that its goal is some sort of pleasure or satisfaction (ibid.). A being can relate to its own body either through will or in representation, depending on whether cognitive awareness or some need to act is dominant; and Sthopenhauer depicts these two relations as revealing two aspects of a single entity: "What as representation of perception I call my body, I call my will in so far as I am conscious of it in an entirely different way comparable with no other" (pp. 102-3). (The difficulty of describing will seems to be connected, for Schopenhauer, with its complete lack of cognitive intelligence.) At times, he connects willing with the Kantian notion of the thing in itself, asserting that we have, in will, a kind of a priori relation to the body. Schopenhauer seems to intend will to be closely connected with erotic needs and aims - though we must remember that willing as such involves no representation of any object, and this erotic willing, found "in every blindly acting force of nature, and also in the deliberate conduct of man" (p. 110) is erotic impulse or appetite more than object-directed desire. This erotic urge, he claims, propels all beings ceaselessly forward into movement and action, into the various forms of change and becoming that characterize the world of nature. It is, he insists, not a mysterious form of force that needs to be inferred from experience by complex argument, but, rather, something "known absolutely and immediately, and that so well that we know and understand what will is better than anything else" (p. 111). (Indeed, he uses the concept of will to explain the concept of force, which he takes to be more elusive.) The claim that will is more familiar than anything else suggests that willing is not confined to erotic desire or appetite narrowly understood, but is a very general notion of striving and longing. Schopenhauer, however, does insist on its close connection with sexuality and reproduction - and, in his misogynistic writings, with woman as the source of unrest and disorder. (And indeed, when Schopenhauer speaks of what is most familiar, we must always bear in mind the obsessive and sexually tormented personality that is doing the asserting. What is most familiar to Schopenhauer might not be the same as what is most familiar to Kant,"or to Plato's Cephalus.) It is important to notice that the will, in and of itself, is not an 42

The transfigurations of intoxication individual or a plurality of individuals. It contains in itself no principle of individuation (called by Schopenhauer by the Latin term principium individuationis [pp. 112-13 and elsewhere}). It attains individuation only insofar as it is linked, in experience, with the representation of the body whose moving force it is. This is so, Schopenhauer explains, because in and of itself the striving that is will is not situated in time and space (which, for him, are forms of representation). But orientation in time and space is necessary for the demarcation of a thing as an individual. Therefore the body qua distinct individual is but "phenomenon." On the other hand, Schopenhauer believes that the body's shape and form, as it bounds itself off in space and time, shows forth clearly the nature of the will that inhabits and moves it, and gives its outside a form that one could predict by simply experiencing this will. In a remarkable passage (reminiscent of the passage in Aristotle's De Caelo 11.12, in which the projecting shapes of animal bodies are connected with their lowerthan-godlike forms of life)/l Schopenhauer asserts: "Teeth, gullet, and intestinal canal are objectified hunger; the genitals are objectifled sexual impulse; grasping hands and nimble feet correspond to the more indirect strivings of the will which they represent" (p. 108). Thus, though one cannot exactly perceive the will in itself, it would be correct to think that watching a body in motion, especially rapid nimble motion, was a way of understanding something about the nature of will - and the more so the more the body lacked a distinct personal identity. Plurality and countability do not concern the will - so we might say that the keenest insight into willing that we could gain through our representing senses might be gained by watching a chorus of intertwining dancing limbs, of grasping hands and nimble feet, overlapping in unclearly individuated groupings. And when we understand further that Schopenhauer holds music to be a representation of the kinetic aspects of willing, and, in effect, a mimesis of will in general, in all its forms (pp. 255ff.), we understand that this group of dancing limbs should dance to music, and blend its own motion with the motion of the music. If, further, we wished to include and stress the connection of will with sexuality, we could, following Schopenhauer's indications, make our dancing chorus a chorus of satyrs. This conclusion is drawn not by Schopenhauer, but by Nietzsche. Though in one way it is a brilliant application of Schopenhauerian thinking, we shall see to what un-Schopenhauerian ends he puts it. To begin to make clearer Schopenhauer's relationship to Dio43

Martha C. Nussbaum nysus, we should now attempt to ask what the experience of will, of life lived as will, is like, as he conceives it. First of all, we must insist that, qua will, the human being is not intelligen t. It exercises neither perception nor thought. In fact, it is not different, qua will, from the other animals and from inanimate objects in nature. The urge or desire that moves the willing body is not itself a form of perceptual awareness, though of course it may be accompanied by such awareness. Second, the willing being is not artistic: it neither makes things up nor transforms itself. All that is on the side of representation. (And we shall later see that will does not even inspire creation, but serves, always, as a drain on the energies and attention of the creator.) Willing is brutish, unformed, undisciplined. Third, the willing being is not, as such, aware of itself as a being at all, or of other beings as the distinct beings they are. Again, as we have already said, all this belongs on the side of representation. In other words, the erotic urge itself does not represent to itself an object, or understand itself to be a distinct subject or seat of desire. It is a generalized urge to merge with what it cannot itself conceive or see. Finally, willing is closely connected with the experience of pain and deficiency. This connection we shall shortly investigate. Schopenhauer cannot precisely say that willing itself is painful, or involves a painful form of awareness, since he denies to will all perceptual awareness. But he will link it closely to the experience of pain in several ways. In short: will is an erotic life force that does not as such involve subjective experience. Thus the question what life feels like when lived as will must remain a peculiar question, as peculiar as the question what it is like to be a blade of grass. And we shall see that it is in this area that Nietzsche - defending the intelligence and the artistry of desire - will make some of his most profound criticisms of Schopenhauer, inspired (so I shall argue) by an admirable understanding of Dionysus. 4

But Schopenhauer does not introduce the dichotomy between will and representation simply as an analysis of cognition and action. The analysis is accompanied by, and grounds, a normative view of life that is famously known as Schopenhauer's "pessimism." According to this view, willing is, for higher creatures at least, the source of endless sufferin~. We escape suffering only to the extent that we escape the bondage of willing; and it is good to cultivate those 44

The transfigurations of intoxication elements in human life that deliver us from that bondage, as far as possible. Since it is here that Nietzsche will break most decisively with Schopenhauer, we need to pause to understand, as best we can, Schopenhauer's arguments for this extreme view concerning desire and striving, and the view of art that is inseparable from it. Schopenhauer's denunciation of willing is eloquent and moving. But the arguments go by very quickly, and considerations of several different sorts are introduced in sequence in such a way that it is left to the reader to figure out how many separate arguments there are, and how they are related to one another. Our analysis can focus on this central paragraph - which, as we shall see, both articulates the normative view and prepares the way for the related analysis of art: All willing springs from lack, from deficiency, and thus from suffering. Fulfilment brings this to an end; yet for one wish that is fulfilled there remain at least ten that are denied. Further, desiring lasts a long time, demands and requests go on to infinity; fulfilment is short and meted out sparingly. But even the final satisfaction itself is only apparent; the wish fulfilled at once makes way for a new one; the former is a known delusion, the latter a delusion not as yet known. No attained object of willing can give a satisfaction that lasts and no longer declines; but it is always like the alms thrown to a beggar, which reprieves him today so that his misery may be prolonged till tomorrow. Therefore, so long as our consciousness is filled by our will, so long as we are given up to the throng of desires with its constant hopes and fears, so long as we are the subject of willing, we never obtain lasting happiness or peace. Essentially, it is all the same whether we pursue or flee, fear harm or aspire to enjoyment; care for the constantly demanding will, no matter in what form, continually fills and moves consciousness; but without peace and calm, true well-being is absolutely impossible. Thus the subject of willing is constantly lying on the revolving wheel of Ixion, is always drawing water in the sieve of the Danaids, and is the eternally thirsting Tantalus. (p.196)

In this paragraph (whose ideas and examples show how deeply Schopenhauer was steeped in both Platonic and Hellenistic, as well as Eastern, thought) 10 we seem to have at least four distinct arguments against the life of willing. First, willing seenlS inferior as a mode of existence (and will later be seen to be inferior to contemplation in particular) because its source is always in some felt lack or pain. (This is an argument repeatedly used by Plato in several dialogues to establish the inferiority of bodily appetite to the desires associated with thinking and contemplating.)11 The idea seems to be that our desire for food and drink, for sexual gratification, and the other related objects of will, is not a pure positive desire brought into being by the beauty and value of the goal by itself: a being \\rho had 45

Martha C. Nussbaum no painful hunger would have no reason to do something so odd as putting food into its mouth, and a being who did not experience sexual need and tension would never conceive the project of engaging in such an intrinsically peculiar activity. (And Schopenhauer's writings on women show just how peculiar, and indeed profoundly disgusting, he took the activity to be.) But this makes the activity, as Plato would put it, "impure" - contingent on a bad state of affairs, and not choice-worthy in itself. Second, the satisfaction of desire is never total, or completely effective: desires are always gratified piecemeal, so that the subject is always in a state of longing, even at the point of satisfying one of his many longings. Third, satisfaction is brief, desire long: the moment of fulfillment is "short and meted out sparingly," while "demands and requests go on to infinity." Again, we can understand this point most vividly if we think of the bodily desires, and especially sexual desire, as the central cases that Schopenhauer has in mind. (The reference to "demands and requests," especially, suggests that he is thinking of the effort one must go through to gain sexual satisfaction.) Fourth and finally, Schopenhauer argues that satisfaction is so unstable that it is an illusion to suppose that one has ever in fact actually been satisfied. The reference to the Danaids (used by both Plato in the Gorgias and Lucretius in book III of his poem to make related points 12) suggests that there is no stable resting point in desire, even though we may delude ourselves into thinking that there is. For our longing is renewing itself even as we satisfy it. From all of this, Schopenhauer draws the conclusion that true happiness, which he understands, in a manner influenced by both Epicurus and Indian thought, to mean a condition of freedom from pain and disturbance, is impossible so long as we go through life under the sway of will. And an avenue of escape is open to us: through the abstract and contemplative mode of attention characteristic (he believes) of our relationship to art. Before we can understand this, however, we must add one further piece to the picture. We have said that the individual subject is aware of itself as individual only through the activity of representation: pure will, in and of itself, contains no awareness of individuation or of distinct subjecthood. We must now add that will, if not sufficient for individuation, seems, on the other hand, to be necessary for it. For Schopenhauer seems to hold that if we were not aware of the paions and desires that are ours as opposed to someone else's, and in general aware of the practical relation in which our 46

The transfigurations of intoxication body stands to a world of objects that mayor may not fulfill its needs, we would not beconle aware of ourselves as distinct individuals marked off from other individuals. It is, apparently, only the disturbance occasioned by the greedy will that makes us focus on our distinct selves, .rather than on the abstract and formal properties of that which surrounds us. And much the same is true of our awareness of other objects. When we are nl0ving through the world as desiring agents, we are aware of the objects that surround us as (a) particulars, and (b) related in one or another way to our interests, helping or thvvarting our desires. Although Schopenhauer is not fully explicit about how interest-relativity and particularity are related, it would appear that, as in the case of our own selfawareness, it is interest-relativity that prompts us to focus on objects, in our context as particulars. For example, the reason why I might attend to a certain dog before me as a particular dog, rather than as exemplifying some abstract properties of doghood - or, even more abstractly, certain properties of form and colour - would be that I am worrying about whether it is going to bite me. If I am liberated from that practical worry, I am free to contemplate the dog's abstract form. Again to use what is always for Schopenhauer the central case, if I should get enmeshed in all the difficulties that follow from attending to a certain human being as irreducibly particular, not exactly the same as any other - rather than having the more stable satisfactions yielded by contemplating him, or her, as an abstract form, the reason for this is likely to be desire. It is clear that for Schopenhauer particularity of attention also heightens and complicates desire; but I think what he means to say is that if I did not in the beginning have sexual impulses that have the problematic character he has described, I would never get started in the spiral of need and attention that is characteristic of erotic love in the first place. Nothing would call my attention down from its lofty contemplative heights to the concrete realities of my context. It is the pressure of need for an actual sexual object that drives attention downwards, although, once it is there, attention also creates further difficulties, binding nle to the frustrating "demands and requests" characteristic of the life of particular love, as Schopenhauer knows it. Now what art does, as Schopenhauer sees it, is to step in as a doctor for the attention, calling perception and thought back n'om the world of particulars to the contemplation of abstract and general forms. When we look at a painting or a statue, he argues, our attention to it has two properties: it is focused on the abstract, and it 47

Martha C. Nussbaum is without awareness of any relation the object may have to our own needs and interests. Raised up by the power of the mind, we relinquish the ordinary 'way of considering things, and cease to follow under the guidance of the principle of sufficient reason merely their relation to our own will. Thus we no longer consider the where, the when, the why, and the whither in things, but simply and solely the what. (p. 178, cf. p. 198)

Schopenhauer has in mind, it seems, the enormous difference between the way in which one attends to a painting or statue of a beautiful person, and the way in which one attends to such a person in the context of desire and action. In the latter case, one is filled with painful yearning and longing, with "demands and requests," with anxious questions about when and how our satisfaction will be achieved. In this process the "what" of the object (as Proust so brilliantly and repeatedly demonstrates) more or less disappears, in the sense that its formal and structural properties come into focus only in relation to our own greedy desires. When, on the other hand, one contemplates a painting or statue of a beautiful person, one is "raised up" above all this, and encouraged to attend to pure general qualities of form and shape, quite apart from their relation to the will. It is only in this contemplative mode that we can be said to understand the object. Furthermore, Schopenhauer continues, we lose in the process the painful awareness of our own individuality and subjectivity that characterize daily life. We forget about our selfish needs, and are able to "lose ourselves" in the object, becoming "a clear mirror of the object" (p. 178), a bare subject of cognition without any properties but those of receptive attention. This forgetfulness of self Schopenhauer finds extremely valuable, not only because it liberates the individual subject from its pain and suffering, but also because, by diminishing selfishness, it promotes sympathy and other desirable social attitudes. Thus the aesthetic attitude liberates, so long as we are caught up in it; when aesthetic experiences cease, we are again at the mercy of our greed: The storm of passions, the pressure of desire and fear, and all the miseries of willing are then at once calmed and appeased in marvellous way. For at the moment when, torn from the will, we have given ourselves up to pure, willless knowing, we have stepped into another world, so to speak, where everything that moves our will, and thus violently agitates us, no longer exists. This libera'ion of knowledge lifts us as wholly and completely above all this as do sleep and dreams. Happiness and unhappiness have vanished;


The transfigurations oj intoxication we are no longer the individual; that is forgotten; we are only pure subject of knowledge. We are only that one eye of the world which looks out from all knowing creatures, but which in man alone can be wholly free from serving the will. In this way, all difference of individuality disappears so completely that it is all the same whether the perceiving eye belongs to a mighty monarch or to a strick~n beggar; for beyond that boundary neither happiness nor misery is taken with us. There always lies so near to us a realm in which we have escaped entirely from all our affliction; but who has the strength to remain in it for long? As soon as any relation to our will, to our person, even of those objects of pure contemplation, again enters consciousness, the magic is at an end. We fall back into knowledge governed by the principle of sufficient reason; we now no longer know the Idea, but the individual thing, the link of a chain to which we also belong, and we are again abandoned to all our woe. (pp. 197-8)

The aesthetic attitude, in short, is unstable. Our attention to the aesthetic object is rarely pure and complete for long. (And this is all the more so since Schopenhauer's examples are usually examples of contemplation of nature, to which we bear. as well, many practical relations.) But in its rare monlents of success we understand the true function of the aesthetic in human life: "namely the deliverance of knowledge from the service of the will, the forgetting of oneself as individual, and the enhancenlent of consciousness to the pure, willless, timeless subject of knowing that is independent of all relations" (p.199).

Tragedy, in Schopenhauer's view, is an especially valuable art form because, in addition to nourishing the aesthetic attitude, as do all forms of art, it reminds us, by its content, of the many motives we have for turning toward art, and away from the will. It is thus peculiarly self-reinforcing. For tragedy represents (in a general fornl, fit for contemplation) all the sufferings to which human beings are prone if they live the life of will and desire. Agreeing closely with the picture of tragedy's function that we get in a Stoic such as Epictetus (who defines tragedy as "what happens when chance events befall fools"), Schopenhauer holds that the sufferings of tragedy are the sufferings of mankind, insofar as it lives the life of desire. And, like Epictetus again, who urged a detached and contemplative spectatorship that would discover in tragedy further motives for living a life of Stoic detachment,13 Schopenhauer argues that good tragic spectatorship leads, very effectively, to a renunciation of will and desire: 14 For the whole of our discussion, it is very significant and \vorth noting that the purpose of this highest poetical achievement is the description of the


Martha C. Nussbaum terrible side of life. The unspeakable pain, the wretchedness and misery of mankind, the triumph of wickedness, the scornful mastery of chance, and the irretrievable fall of the just and the innocent are all here presented to us; and here is to be found a significant hint as to the nature of the world and of existence ... The motives that were previously so powerful now lose their force, and instead of them, the complete knowledge of the real nature of the world, acting as a quietener of the will, produces resignation, the giving up not merely of life, but of the whole will-to-live itself ... Only a dull, insipid, optimistic, Protestant-rationalistic, or really Jewish view of the world will make the demand for poetic justice, and find its own satisfaction in that of the demand. The true sense of the tragedy is the deeper insight that what the hero atones for is not his own particular sins, but original sin, in other words, the guilt of existence itself: Pues el delito mayor Del hombre es haber nacido. ("For man's greatest offence Is that he has been born,") as Calderon (La Vida es Sueno) frankly expresses it.

I have quoted this passage at length not only to establish Schopenhauer's account of the function of tragedy; and not only in order to illustrate the extreme vehemence, and even violence, with which he denounces his more optimistic opponents; but also in order to give evidence of the Christian and even Catholic origins of Schopenhauer's loathing for the will, and of the account of tragedy that expresses it. Here more clearly than elsewhere, he frankly concedes that a view of original guilt or sin, connected with our bodily existence and its sexual origins and strivings, underlies his account of what tragedy teaches. And it is no surprise to find him turning to Calderon, whose tragedy is steeped in these Catholic views, for expression of the fundamental "guilt" that, as he sees it, all beings bear. Tragedy shows not only suffering, but also atonement. And the atonement is for an offense, deli to, connected with birth itself. Schopenhauerian pessimism is an odd amalgam of Hellenistic, Christian, and Eastern influences, but its conclusion, here, is clear: the body and its urges are bad, are both guilty and delusive; and nature as a whole, becoming as a whole, is infected with that guilt and those delusions. Through art, and especially tragic art, we comprehend these facts in a general way. The experience of spectatorship, which ...already, in its cognitive structure, exemplifies detachment from will, gives us, through this comprehension, new motives to reject and blame life as both evil and false. 50

The transfigurations of intoxication Schopenhauer's relationship to Euripides' Dionysus now begins to look very complex. On the one hand, his account of experience captures very well the fluidity of identity that is central not only to Euripides' play but, very likely, to the experience of the participant in Dionysian religion is well. 15 The desiring subject is not a stable substance, but a part of nature in continual motion; individuation and boundaries are temporary, factitious. Using this view, with its emphasis on the dreamlike qualities of representation, one can well start to explain the transformations of the Dionysus of the Bacchae, as he appears to his followers as now a human, now a bull- and the equally surprising transformation of his followers, as they now flow toward unity with the burgeoning erotic life of nature, now become aware of their bodies, and the bodies of others, as distinct individuals. (We could, for example, usefully think of Agave's recognition of Pentheus as a transition from will accompanied by only minimal representation to the clarity of distinct representation, detached to some extent 16 from will.) On the other hand, there is much in Schopenhauer that does not fit well with Euripides' play or, indeed, with anything in ancient Greek tragedy. His emphasis on the lack of intelligence and artistry in appetite fits badly with the Bacchae's depiction of Dionysus, and the sexual and natural forces he embodies, as powerfully artistic, as authors of sudden, subtle transformations closely related to the transformations involved in theatre itself. If Dionysus, god of intoxication and sexual energy, is (in Schopenhauer's terms) will, he is also a playwright, a stage director, a most subtle and versatile actor. 17 The desires he arouses are neither unintelligent nor lacking in their own sort of order. Nor is the pessimistic condemnation of all sexuality and all becoming - especially insofar as it rests on a notion of original sin - at all at home in the world of the Bacchae, or the ancient world generally. Dionysus is cruel, excessive. amoral. And the play shows human Dionysian energies to be both glorious and terrible, transfiguring and pitiless, fertile and fatal. It does not, however, in any way condemn the body as evil or conception and birth as filthy. The cruelty and arbitrariness of life are seen as inseparable from its mysterious richness. 18 The strangeness of this conjunction is neither condemned nor praised, but simply presented. And insofar as a simpler and more condemning attitude to\vard sexuality is present in the play - in Pentheus' pronouncements about the activities of Dionysian women - it is shown to be both defective in its narrowness and linked to the repression of the very energies it 51

Martha C. Nussbaum condemns. In general - although usually I shrink from such generalizations - I think we can say confidently that the notion of original sin, as it figures (for example) in the tragedies of Calderon, is altogether foreign to Greek tragedy and to ancient Greek thought. Finally, Schopenhauer's account of tragic spectatorship, closely tied to the recognition of guilt and emphasizing detachment and resignation as goals, is very hard indeed to link with anything that could have gone on in the ancient theatre. The Dionysian testivals, whatever they were, were not celebrations of renunciation of the will to live. 19 As I have suggested, if Schopenhauer's view of the spectator is close to anything in the ancient world it is to the radical reconstruction of spectatorship that we see in Stoic accounts of the function and meaning of tragedy, which had considerable influence on the Christian tragedians dear to Schopenhauer's heart. We shall now see that Nietzsche, while availing himself of Schopenhauer's terms of analysis, develops in a positive way exactly those aspects of Schopenhauer's thought that I have said to be genuinely promising as avenues of approach to ancient tragedy in general, the Bacchae's Dionysus in particular. He uses them, however, to construct a complex subversion of the core of Schopenhauer's normative view, and to produce an account of the tragic universe and tragic spectatorship that might with real justice be called (as he calls them) Dionysian. 5

Nietzsche's Apollo and Dionysus are, up to a point, simply Representation and Will in Greek costume. The reader of The Birth of Tragedy who has not read Schopenhauer is likely to puzzled by Nietzsche's rapid introduction of these two fundamental "drives" or "tendencies" in human nature, and by the hasty manner in which one of these is linked with cognitive activity, but also with dreaming, with visual art, and with the awareness of general forms; the other with movement and sexuality, with intoxication, with the awareness of particularity, with the absence of a clear individuation of the self. All this is far easier to understand if we see the opening section as a precis of familiar Schopenhauerian notions, accepted as accurate accounts of uni versal tendencies and therefore transposed back into antiquity. And'\ Nietzsche's failure to give arguments connecting the different features of his gods becomes comprehensible when we realize that these connections, as argued for by Schopenhauer, 52

The transfigurations of intoxication would have seemed second nature to most members of his audience, given the enormous popularity of Schopenhauer's work; and they would easily have been able to supply the missing arguments for linking intoxication with loss of the principium individuationis, dreaming with awareness of the abstract and the general. (We can also begin to understand the irritation that Wilamowitz experienced, seeing controversial modern categories taken as an unquestioned starting point for the interpretation of classical antiquity.) Even the veil of maya makes its appearance in Nietzsche's portrait of Apollo, though it is clear that at this date Schopenhauer would have been Nietzsche's only source for Indian thought. Up to a point, then, Nietzsche presents himself as an uncritical acolyte of Schopenhauerian metaphysics. But a fundamental difference also makes itself felt from very near the beginning. Nietzsche later criticizes Schopenhauer far more explicitly than he does in this work (see for example The Case of Wagner, Twilight of the Idols "Expeditions of an Untimely Man," WP §851, cited as epigraph here). And in his "Attempt at Self-Criticism," added to The Birth of Tragedy in 1886, he criticizes himself for the obscurity introduced by his uncritical use, in the original text, of certain Schopenhauerian terms that did not really fit his argument. But - as he also states in that remarkably insightful brief discussion - his fundamental opposition to Schopenhauer was already present in the work, though not in either a polemical or an especially obvious form. That opposition emerges almost immediately, as Nietzsche presents both the Dionysian and the Apollonian as both "tendencies" and, "drives" (Tendenzen; Triebe) in human nature; also as "impulses," as "energies that are satisfied.,,20 In other words - a point Nietzsche was to make and remake throughout his career - cognitive activity is itself thoroughly practical, and can only be explained as answering to a practical need. Apollonian activity is not detached and coolly contemplative, but a response to an urgent human need, namely, the need to demarcate an intrinsically unordered world, making it intelligible for ourselves. What Nietzsche was to argue in detail against traditional epistemology in works from "On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense" (1873) to Beyond Good and Evil and the fragments of his last years, is here already in essence: all our cognitive activity, including logical reasoning, including the abstracting and generalizing tendencies, are profoundly practical ways in which we try to master the world and to make ourselves secure in it. 21 (Generalizing, for example, will be treated as a kind of 53

Martha C. Nussbaum fiction-making, an equating of what, in perception, is not exactly equal; and this fiction-making is essential for making our way around in the world, for the practical possibilities of expectation and prediction. It is a kind of unscrupulousness with the evidence of perception without which our species could not have survived: for if each new beast had been viewed as an irreducibly distinct individual, rather than as member of a kind, past experience of danger could not have helped to avert present calamity.22) The metaphor of Apollonian activity as dreaming now takes on a subtly un-Schopenhauerian sense. For instead of simply expressing the idealism inherent in Schopenhauer's account of representation, it now makes (without explicit commitment to idealism, and in a way perfectly compatible with Nietzsche's later, more Kantian view 23 ) the further point that this activity often succeeds only through self-deception: having effected an ordering, we convince ourselves that it is really the way the world is. On the other side, the Dionysian, while itself a drive demanding satisfaction, is not unintelligent, not devoid of cognitive activity. The Dionysian experience, as described in section 1, is an experience of "enchantment," of "charm," of "ecstasy" - of a heightened awareness of freedom, harmony, and unity. Finally, it is the experience of being made, oneself, "a work of art" by the subtly crafting power of desire. Both drives equally are now, at the opening of section 2, called "art impulses," and "artistic energies which burst forth from nature herself." For Schopenhauer, art could make (in music) a representation of will, but this was a far cry from will itself, which could never be, or make, art. Nietzsche's view of sensuality is more complex. His satyrs are themselves most subtle artists, his sexual energy is disciplined as well as joyful; and we are not far from the exuberant playful celebration of the body's wit and intelligence that we find in the preface to Ecce homo, with its playful reference to Ovid: '''Nitimur in vetitum,' under this sign my philosophy will conquer one day." Toward his era's own "forbidden," in defiance of both Christian and Schopenhauerian views of the badness of the sensual and the erotic, he strives, in 1872 already, in the name of the artistry of Dionysus. If both Apollo and Dionysus are need-inspired, worldly, and practical, and if these are nature's two art impulses, it is not difficult to see that Nietzsche , is also giving a picture of art very different from the one familiar in the Kantian tradition, and developed in his own way by Schopenhauer. In the Kantian tradition, our interest in and 54

The transfigurations of intoxication response to the beautiful is altogether separate from our practical interests. Aesthetic attention to an item in nature, or to a made work of art, is distinct from practical attention, since aesthetic attention simply contemplates the object for its beauty (or its other aesthetic properties), and refuses to ask what role the object might play in the agent's particular life. To return to our earlier example, aesthetic attention to a dog who stands before me is attention to its formal properties of shape and color, combined, perhaps, with the kinetic formal properties that it exhibits in movement. If I am attending to the dog as a creature who mayor may not bite me, that is interested practical attention, and is altogether distinct from, and even subversive of, the aesthetic. Schopenhauer, as we have seen, develops this idea, though in his own peculiar way. On the one hand, he insists on the detachment of aesthetic contemplation from practical need and interest, and, indeed, sees the main purpose of art in its ability to free the spectator frorn practical interest. On the other hand, as that description betrays, he finds a function for art in the spectator's lifeand, indeed, is even willing to say that its "purpose" is something that it does for human lives, namely, to encourage in every spectator the denial and renunciation of life. From The Birth of Tragedy on through his latest works, Nietzsche consistently opposed this picture of the arts, denying that we can understand the role that works of art play in human lives, or even adequately explain our particular judgments of beauty and ugliness, without connecting these to human practical needs - and needs that are directed toward living and affirming life, rather than toward resignation and denial. This direction of thought is evident enough in The Birth of Tragedy, from the moment when, introducing Apollo, Nietzsche speaks of "the arts generally, which make life possible and worth living" (BT 1). As we shall shortly see, his account of the tragic spectator develops this picture further. And the "Self-Criticism" of 1886 asserts that the purpose of the book as a whole, "this audacious book," was "to look at science in the perspective of the artist, but at art in that of life" (ASC 2) - a purpose that surely does make the book "audacious," in terms of contemporary German views of art and the aesthetic. This audacious purpose was developed without an explicit assault on Kant or on Schopenhauer. And indeed Nietzsche in 1886 criticizes himself for having "tried laboriously 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" (ASC 6). But we cannot mistake the sharpness of the break 55

Martha C. Nussbaum with Kant and Schopenhauer signaled by a passage in section 5 of the work, where Nietzsche criticizes the idea that art should be contemplative and detached, dedicated to the silencing of desire: we know the subjective artist only as the poor artist, and throughout the entire range of art we demand first of all the conquest of the subjective, redemption from the "ego," and the silencing of individual will and desire; indeed, we find it impossible to believe in any truly artistic production, however insignificant, if it is without objectivity, without pure contemplation devoid of interest.

This reference to the central aesthetic notions of both Schopenhauer and Kant is, evidently, prelude to Nietzsche's own very different account of things, according to which art and the artist are deeply involved in the exploration of, and the response to, human need. In The Birth of Tragedy, then, in connection with his portrayal of both Apollo and Dionysus as passionate, interested, and needy elements of the personality, Nietzsche begins to develop what will become a major theme in his work: the idea that art does not exist apart from life, in detachment from or even in opposition to its concerns. Art, indeed, is not for art's sake, but for life's sake. As he puts the point in Twilight of the Idols - in a context in which he also speaks of Dionysus and the Dionysian: Nothing is more conditional - or, let us say, narrower than our feeling for beauty. Whoever would think of it apart from man's joy in man would immediately lose any foothold ... Art for art's sake - a worm chasing its own tail ... A psychologist, on the other hand, asks: what does all art do? does it not praise? glorify? choose? prefer? ("Expeditions of an Untimely Man" 19-20, 24)

In the early sections of The Birth of Tragedy Nietzsche has, then, while relying on Schopenhauer, subverted his views in three crucial ways: by insisting on seeing representation as a response to need; by portraying desire and the erotic as intelligent, artistic forces; and by portraying art as having a practical function. And with our references to a repudiation of resignation, and to man's joy in man, we now arrive at the fourth and most fundamental break with Schopenhauer: Nietzsche's complete rejection of the normative ethics of pessimism, in favor of a view that urges us to take joy in life, in the body, in becoming - even, and especially, in the face of the recognition that the world is chaotic and cruel. But at this point we must turn to Nietzsche's account of tragedy itself, and of the tragic spectator. For ?t is in this connection that he breaks with pessimism - in the name of Dionysus. 56

The transfigurations of intoxication 6

"How differently Dionysus spoke to me! How far removed I was from all this resignationism!" (ASC 6). So Nietzsche retrospectively describes his early work's rejection of Schopenhauer's analysis of tragedy. Since he here apologizes, and rightly so, for the obscurity of the way in which this goal was pursued in The Birth of Tragedy itself, charging himself with having "spoiled Dionysian premonitions with Schopenhauerian formulations" (ASC 6), it seems prudent for us to begin our own analysis with two later and clearer passages in which he describes the function of art in terms that make clear the very un-Schopenhauerian nature of his normative view. In a fragment that probably dates from either 1886 or 1887-8,24 and is a draft for a new preface to The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche explains that work portrays the world of nature as "false, cruel, contradictory, seductive, without meaning" (WP 853). This being the case, life is made worth living, made joyful and made human, only by art - that is to say, in the largest sense, by the human being's power to create an order in the midst of disorder, to make up a meaning where nature herself does not supply one. In the creative activity (associated by Nietzsche not only with the arts narrowly understood, but also with love, religion, ethics, science - all being seen as forms of creative story-making), we find the source of what is in truth wonderful and joyful in life. And if we can learn to value that activity, and find our own meaning in it, rather than looking for an external meaning in god or in nature, we can then love ourselves, and love life. Art is thus the great anti-pessimistic form of life, the great alternative to denial and resignation: Art and nothing but art! It is the great means of making life possible, the great seduction to life, the great stimulant of life. Art as the only superior counterforce to all will to denial of life, as that which is anti-Christian, anti-Buddhist, anti-nihilist par excellence . .. Art as the redemption of the man of action - of those who not only see the terrifying and questionable character of existence but live it, want to live it, the tragic-warlike man, the hero ... Art as the redemption of the sufferer - as the way to states in which suffering is willed, transfigured, deified, where suffering is a form of great delight ... A highest state of affirmation of existence is conceived from which the highest degree of pain cannot be excluded: the tragic-Dionysian state. (WP 853)

In this passage, the "tragic-Dionysian state" is a state in which one 57

Martha C. Nussbaum takes delight in oneself and one's own activity, rather than, as so frequently happens in a religious or post-religious age, searching for a meaning from without. Dionysus gives us our example, so to speak: following him, we delight in the play of appearance, the gestures of theatre; we delight in making it all up, as we do, as we must. Although this passage is from a preface to The Birth of Tragedy, and although it makes reference to Dionysus, it tells us little about the role of the arts narrowly understood, and of tragic art in particular, in Nietzsche's view of human affirmation. It uses the notion of art in a broad sense; and though we suspect that the affirmation of creation that is problematic in the case of science, religion, and love may well be easier to achieve in the fine arts, thus making the fine arts a kind of paradigm of a stance toward the world that one could then try to achieve in the rest of one's life, Nietzsche does not make that connection explicit. He does so elsewhere, however, nowhere more plainly than in a passage from The Gay Science (1882), entitled "Our Ultimate Gratitude to Art": If we had not welcomed the arts and invented this kind of cult of the untrue, then the realization of general untruth and mendaciousness that now becomes to us through science - the realization that delusion and error are conditions of human knowledge and sensation - would be utterly unbearable. Honesty would lead to nausea and suicide. But now there is a counterforce against our honesty that helps us to avoid such consequences: art as the good will to appearance ... As an aesthetic phenomenon existence is still bearable for us, and art furnishes us with eyes and hands and above all the good conscience to be able to turn ourselves into such a phenomenon. (GS 107)

Nietzsche's view is, then, not the simple inversion of Schopenhauer's. For he agrees with Schopenhauer that what an honest gaze discovers in the world is arbitrariness and the absence of any intrinsic meaning. 25 But he disagrees about the consequences of this discovery for humanity's view of itself. Schopenhauer's human being, noticing that his positing of an order in things is negated by the experience of life, becomes nauseated with life, and with himself for having lived a delusion. Nietzsche's human being, noticing these same things about the world, is filled with Dionysian joy and pride in his own artistry. For if there is no intrinsic order in things, how wonderful, then - and indeed, how much more wonderful- that one should have mabaged to invent so many beautiful stories, to forge so many daring conceptual schemes, to dance so many daring and 58

The transfigurations of intoxication improbable dances. The absence of a designing god leads to a heightened joy in the artistic possibilities of man. But this response, as The Gay Science argues, requires the arts. For Nietzsche believes that if we had no example of a human activity in which fiction-making is loved for its own sake. and correspondence to an antecedently existing external order is not the chief value, we would not be able to respond affirmatively to the collapse of our search for external religious and metaphysical meanings. The arts show us that we can have order and discipline and meaning and logic from within ourselves: we do not have to choose between belief in god and empty chaos. 26 Centuries of Christian teaching have left us with so little self-respect for our bodies and their desires that we are convinced that anything we ourselves make up must be disorderly and perhaps even evil. The arts tell us that this is not so; they enable us to take pride in ourselves, and the work of our bodies. 27 And this means that art can be, for its spectators, a guide and paradigm, showing something far more general about how all of life can be confronted. And it is in this context that we must understand the significance of the claim that "as an aesthetic phenomenon existence is still bearable for us" - Nietzsche's version of The Birth of Tragedys famous dictum that "it is only as an aesthetic phenomenon that existence and the world are eternally justified" (BT 5, 24). Usually, the remark is taken to imply some sort of amoral aestheticizing of existence, a playful overturning of all moral and political categories in the name of detached aesthetic values. We have already seen that Nietzsche actively scorns the detachment of the aesthetic from the practical, and ridicules the notion of art for art's sake: so it is in the context of his own view of the aesthetic, which is deeply practical, that we ought to interpret these remarks - though this has too seldom been observed. The Gay Science tells us plainly what, in that context, they mean. Existence is bearable for us in the face of the collapse of other-worldly faith only if we can get ourselves to regard our lives, with pride, as our own creations: to regard them, that is, as we now regard works of fine art. The Birth of Tragedy adds a further twist: 28 in this way and no other, we find life justified: that is, having abandoned all attempts to find extra-human justification for existence, we can find the only justification we ever shall find in our very own selves, and our own creative activity. But Nietzsche insists that this is a kind of justification, and, even, eternal justification (looking far ahead perhaps, to the idea of the eternal recurrence, 59

Martha C. Nussbaum which involves asking whether one wills one's actions to be the way the world will be for all eternity). None of this involves restricting the evaluation of life to the aesthetic sphere, as distinct from the ethical or social: as we have seen, Nietzsche repudiates that separation as offering a reductive view of the aesthetic. Nor does it involve any preference for free undisciplined play over order and structure: for it is Nietzsche's view, repeatedly asserted, that art teaches us, perhaps above all, a love for order and discipline, the h'atred of "jaisser aller" (esp. BGE, 188). It does mean that we have criteria enough for the justification of our lives in the praising, glorifying, and choosing that are characteristic of great art, as Nietzsche describes it. And it means too, of course, that art will play in human life exactly the opposite role from the role it plays for Schopenhauer. For instead of giving the human being a clue to a way in which life might be despised and the body repudiated, it gives the human being a clue as to a way (or, indeed, many different ways) in which life might be embraced, and the body seen as a sphere of joy. If we now return to The Birth of Tragedy equipped with this general picture, we can see that - beneath its obscuring use of Schopenhauer's language of "metaphysical comfort" - it is actually telling this very story, portraying "Dionysian tragedy" as a source for its spectator, of an affirmation of human life in the face of the recognition that existence is not intrinsically meaningful or good. Tragedy, Nietzsche announces (agreeing, so far, with Schopenhauer), shows its spectator "the terrible destructiveness of so-called world history as well as the cruelty of nature," so that he is "in danger of longing for a Buddhistic negation of the will" (BT 7). The energies that Nietzsche associates with Dionysus reveal to the spectator apparently, as he later states, through a process of sympathetic identification with the hero - the "horror or absurdity of existence" (ibid.). For the hero embodies in his person the inexorable clash between human aspirations and their natural/divine limits (BT 9): his demand for justice in an unjust universe entails terrible suffering. The spectator witnesses this suffering; and this produces a temporary suspension of the motives for continued action. The spectator now resembles Hamlet: z9 ". . . both have once looked truly into the essence of things, they have gained knowledge, and nausea inhibits action; further action could not change anything in the eternal nature of things; they feel it to be ridiculous or humiliating that they should be asked to set "fight a world that is out of joint." (BT 7). In other words, the spectator has reached the state of the Schopenhauerian 60

The transfigurations of intoxication spectator, or is on the verge of it. But it is not in this condition that tragedy leaves him. What now takes place, according to Nietzsche's account (as best I can make it out) is that the elements of the drama that Nietzsche has associated with Dionysus - the sheer exuberant energy of the choral music and dance - supply to the spectator an example of order asserted in the face of disorder, of an artistic making that does not depend on any external order in nature, and (through the idea that the chorus was originally composed of satyrs) of the joy and fertility of the body, asserted in the face of its vulnerability to suffering. Seeing how Dionysus and the energies he represents transform the world, the spectator is seduced back into life, brought to affirm life, and his own cognitive order-making activity, by the very erotic and bodily energies that were, for Schopenhauer, the best reasons to get away from life. "Art saves him - and, through art - life." Art is "a saving sorceress, expert at healing. She alone knows how to turn these nauseous thoughts about the horror or absurdity of existence into notions with which one can live." (BT 7) This artistic process requires, Nietzsche stresses, a highly complex interweaving of the "Apollonian" and "Dionysian" capacities - both in the drama itself and in the spectator's reaction to it. At the end of section 7, the satyr chorus is called "the saving deed of Greek art and the satyrs are made the "Dionysian companions" of the audience, who are now said to "permit themselves to be represented by such satyrs" (BT 8), and are themselves called "Dionysian men" (ibid.). In the chorus, Nietzsche insists, and by their vicarious identification with the chorus, the spectators see something true of themselves as natural bodily beings. To the "painfully broken vision of Dionysian man" these satyrs appear - not as the civilized dress-up shepherds of effete pastoral (ibid.), but as "a symbol of the sexual omnipotence of nature." This is not, however, he stresses, the sexuality of" a mere ape" (ibid.) - but something "sublime and divine ... unconcealed and vigorously magnificent." The spectator can view this image of his own sexual being with "sublime satisfaction." Thus, as Dionysian, the spectator views the Dionysian image of himself, seeing his own body as something sophisticated, orderly and splendid, partaking itself of the human capabilities for artistry that have been associated with Apollo. And shortly we are told that the Dionysian chorus - and the spectators through the chorus - themselves create, without ever ceasing to be satyrs and hence Dionysian, the Apollonian vision of 61

Martha C. Nussbaum the tragic hero. The "Dionysian reveler sees himself as a satyr, and as a satyr, in turn, he sees the god, which means that in his metamorphosis he beholds another vision outside himself, as the Apollonian complement of his own state" (BT 8). Thus the Dionysian dancers, far from being non-cognitive Schopenhauerian animals are actually dreamers. They become the cognitive avenue through which the entire order of the dramatic action is dreamed or viewed. And who is the central object of this dream? The suffering hero, as we have said. But we have now been told that this hero is none other than Dionysus the god: "the real stage hero and centre of the vision" (ibid.), Dionysus, appearing "in a variety of forms, in the mask of a fighting hero, ... an erring, striving, suffering individual" (BT 10). Thus the spectators' shuddering before the hero's anguish becomes their affirmation of the joyous rebirth and the versatile artistry of the god. In short, the achievement of Greek tragedy, according to Nietzsche, was, first of all, to confront its spectator directly with the fact that there is just one world, the world we live in, the chancy, arbitrary but also rich and beautiful world of nature. It is not redeemed by any "beyond"; nor is it given even the sort of negative meaning, in relation to a beyond, that it is given in Christian tragedy. Nietzsche throughout his life finds it amazing that the Greeks should have been able to confront so truthfully the nature of life, without flight into religion of the world-denigrating resignationist sort. He finds an explanation for this unique courage of affirmation in the structure of tragic art. Tragedy shows that the world is chancy and arbitrary. But then, by showing how life beautifully asserts itself in the face of a meaningless universe, by showing the joy and splendour of human making in a world of becoming - and by being, itself, an example of joyful making - it gives its spectator a way of confronting not only the painful events of the drama, but also the pains and uncertainties of life, personal and communal - a way that involves human selfrespect and self-reliance, rather than guilt or resignation. Instead of giving up his will to live, the spectator, intoxicated by Dionysus, becomes a work of art, and an artist. 7

The achievements of The Birth of Tragedy are, thus, both substantial and preparatory. Already Nietzsche breaks with the essence of Schopenhauerian thinking; and he offers the beginning of an 62

The transfigurations of intoxication account of tragic theatre that is radically at odds with Schopenhauer's. But at the same time much more work clearly remains to be done in developing these anti-Schopenhauerian lines of argument as is already clear from the fact that I have had to refer ahead so frequently in order to clarify central ideas, and sometimes even in order to state them fully. Each of the four subversions of Schopenhauer that I have discussed here recurs, in fact, as a central theme in Nietzsche's later philosophical thought. The connection of cognitive activity with human needs - already elaborately developed in the 1873 essay "On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense," is also a major theme of The Gay Science, Beyond Good and Evil, and many later fragments. The intelligence and artistry of the body and bodily desire are discussed in The Gay Science, Twilight of the Idols, and, above all, Zarathustra. The connection bet\veen art and human need, as we have seen, is the subject of frequent later discussion. And finally, the central project of Nietzsche's mature thought is the attempt to work out in detail an alternative to Schopenhauerian pessimism and resignation as a response to the discovery that the universe has no intrinsic purpose. The project begun in The Birth of Tragedy, in which the example of Dionysian art "saves" humanity from nausea, is continued in Zarathustra's attempt to free humanity from disgust with itself, and from the need for a beyond, and to return humans to love of themsel ves and of the world of becoming, now seen as "innocent" rather than as flawed by original guilt. In the 1886 "Self-Criticism," Nietzsche announces that the real message of his early work is not one that we should associate with the "metaphysical comfort" delivered by the other-worldly longings of the Christian romanticism of Faust. Instead, his work teaches "the art of this-worldly comfort," pointing directly ahead to "that Dionysian monster who bears the name of Zarathustra" (ASC 7). But instead of trying to follow these further elaborations of Nietzsche's Dionysian view of life, which would clearly require a book, I want instead to conclude this chapter by examining closely just one later passage, in which Nietzsche's mature account of Dionysian intoxication is developed with particular clarity and beauty, bringing together succinctly all the criticisms of Schopenhauerian pessimism that we have described. Written in the spring of 1888, it is an account of the Dionysian power of intoxication, and the relation of this power to artistic creation: Do you desire the most astonishing proof of how far the transfiguring


Martha C. Nussbaum power of intoxication can go? - "Love" is this proof: that which is called love in all the languages and silences of the world. In this case, intoxication has done with reality to such a degree that in the consciousness of the lover the cause of it is extinguished and something else seems to have taken its place - a vibration and glittering of all the magic mirrors of Circe Here it makes no difference whether one is man or animal; even less whether one has spirit, goodness, integrity. If one is subtle, one is fooled subtly; if one is coarse, one is fooled coarsely; but love, and even the love of God, the saintly love of "redeemed souls," remains the same in i~s roots: a fever that has good reason to transfigure itself, an intoxication that does well to lie about itself - And in any case, one lies well when one loves, about oneself and to oneself: one seems to oneself transfigured, stronger, richer, more perfect, one is more perfect - Here we discover art as an organic function: we discover it in the most angelic instinct, "love"; we discover it as the greatest stimulus of life - art thus sublimely expedient even when it lies But we should do wrong if we stopped with its power to lie: it does more than merely imagine; it even transposes values. And it is not only that it transposes the feeling of values: the lover is more valuable, is stronger. In animals this condition produces new weapons, pigments, colours, and forms; above all, new movements, new rhythms, new love calls and seductions. It is no different with man. His whole economy is richer than before, more powerful, more complete than in those who do not love. The lover becomes a squanderer: he is rich enough for it. Now he dares, becomes an adventurer, becomes an ass in magnanimity and innocence; he believes in God again, he believes in virtue, because he believes in love; and on the other hand, this happy idiot grows wings and new capabilities, and even the door of art is opened to him. If we subtracted all traces of this intestinal fever from lyricism in sound and word, what would be left of lyrical poetry and music? - L'art pour l'art perhaps: the virtuoso croaking of shivering frogs, despairing in their swamp - All the rest was created by love - (WP 808)

In this highly complex passage we see what we could well call Nietzsche's final praise of Dionysus, and of the energies of eros 30 and intoxication with which Nietzsche has associated his name. It is Nietzsche's version of Plato's praise of madness in the Phaedrus and it clearly alludes to the Phaedrus, both in its references to the lover's growing wings and in its insistence on love's magnanimity. We see, splendidly expressed, Nietzsche's counter-view to the Schopenhauerian view of erotic desire. Instead of being an unintelligent force of bondage and constraint, dooming its subject to a life of delusion, Nietzsche's eros is a clever and subtle artist (or rather, as he appropriately qualifies the claim, it is as subtle as the lover is); it transforms its subject into a being, who seems stronger, richer, deeper. But the~e semblances are also realities: for the artistry of human desire makes the human being into a work of art. Love's 64

The transfigurations of intoxication magic is illusion, in the sense that it corresponds to no preexisting reality in the order of things. And yet it is its own this-worldly reality, and its fiction-making makes fictions that are gloriously there. Nietzsche adds, as elsewhere, that this intoxication of the erotic is a great motive to the affirmation of life in general. Finally, in what is surely the passage's most shocking claim, from the point of view of traditional German aesthetics - art is not only not pure of practical interest, it is actually the outgrowth of a profoundly erotic interest. And, furthermore, it is well that this should be so, Nietzsche insists. For (echoing here the argument of the Phaedrus) he argues that art without this transfiguring power would be something mean and bare, something cold, stingy, and cramped. All in art that is magical, that is vibration and glitter, that is intoxication and adventure, that is lyrical and generous - all this is created by love. Nietzsche here completes his attack on Schopenhauerian pessimism, praising the madness of eros. I think it should be plain by now that his account of the Dionysian lacks all the features that, as I argued, make Schopenhauer's view an unpromising avenue of approach to Dionysus, to the Bacchae, and to ancient tragedy in general. Elsewhere I have argued that Nietzsche's general approach makes more sense of at least one play (Sophocles' Antigone) than do the approaches of his German rivals. 31 And clearly I shall not be able to carry out in detail the task of examining Euripides' Bacchae in connection with the Nietzschean account of Dionysus that I have tried to set out here. But I think it has emerged, even without an explicit and detailed comparison, that Nietzsche's account of Dionysus, of eros, and of the affirmation of life contains profound insight into the nature of tragic art in an age that lacks the disfiguring self-hatred caused by a notion of original sin. His account of the goodness and generosity of madness owes more, perhaps, to the Phaedrus than to Euripides' harsher portrait of the Dionysian. But in his picture of a power that transforms and transfigures, producing a new artistry of rhythm and movement, a new resourcefulness of language, a new theatre in which the self, fluid and unafraid, both creates and affirms itself - he has, I believe, come closer than any other Western philosopher to capturing - or perhaps we should rather say to revealing - the power that the Greeks encountered and praised under the name of Dionysus. 32


Martha C. Nussbaum Notes A version of this paper first appeared in Arion, third series, 1, 2. 1 See especially Albert Heinrichs, "The Last of the Detractors: Friedrich Nietzsche's Condemnation of Euripides," Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 27 (1986), pp. 369-97. 2 This chapter is, in effect, the second part of a t'No-part account of Nietzsche's relationship to Dionysus and to the Bacchae. For in a general introduction to a new translation of the Bacchae by C. K. Willia~s, which has recently appeared (Martha C. Nussbaum, "Introduction," in The Bacchae of Euripides, trans. C. K. Williams [New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1990], I discuss the relationship between Nietzsche's approach to ancient tragedy and Aristotle's, arguing that Aristotle's insistence on a firm distinction between character and fortune, and his insistence that the tragic emotions of pity and fear must take as their object a hero who remains good in character throughout misfortune, may not allow us to do justice to the portrait of human personality in a play such as the Bacchae, which depicts in a remarkable way the fluidity of the self, its susceptibility to mysterious transforming influences and inspirations. I argue that Nietzsche's conception of the Dionysian provides a better avenue of approach to these elements in the play. Here, then, I would prefer to continue in a different way my exegesis and defense of Nietzsche, providing a more detailed account of the Dionysian, both in The Birth of Tragedy and in later works and fragments, and showing in more detail how Nietzsche's concepts and arguments do in fact offer a valuable perspective on ancient tragedy, and on the nature of the passions. 3 As we shall later see, Nietzsche is talking far nl0re about eras than about romantic love as conceived by his contemporaries; and the entire passage bears a close resemblance to the praise of the lover, and love's madness, in Plato's Phaedrus (see below, Section 7). 4 EH, "Why I write such good books," 3. 5 All references to Schopenhauer's Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung are to the translation: The World as Will and Representation trans. E. F. J. Payne (New York: Dover Publications, 1958). Page numbers are cited from that edition. 6 This analogy, however, is not perfect: for it suggests that there is some way the world is outside of our cognitive ordering, and that it would in principle be possible to have access to that intrinsic ordering. 7 Here I do not discuss Schopenhauer's complex views about the relationship between perception and thought. 8 Schopenhauer dramatically states: "Spinoza says that if a stone projected through the air had consciousness, it would imagine it was flying of its own will. I add merely that the stone would be right" (p. 126). 9 See the discussion of this and related passages in Martha C. Nussbaum, The FragilitY'of Goodness (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), pp. 373-4.


The transfigurations of intoxication 10 On the Hellenistic views in question, see Martha C. Nussbaum, "The Stoics on the Extirpation of the Passions," Apeiron 20 (1987), pp. 129-75; on Plato, see Nussbaum, Fragility, ch. 5. 11 See Nussbaum, Fragility, ch. 5. 12 Plato, Gorgias, 493A; Lucretius, De rerum natura, III 1003-10. 13 See Martha C. Nussbaum, "Poetry and the Passions: Two Stoic Views," in J. Brunschwig and M. C. Nussbaum, eds., Passions &- Perceptions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993). 14 See Nussbaum, Fragility, ch. 3. 15 See my "Introduction" to the Williams translation of the Bacchae for an interpretive argument, and references to the literature. 16 Only to some extent, however: for it is most important that she sees Pentheus as a particular individual, and becomes aware of the dead body's relation to her own interests. 17 See Helene Foley, Ritual Irony: Poetry and Sacrifice in Euripides (Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 1985) and Charles Segal, Dionysiac Poetics and Euripides' Bacchae (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982). 18 See my "Introduction" for an argument to this conclusion. 19 On the difficulties this poses for the Stoics in defending the tragic poets as sources of wisdom, see Nussbaum, "Poetry and the Passions." 20 BT 1. On the interpretation of BT, see the detailed commentary by M. S. Silk and J. P. Stern, Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981). 21 Schopenhauer writes that "Logic is ... without practical use" (p. 46). Contrast Nietzsche's treatment of logic in OTL, GS 111 ("Origins of the logical"), BGE, part I, etc. 22 For these arguments see especially OTL, and GS 110. 23 See here John J. Wilcox, Truth and Value in Nietzsche (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1974). There appear to be three stages in Nietzsche's thinking with respect to the Kantian thing-in-itself. In the first stage he speaks of "the unknowable X of the Thing-in-itself' (OTL), strongly suggesting that there is some way reality is beyond our perceiving and conceiving, and that we can refer to it, at least to say that we cannot know it. In a second stage, he concludes that since we have no acess to any such independent reality, we are not entitled to say anything about it, and it has nothing to do with our investigations of the world. In a final stage, represented by the late fragments, he concludes that if we really lack all access to a mind-independent reality, we are not even entitled to speak, as Kant does, of "things-inthemselves": for the only meaning "thing" could possibly have in any human language is a thoroughly human meaning. He concludes that the notion of "thing-in-itself' is a contradiction in terms. (Here his position seems close to the anti-skeptical internal realisnl of Hilary Putnam.) 24 See Kaufmann's discussion of dating in a footnote to his translation. His


Martha C. Nussbaum argument for dating the fragment to 1886, rather than to 1887-8, seems to me unconvincing. 25 Strictly speaking, a consistent Nietzschean is not entitled to say anything one way or another about how the world is outside of experience: so if we take these remarks (and related remarks in later works) to be about "things-in-themselves" they will be incompatible with Nietzsche's mature position. It seems best to take many such statements as referring to the world as we interpret it in our perceptual experience; and many of Nietzsche's contrasts between the order we make and the chaos we experience are best understood as contrasts between perception and concepts. This is especially clear in "On Truth and Lies": but if we follow its lead, we can give a consistent reading to many otherwise puzzling passages. 26 It is very important to understand how many constraints Nietzsche thinks there are on such artistic making: see, for example, OTL, GS 110-11, etc. Compare Nelson Goodman, "Worlds, Works, Words," in his Ways of Worldmaking (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company 1978). 27



30 31 32

This belief in the high potential of art for human affirmation leads Nietzsche to be especially contemptuous of distinguished artists who submit to the authority of convention and/or religion on these matters. His scathing treatment of the otherwordliness of the ending of Faust (Zarathustra, "On the Poets") is closely connected to his denunciation of poets as valets of the reigning morality, in GM III. And in The Case of Wagner he explains Wagner's development as the capitulation of an originally free spirit to the combined pressure of Christianity and Schopenhauer; he tells the reader that the Ring was originally supposed to end with Briinnhilde singing a song "in honor of free love, putting off the world with the hope for a socialist utopia in which 'all turns out well' but now gets something else to do. She has to study Schopenhauer first; she has to transpose the fourth book of The World as Will and Representation into verse. Wagner was redeemed." (CW 4). Kaufmann, in a footnote, says that "bearable" is different from "justified" - and one could hardly deny that this is so. But I think he is wrong to draw from this difference the conclusion that Nietzsche intends a strong contrast between the two ideas, and has actually changed his attitude between the two works. The general point made by the two remarks seems very much the same: for in Nietzsche's view the search for a justification for existence is motivated by the need to make life bearable. Again, this suggests some sort of identification with the hero. "Love" throughout is eros - except when Nietzsche mentions the "angelic" variety of love - only to point out that its real roots are erotic. See Nussbaum, Fragility, ch. 3 on Hegel and Schopenhauer. This chapter was originally a paper presented at a conference on Dionysus in ~lacksburg, Virginia; I withdrew it from the volume of Proceedings not because of any disagreement with the editors, but


The transfigurations of intoxication because limits of length imposed by the publisher would have required the deletion of my discussion of Schopenhauer. I would like to thank Tom Carpenter and Chris Faraone very much indeed for the occasion they gave me to write the paper and for their warm support and advice; for other valuable discussions of the issues I am indebted to Stephen Halliwell. '


II Nietzschean self-transforIllation and the transforIllation of the Dionysi~n ADRIAN DEL CARD

Oh how differently spoke Dionysus to me! ASC 1

Nietzsche's relationship with the Dionysian must be regarded as a factor that influenced his entire career as a writer, from The Birth of Tragedy all the way to the preparation of the Dionysus Dithyrambs as the last work he sent to the publisher. On the surface it appears that Nietzsche turned away from the Dionysian after he broke with the romantic associations of his earliest work, because, after all, the Dionysian is not mentioned again until Beyond Good and Evil, and its subsequent treatment in the latest works appears sketchy. However, the Dionysian as a principle, and as a symbol infused with new meaning at various stages of Nietzsche's writing, is in fact quite constant, so that one might say the Dionysian transformed along with Nietzsche, and he was helped in his own transformation from a philologist to a philosopher to the extent that he steered by the Dionysian. The predominantly aesthetic, metaphysical features of the early Dionysian constitute the germ of Nietzsche's later thought; the language along with the issues change, but the Dionysian undercurrent remains as the sustaining matrix of the philosophy of lifeaffirmation. The eternal recurrence of the same, the so-called "Dionysian pessimism" posited over and against romantic pessimism, amor fati, and the critique of Christianity as a nihilistic force all have their origins and outcomes in the Dionysian. In order to recognize the Dionysian as a constant in Nietzsche's thought, one must navigate the symbolic discourse of his writings in order to reveal th~ often hidden dimensions of the Dionysian. At the same time, it is important to consult the unpublished notes, for these include drafts and plans that make specific reference to Dionysus, 70

Nietzschean self-transformation Ariadne, the labyrinth, and other Dionysian concepts; Nietzsche chose often to signal the p!'esence of the Dionysian in the published works, preferring the symbol to the actual naming of Dionysus. This masking trait, which echoes the masking characteristics of Dionysus as a pagan deity, may have been practiced out of reticence, out of sport (Nietzsche's love of the mask), or perhaps even as a deception device - Nietzsche was quite fond of seduction and frequently used it in his writings. We should not be surprised to find him actually practicing "..vhat he preached, that is, a discourse that lures those who have his taste, his "ears," and the ability to explore hostile terrain. Nietzsche was aware of his innovative approach to the Greeks through Dionysus early on. He was painfully aware, in fact, by the dismissive reception of The Birth of Tragedy by Wilamowitz and professional philologists in general, including Nietzsche's mentor Ritschl. But he was clearly not in complete command of the Dionysian as an ontological phenomenon, as later became the case, and was instead dependent on an aesthetic conception linked to the revival of tragedy via music. Already present in the early Dionysian, however, was the all-important difference between Nietzsche's perception and the one that had been handed down by Winckelmann, Goethe, and Schiller, which Nietzsche in turn dismissed as "schone Seelen" and "hohe Einfalt" idealizations. 1 The orgiastic, anti-individuation, and resurrective features of the Dionysian in The Birth of Tragedy were the ones Nietzsche adapted later on, because they embodied the tension and suffering that he needed to espouse a lifeaffirming doctrine of self-overcoming. Karl Kerenyi has compared young Nietzsche, the philologist, with his predecessor Bachofen. In the case of Bachofen, the relationship with antiquity served as a way to scientifically approach the "origin," whereas Nietzsche's work on the ancients was primarily "a kind of strict, formal self discipline." This rigor was needed by Nietzsche as a counterbalance to his inclination towards the abyss (den Hang nach dem Abgriindigen) "before he found his own way of transporting himself over abysses - his kind of philosophizing. ,,2 If we accept Kerenyi's reasoning, then Nietzsche exploited the discipline of classical philology, in particular its myths and cults of Dionysus, as a way of safely indulging his predilection for mystery and the unfathomable; Nietzsche abandoned philology when he managed to contrive his own means of negotiating the abyss. Kerenyi goes on to quote Karl Jaspers, who wrote that Nietzsche


Adrian Del Caro did not wish to understand the myth of Dionysus, but instead wished to identify a symbol that would serve him in his philosophizing; Nietzsche's Dionysus is therefore otherwise than the myth, and basically this transformed Dionysus does not assume shape, according to Jaspers. But here Kerenyi interjects that the myth did indeed assume shape in Nietzsche, to wit, when he identified himself with Dionysus and Cosima Wagner \-vith Ariadne (Kerenyi, Bach ofen , pp. 28-9). And here I must emphatically disagree with both Kerenyi and Jaspers. First of all, the Dionysian in Nietzsche can only be called amorphous, shapeless, to the extent that we may say this of all of his writings, and secondly, it is simplistic to claim that the actual shape or meaning of the Dionysian exhausts itself in the trivialization that emerges in scribbled notes written after Nietzsche had gone mad (Wahnsinnszettel). The Dionysian does in fact have identifiable properties, despite its deviation from the antique sources, and herein lies the challenge of referring to a "Dionysian" element in Nietzsche's thought. It has been a hallmark of Nietzsche scholarship since the 1890s to ascribe identities to Dionysus, Theseus, and Ariadne (Nietzsche, Wagner, Cosima Wagner), and this entertaining psychoanalyzing has been responsible for obscuring the serious treatment Nietzsche gave to these mythological figures as symbols of his philosophy. I tried to lay these ghosts to rest in a detailed treatment of Ariadne and the labyrinth, and do not wish to cover the same ground here. 3 Kerenyi and Jaspers are both right when they describe how Nietzsche never became a disciple of classical philology per se, but instead chose to become an initiate of his own transformed Dionysus. Another way of viewing the earliest stirrings of the Dionysian in Nietzsche is suggested by Jung, who objected to Nietzsche's aestheticization of the antagonism between Apollo and Dionysus as "both historically and materially unjustified." These were not, according to Jung, merely artistic impulses, and the very fact that Nietzsche later experienced a "conversion" to Dionysus indicates that he later adopted the genuine Dionysian and let go of the "aesthetic surrogate.,,4 In this context Jung distinguishes between an aesthetic, dilettantish Dionysian, visible in the aesthetically affected young Nietzsche, and a genuine Dionysian symbolized in the later Nietzsche, not unlike both Kerenyi and Jaspers. Jung's most detailed comments on this transformation can be found in the notes of his • Zarathustra seminar given at the University of Zurich, now published under the title Nietzsche's Zarathustra. 5 This entire text 72

Nietzschean self-transformation underscores the point Jung made in Psych ologisch e Typen that Nietzsche became a Dionysian only at the time of writing Zarathustra. In order to lend consistency to my usage of the term "Dionysian," additional preliminary discussion is warranted, including a return to the Dionysus of antiquity upon whom Nietzsche built his symbology. What I mean by "the Dionysian" is parallel to what the concept meant to Nietzsche in his various stages. In the earliest, aesthetic stage, the Dionysian is the artistic principle of disruption whose direct opposite is the Apollinian principle of individuation. When "the Dionysian" is used in this sense, it applies to the aesthetic characteristics associated primarily with the emergence of tragedy, namely, the Primal Unity, music, the lyrical, Dionysian festivals, and tragedy from Aeschylus to Euripides. There is a transformed Dionysian, surfacing around the time of Daybreak and gaining in concreteness throughout the 1880s, that becomes closely associated with Nietzsche's disavowal of metaphysics, and with his articulation of the major tenets of life-affirmation - eternal recurrence of the same, amor fati, will to power. This is the most general sense in which one speaks of a "Dionysian" in Nietzsche; it is his shorthand, his metaphor for the constructive interface of humans with the phenomenon "life." Finally, there is also a sense in which one speaks of Nietzsche as a Dionysian, seen in Jung in particular, in which "Dionysian" means a devotee of the god Dionysus. In this narrow sense, Jung and others take Nietzsche at his word when he claimed in Beyond Good and Evil that gods also philosophize, and that he became the last disciple of the philosopher god Dionysus (KSA V 238, BGE 295). Nietzsche's modernization of Dionysus, in effect a modernization of paganism, emerges more clearly in the light of what Dionysus is supposed to have represented as a deity. Otto describes Dionysus as a conqueror with an army of maenads capable of repelling male warriors, so that Dionysus became a symbol of conquerors. 6 He was the agent of madness, chaos, annihilation, capable of penetrating to the depth of being, and he was a mighty hunter as well as a murderer. When he appeared, his presence brought forth bliss and horrible intoxication, but as the foremost god of masks, Dionysus was the symbol of what is simultaneously present and absent. This god's transfigurations included lion, bull, panther, bear, snake, boar, fire, and water. 7 Many of these characteristics are used by Nietzsche when he speaks of the chaos of becoming, of annihilation, and of the 73

Adrian Del Caro mask, for these are appropriate ciphers for the Nietzschean conception of lawless nature. With respect to the Dionysian cults or religion, Kerenyi insists that we emphasize not intoxication, but the vegetative element "which ultimately engulfed even the ancient theaters, as at Cumae." Kerenyi also points out that Dionysus is the most widely present god in the nature and culture of ancient Greece and Italy, visible still .in the ruins of temples and theaters.8 What appealed to Nietzsche in this context is the superabundance of life symbolized in vegetation that thrives long after the cultural artifacts of man have faded. However, Bachofen emphasizes a different Dionysian trait that is seldom mentioned by Nietzsche, namely, the sensual, feminine nature of the Dionysian cult, which appealed mostly to women: "it [the Dionysian cult] gave the life of the female sex an entirely new direction, and found among women its most loyal adherents, its most assiduous servants, basing all of its power on their enthusiasm. Dionysus is the god of women in the fullest sense of the word, the source of all their sensual and supersensual hopes, the nucleus of their entire existence.,,9 Nietzsche knew this property of Dionysus, but he certainly avoided mention of it until very late in his notes. The feminine dimension of the Dionysian religion was down-played by Nietzsche precisely because he disregarded religions that appealed to women. This is a complicated issue to which I shall return. Highly critical of Nietzsche's early interpretation of Dionysus in The Birth of Tragedy, Kerenyi observes that Nietzsche's description of the artist becoming a work of art (Kerenyi, Bach ofen , ch. 1) is straight out of Euripides' Bacchae and his own imagination. Nietzsche "ignores the Dionysian woman, after the god the second person in the drama, in a manner that was almost as pathological as his later appalling preoccupation with Ariadne." Kerenyi may be right about Nietzsche's departure from the sources, but as indicated above, he is wrong to regard Nietzsche's Dionysus-Ariadne dialogue as pathological, especially since this dialogue, skillfully weaving its way through Zarathustra, began as early as 1882 when Nietzsche was not insane. Nonetheless, Kerenyi is justified in pointing out that what Nietzsche avoided or ignored in Dionysus were women, sexual frenzy, and generally speaking, the barbarian Dionysus. He also disputes Nietzsche's claim that only Dionysus was depicted in early tragedy, since Pentheus (man of suffering) was an earlier name for • Dionysus. 1o That Nietzsche was aware of the feminine aspects of the Dionysian 74

Nietzschean self-transfonnation cult, and willfully chose to ignore them, is evident in his nuanced discussion of noble pagan religions, base pagan religions, and their resonance in early Christianity. The noble or higher pagan religions of the Romans and Greeks, according to his notes from winter 1887, revered power, intellect, and taste; they embodied worldliness, classical happiness, casualness, skepticism, and pride. What Christians made of Christ, on the other hand, was pessimism of the weak, the downtrodden, the suffering, and the oppressed. In effect what Christianity did was to pick up the struggle against the noble religions that had already been launched by the base religions, those of the religious masses, among them: believers in Isis, Mithras, Dionysus, and the "great mother." Nietzsche insisted that Christianity simply adopted the same anti-pagan posture as these base religions, and collectively he refers to them as "the religions of the lower masses and women, slaves, ignoble classes".11 The emphasis is Nietzsche's, and note that the Dionysian religion is counted among the base anti-pagan religions because it is a religion of the masses, of women , and of slaves. This passage tells us at least two things about Nietzsche's conception of the Dionysian. First, by 1887 he has put distance between himself and Dionysianism as a religion - once he has relegated even Dionysus to a woman's and slave's god, Nietzsche has basically equated it with Christianity. Second, we can infer that by condemning the Dionysian religion as a precursor of early Christianity, his mature understanding of the Dionysian is based irrevocably on philosophical, as opposed to religious, tenets, that is, Nietzsche was not being rhetorical when he referred to himself as the first disciple of the philosopher god (this oxymoron will be addressed later). Kerenyi, Jung, and Jaspers are accurate in their reading of Nietzsche when they criticize him for ignoring the feminine, but they are also guilty of not heeding their own knowledge; Nietzsche was not concerned with remaining faithful to sources in the Dionysian religion, but had his own philosophical agenda instead. Only as Nietzsche transformed himself was he able to transfornl the Dionysian. Thus for instance his portrayal of himself as the first disciple of a philosophical Dionysus had to wait until he had become a philosopher, and similarly Dionysus only becomes a philosopher as an act of Nietzsche's volition. Since no god can "become" a philosopher, but a man indeed can, Nietzsche effectively becomes his own first disciple. Herein lies the response to the oxymoronic "philosopher god," namely, the Nietzschean


Adrian Del Caro philosophy has no room for gods, unless in a symbolic sense the god were responsible for (or conducive to, perhaps) the emergence of a philosopher who serves as the teacher of total life-affirmation beyond religion. It is at the conclusion of Beyond Good and Evil that Nietzsche announces his strange philosophical kinship with Dionysus, and this passage (KSA V 237, BGE 295) is the first published record. of the reemergence of Dionysus. However, in his drafts for various chapters Nietzsche had included "Wisdom and Mask" and "The Tempters. Dionysus" (KSA XII 833-4). He had intended to field separate chapters on the Dionysian, but chose to limit himself to the comingout passage of the final chapter. This tells us that Nietzsche withheld or concealed the Dionysian even when he was most inclined to think in Dionysian terms, but earlier evidence of a Dionysian presence is also clearly visible in Zarathustra. As I demonstrated in "Symbolizing Philosophy," those frequently lyrical, cryptic dialogue parts of Zarath ustra are roles being played by a hidden Dionysus and the human soul personified as Ariadne. "Von der groBen Sehnsucht," [On the Great Longing] "Die sieben Siegel," [The Seven Seals] "Von den Erhabenen," [On Those Who are Sublime] and "Das zweite Tanzlied" [The Second Dancing Song] all have connections to Nietzsche's earlier drafts, in which he explicitly ascribed the same words to Dionysus and Ariadne. One example of this is the "Lied des Zauberers" [Song of the Magician] which later becomes "Klage der Ariadne" [Ariadne's Lament] in the Dionysus Dithyrambs; Nietzsche chose to suppress the identities of the dialogue partners, allowing them to represent universals instead. In one of his better moments, Kerenyi intuited the universal dimensions of the Dionysus-Ariadne relationship when he asked, in connection with the meaning of Ariadne, "had the symbol deepened so much, or does something live in Nietzsche himself that seeks the name of 'Ariadne?'" (Kerenyi, Bacho/en, p. 30). In posing this question, which may well be a rhetorical question, Kerenyi is following the Ariadne thread out of the labyrinth Nietzsche created for his readers. Thus he discusses sections 169 of Daybreak and 60 of The Gay Science, referring to the discourse here as Nietzsche's purest, most poetic voice, his "happier self' and his "second eternal self," by which Kerenyi means Dionysus. In this context the subject is woman, so that Kerenyi properly concludes that Nietzsche is depicting an unnamed Dionysus reflecting on his unnamed Ariadne, his so-called "better half' (ibid., pp. 31-2). Thus already in Dayl


Nietzschean self-transformation break (1881) we have a pointed instance of Dionysus-Ariadne dialogue, which Nietzsche uses to describe his simultaneous attraction to and distraction by women. The presence of an emerging philosophical Dionysus as early as 1881 also dispels the damaging readings, common since the 1890s, suggesting that the Dionysian is a symptom of Nietzsche's madness. This point is made again by Kerenyi in his treatment of the dithyramb "Ariadne's Lament": the distressed person here who has Nietzsche's little ears (the opposite of Midas and ass ears) "is precisely that Ariadne in him, who in the great mythology essentially belongs to Dionysus" (ibid., p. 36). Now Kerenyi makes his most interesting point relative to the transformation of Nietzsche occurring along with a transformation of Dionysus, for he claims that in his own life, Nietzsche did not succeed in realizing the my thologem of the unity of Dionysus and Ariadne, so that, instead, he was ruined (ging zu Grunde) by the other "all-too-masculine nature" that he bore within himself (ibid., p. 37). Observe how Kerenyi remains aware of the presence of both Dionysus and Ariadne in Nietzsche's life (his psyche), but unlike the Dionysus of the mythology, Nietzsche is not able to embrace his Ariadne. Kerenyi is speaking like a Jungian here, for he attributes to Nietzsche a neglect of the anima principle, the female in the male, which caused the psychological imbalance that ultimately led to Nietzsche's madness. However, once again Kerenyi fails to follow the thread far enough along the path created by Nietzsche: if Ariadne is the universal, a symbol, for the human soul in distress, as had been suggested by the myth of Ariadne in her abandonment by Theseus and her rescue by Dionysus, then we do not need to speculate on Nietzsche's psychic imbalance so much as we need to consider the merit of the Ariadne symbol in relation to Nietzsche's philosophy of life-affirmation. I believe we can illustrate my preferred reading of the DionysusAriadne relationship by examining a recent critique of Jungian readings of Zarathustra. Theo Meyer in his recent book Nietzsche und die Kunst identifies a weakness in the Kerenyi-Jung approach. We may well agree with Jung that in Nietzsche there was a great struggle between conscious and unconscious as it animated his creativity. But Jung asserts further that Nietzsche's rejection of the "ugliest man," and his dispatching of the snake in the shepherd vs. snake episode, reveal that he was waging a heroic struggle for consciousness which he lost. Thus Jung would have us believe that Nietzsche suppressed the unconscious too much, whereas Meyer perceptively 77

Adrian Del Caro argues that one must read further. In Meyer's view, we should focus on the overcoming that is achieved when the shepherd succeeds in ridding himself of the snake, for this act illustrates the existential freedom that Zarathustra strives for and achieves as an open way to the future. 12 The simultaneous presence, however concealed, of Dionysus and Ariadne does not have to be explained in Jungian terms ,as an imbalance between conscious and unconscious, although I think there is some merit to this reading. If we take Dionysus as the personification of unmitigated, unconditional vital force, as the life principle itself, and wed him to Ariadne, symbol of suffering in and as the human soul, we have the two basic actors that must be present for the Nietzschean drama of life-affirmation, and according to Kerenyi, the two major actors of the earliest tragedy as wel1. 13 One embraces life despite life's obstacles, despite misgivings and personal suffering, and Nietzsche chose to dramatize and intensify this relationship by personifying the two opposing forces: life, and life + human suffering (the soul). This is what happens in Zarathustra part III when, at the original conclusion of that work, Zarathustra dithyrambically affirms the eternal recurrence of the same in a symbolic union with eternity, which he personifies as the one woman with whom he would have children. We can illustrate an anti-romantic turn in Nietzsche's Dionysian by isolating the point in his thinking at which he began to infuse the Dionysian with so-called classical traits. To sympathize with what Nietzsche tried to accomplish here, one must consider that Nietzsche based much of his understanding of romantic and classical upon Goethe's famous definition: the romantic is pathological, the classical is healthy.14 Ernst Behler has applied the term "Dionysian classicism" to Nietzsche's thinking, and I have expanded upon and nuanced this term to the degree that Nietzsche himself rejected "classicism" as insufficient for his conception of the Dionysian. 15 In the three-page essay called "What is Romanticism" (book V of The Gay Science, published 1887 [KSA III 619-22, GS 370]), Nietzsche coined the phrase "Dionysian pessimism" because the word klassisch no longer connotes what he intends. In other words, Nietzsche was signaling a break here with both romanticism and his own romantically affected past, and with the German tradition of classicism, which had no room for Dionysus (the Dionysian having been • alien to Winckelmann, Schiller, and Goethe). Nietzsche took pains at the same time, however, to distinguish his new Dionysian pessimism 78

Nietzschean self-transformation from romantic pessimism. In addition to the three-page discussion from The Gay Science, he described in his notes from autumn 1887 his new conception of pessimism as a "voluntary seeking out of the terrible and questionable sides of existence." The question for him was "how much 'truth' does a spirit tolerate and dare?" Such pessimism, he maintained, "could merge into a form of Dionysian affirmation of the world as it is: into the desire for its absolute recurrence and eternity" (KSA XII 455). Here we have a rationale for coining the phrase "Dionysian pessimism," because only Dionysus, the principle of life, serves as a fitting symbol of unconditional lifeaffirmation, that is, Dionysus is the symbol of the eternal recurrence of the same, just as Ariadne is the symbol of the human's suffering in accepting the eternal recurrence. Only together as Dionysus and Ariadne do we have a human whole - Dionysus without the human element, Ariadne, would be raw life force, chaos, will to power - he would not be human. Dionysus without Ariadne would be the will to power absent any human presence. In his notes of June-July, 1885, Nietzsche described what the nature of the world is to him; a monstrosity of power, without beginning and without end, a power quantum that does not change in size but only transforms, "this is my Dionysian world of eternal self-creation, of eternal self-destruction, this secretive world of double voluptuousness, this is my beyond good and evil, without goal" (KSA XI 610-11). This eternally transforming quantum of power, impervious to any morality and teleology, complete in itself, has a name: "do you want a name for this world? A solution for all its riddles? a light even for you, you most concealed, strongest, most unafraid, most midnightish ones? This world is the will to power - and nothing but! And you yourselves are this will to power - and nothing but!" (ibid.). It is clear from the rhetoric of this passage and its mode of address, that Nietzsche is playing the role of the tempter-god Dionysus in defining the Dionysian world. Those who thirst for solutions to the riddles of Dionysus, to the mysteries of existence, are themselves Dionysian types, that is, concealed, unafraid, strong, midnightish, so Nietzsche feels safe in revealing his "secret" to them. Since we are in the world, and since the world is will to power, we, too, are nothing but will to power, with the admixture of the human elenlent that requires logo centric definitions and explanations of the world. Th us will to power and eternal recurrence both fall in to the current of the Dionysian and are carried by it as a symbol carries meaning. Richard Schacht has commented on Nietzsche's "Diony-


Adrian Del Caro sian relationship" to existence as the highest state a philosopher can attain, because "more powerful, more fruitful, truer sides of existence" emerge when the "Dionysian value standard" is applied. The glimpse into the Dionysian world of will to power, moreover, "is intended to reflect what goes on in the world, as it goes on independently of any evaluative schemes which the likes and dislikes, wishes or desires, and reasonings or errors of particular human beings may lead them to hatch." If one fails to understand what Nietzsche meant when he referred to Dionysus as a judge, Schacht continues, "one fails to understand his much-heralded 'revaluation of values,' in its double character as both a critique of former values and traditional modes of valuation, and also a development of a substantive alternative to them.,,16 Schacht has comprehended the degree to which Dionysus functions as a binding symbol for all of Nietzsche's late thought; if a philosopher could become Dionysian in his relationship to the world, such that he were able to withstand the otherwise crushing reality of a world of infinitely transforming chaos, then he would have an alternative to the traditional modes of valuation that place man and logos at the center of the universe. Nietzsche's phrase "Dionysus is a judge" refers to Dionysus sitting in judgment of men: are humans strong enough to withstand this world divested of human hegemony? The Dionysian specifically attacks the weaknesses of the human spirit as they are nurtured by life-negating, Platonic-Christian ideals, thus the Dionysian is an expression of Nietzsche's active nihilism, his "creative" nihilism if you will. For according to Nietzsche, the ancient Greeks of the pre-Socratic age had attained the highest level of world affirmation and existential transfiguration achieved up to his day, such that, if the word "Dionysus" were spoken even in the company of such greats as Goethe, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Raphael, "all at once we feel our best things and moments condemned. Dionysus is a judge!" (KSA XI 681). Of course speaking the name "Dionysus" is quite different than invoking the humans Goethe et al., but this does not seem to matter to Nietzsche, since his Dionysus is hypostatized as a man, as a mortal. No mortal had attained that degree of life-affirmation Nietzsche had found in his ancient Greeks, so that in a very real sense, Nietzsche was attempting to provide mythological conditions of affirmation in an age of Enlightenment. F~iedrich Schlegel had similarly called for a "new mythology" to serve as a nucleus for modern, fragmented man, but then, Schlegel never went beyond making the call, while Nietzsche 80

Nietzschean self-transformation actually set forth his Dionysian world view. 17 We must bear in mind that the ancients whom Nietzsche revered most were untouched by Platonism, and in his view, therefore untouched by Platonic-Christian morality as it encourages negation of life. The capacity' to affirm existence bespeaks a Dionysian value standard, as Nietzsche was fond of writing in his notes, and he projected the existence of "higher natures" beyond good and evil, beyond the values of the suffering masses, by rediscovering the concepts "pagan," "classical," and "noble. ,,18 In turning to these undervalued but vitalistic concepts, Nietzsche felt that he was touching upon all that was unchristian, or pre-Christian. Life affirmation is summarized in Nietzsche's concept of amor fati, whose direct opposite would be amor dei. It is indeed ironic that for this materialistic, anti-metaphysical, and anti-idealistic worldview a philosopher would hoist the banner of a "philosophical Dionysus," but no contradiction is involved once we accept that Nietzsche had discovered in Dionysus the capacity to hypostatize as mortal everything in the human nature that embraces this world, the only world, the Dionysian world. This process has been subjected to a cultural analysis by Yirmiyahu Yovel, who insists that Nietzsche must be regarded as an "anti-anti-Semite" whose major feud was with Christianity, not with the Jews of modern Europe. Yovel's reading of Nietzsche's On the Genealogy of Morals, which includes a discussion of the final preoccupation Nietzsche displayed with Dionysus and "the crucified one," is instructive. Yovel speaks of an "inversion of the existing world, the creation of a new culture, his role as Dionysian prophet and Antichrist - and also the political unification of Europe, to renew its decadent culture."l 9 When Nietzsche praised the cultural cohesiveness of the Jews, he did so primarily because the Jews since the Enlightenment had been a vital counterbalance to Christianity. Thus Nietzsche expected a cultural renewal precisely where the Jews could become dominant, a prospect welcomed "as appropriate for the harm inflicted on Europe by the Jews' priestly ancestors. To fulfill their new role, the Jews must give up their uniqueness and seclusion and mix with the others races in creating a Dionysian Europe, freed of Christian culture." (Yovel, "Nietzsche," p. 231.) Nietzsche's praise of the Jews of Europe generally has this background to it, beginning with Human, All Too Human and stretching to the very latest works. The breadth of the Dionysian concept emerges in these observations, for one sees that Nietzsche perceived


Adrian Del Caro of the Jews as potential allies for the creation of a new "Dionysian Europe," a collective expression of the otherwise ontological properties ascribed to the Dionysian individual capable of practicing amor fati. Dionysus is therefore present throughout the works of 1888, not only in The Anti-christ and at the conclusion of Ecce homo, wherein Nietzsche reviewed all his works and concluded: "Have. I been understood? Dionysus against the crucified one!" (KSA VI 374, EH "Why I Write Such Good Books"). This pointed concern for being understood as the philosopher who posits Dionysus against Christ is a cogent expression of Nietzsche's transformation of the Dionysian, for he is referring to himself as one who "becomes" a philosopher by offering a life-affirming alternative to Christianity and all manifestations of Platonism. Influenced by his vision of the Dionysian world, Nietzsche ascribed affirmative symbolism to the god Dionysus who is torn to pieces but is eternally reborn, while he ascribed negative symbolism, nihilism actually, to the symbol of "God on the cross," for it incites one to redeem oneself from life (KSA XIII 267). The opposition must emerge in the different kind of martyrdom each represents; life itself with its eternal fertility and recurrence causes Dionysian torture and destruction, while in the case of Christ, it is a matter of suffering, with "the crucified one as the innocent one" who serves as an objection to this life and as the formula of its condemnation (KSA XIII 265-6). In this juxtaposition one recognizes Nietzsche's vitalistic constant: abundance and strength are symptoms of ascending vitality, so that the death symbolized by the dismembered Dionysus is an expression of lust for more of this life, while on the other hand, paucity and weakness as symptoms of declining life result in a death that redeems us of this life. This particular contrast can be studied as well in the relationship between Dionysus and Ariadne. Ariadne was the symbol of suffering for the ancient Greeks, for she was abandoned by her hero Theseus, only to be rescued by Dionysus. In a historical sense, it can be said that Ariadne was Dionysus' first disciple. As I have shown in "Symbolizing Philosophy," Theseus is equated with Christian virtue, so that when Ariadne is finally "rescued," she is in fact not redeemed, not "saved" in the Christian sense of salvation, but is instead at home in the labyrinth. For Dionysus, as a philosophical god, is still a tempter - one must be lured away from Christianity • and into the labyrinth before one can emerge into one's selfhood. The most important symbolic role of Dionysus in relation to mortals 82

Nietzschean self-transformation is that he comes to those who suffer the labyrinth, and the labyrinth does not loom until one embraces the eternal recurrence and other life-affirming snares that strip of us Christianity's protection. Thus far I have discussed the Dionysian as a major feature of Nietzsche's mature thought in its distinctly anti-Christian, antiromantic features. No longer an artistic deity or an aesthetic principle by 1880, the Dionysian became a hypostatization for the lifeaffirming individual, and it transformed as Nietzsche himself transformed. We observed that in presenting his early aesthetic Dionysus, as well as in making the transformation to a philosophical Dionysus, Nietzsche dispensed with a most significant aspect of the Dionysian, namely, the feminine as it had subsumed maenads, women followers, and sexuality. Nietzsche retained Ariadne as the counterpart of Dionysus, to be sure, but this Ariadne does not have the features of a sexual woman - she is elevated to a universal, to a symbol, and even as the suffering of the human soul, she is ethereal. I submit that the most difficult task Nietzsche faced in his transformation of the Dionysian was to embrace the wild, orgiastic, sexual properties that clearly defined Dionysus from the very earliest times. Ernst Nolte 20 has discussed this problem in connection with the earliest German writings on Dionysus from the anthropological point of view, namely Friedrich Creuzer's, who first observed that Dionysus came to the Greeks from the East. Nietzsche therefore dealt with the Ionian manifestation of the Dionysian versus the barbaric; Nolte stresses those passages in The Birth of Tragedy where Nietzsche refers to the barbaric Dionysia as effusive sexual licentiousness, unleashing the wildest beasts of nature and culminating among the Babylonians in the transformation of human to tiger and ape. By contrast, the Greeks' Dionysian orgies served as worldredeeming festivals and transfigurations. But the real point Nolte wants to make is that Nietzsche, at least in his youth, had been a prude who was repulsed by sexuality, so that he had this sexual revulsion as a motive for suppressing certain aspects of the Dionysian. Nolte finds that towards the end of his career Nietzsche elevates Dionysus to the status of lord of the mysteries of sexuality, in order to contrast him with the anti-nature of Christianity. "One could pose the question whether the late Nietzsche in the end took the step from the Greek Dionysus to the Babylonian Dionysus, or whether he felt compelled to take this step" (Nolte, Nietzsche, pp. 110-11). Nolte is correct in establishing a change of heart in Nietzsche visa-vis sexuality in the Dionysian, and we saw a very similar process 83

Adrian Del Cara take place with respect to the banishing of women per se from the Dionysian presence. In notes I have already quoted from spring 1888, Nietzsche contrasted the Dionysian with the Christian in terms of both their respective martyrdom and the symbology of each type of martyrdom, but he also addressed the issue of sexuality. The crucified one, he claimed, takes the contradictions and questionable aspects of existence on to himself and serves as redeemer, while Dionysus represents religious affirmation of life in its entirety, whereby it is "typical that the sex act arouses profundity, secret, respect" (KSA XIII 265-6). This turn in Nietzsche's thinking about sexuality had to come about because Nietzsche wanted to affirm Dionysus as the most complete symbol of life. In adopting Dionysus as a philosopher and a symbol of affirmation, Nietzsche also had to affirm what Dionysus stood for; sexuality is affirmed, lest Nietzsche be charged with caving in to Christianity's harsh treatment of the body and the passions, but women are not affirmed, apparently, to the same degree. The pivotal concept of the masculine mother and the self-pregnancy in Zarathustra, as well as the disguised presence of Ariadne and Dionysus throughout the writings, suggest that Nietzsche struggled with the issue of sexuality. His own botched and sophomoric efforts at courtship notwithstanding, Nietzsche did not embrace the feminine and he made this clear in Zarathustra by writing a parody of Goethe's das ewig Weibliche or "the eternal feminine" (KSA IV 163-4, Z I "Of Poets"). Still, there is an inner consistency to Nietzsche's turn of mind on sexuality; he turned himself around to affirm precisely what he had found most difficult to affirm, namely sexuality and woman, so that his transformation of the Dionysian has meaning for his own act of affirmation as well as the affirmation he attributes to new philosophers and Dionysian free spirits in general. When Zarathustra finally is able to wed eternity in "The Seven Seals," we must look at this as an expression of Nietzsche's self-overcoming as well, for he has at last, albeit in a qualified way, joined with the feminine. The Dionysian propensity to seduce or to tempt (verfuhren, versuchen) ultimately prevailed over Nietzsche, as it had to if he was going to embody the Dionysian philosophy. In biographical terms this means that Nietzsche let himself be tempted into the labyrinth, where he found himself confronted with the least palatable features of Dionysus, namely sexuality and the presence of the feminine. Nietzsche prescrIbed pain and suffering for others, as a recipe for selfovercoming, but he had his own overcoming to accomplish as well. 84

Nietzschean self-transfonnation Thus on the question of when one should speak, and about what, he wrote "one should only speak where one cannot be silent; and only speak of that which one has overcome, - everything else is just prattle, 'literature,' lack of discipline. My writings speak only of my overcomings" (KSA'II 369). But it is not exclusively on the biographical plane that the Dionysian lends coherence to Nietzsche's philosophizing, although we have seen that the biographical dimension was always important to Nietzsche's perception of what philosophers actually do and what they represent as life-affirming models. Nietzsche's transformation of the Dionysian was a creative act, but not a gratuitous creation and not "literature" as he would argue. In Zarathustra he dealt with the issue of the creative will, striving to demonstrate how man's creative energy can best be put to use. Zarathustra reveals that his will lured him away from God and gods, for "what would there be to create if gods - existed!" Instead, his creative will feels inexorably compelled toward man "as the hammer is driven to the stone." The metaphor of the sculpture now begins to unfold, but there is an obstacle to be overcome: "Oh, you humans, in the stone sleeps an image, the image of my images! Oh that it must sleep in the hardest, ugliest stone! Now my hammer rages cruelly against its prison" (KSA IV 111, Z I "On the Blissful Islands"). The image that sleeps in formidable stone is the image of man, imprisoned in hard and ugly stone precisely because, in Nietzsche's view, man's image has always been eclipsed and devalued by the image of Christian God, in whose image man was said to have been created. The creative will, therefore, must liberate the mortal image from its prison, just as a creator-sculptor "liberates," for instance, the archaic torso from a block of stone. Moreover, there is every indication that Nietzsche linked this humanly creative endeavor with Dionysus. At the point in Ecce homo where Nietzsche reviewed his Zarathustra, he chose the passage quoted above to highlight his notion of Dionysian creativity. By this time, however, Nietzsche added an overtly Dionysian touch by quoting from the Zarathustra passage with a small but meaningful change: he italicized the line "No~v my hammer rages cruelly against its prison." Having underscored this verse, he explained "the underlined verse" gave him cause "to stress one final viewpoint. For a Dionysian task the hardness of the hammer is needed, the lust for annihilation itselfbelongs decisively to its prerequisites" (KSA VI 349, EH IX 8). Nietzsche thus draws an explicit association between the creative will and its authentic focus, 85

Adrian Del Caro namely the creation of man's image, and his Dionysian mission requiring the strength of the hammer along with destruction or annihilation; Dionysian creativity must first clear away the obstacles, must first "liberate" the image of man from millennia of anti-mortal slanders, anti-mortal lack of self-esteem. This idea closely resembles the second stage of Zarathustra's "three metamorphoses of the spirit," for the lion must clear the way for the innocence of th~ child, symbolizing how creativity must be in the service and preparation of a new man. In order to appreciate just how consistently Nietzsche was guided by Dionysus, we should return to the first use he had made of the Dionysus-hammer-sculpture metaphor. At the end of the first chapter of The Birth of Tragedy, where Nietzsche describes how the Greeks celebrated their union with the Primal Unity and with one another, he wrote: "The most noble clay, man, the most costly marble, man, is here kneaded and hewn, and to the chisel strokes of the Dionysian world artist rings the Eleusinian mystery cry: 'Do you collapse to your knees, millions? Do you sense your creator, world?''' (KSA I 30). The early Nietzsche could well draw on the idealism of Schiller, whose "Ode to Joy" he is quoting here, for during this romantic-aesthetic period "Dionysian creation" was essentially aesthetic creation. But it is fascinating to observe how Nietzsche transfers his metaphor, hammer and all, into the mission of the philosophical Dionysus, who cannot tolerate any creation but the creation of the Dionysian man. This motif of the hammer and its association with the Dionysian chisel should be borne in mind whenever Nietzsche refers to philosophizing with the hammer, as indicated in the subtitle of Twilight of the Idols. Kaufmann has of course argued for a gentle reading of the hammer, insisting that Nietzsche meant the kind of hammer used only to "sound out" hollow idols as if with a tuning fork - but then again, Kaufmann in particular never had any use for the Dionysian Nietzsche, and he let himself be tricked by Nietzsche into not following through with his preferred metaphor of the tuning fork when he failed to mention what happens to hollow idols once they are identified. 21 In a very general sense that touches all of Nietzsche's writings and his project as a creative, Dionysian, transformative philosopher, yet another dimension of the Dionysian resurfaces after years of neglect - the comic/satiric. In The Birth of Tragedy Nietzsche gave short • basically pointing out that with the emergence shrift to the comic, from the Dionysian intoxication, the horror and nausea is trans86

Nietzschean self-transformation formed into the sublime, that is, tragedy, while the absurdity of existence is transformed in to the comic, that is, comedy (KSA I 57, BT 7). Apart from this, we have few allusions to comedy or humor associated specifically with Dionysus, but what we do indeed have is a humorous, laughter-oriented, satirical style of writing that Nietzsche practiced openly since at least The Gay Science. Kathleen Higgins remarks on this hidden presence of the Dionysian when she refers to morality in the context of what Nietzsche called "the Dionysian drama of 'The Destiny of the Soul'" and "the grand old eternal comic poet of our existence," whom I take to be Dionysus himself. Higgins is quoting from Genealogy and rightly observes that the tone of Nietzsche's remarks on morality do not seem funny: "But he suggests that after ruminating and thereby opening our own abysses, we suddenly stand back from our previous experiences and their disturbing patterns and recognize their nonsense. And indeed, the Genealogy prepares us to consider our moral habits nonsensical. ,,22 It is this very process of standing back, of deliberately disrupting the rumination of heavy thought, which emerges in Nietzsche as a Dionysian trait. Higgins concludes that Nietzsche created his own distance by using laughter as a cathartic (" Genealogy of Morals," pp. 60-1). and certainly this is consistent with Nietzsche's overall style. It is rarely appreciated that Nietzsche's style owes much to his self-transformation into a Dionysian philosopher, and that style for Nietzsche is Dionysian style. This nuance of the Dionysian can best emerge if we compare Nietzsche's late expressions on both Goethe, the classical "god" of Nietzsche and Germans per se, and on Heine, in many ways the antipode of Goethe. In comments on Goethe found in Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche takes Goethe to task for failing to exemplify the Dionysian; Goethe was not capable of genuine tragedy (KSA II 606, HH "The Wanderer and his Shadow" 124), asserts Nietzsche. and his classicism remained arrested at the Winckelmannian stage (KSA VI 159, TIl We should also add that Nietzsche was unimpressed by the tragic material of Faust, wherein a great scholar uses all his knowledge and the help of the devil merely to seduce a burgher Miidchen (KSA II 606), and Nietzsche was obviously critical of Goethe's "eternal feminine" and the romantic-Christian associations of Gretchen's ascent to heaven (KSA I, 284, UM 5; KSA III 16, Daybreak 4; KSA V 173, BGE 236). Not surprisingly Nietzsche turned to Heinrich Heine as he turned away from Goethe, claiming that Heine embodied for him the 87

Adrian Del Caro highest concept of the lyrical (KSA VI 286). In the same breath, Nietzsche praised Heine and himself by claiming they were the two greatest masters of the German language, and that Heine possessed the qualities of a satyr. Once again we catch Nietzsche in a seductive Dionysian operation; Goethe is not Dionysian enough, not tragic enough, so a more Dionysian model is sought - and Nietzsche finds the lyrical, satirical Heine, who is at home in the Dionysian because he exhibits the Dionysian properties of lyricality and satire. I have written on the lyrical-satirical dimensions of Zarathustra as they call to mind these same dimensions in Heine's Deutschland. Ein Wintermarch en , in order to make the point that Heine emerges as Nietzsche's favorite in 1888 because Nietzsche wanted and needed the Dionysian association. 23 For as he later explained in the foreword to Ecce homo: "I am a disciple of the philosopher Dionysus, and I would prefer to be a satyr than a saint" (KSA VI 258, EH Preface, 2). One could say that Nietzsche displayed yet another feature of Dionysian transformation when he drew this very pointed juxtaposition between his erstwhile hero Goethe and the relatively unknown and underappreciated Heine. It matters little whether Nietzsche actually divested himself of admiration for Goethe, and it would be stretching things to say that he was entirely serious about elevating Heine at Goethe's expense, but one should not underestimate the importance to Nietzsche of recognizing and praising a truly kindred, a truly Dionysian spirit in Heine, for Heine was the good European, the free spirit on whom Nietzsche pinned his hopes for a Dionysian versus a Christian Europe. Beneath the surface, then, it appears that every major aspect of Nietzsche's philosophizing is touched in some way by the Dionysian. In matters of style, and certainly Derrida has shown once and for all in Spurs that "style" in Nietzsche is really a matter of "styles," the transformed Dionysian contributes to the lightness of Nietzsche's discourse, to the laughter he invokes and frequently evokes, to the driving satirical wit, and to the lyricality that emerges not only in the newly created metaphors of Zarathustra, but also side by side with "serious" passages whenever Nietzsche catches himself being too somber. There are identifiable Dionysian attributes in Nietzsche's style, ranging from his conception of the lyrical as the bedrock of tragedy, all the way to the hidden, disguised, and masked operations of the "tempter god Dionysus" that must be ferreted out and brought to light. 88

Nietzschean self-transformation Moreover the Dionysian serves as the carrier of all expressions of life-affirmation in Nietzsche, and to the extent that we can safely designate Nietzschean philosophy as a doctrine of life-affirmation, Dionysus is the ally whom Nietzsche enlisted to counter the other demigod, the life-negating one - Christ. It is as if each demigod had a choice to disavow one or the other parent, the divine or the mortal, and Nietzsche's transformed Dionysus disavows the divine in favor of the mortal. To the new Dionysus are ascribed those properties that affirm this life eternally despite suffering, despite the chaotic nature of the Dionysian universe, whereas the Christian afterlife spurns this life by seeking redemption from it. No doubt there is something utterly strange about Nietzsche's close union with Dionysus, utterly unphilosophical, some have said and others will continue to say. Given Nietzsche's insistence that religions always be under the guarded care of philosophers (KSA V 79-83, BGE 61), we might generously ascribe the new Dionysianism to the view that religions are capable of tapping and harnessing precious energies of the human spirit. such that Nietzsche resurrected Dionysus as a philosopher god in order to tap into the spiritual potential of an increasingly fallow humanity. Less generously, one might object to Nietzsche's selection of Dionysus or any god, pagan or otherwise, as the carrier of his ideas; religions deal in the medium of faith, after all, and everywhere Nietzsche is on record with his message that we are a species of willing obeyers while humanity really needs commanders and legislators. In all fairness to Nietzsche, however, it must be concluded that the Dionysian is not a religion in the sense that it requires religious faith or needs a dogma to defend it. In fact, the Dionysian properties conducive to life-affirmation to the point of eternal recurrence serve as anti-dogma, just as the eternal recurrence, in "philosophical" talk stripped of Dionysian overtones, was posited by Nietzsche as "the most nihilistic thought" and paradoxically as the most life-affirming. I think Nietzsche used Dionysus in order to have a direct counter to Christ, knowing that Christ would remain alive in Christians' hearts, and that the attraction of Christ could only be countered, on the philosophical playing field, by the image of one who never existed save in the hearts of allegedly life-affirming pagans. Thus if there is a danger inherent in Nietzsche's Dionysianizing of philosophy, then first and foremost to those who are religiously inclined, those who seek a messiah, those who fail to comprehend that for Nietzsche Dionysus became a "philosopher god" or, with less fanfare, a human. 89

Adrian Del Caro

Notes KSA XII 626-7; translations from KSA into English are my own. 2 Karl Kerenyi, Bachofen und die Zukunft des Humanismus. Mit einem Intermezzo iiber Nietzsche und Ariadne (Zurich: Rascher, 1945), pp. 26-7. 3 See my "Symbolizing Philosophy. Ariadne and the Labyrinth," • Nietzsche-Studien 17 (1988), pp. 125-57. 4 C. G. Jung, Psychological Types, trans. H. G. Baynes (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1938), p. 177. 5 C. G. Jung, Nietzsche's Zarathustra, ed. James 1. Jarrett (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988). 6 Walter F. Otto, Dionysos. Mythos und Kultus (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1933), p. 73. 7 Ibid., pp. 87-8, 110, 74, 81, 84, 101. 8 Karl Kerenyi, Dionysos: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life, trans. Ralph Mannheim (Princeton University Press, 1976), pp. xxv, xxiv. 9 Johann Jakob Bachofen, Mutterrecht und Urreligion, ed. Rudolf Marx (Stuttgart: Kroner, 1954), pp. 118-19. 10 Kerenyi, Dionysos, pp. 135-6,324,329. 11 KSA XIII 113-16. Nietzsche used the expression "women and slaves" to designate an entire class, more or less, so that in his aphorism "What belongs to greatness" (GS 325) he claims that the ability to endure suffering is not an achievement, for "weak women and even slaves" are accomplished at this. Instead, he claims, it is the ability to inflict pain that constitutes greatness, which I take to mean that Dionysian suffering, unlike Christian suffering, is not redeemed, not rewarded, and instead brings with it the destruction of existing values in order to create new ones (KSA III 553). 12 Theo Meyer, Nietzsche und die Kunst (Tiibingen: Francke, 1993), pp.303-6. 13 See pp. 74-6 above, and n. 11. Kerenyi underscores the fact that Nietzsche does not mention woman in connection with the most ancient tragedy. 14 See my "Dionysian Classicism, or Nietzsche's Appropriation of an Aesthetic Norm," JournaJ of the History of Ideas 1,4 (1989), pp. 589-605. 15 Ernst Behler, "Nietzsche's Challenge to Romantic Humanism," Canadian Review of Comparative Literature 5 (1978), pp. 30-57; Adrian Del Caro, Nietzsche contra Nietzsche: Creativity and the Anti-Romantic (Baton Rouge, La.: Louisiana State University Press, 1989), pp. 26-7, 54-5, 93-6. 16 Richard Schacht, Nietzsche (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985), pp.346-7. 17 See my Nietzsclle contra Nietzsche, pp. 125-9. The idea of a new mythology grounded in reason was shared by Hegel, Schlegel, Schelling, Holderlin. 1


Nietzschean self-transfonnation 18 Nietzsche, Aus dem Nachlafi der BOer Jahre in Friedrich Nietzsche. Werke in drei Banden, ed. Karl Schlechta (Munich: Hanser, 1966), vol. III, pp. 834-35. I use Schlechta's arrangement of the notes here because






this is a more detailed version, in this particular instance, than is available in KSA. Yirmiyahu Yovel, "Nietzsche, the Jews, and Ressenliment," in Richard Schacht, ed., Nietzsche, Genealogy, Morality: Essays on Nietzsche's I'Genealogy of Morals" (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1994), p. 223. This author is known for launching the historians' debate (Historikerstreit) in Germany, because of his revisionist historical view of the Holocaust and Germany's guilt during the Hitler years. I find his book on Nietzsche useful, but not entirely free of the ideological slant that characterizes his revisionist thinking per se. My use of his material is not an endorsement of Nolte's revisionist views. See Ernst Nolte, Nietzsche und der Nietzscheanismus (Frankfurt-on-Main: Propylaen, 1990), pp. 110-11. See The Portable Nietzsche, ed. and trans. Walter Kaufmann (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1982), p. 464. For an indication of how Kaufmann dismissed Nietzsche's Dionysus-Ariadne dialogue, see my "Symbolizing Philosophy. " Kathleen Marie Higgins, "On the Genealogy of Morals - Nietzsche's Gift," in Richard Schacht, ed., Nietzsche, Genealogy, Morality: Essays on Nietzsche's HGenealogy of Morals" (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1994), pp., 60-1. See my "Heine's Deutschland. Ein Wintermiirchen reflected in Nietzsche," Heine-Jahrbuch 33 (1994), pp. 194-201.


II Socratisrn and the question of aesthetic justification RANDALL HAVAS

The Birth of Tragedy is, among other things, Nietzsche's earliest published attempt to carryon what Plato called "the ancient quarrel between poetry and philosophy' (Republic 607b). The ostensible aestheticism of that work suggests that Nietzsche takes sides with the former and against the latter. However, it is only once we appreciate the special character of Nietzsche's conception of philosophy that we can understand in what that aestheticism consists. But to know in what sense Nietzsche might have construed human intelligibility as an artistic affair, we must understand why he did not consider our capacity to make sense to stand in need of specifically philosophical foundations. My aim in this chapter is to make as clear as I can Nietzsche's conception of the nature of the philosophical attitude to which he opposes his aestheticism. Consequently, the bulk of my time will be spent clearing the ground of as much philosophy as possible. For only once we understand for what they really are the needs that give rise to philosophy does Nietzsche consider us to be in a position meaningfully to ask how, if at all, making sense can be thought of in aesthetic terms. It is natural to try to assess Nietzsche's concern with the nature and function of art in terms of his notion of aesthetic justification. That notion, however, can be adequately understood only in the context of Nietzsche's attack on the Socratic demand for reasons. For it is to the outlook on life expressed by that demand that Nietzsche opposes his ostensibly artistic alternative. Yet the opposition he erects between this aesthetic attitude and the Socratic posture he rejects is far from itraightforward. So-called aestheticist readings of Nietzsche are often premised upon some version of the idea that the truth about things is "made," 92

Socratism and aesthetic justification not discovered. This picture encourages us to think that, against philosophy, Nietzsche wished us primarily to acknowledge the absence of the sorts of reasons Socrates sought, and thereby to face up to the contingency of our interpretations of the world. However, the idea of truth as a human invention is sharply at odds with the spirit of Nietzsche's criticism of Socratism. For his attack on the Socratic demand that one provide reasons for interpreting the world in one way rather than another is not meant to undermine our sense that such reasons might be forthcolning, but instead radically to undercut the very idea that our relationship to the world may be thought of as an interpretation of it that stands in need of justification in the first place. Nietzsche means, in fact, to reject the idea that human beings bear to the world anything we can helpfully call a "relationship," not simply to replace one philosophical conception of such a relationship with another. In what follows, I want to defend this interpretation by means of a reading of Nietzsche's attack on Socratism in The Birth of Tragedy, and to explore the consequences of this interpretation for our understanding of the notion of aesthetic justification. I will argue that Nietzsche's attack on the demand for reasons is underwritten by a particular understanding of culture - an understanding first deployed in The Birth of Tragedy, and elaborated at greater length in the Genealogy and elsewhere. Nietzsche's account of Socratism suggests that, for him, culture is a form of what we can think of as "linguistic community." The demand for reasons, I will argue, is born of resistance to such community. An adequate assessment of Nietzsche's hostility to that demand turns, therefore, on a proper understanding of this form of resistance. Consequently, making sense of the idea of an aesthetic justification of life depends upon understanding the sense in which Nietzsche denies that a properly Socratic justification of it is forthcoming, and it is in this context, I will argue, that the notion of resistance has the greatest role to play. In the first part of the chapter, I introduce the relevant conception of culture as community as that notion appears in The Birth of Tragedy. In the second part, I layout Nietzsche's conception of philosophy as expressed in what he calls "the problem of Socrates." In the third section, I explore the idea of Socratism as a form of resistance to the kind of community Nietzsche takes culture to be. Finally, in the conclusion, I assess the consequences of these reflections for aestheticist readings of Nietzsche in general. 93


"Socratism," as I will use the term here, refers to the philosophical demand that one provide reasons of a certain sort for interpreting one's concepts in the ways one does - that one say, in particular, what all actions of a given type have in common in virtue of which they are actions of that type. As I said, Nietzsche's criticism' of the Socratic demand for reasons is underwritten by a particular understanding of the notion of culture, and, on his view, culture is a form of comm uni ty. 1 According to this view, the demand for reasons is born of what I called "resistance" to community. A natural - but, by my lights, misleading - approach to understanding Socratism's resistance to community is to take it to reflect a desire to achieve a vantage point on the world independent of the terms one has inherited from the culture in which one finds oneself. According to this sort of reading, by attacking Socratism, Nietzsche would have meant to urge his readers to forego philosophical attempts to step outside their culture, and to work instead within it to give sense or "style" to their lives. But such readings sidestep Nietzsche's most important insight about Socratism: that the intelligibility of calls to remain within the bounds of one's community stands or falls with the intelligibility of traditional philosophical attempts to stand outside it. Nietzsche's criticism of the demand for reasons is meant to deny just this dichotomy between standing inside and standing outside one's culture. The relevant conception of community emerges most clearly when we take seriously Nietzsche's suggestion that the distinction he draws in order to understand the phenomenon of Greek tragedy between "Apollonian" and "Dionysian" art is like that between culture and nature. While the latter distinction appears not to exhaust the content of the former, it does allow us to understand what Nietzsche finds objectionable about the demand for reasons in a way that talk of Apollonian and Dionysian "artistic tendencies" threatens to obscure for us. Contrary to a tempting reading, the deepest aspect of his criticism of Socratism is not that the demand for reasons insists that we give sense to our lives independently of the culture in which we happen to find ourselves, but rather that this demand stems from a desire not to see ourselves as members of a culture at all. 2 Ni~tzsche diagnoses, behind this desire, a wish to fail to make sense altogether. This diagnosis suggests that his attack on Socratism turns, therefore, on an understanding of the relationship 94

Socratism and aesthetic justification between individual and community; my immediate purpose here is to see what light the distinction between culture and nature as it is used in The Birth of Tragedy sheds upon this relationship. In the late preface to The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche says that "it was against morality that [his] instinct turned" in that book (ASC 5). In general, his antipathy toward what he calls "moral values" is aimed at those ways of life that, in his view, seek to deny life. 3 In the context of his attack on Socratism in particular, the term "morality" appears to refer to whatever it is in our religion, philosophy, and ethical life that, according to him, gives voice to our need for reasons. If, therefore, we are to make out what it means to treat Socratism as a form of morality, we will need to know in what sense such a way of life could be said to try to deny life. What, that is, does Nietzsche mean in saying that to insist that one provide a certain sort of reason for interpreting one's concepts in one way rather than another amounts to a denial of life? It is the principal goal of this chapter to offer an answer to this question. But I will also be trying to show that there are good reasons to doubt that, in The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche sought a positive alternative to Socratism, and hence to what the late preface to that work calls "morality." Let me suggest briefly why it might appear tempting to think otherwise. It appears attractive to some readers to maintain that Nietzsche meant that morality in this sense, marked by the need to justify one's judgments, is a sign of an inability to take responsibility for one's own evaluations of the world. This reading makes it natural to think that Nietzsche meant to hold open the possibility of some sort of alternative to morality: the ability not to give in to the demand for reasons is taken to signify a different, more "affirmative," attitude toward life. I mean to argue, however, that a proper understanding of Nietzsche's claim that morality denies life does not leave room for that purportedly affirmative alternative. There is nothing in this sense for "taking responsibility for one's evaluations of the world" to be. 4 Now in one of his own critical assessments of his first book, Nietzsche says that the "gravest question" with which The Birth of Tragedy had burdened itself was "What, seen in the perspective of hfe, is the significance of morality?" (ASC 4). The connection Nietzsche sees between the general Socratic demand for reasons and what we might more commonly think of as properly moral concerns is complicated, and nothing in The Birth of Tragedy exactly entails that, for example, a Kantian demand that one be able to justify the 95

Randall Havas fairness of one's actions is itself somehow a form of Socratism, nor does anything suggest that a specifically Christian conception of morality must also be construed as a form of Socratism. Nevertheless, Nietzsche does appear to believe that each of these three very different ways of life share the following characteristic: they all try to make sense of the life we actually live in terms of another life that is somehow "better" (more stable, more worthy, more, pure) than this one. 5 We might, therefore, be able to make sense of a connection between Kantian morality and Nietzschean Socratism in terms of a shared demand that one's actions be justified by appeal to something both independent of our interests and opinions, and available to everyone just insofar as he is rational. 6 For my purposes here, however, to say that Socratism is a form of morality is simply to say that it represents a particular way of life - a "life-denying" way of life in the sense that it seeks to understand the life we live in terms of something independent of it. This claim suggests that in the late preface Nietzsche takes himself in The Birth of Tragedy to have been trying - as in the Genealogy he was trying - to understand how something like "life-denial" was possible at all. 7 In what follows, then, when I refer to Socratism as a form of morality, all that is meant is that the Socratic life of reason is a way of life that has this particular shape. As an interpretative claim at least, my suggestion that Nietzsche did not mean to offer a philosophical alternative to Socratism is clearly at odds with a common understanding of the spirit of his writing, both early and late. For it is indeed tempting to try to analyze his thought into its negative or "critical" elements, on the one hand, and a more positive - though perhaps more sketchy alternative, on the other. Thus, he quite obviously advocates "lifeaffirmative" attitudes and practices, and he opposes these to what, under the rubric of "morality," he condemns as "life-denying." I have to show, then, that a reading which is natural and which Nietzsche invites in fact obscures the real character and point of his criticism of morality. To this end, I will lay out the principal features of his criticism of the Socratic demand that one justify one's standards of judgment. While his criticism of this demand is sustained throughout his work as a whole, I will generally restrict my discussion in this chapter to what Nietzsche says about it in and in connection witp The Birth of Tragedy. My interpretative strategy will be to ask in what must tragic insight consist 1f it is to do the job Nietzsche seems to give it to do: namely, to silence the Socratic 96

Socratism and aesthetic justification demand for reasons. To a great extent, of course, this approach inverts the historical order of the development of Socratism as Nietzsche recounts it. By and large, he construes the demand for reasons as a re~ponse to the death of tragedy, not the other way around. 8 Nevertheless, it was their ability not to be tempted by the demand for reasons that constituted the Greeks as a culture in the special sense of the term that will occupy us here. Nietzsche suggests, moreover, that, at least for a while, tragedy functioned to keep them safe from that temptation. 9 Thus, I will in what follows speak as though tragedy defended the Greeks against the power of Socratic dialectic, even though, as Nietzsche sees it, the demand for reasons was not taken seriously until tragic culture began to collapse (see TI "The Problem of Socrates" 9). As I claimed above, proceeding in this fashion allows us to appreciate what Nietzsche imagines tragic culture to have been like, in a way that a more straightforward examination of Dionysian and Apollonian art renders much more difficult. In Ecce homo, Nietzsche refers to The Birth of Tragedy's conception of the Socratic demand as one of its decisive innovations. "Socrates [he writes,] is recognized for the first time as an instrument of Greek disintegration, as a typical decadent. 'Rationality' against instinct. 'Rationality' at any price as a dangerous force that undermines life" (EH" The Birth of Tragedy" 1). It is often pointed out that the central features of Nietzsche's criticism of Socratism are rooted in his conviction that "rationality at any price" is itself a form of instinct. Thus, according to Nietzsche, someone committed "at any price" to a life of rationality only mistakenly thinks of himself as standing in fundamental opposition to what he condemns as instinct. But we fail fully to appreciate the force of Nietzsche's claim that "rationality at any price" is hostile to life if we do not adequately understand the specifically Socratic conception of instinct that underwrites the contrast between it and "rationality" that he wants to call into question. It is, therefore, part of my goal here to clarify the particular conception of instinct that, on Nietzsche's view, undermines life. My thesis is that in The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche is concerned to articulate a particular conception of culture. It is this conception that underwrites his attack on the intelligibility of the Socratic demand for reasons. His chief conclusion about culture, however, seems largely negative. For on his account, while the Socratic demand for reasons turns on a misunderstanding of what it means to 97

Randall Havas belong to a culture, appreciating the fact of this misunderstanding does not leave us with a positive philosophical account with which to replace it. More specifically, Nietzsche believes that Socratism makes sense only if membership in one's culture is conceived in terms of partaking in a shared interpretation or worldview. But while he rejects this picture of culture, he never proposes an alternative account. Thus, it is nearly impossible to say anything in a positive vein that is at all philosophically satisfying about what Nietzsche took culture to be. But from Nietzsche's standpoint, the difficulty in saying anything satisfying about culture is very much to be expected. I do not think that we go far wrong if we think of culture - in the sense in which I am using the term here - as a form of what we might call "linguistic community." Indeed, as the second essay of the Genealogy makes clear, Nietzsche pictures human life as a struggle to make sense, to speak.lO We may therefore imagine community, as he thinks of it, as a group of individuals who succeed in making senseto themselves and to one another. This concern with what it means to make sense - to be intelligible - lies behind Nietzsche's repeated complaints that he lacks readers (and that he himself is not responsible for this lack). He believes that there is room to speak of success and failure in this context because he thinks that, in a variety of ways, we tend to resist making sense. What he thinks of as lifedenial stems, as I have suggested, from such resistance. To affirm life, on the other hand, means to affirm one's membership in a culture. But this, as I shall argue, is simply to make sense, to speak. For Nietzsche, because there is nothing to say about making sense beyond demonstrating the fact of our resistance to doing so, there will be nothing to say about what culture is - beyond demonstrating the fact of resistance to it - either. Making sense of Nietzsche's aestheticism, then, is a matter of determining in what ways overcoming this kind of resistance may be thought of in artistic terms. My talk of "linguistic community" and my suggestion that Nietzsche thinks of human life as a struggle to make sense - to speak intelligibly - may seem to express an overly intellectualized approach toward the notions of life-denial and life-affirmation. Lifeaffirmation seems after all, for Nietzsche, to be much more a matter of, say, affirming those passions, affects, and drives that are condemned by morapty than it is of merely speaking. But while it is surely true that Nietzsche often speaks in these sorts of tones, and while he often appears to believe that a moral, life-denying self98

Socratism and aesthetic justification conception is achieved only by means of the "repression" and "exploitation" of our human, all-too-human instincts and passions, this objection rests on a failure to appreciate the importance Nietzsche attaches to the very fact of human intelligibility. It is, so to speak, an overly intellectualized notion of speaking that prevents us from understanding the sense in which life-denial represents, for Nietzsche, a failure of intelligibility, a failure to speak responsibly. Indeed, talk of making sense and of being responsible for what one says are precisely the terms that Nietzsche himself suggests we use to understand the distinction he draws between ascending and descending forms of life. 11 Moreover, he argues at some length that the capacity to make sense is something that is achieved only thanks to a great deal of precisely the sort of repression that he is mistakenly thought by some readers to condemn. In any event, if my interpretation of his attack on Socratism is correct, then even where he ostensibly encourages his readers to enjoy and celebrate their passions, he is not in any way encouraging them to step outside the achievement that he considers intelligibility to represent. This is not the sort of intimacy with the world he sought. 12 Consequently, I do not believe that there is anything particularly bloodless about the idea of linguistic community. Intelligibility is achieved and maintained by just the sorts of "immoral" means appropriate to any discipline. 13 As what he thinks it means to deny life becomes clearer to us, our grip on the question of what he thought it might mean to affirm life and to articulate a positive alternative to the morality he rejects should begin to dissolve. Ultimately, I think, Nietzsche would have found a desire for such an articulation to be of a piece with the very morality he rejects. 2 THE NATURE OF PHILOSOPHY

In Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche speaks of Socrates as a problem at least in part by way of asking how the Socratic enterprise is possible. 14 He means, in other words, to ask how philosophy itself is possible. The presupposition of such a question is that there is in fact a question to be asked here at all. But Nietzsche is not simply asking why this particular form of philosophical endeavor took hold of a particular culture at this particular moment in history. For while he does not deny that Socratism came to appear to make sense, he maintains that the demand for reasons is intelligible only in a 99

Randall Havas particular context: that of the collapse of a culture. Philosophy, on this view, makes no sense on its own terms. With Socrates Greek taste undergoes a change in favor of dialectics: what is really happening when that happens? It is above all the defeat of a nobler taste; with dialectics the rabble gets on top ... [T]he dialectician is a kind of buffoon: he is laughed at, he is not taken seriously. - Socrates was the buffoon who got himself taken seriously: what was really happening when that happened? (TI "The Problem of Socrates" 5)

As Nietzsche sees it, by giving voice to a particular understanding of the status of culture, tragedy functioned to keep the Greeks safe from the misunderstanding that gave rise to Socratism. As they lose their grip on this understanding of culture, however, they come to have need of Socrates - as Nietzsche puts it, of "his expedient, his cure, his personal art of self-preservation" (ibid. g). Let us begin with an overview of The Birth of Tragedy's critique of Socratism. As Nietzsche portrays him, Socrates demanded of his interlocutors that they justify their application of moral concepts. He asked, in other words, that they give reasons for interpreting their concepts in this way rather than that. Nietzsche was convinced, however, that the demand for reasons turned on Socrates' failure properly to understand the role that authority played in the practices of judgment whose justification he sought. Nietzsche suggests we can make sense of the notion of culture in terms of the concept of authority. As he says, "wherever authority is still part of accepted usage ... one does not 'give reasons.''' Properly understood, in other words, authority silences the demand for reasons. But, as Nietzsche well knows, our response to such an appeal to authority is likely be one of Socratic offense. For "[t]hat which makes institutions institutions is despised, hated, rejected: whenever the word "authority" is so much as heard, one believes oneself in danger of a new slavery" (TI "Expeditions of an Untimely Man" 39). Indeed, precisely what the Socratic philosopher calls for is a justification of obedience to such authority. But the error that Nietzsche finds at the root of Socratism involves treating obedience as a matter of interpretation, as, say, accepting one's culture's interpretation of itself, of its members, its world, as something, in short, that presents itself as a candidate for justification. The concept of obedience is difficult for us to understand, and my use of it in this cQntext may give rise to some confusion. Moreover, unlike the notion of authority, Nietzsche does not everywhere employ it in the way in which I mean to here. For him, "obedience" 100

Socratisnl and aesthetic justification often refers to the sort of training and discipline that produces what he sometimes calls "the morality of mores." Obedience, in this sense of the term, is part of what Nietzsche thinks of as the long prehistory of any form of obedience - to authority - in the sense in which I am using those terms here. As I understand it, "obedience" simply refers to the fact that we go on intelligibly with our concepts in the ways that we do. lt might be objected to this reading that Nietzsche in fact reviles obedience - that he condemns it as thoughtless slavishness. After all, one might ask, did he not mean for individuals and "higher men" to forge new values to replace the decayed values of the past? I suggest, however, that Nietzsche means in general- and in his attack on Socratism in particular - to underscore our unwillingness to distinguish obedience from slavishness. Far from condemning obedience, he considers it absolutely necessary to any form of human intelligibility. He writes, What is essential and inestimable in every morality is that it constitutes a long compulsion ... What is essential "in heaven and on earth" seems to be ... that there should be obedience over a long period of time and in a single direction: given that, something always develops, and has developed. for whose sake it is worth while to live on earth. (BGE 188)

We might think of this sort of obedience as training. But such training, he maintains, issues in understanding. Indeed, "obedience" is, in this context, simply another word for "understanding." I think that Nietzsche means quite generally to rehabilitate these notions of obedience and authority - to make manifest our moral misunderstanding of these notions. Such a rehabilitation is in part what is at stake in his attack on Socratism. I suggest, then, that when Nietzsche claims that one does not give reasons as long as authority remains part of "accepted usage," we ought to read him somewhat more strongly than might initially seem warranted. For he is not here insisting merely that as long as an appeal to, as we say, "what is done" is an intelligible and appropriate response to the demand for reasons, one will not take seriously the special Socratic version of that demand, but rather that something about authority in some way permits one to ignore it. A weaker reading than the one I am proposing makes it seem that Nietzsche is insisting merely that as long as one refuses - or is for whatever reason unable - to distance oneself from one's cultural norms and practices, one cannot make good sense of Socrates' 101

Randall Havas question. This amounts to the claim that from our engaged perspective an appeal to tradition or to precedent will seem to be the only intelligible sort of reply to make in response to a demand for reasons. Such a claim might well - as a matter of psychological fact - be true. That is to say, it may be impossible for someone who is actively engaged in the practices of his culture to make good sense of the philosophical question. But there is nothing in this fact with. which the Socratically minded philosopher should be inclined to disagree. For he will insist that it is indeed a condition of properly philosophical questioning that one stand back from one's practices in such a way as to permit an appropriately critical examination of them. He knows that this - for example, calling these sorts of things virtuous is "what is done." But he wants to know why this is so; he wants to understand that in virtue of which these practices are intelligible. The sort of account he seeks should, he supposes, justify those practices of judgment whose "reason" he hopes to uncover. According to Nietzsche, however, something essential is lost sight of in this sort of philosophical detachment. "Authority," in the passage at hand, refers to something we might think of as the constraint that one's culture exercises on one's judgments. Although Nietzsche refers to such constraint in a variety of ways, his use of the notion of power is the most famous. Thus, in an important passage from The Gay Science, he refers to what he finds to be the distinctively modern commitment to the value of knowledge as a power in just this sense. Thus knowledge became a piece of life itself, and hence a continually growing power - until eventually knowledge collided with those primeval basic errors: two lives, two powers, both in the same human being. A thinker is now that being in whom the impulse for truth and those life-preserving errors clash for their first fight, after the impulse for truth has proved to be also a life-preserving power. (GS 110)

As we will see, part of the reason for talking about constraint or power here is that such talk helps to undercut the idea that Nietzsche meant in any way to suggest that our obedience is something for which it makes sense to hold us responsible. For we do not choose or otherwise decide what constrains us. As we will see, the "freedom" Nietzsche associates with obedience to this sort of constraint has nothiQ-g to do with "freedom of choice." As he makes clear in a passage that is important for our understanding of his aestheticism, 102

Socratism and aesthetic justification Every artist knows how far from any feeling of letting himself go his "most natural" state is - the free ordering, placing, disposing, giving form in the moment of "inspiration" - and how strictly and subtly he obeys thousandfold laws precisely then, laws that precisely on account of their hardness and determination defy all formulation through concepts. (BGE 188)

To think otherwise is what we might think of as the "existentialist" equivalent of the Socratic demand for reasons. Throughout his writing, Nietzsche suggests that the force of the Socratic demand rests in effect on a misunderstanding of the nature of this form of obedience. In his view, the Socratically minded philosopher thinks of such obedience merely as a fact about us, as something that is of no more than, as we might put it, anthropological significance. In other words, the philosopher would like to insist that the fact that we count these things as virtuous and those as vicious is - until suitably grounded in reasons - merely an artifact of how the world strikes us. It is important to stress that Nietzsche thinks that there is indeed some sort of misunderstanding here, for, as I have suggested, a central feature of his conception of culture is that membership in it makes one immune to the Socratic demand. For Nietzsche, the notions of culture and authority (or power) are in this way conceptually intertwined: where there is no immunity from the demand for reasons, there is no culture in Nietzsche's sense of the term. But we must also try to determine the specific sort of misunderstanding of which Nietzsche believes Socratism is guilty. My principal interpretative hypothesis has been that an examination of his conception of Greek tragedy will shed light on the specific nature of the Socratic misunderstanding of obedience. Let us see, then, where this hypothesis leads us. We should note to begin with that Nietzsche is not likely to have held that Socratism is ignorant of some philosophically relevant piece of information to which membership in their culture somehow made the tragic Greeks privy, or to have believed that tragedy afforded them access to such information. Any such information would only too understandably become the object of Socratic inquiry. This is one reason there is, in Nietzsche's work, no positive philosophical account of authority. But the absence of such an account does not imply that authority is an ineffable something of which such an account simply cannot be given. Indeed, as we will see, to view tragedy as providing "ineffable" insight embodies the


Randall Havas same misunderstanding Nietzsche believes he finds at the root of the philosophical demand for reasons. In The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche suggests that it was the function of tragic drama - specifically, of the works of Aeschylus and Sophocles - to present the authority of Greek culture in such a way that the Socratic demand for reasons was not taken up. It is along these lines that Nietzsche understands the significance. of the dramatic destruction of the tragic hero. Presented in that context, his or her destruction conveys something about the status of Greek culture as a whole. On Nietzsche's view, tragedy thus allowed the Greeks to live - or, more weakly, it celebrated their ability to live without the sorts of reasons that Socrates thought necessary if their aesthetic and ethical behavior was to be fully intelligible. But he thought that it allowed them to do so without simply ignoring the Socratic demand. Tragedy enabled them instead, or so Nietzsche supposes, in some way to see through it. In other words, by denying the very intelligibility of that demand, tragedy provided the Greeks with a means of not taking that demand seriously. How could this be? Nietzsche twice says that Socrates failed to comprehend and therefore to esteem tragedy. From the point of view of Nietzsche's attack on Socratism, this is the central claim of The Birth of Tragedy. My contention has been that the more famous idea - twice articulated as well - that life can only be justified as an aesthetic phenomenon can only be understood in the light of the claim that Socrates failed properly to understand and to value tragedy. As I have said, understanding Greek tragedy is, for Nietzsche, a sign of knowing what it means to be Greek. In his view, the tragedies express a particular understanding of the status of Greek culture as a whole. In saying that he failed to understand tragedy, then, Nietzsche's suggestion is that Socrates failed properly to understand what it meant to be Greek - what it meant to be a member of this particular culture - and that this is the misunderstanding at the root of his demand for reasons. This point, however, is easily misunderstood. For nothing Nietzsche says implies that the Socratically minded philosopher does not understand the specific conventions governing the employment of his interlocutors' aesthetic and ethical vocabulary. He knows, that is, which actions the Greeks call courageous. Whatever Socratic confusion about the authority of Greek culture really comes to, then, it is not confusion about that. So where does his confusion lie? .~


Socratism and aesthetic justification It is important to note that the Socratically minded philosopher

need not find unintelligible Nietzsche's ostensibly psychological question about why the demand for reasons was taken seriously, but he will think that question orthogonal to his own. For the philosopher agrees that the Socratic demand for reasons requires a shift of focus away from the local practices of judgment on which particular judgments about this or that depend, to a standpoint of philosophical detachment from which the legitimacy of those practices themselves might be questioned. Certainly from the point of view Nietzsche means to criticize, an investigation into the state of mind of the individual capable of understanding the philosophical request for justification can only be a psychological one, and, as such, cannot shed light on the very intelligibility of the Socratic request itself. As I have claimed, however, the force of the Socratism turns, for Nietzsche, on a misconstrual of the nature of obedience to authority. According to him, the shift of focus necessary for making sense of the philosophical demand for reasons distorts one's view of the very nature of those judgments whose justification is sought. More specifically, for the philosophical demand for a justification of our judgments to make sense, the philosopher must construe our way of going on with our concepts as merely our way of going on with them. Nietzsche's view of tragedy is meant to question the intelligibility of this particular as it were "pre-philosophical" move. If the insight afforded by ancient tragedy is at all relevant to the problem of Socratism - that is, if tragedy and Socratism are, as Nietzsche suggests they are, fundamentally at odds - then, I think, tragedy must be understood as an expression of the fact of the culture's "authority" for its members. As such, tragedy allows the Greeks to see through Socratic confusion about obedience. The effect of tragedy must be somehow to show the audience that good sense cannot be made of the idea that their membership in this particular culture is - in a philosophically relevant sense - merely a fact about them, as opposed to a fact about the world in which they live. For only this would silence the demand for reasons in a way that did not amount simply to ignoring it. And, once again, only if this demand is silenced do the Greeks count as a culture. 15 This seems like an unexpected conclusion. It seems to most readers of The Birth of Tragedy that tragedy had the effect of undermining the audience's confidence in its culture. But while the interpretation I propose of the effect of tragedy flies in the face of what is arguably the most tempting way to understand Nietzsche's 105

Randall Havas talk of the "metaphysical comfort" provided by the tragic destruction of the individual, I think that some such reading is strongly recommended by the peculiar opposition Nietzsche erects between tragedy and Socratism. As we will see, the most obvious way of understanding Nietzsche's idea of metaphysical comfort simply recapitulates the basic Socratic conception of culture as a fundamentally arbitrary imposition upon nature. An uncritical acceptCilnce of this first-blush reading of the idea of metaphysical comfort fails to account for the peculiar opposition Nietzsche sets up between Socratism and tragic insight. We need instead to see how they address the same human problem. For reasons that should become clear, that problem cannot be - to speak roughly - anxiety about the contingency of their culture, with tragedy saying that we should accept this fact, and Socratism urging us to seek firmer ground. 16 On Nietzsche's view, then, to value tragedy is to understand what it means to be Greek, to understand what it means to be a member of this particular culture. This is the picture of culture that underwrites his suggestion that Socrates was not in fact Greek: "Socrates belonged, in his origins, to the lowest orders: Socrates was rabble. One knows, one sees for oneself, how ugly he was. But ugliness, an objection in itself, is among Greeks almost a refutation. Was Socrates a Greek at all?" (TI "The Problem of Socrates" 3) Nietzsche, it seems to me, intimates here that only someone who was not - in the relevant sense - a member of Greek culture could either ask the Socratic question or find it intelligible when asked of him. We may begin to untangle some of these claims if we look at Nietzsche's criticism of the Socratic project in a bit more detail. As we have seen, the broader outlines of Nietzsche's description of that project are not especially startling. Socrates confronts those who claim to know what some virtue is - or who claim anyway to know that this or that is virtuous - with a demand to say what they know, to articulate the standard according to which they pick it out as virtuous. He finds, however, that no one can do so, and his interlocutors are left "benumbed": "What did [Socrates] do his life long but laugh at the awkward incapacity of noble Athenians who, like all noblemen, were men of instinct and never could give sufficient information about the reasons for their actions?,,1? More specifically, Socrates demands that his interlocutors provide definitions of their concepts, that they say in this way what they know. He is confident that only such dennitions will allow them to explain how it is that they are able to go on applying those concepts in new and unfore106

Socratism and aesthetic justification seen circumstances. And only in this way will they be able either to justify the confidence they place in their culture or to reject those categories for truer ones. For until they provide the appropriate definitions, their claim to know what they are doing is at best, Socrates insists, pretense - something inherently unstable, subject to sophistry and to the vagaries of rhetoric. To find the demand for reasons binding, therefore, is to find something puzzling or mysterious about one's behavior with one's concepts until such standards as Socrates seeks have been unearthed. In other words, until a suitable definition of the concept has been articulated, one seems to be operating, as Nietzsche has Socrates put it, "only by instinct." But Nietzsche believes that Socratic talk of instinct denigrates our practices with those concepts. He writes, "'Only by instinct': with this phrase we touch upon the heart and core of the Socratic tendency. With it Socratism condemns existing art as well as existing ethics ... Basing himself on this point, Socrates conceives it to be his duty to correct existence. ,,18 From Socrates' point of view, instincts are by nature - as is any practice "founded" upon them unintelligible, blind. Nietzsche's point in the passage at hand, however, is that the Socratic starts with this presupposition about the nature of judgment. Socrates "bases himself on this point'; it is the "heart and core of the Socratic tendency." In other words, the Socratic demand is grounded on - only makes sense in terms of - a particular conception of the nature of judgment. Nietzsche's attack on Socratism aims to call the intelligibility of this conception into question. To say that, with the phrase "only by instinct," Socrates condemns existing art and existing ethics suggests that he somehow succeeds in making activity without such standards as he seeks seem unintelligible. This is how Nietzsche thinks of Socrates' ability to benumb his interlocutors. He treats such benumbedness as a "condemnation of life" at least in part because he believes that it does not represent the result of a discovery about our life with concepts, but rather a kind of imposition upon it. This, then, is the character of the specifically Socratic condemnation of existing art and existing ethics: he makes those forms of life seem mysterious. This, I suggest, is why it makes sense to speak of the Socratic conception of instinct as a form of resistance. It is important to remember, however, that Nietzsche does not believe that Socrates' question is intelligible in itself, and that it appears to make sense only in a particular context. And this is why 107

Randall Havas he is much more skeptical about Socrates' actual ability to corrupt his interlocutors than my reconstruction here may appear to allow. Indeed, to grant Socrates this ability would be to countenance the possibility that the Socratic demand might make sense on its own terms - something Nietzsche clearly denies. For on his account, something has to happen to Greek culture if Socrates' question is to appear to be anything more than bad taste. • As a rough approximation, we might say that it was the essence of tragedy, as Nietzsche sees it, to allow the Greeks to be intelligible to themselves without supplying the sorts of definitions that Socrates seeks. 19 But this idea too is easily misunderstood. For Nietzsche is often thought to have believed that the tragic Greeks lived with an awareness of the contingency or groundlessness of their culture, and that the tragedies served to give voice to that awareness. But Nietzsche's criticism of Socratism suggests that tragedy made the Greeks intelligible to themselves by allowing them to see for what they were the needs to which the Socratic demand for reasons gives voice. And this account suggests that to be intelligible to oneself without giving reasons is a matter of overcoming the misunderstanding that drives one to seek such reasons in the first place, rather than simply a matter of learning to live without them. While Nietzsche thought of the tragic Greeks as unphilosophical, then, it is precisely his point that they were not philosophically naive in the way that someone who simply refused to consider the Socratic demand might be accused of being. We can understand Nietzsche's claim in section 8 of The Birth of Tragedy that the Greeks allowed themselves to be represented by the satyr chorus as suggesting that they were, as we might put it, identified with their culture, and that they found the demand for reasons compelling only as that identification faltered. Although a simple refusal to question would seem as arbitrary to Nietzsche as it does to Socrates, such "identification" does not. That they were identified with their culture is, however, merely another way of saying that they were obedient to its authority, that they let themselves be constrained by it. And while for Nietzsche the intelligibility of the demand for reasons turns on the failure to understand obedience, there is, as I have insisted, no satisfying positive picture of such obedience forthcoming. We learn what there is to learn about obedience only by seeing how Socratism - and morality more gerterally - resists it. Any putatively positive philosophical claims about obedience can have only this sort of content. If 108

Socratisln and aesthetic justification we try to give them more content than this, we will tend to talk about the "special connection" between the tragic audience and its culture, and about the "special internal relationship" ethical and aesthetic judgments bear to what they are about. From Nietzsche's point of view, talk of "special internal relationships" would only too understandably and indeed justifiably invite some version of the Socratic demand. As I said, tragedy does not make the audience privy to any philosophically relevant information about membership in Greek culture of which Socrates remains ignorant. Any such information would be the proper object of philosophical inquiry, and as such could not accomplish what Nietzsche suggests it is supposed to accomplish. Thus far, I have been considering in a very general way in what tragic insight must consist if it is to do the work Nietzsche appears to give it to do. Putting the point in this way leaves open the possibility that nothing could do this work, but at least we can see what it would mean for Nietzsche's claims about tragedy to be mistaken. 20 Let us now be a bit more specific about the picture of tragedy we find in his first book. 3 THE AUTHORITY OF CULTURE

Nietzsche says that "a public of spectators as we know it was unknown to the Greeks"(BT 8, my emphasis). Instead, the audiences of the tragedies "permitted themselves to be represented by" the tragic chorus, and it was from that point of view that they witnessed the actual drama unfold. We will understand the peculiar im portance Nietzsche assigns to a tragic presentation of the authority of culture only if we understand the difference he sees between being a spectator and letting oneself be represented by the chorus in this way. What, then, did the tragic audience see when it permitted itself to be represented by the chorus? That is, what does Nietzsche think the tragedies are ultimately about? In one way or another, he says, the focus of any good Greek tragedy - the content, so to speak, of the dramatic action - is the suffering of Dionysus. The "tradition," he writes, "is undisputed that Greek tragedy in its earliest form had for its sole theme the sufferings of Dionysus ... But it may be claimed with equal confidence that until Euripides, Dionysus never ceased to be the tragic hero; that ... Prometheus, Oedipus, etc ... are mere masks of this original hero" (BT 10). 109

Randall Havas Thus, the choral parts with which tragedy is interlaced are, as it were, the womb that gave birth to the whole of the so-called dialogue, that is, the entire world of the stage, the real drama ... Thus the drama is the Dionysian embodiment of Dionysian insights and effects and thereby separated, as by a tremendous chasm, from the epic . . . [N]ow we realize that the scene, complete with the action, was basically and originally thought of merely as a vision; the chorus is the only "reality" and generates the vision, speaking of it with the entire symbolism of dance, tone, and words [O]riginally tragedy was only "chorus" and not yet "drama." · (BT 8)

For Nietzsche, the Dionysian destruction of the individual is, as I have suggested, always only an expression of the status of culture as a whole - thought of, for the moment, in terms of its relationship to nature. The implication appears to be that in witnessing the destruction of the tragic hero - the rending of the god Dionysus - the tragic audience gains insight into the fragility of their culture. 21 In their properly tragic form, however, such Dionysian "effects" must convey insight into Greek culture, into what it means to be a member of this community. They must present what I called the "authority" of this culture. For this, according to Nietzsche's criticism of Socrates, is the work such "effects" must do. Allowing themselves to be represented by the chorus - in other words, not being what Nietzsche calls "spectators" - the members of the audience of such tragedies do not see their culture standing in opposition to nature. They have no sense that what they are witnessing is a portrayal of the ways in which they - the members of this particular culture - approach the world. And we should not let Nietzsche's somewhat unfortunate use of Schopenhauerian vocabulary in this context mislead us into thinking otherwise. Paradoxically, the effect of witnessing the destruction of the tragic hero is in fact to strengthen the audience's confidence in its culture, not to weaken it. Such confidence cannot be understood in terms of an opposition between culture and nature. Nietzsche reproaches Socrates and Euripides for having failed to understand and to esteem tragedy on the grounds that they misunderstood and neglected the importance of the chorus. They misconstrue the destruction of the tragic hero as a sign of the need to provide grounding for the culture in which he or she lives, to find a rational way out of the dilemma confronting him or her. As spectators, however, neither Euripides nor Socrates understand what I have calletl the audience's "identification" with its culture. That is to say, they cannot understand the chorists' view of the 110

Socratism and aesthetic justification world, and hence cannot understand what tragedy has to teach about what it means to belong to this particular culture. This last claim, however, must be handled with care. It might seem to suggest that Nietzsche thought tragedy provided the Greek audience with what we might call an "internal perspective" on its culture. Such a reading would allow us to make sense of Nietzsche's insistence that as long as tragedy functioned properly, the tragic Greeks were immune to the force of the Socratic demand for reasons. As I have argued, however, we should resist the temptation to construe Nietzsche's Greeks in this fashion, for this interpretation would not show that Socrates had indeed failed to understand tragedy. The point of tragedy, as Nietzsche sees it anyway, is to drive the audience away from the temptation to think of membership in their culture in terms of internal and external perspectives on their culture. Talk of an "internal" perspective, on the other hand, retains precisely the picture of confinement to a culture that Nietzsche must reject if he wants to maintain that the tragic Greeks were immune to the demand for reasons. Now the claim that, in allowing itself to be represented by the chorus, the audience of the tragedies of Aeschylus and Sophocles acknowledged the authority of its culture sounds, I have found, extremely odd to readers of The Birth of Tragedy. As I have tried to show, however, this is the interpretation to which we are driven by Nietzsche's criticism of Socrates. The more customary reading finds that, by presenting them with a kind of immediate, non-discursive grasp of a truth about nature, tragedy taught the Greeks something about their culture in only an indirect fashion at best. Nevertheless, we have seen that Nietzsche's attack on Socratism implies that tragedy functioned. in effect, to undermine the intelligibility of the standpoint from which Socratism issues its demand for reasons. The audiences of the tragedies understood that to belong to a culture - to be Greek - cannot properly be thought of as a matter of adopting a particular point of view on the world. Insofar as the very intelligibility of the Socratic demand rests on this particular conception of culture, clearing up this confusion was meant to rid the refusal seriously to consider that demand of its appearance of arbitrariness. According to what I shall call the "standard reading" of The Birth of Tragedy, on the other hand, by presenting them with an immediate truth about nature, identification with the chorus taught the audience the following lesson about its culture: that it was an illusion and a lie. 22 The point of this lesson, however, was to 111

Randall Havas provide the tragic Greeks with metaphysical comfort. It was in this way that, on the standard reading, tragedy could justify life by showing it to be an aesthetic phenomenon. On the standard reading, to claim as I do that the audience identifies with its culture appears to be nearly the opposite of Nietzsche's intention, because what the audience of these tragedies is supposed (on the standard reading) to come to appreciate is that that which "really is" is something,wholly natural - something, as Nietzsche says, Dionysian - and not at all something cultural - or, as he says, Apollonian. On the standard reading, in other words, culture is an illusion, and tragedy helps the audience overcome the temptation to think otherwise. What motivates this reading? In The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche argues that tragic drama showed the Greeks in what respect life was an aesthetic phenomenon. Only as an aesthetic phenomenon can life be justified. It is the sense of this last claim that we need to rescue from the standard reading. Nietzsche contends that our lives seem to stand in need of some sort of justification because although human suffering is unavoidable, there appears to be no point to it. In effect, the standard reading maintains that the audience of a tragedy took metaphysical comfort from insight into the fact that one's life as a suffering individual is at bottom a dream or an illusion. In a representative passage, Nietzsche writes just as tragedy, with its metaphysical comfort, points to the eternal life of this core of existence which abides through the perpetual destruction of appearance, [so] the symbolism of the satyr chorus proclaims this primordial relationship between the thing-in-itself and appearance. The idyllic shepherd of modern man is merely a counterfeit of the sum of cultural illusions that are allegedly nature; the Dionysian Greek wants truth and nature in their most forceful form - and sees himself changed, as by magic, into a satyr ... Such transformation is the presupposition of all dramatic art. In this magic transformation the Dionysian reveler sees himself as a satyr, and as a satyr, in turn, he sees the god, which means that in his metamorphosis he beholds another vision outside himself, as the Apollonian complement of his own state. Vvith this new vision the drama is complete. (BT pp. 62-4)

Given the quasi-Kantian vocabulary Nietzsche employs here to describe the tragic synthesis of the Dionysian and Apollonian - of the natural and the cultural - it is small wonder that the metaphysical comfort he says that that synthesis provides is most often taken to be a matter oiunderstanding that culture is simply an illusion. Silk and Stern, for example, write that "Tragedy ... presents us with 112

Socratism and aesthetic justification the destruction of individuals in a way which is exalting, because it gives us a glimpse of the underlying deeper power of life ... in which we have a share, but which is only glimpsed when individuality is transcended.,,23 Much of what Nietzsche says appears to support this sort of reading. Thus, Alexander Nehamas writes: tragedy, primarily through the musically inspired "Dionysian" chorus, can intimate the final truth that the ultimate nature of the world is to have no orderly structure: in itself the world is chaos, with no laws, no reason, and no purpose. Tragedy gives a nondiscursive glimpse of the contrast between "the real truth of nature and the lie of a culture that poses as it were the only reality," a contrast that" is similar to that between the eternal core of things, the thing-in-itself, and whole world of appearances." (BT 8) It shows that the orderly, apparently purposeful world within which we live is a creation we have placed between ourselves and the real world, which pursues its course without any regard for our view, our values, and our desires. But ... in the very process of revealing this painful truth, it offers a consolation for the negative and desperate reaction this is bound to generate. It shows that ultimately we are not different from the rest of nature, that we are part and parcel of it, and belong totally to it ... and that its blind, purposeless. consta~t ebb and flow is to be admired and celebrated. 24

On this interpretation, tragic insight is the result of grasping a truth that lies, so to speak, behind appearances. The audience sees that the whole of culture - the sense they make of the world - is nothing more than an illusion. Here, then, is the situation as we find it on the standard reading: the life of which we can make sense in terms of the concepts and categories with which our culture presents us is a source of some as yet unspecified sort of suffering. Because there seems to be no way to avoid such suffering and because it lacks any ultiInate point, life requires some other sort of justification. Tragic art is supposed to provide the requisite justification. At first blush, however, the tragedies appear simply to deny that there is any such justification, and seem thereby to confirm our worst fears: that our suffering is both senseless and unavoidable. On the standard reading, however, this is only half the story. Tragedy also reminds us that the life of which we can make sense is only an illusion, and that at bottom what we "really" are is of a piece with chaotic and unfathomable nature. Thus, the cultural world of which we can make sense is only an expression - an "artistic" expression - of the world of which we can make no sense - that is, of nature. And this insight, while acknowledging that there is no justification - properly so called - of suffering, is supposed to provide metaphysical comfort. 113

Randall Havas It is The Birth of Tragedy's employment of a Schopenhauerian vocabulary to describe the "tragic synthesis" of the Dionysian and the Apollonian that appears to provide the strongest support for this sort of interpretation. By equating the Dionysian and the Apollonian with the Schopenhauerian world will (and the Kantian thing-initself) and the realm of appearances respectively, Nietzsche suggests that tragedy showed the Greek audiences that the intelligible order of things is merely an illusion laid over the deeper reality of nature. Now because there is, as we will see presently, no obvious way to make sense of a straightforwardly Schopenhauerian description of tragedy in the context of Nietzsche's attack on Socratism, we seem left with two interpretative options: either Nietzsche used a misleading philosophical terminology to press his attack on Socratism, or there is a fundamental tension in The Birth of Tragedy between his conception of Socratism and his Schopenhauerian description of tragedy. The latter option is certainly possible, but because I find Nietzsche's relationship with Schopenhauer in general not to be at all straightforward, I prefer the former. 25 We need, in any case, to know what, from the point of view of Nietzsche's attack on Socratism, is wrong with the standard reading's account of tragedy. Nietzsche held that the tragic Greeks were able to live without Socratic justification. He believed as well that they were especially susceptible to some sort of suffering. He also believed that the Socratic demand for reasons reflected a misunderstanding and a "denial" of life. Finally, he felt that it was to their credit that the tragic Greeks were for a while able to resist the Socratic demand, and that it was in some sense to Socrates' interlocutors' discredit that they were unable to do so. But while he is fairly clear about the kind of justification without which they were able to live, Nietzsche is nowhere terribly clear about the sort of suffering to which he believed them especially prone. I want to argue that it is the main shortcoming of the standard reading that it takes the nature of that suffering for granted. 26 Nietzsche understands both tragedy and the demand for reasons to represent two different kinds of response to the same basic problem: that of "suffering." Inspired by Schopenhauer, the standard reading takes this talk of suffering quite literally: namely, to reflect the Greeks' experience of and extraordinary sensitivity to ordinary human misery. It is, however, difficult to see how the peculiarly Socratic insisten·ce on reasons can plausibly be understood as a demand for something to justify life in the face of common mis-



Socratism and aesthetic justification fortune. It is true that Socrates is portrayed both by Plato and by Nietzsche as someone who has succeeded in detaching himself from his body's perceptions, needs, and desires and who therefore bears suffering with greater equanimity than the non-philosopher can ever hope to achieve. 27 But this is not presented as the aim of the philosophical life as much as its side effect. Moreover, insofar as such detachment is indeed a goal of philosophy, it is something like a necessary feature of an unclouded view of the world, rather than an end to which philosophical inquiry might be seen as the means. As we have seen, according to Nietzsche, those who find the Socratic demand for reasons compelling do in fact suffer from something. Nowhere, however, does he portray Socrates as trying to provide a justification for the suffering caused by everyday misfortune - however great this might be. 28 Giving reasons of the sort Socrates seeks would seem to be simply irrelevant to the fact of that kind of suffering. Nevertheless, Nietzsche insists that" [t]he question of the Greek's relation to pain, his degree of sensibility, is basic: did this relation remain constant? or did it change radically?" (ASC 4). From what, then, did they suffer? Because the form of the solution to the problem of suffering that, on Nietzsche's account, Socratism represents is that one should give reasons for one's interpretation of one's concepts, it might appear that the problem confronting Nietzsche's Greeks was that they suffered from a lack of reasons. But Nietzsche denies this; it is only from Socrates' point of view that this appears to be so. Although the problem the tragic Greeks faced appears to have been that they were tempted to think of membership in their culture in a way that can appear to invite the Socratic demand, it was in fact Socrates who succeeded in redescribing this problem as one of lacking reasons. This redescription represents his special contribution; it is only on this basis that the Socratic solution or "cure" came to seem appropriate. This account suggests that the problem confronting the Greeks was one that presented itself to Socratism as a fear of what, in more contemporary terms, we might call "contingency," a fear that there might be no connection between the way they thought about things and the way things themselves really were. 29 If this idea is on the right track, then the standard reading is guilty of the same misunderstanding of tragedy of which Nietzsche accuses Socratism. The standard reading's insistence that tragedy functions by showing the audience that the world of which it can make sense is only an 115

Randall Havas illusion - a mere appearance - could serve only to reinforce the sense of the contingency of its culture. Contingency, in a word, is not the disease for which it is its own cure. It is more accurate, then, to say that the problem confronting Nietzsche's Greeks was that they were in some way tempted to describe their situation in such terms as to invite the Socratic demand. In other words, the problem to which tragedy functioned as a solution was that the tragic Greeks were tempted to conceive of membership in their culture as a matter of looking at the world in a certain way, say, of seeing it as Greeks see it. It is precisely this way of thinking that invites the Socratic question of what justifies one in looking at the world in one particular way (as opposed to some other). Once they are able to make sense of that description of what it means to belong to a culture, all appeals to the authority of their culture can express only an arbitrary refusal to entertain the Socratic question. On Nietzsche's account, tragedy functions instead by showing the audience the world simpliciter. The tragic synthesis of culture and nature, in other words, achieves the dissolution of the contrast upon which the intelligibility of Socratism depends. Ultimately, however, talk of "temptation" is mostly worthless as a diagnosis of why the Socratic demand was taken seriously. Talk of temptation here does not really help us to understand the nature of the suffering to which Nietzsche says the tragic Greeks were especially susceptible. According to his historical reconstruction, pretragic Greece was a dominantly Apollonian culture that began to lose confidence in itself when Dionysian cults began to reemerge. Nietzsche describes the problem confronting these Greeks as one of a fear of the "excess of nature." While such a fear might appear to be the expression of a worry about the groundlessness or "contingency," this cannot be the right way to describe what Nietzsche believed the Greeks suffered from just because talk of contingency accepts the Socratic account of the problem facing the Greeks. Such talk fails, in Nietzsche's terms, to treat morality as a problem. In later works, Nietzsche says that we suffer from time itself from, we might say, the fact of history. 3D We can say, for example, that the Platonist suffers from the fact of history in the sense that he believes that the world's intelligibility can be accounted for only in terms of something which lies wholly outside the everyday temporal order of the world. 31 As Nietzsche sees it, however, this sort of Platonism does dot represent a real danger to us in the present age. In modern times, our suffering from history drives us instead to 116

Socratism and aesthetic justification entertain what Nietzsche considers to be the "pious" and ascetic fantasy that the will to truth represents a decisive break with the past, and prevents us, therefore, from questioning the value of truth, from seeing in what way our commitment to it is itself something that "becomes. ',32 These, however, are topics explored in Nietzsche's later works; he is largely mute about the subject of history in The Birth of Tragedy. 33 In any event, it should by now be clear in what the Socratic misunderstanding of tragedy consists. For Socrates, either tragedy is in the business of providing grounding for culture and fails to do so, or its point is radically to underscore the absence of all such grounds. Socrates' misunderstanding is therefore not so much about how tragedy does what it does as it is about what it is supposed to do in the first place. Socrates, in short, understands tragedy as competing with his own form of rationalism. Just this is what Nietzsche means to deny. We can put these points in the following terms: Socrates understands membership in a culture to be a matter of applying that culture's standards to the world. In other words, he takes membership to be a matter of interpreting the concepts of that culture as one's fellows do. The intelligibility of the spectator's stance depends upon our being able to find a sense for this usage of the idea of interpretation. Nietzsche believes, however, that, precisely by denying the intelligibility of talk of interpretation in this context, tragedy had the effect of showing that this picture of membershi p is unintelligible. From the tragic point of view, when I call something "courageous," it makes no philosophical sense to say that I am "interpreting" the concept in a particular way. Or rather, whatever sense it does make does not serve to motivate the Socratic question "But why this way rather than that?,,34 From the tragic point of view, I no longer see my culture as standing over against nature; I am simply obedient to its authority - where that means nothing more or less than that, for example, I let this or that count as courageous for me. lt is illuminating to compare what Nietzsche says about Socratisnl with his complaint about the other great "spectator" of Greek culture: Euripides. Nietzsche accuses Euripides of trying to prove by means of reasons what he - Euripides - mistakenly believed his public had so far accepted on faith. I

[Euripides] put the prologue even before the exposition, and placed it in the


Randall Havas mouth of a person who could be trusted: often some deity had to guarantee the plot of the tragedy to the public, to remove every doubt as to the reality of the myth - somewhat as Descartes could prove the reality of the empirical world only by appealing to the truthfulness of God and his inability to utter falsehood. (BT 12)

Because Euripides fails to esteem tragedy, he tries, in effect, to • explain what it means to be Greek to an audience that sees no force in such explanations. He does not understand that explanations always come too late, and insists that the authority of Greek culture can be, so to speak, demonstrated. To sum up, the intelligibility of Socratism depends upon the ability to imagine that the authority of culture is somehow not enough to justify the judgments one makes. The fact that this is what one calls "courageous," for example, is not enough to justify the claim that this really is courageous. It depends, in other words, upon being able to make sense of the claim that the actual practices of judgment - the very claims one is inclined to make - are not enough to show that this way of applying these concepts is any better off - any less arbitrary - than any other. What we do is, in short, simply not good enough for Socrates. Unless we have something better as grounds for going on with our concepts as we do than the mere fact that we do go in these very ways, our application of those concepts seems to Socrates simply arbitrary, or, as the standard reading would have it, contingent. That we have no real choice but to apply these concepts in the ways we do is, on Socrates' view, merely a fact about us, and reflects nothing about the way the world IS anyway. Nietzsche thinks of this Socratic fantasy, broadly, as wanting to think that we are better than we are. In philosophy, we have managed somehow to turn on ourselves by denouncing what we do as worthless. We have succeeded in doing so, however, only because instinct has been construed as the application of concepts. Nietzsche's point in talking here about instinct is to deny the sense of the philosophical "merely about us." His point about tragedy's response to Socratism is not to show that what philosophy considers to be merely a fact about us is anything more than that, but rather that the philosopher has failed to draw a real contrast here. Ultimately, he will claim that the philosopher's desire for something more than our human, all too human practices is a desire for something less than what we've already got. 118

Socratisrn and aesthetic justification 4 NIETZSCHE'S AESTHETICISM

What do these considerations suggest about Nietzsche's aestheticism? I have argued that the opposition The Birth of Tragedy appears to erect between Socratism and tragedy - Nietzsche's version there of the Platonic opposition of philosophy and poetry must be handled with care, lest we mistakenly conclude that Nietzsche supposes the latter to be capable of something he denies to the former. In particular, there is no sense in which Nietzsche means to encourage his readers to live - supposedly like the tragic Greeks with a sense of the contingency of their interpretation of the world. There is, in Nietzsche's view, no conceptual room for the idea of contingency to get a real foothold in our philosophical imagination, because there is no sense to be attached to this notion of interpretation. It is precisely Socrates' error to suppose, on the contrary, that there is. Thus, whatever we make of Nietzsche's apparent endorsement of poetry against philosophy, that endorsement is not underwritten by a view of artistic endeavor that construes it as interpretation. It is not just that, on his view, the interpreter and the interpreted are identical. Rather, there is, at this level, no such activity at all. Nietzsche insisted that he was the first person to have treated morality as a problem. 35 He might have come to consider himself the only one ever to do so. Much of the subsequent critical effort to come to terms with his attack on morality has taken his goal to be to show that our moral values answer to nothing in the world itself, but reflect instead only our own "human, all too human" psychology. To treat morality as a problem, however, is to see that - and how that psychology is shot through with what Nietzsche considers to be specifically moral prejudices. What, then, does Nietzsche's early account of tragedy suggest about his conception of psychology? How does he think of the needs to which philosophy gives - an albeit distorted - expression? For it is to these needs that aestheticism must answer. To begin, our obedience to what I called "the authority of culture" is not guaranteed by anything other than our willingness to go on. For Nietzsche, as I have claimed, it is indeed a fact about us that we go on in the ways we do with our concepts - employing them, rejecting them, revising them, resurrecting them, and so on. We may think of this fact as the fact of our obedience in part precisely because it can fail. The fact that it can fail in ways that seem to support the intelligibility 119

Randall Havas of the Socratic demand for reasons is, I suggest, what was most deeply puzzling to Nietzsche. We may say, then, that a psychological investigation as he conceives it is an inquiry into the possibility of such failure. Such an inquiry is what he carries out under the title of a genealogy of morals. It is, for Nietzsche, a very basic fact about human beings that they struggle to make sense. He believes that there is room to tal,k about struggle here, because we tend to resist making sense. The struggle to make sense is a struggle to overcome this kind of resistance. Tragedy may be seen to function - in the ways I have suggested here - as the expression of such overcoming. But the sense in which such claims may be said to be psychological is complicated. On the one hand, the notion of obedience, as I have used it here, is psychological in the sense that going on in these ways with our concepts is only a fact about us, not underwritten by anything more basic than our life with them. In this sense, we go on in these ways "only by instinct." On the other hand, however, because Nietzsche feels entitled to reject the philosophical opposition between reason and instinct, he does not think we are entitled to treat our instincts as, in any philosophically troubling sense, only facts about us. Our instincts are crucial to the sense we make of the world, but there is, Nietzsche insists, no conceptual room to treat the sense we make as of anything less than the world. But for this same reason, I think, there is similarly no conceptual room to treat sense as anything other than something that, in a colloquial but trivial sense, we make. In particular, there is no room to treat it as something we create. Nietzsche does say that life is - or, more precisely, that "existence and the world" are - only justified only as an aesthetic phenomenon. As we have seen, Nietzsche clearly cannot mean by "aesthetic justification" something that somehow competes with the Socratic justification that he denies is forthcoming. For he would have us acknowledge that our lives simply do not stand in need of justification in the Socratic sense of the word. Indeed, seeing that they do not stand in need of that kind of justification seems to be all the "justification" they could conceivably need. The question, then, is what, if anything, art has to do with any of this. In what way is making sense - being humanly intelligible - an aesthetic matter? We will get nowhere with Nietzsche's talk of aesthetic justification • if we think of art in terms of the imposition of "form" upon "content." This is yet another philosophical dichotomy he asks us to 120

Socratism and aesthetic justification give up. Nietzsche believes that whatever we might be inclined to call "content" of anything that we could count as a work of art is only a function of that work's "form." We need, therefore, to know how Nietzsche would understand aestheticist talk of "form." My suggestion is that in this context "form" must be whatever Nietzsche considers what I have here called "culture" to be, and this suggests why Nietzsche rejects the usual opposition of form and content. 36 As our reading of The Birth of Tragedy should lead us to expect, culture cannot be something that we somehow impose upon something else. Culture is rather something to which we are called upon to be responsive - resistance to which we are called upon to overcome. That there is, in fact, something to be done here is what the idea of artistic activity comes to in this context. Nietzsche calls on us to transform our lives, and, in this sense, to make something of ourselves. As I suggested at the outset, the intuitive picture behind aestheticist readings of Nietzsche is roughly that we are somehow to realize that our natures are not discovered but rather invented. The problem such readings tend to confront, however, is that of specifying the identity of the inventor: he must, it seems, invent himself.37 I think we need to be able to make sense of this idea of selfcreation in substantially different terms. And I submit that what Nietzsche has in mind when he talks, for example, of giving one's life "style" is that one should overcome resistance to recognizing the life one actually has. What has to be "invented" here, therefore, is a kind of self-recognition. In other words, becoming what we are is a matter of properly understanding what we have become. The Birth of Tragedy's attack on Socratism tends to support this idea. For a certain sort of individual - for a "man of knowledge" reading the Genealogy can be, on this view, an artistic exercise in self-recognition. This is one way in which it might make sense to speak of human intelligibility - in this case, of making sense of oneself as a man of knowledge - as an artistic matter. This interpretation suggests that "inventing oneself' is not so much a matter of doing something to what one is, but rather of ceasing to do anything to what one has become. Nietzsche's criticism of Socratism suggests that, as I have said, he depicts human life as a struggle to make sense, which - perhaps surprisingly - means for him a struggle against our unwillingness to let ourselves be intelligible. That aspect of our morality to which he most objects gives voice to this unwillingness. This happens in a 121

Randall Havas variety of ways, only one of which we have been considering here: Socratism. This reading suggests that the telnpting dichotomy between the negative and positive aspects of Nietzsche's work is merely apparent. For the distinction he draws between ascending and descending forms of life marks the difference between success and failure at making sense. While this last distinction cannot, of course, be understood on the model of two different ways of making sense, Nietzsche's criticism of the Socratic demand for reasons does not appear to leave room for an ostensibly positive philosophical account of human intelligibility.38

Notes 1 In The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche tries to resist the philosophical wedge

Socrates wants to drive between culture and nature; he wants to recover the sense in which what the Socratic spectator of life insists is merely cultural can in fact only be something natural to us. Culture, he says, is the perfection of nature, the refinement - not the replacement - of instinct. 2 To say that Socratism demands that we give sense to our lives in terms of something independent of our lives is to say that, according to Socrates, we must make sense of our practices of judgment in terms of something independent of those practices. Thus, a Socratic definition must express what we know about the virtue in question, not merely what we opine to be the case about it. It is the philosophical construal of this notion of independence (of our practices of judgment) whose intelligibility Nietzsche wants to question. He maintains in particular that that construal appears to make sense only in a very specific context, and that it is not intelligible independent of that context. 3 That speaking of a way of life that denies life has a semi-paradoxical air is part of Nietzsche's point about the ascetic ideal generally. See GM III 13. 4 There is, however, another - specifically non-philosophical - sense in

which Nietzsche does think it makes sense to think of ourselves as responsible for what we say. In the second essay of the Genealogy, Nietzsche explains this notion of responsibility in terms of what he calls "having the right to make promises." 5 See, for example, section 6 of "'Reason' in Philosophy," in Twilight of the Idols. 6 Thus, in both cases, to think of our practices (say, of moral judgment) in "moral" terms means that we see them as standing in need of a justification in terms of something importantly independent of them, and that we think of that justification as being something that everyone can be expected to provide.


Socratism and aesthetic justification 7 See GM III 13: "But let us return to our problem. It will be immediately





obvious that such a self-contradiction as the ascetic appears to represent, 'life against life,' physiologically considered and not merely psychologically, a simple absurdity. It can only be apparent." I will not comOlent further in the body of this chapter on this important feature of Nietzsche's treatment of Socrates except to say here that, from the point of view of the former's conception of the role of the philosopher as the bad conscience of his time, Socrates functions as a prototype of the "individual," and thus as someone with whom Nietzsche at times rather strongly identified himself. On this view, it is Socrates' role to point out that the practices of his culture have become incoherent: "He saw behind his aristocratic Athenians; he grasped that his case, the idiosyncrasy of his case, was already no longer exceptional. The same kind of degeneration as everywhere silently preparing itself: the old Athens was coming to an end. - And Socrates understood that all the world had need of him - his expedient, his cure, his personal art of self-preservation" (TI, "The Problem of Socrates" 9). As I said, Nietzsche does not believe that the Socratic question is intelligible in itself. Something has to happen - the context in which it is made must change in some way - for the philosophical demand for reasons to appear to make sense. Nietzsche's conception of philosophy has at least this much in common with Wittgenstein's. Thus, Nietzsche writes, "Before Socrates, the dialectical manner was repudiated in good society: it was regarded as a form of bad manners, one was compromised by it" (ibid., 5). My aim in this chapter is to come to terms with what Nietzsche says about tragedy by way of trying to understand what has to happen to Greek culture to make the Socratic demand for reasons appear intelligible. It remains true, however, that once they give in to that temptation, tragedy is powerless to help them. As far as I can tell, Nietzsche has no proper historical account of why they eventually succumbed to the temptation to think of themselves in Socratic terms. As we will see, he says that their relation to pain changed radically, but he does not say why it did. My employment of the notion of "linguistic community" will mislead if it is understood to imply that Nietzsche sought a philosophical account of what speaking consists in. The insight into life that the ancient tragedies afforded Greek audiences did not consist in an explanation of the relationship of community and individual. Indeed, on the view I am trying to articulate here, Nietzsche condemns Socratism precisely for trying to offer such an account. Nevertheless, as the Genealogy makes clear, Nietzsche considers the capacity to make sense to be our true problem. Moreover, he considers that capacity to be the capacity for speech. Especially, in the second essay of the Genealogy where, as I have noted, he claims that having the right to make promises is the true problem facing man.


Randall Havas 12 This idea of intimacy with the world designates a central theme in


14 15


Nietzsche's writing that has been much explored in a variety of contexts in the work of Stanley Cavell, but I am indebted to Edward Minar for this particular use of the term. Thus, Nietzsche writes, "Every morality is, as opposed to laisser aller, a bit of tyranny against 'nature'; also against 'reason'; but this in itself is no objection, as long as we do not have some other morality which permits us to decree that every kind of tyranny and unreason is impermissible" BGE 188. See TI "The Problem of Socrates." Again, this appears to be a surprising point only if we fail to recall that Nietzsche believes that Socratism makes sense only to people who need - as the post-tragic Greeks needed - it. That is to say, only once tragic culture has collapsed can the Greeks make any sense of Socrates' question, and at that point, Nietzsche says, "one had only one choice: either to perish or - be absurdly rational" Friedrich Nietzsche, TI, "The Problem of Socrates," 10. The phrase "contingency of culture" is due to Richard Rorty. See his Contingency, Irony, Solidarity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,

1989). 17 BGE 191. Note that in this passage Nietzsche brackets the issue of the

decay of Greek culture: from the point of view of a healthy or "ascending" Greek culture, the inability to give sufficient information about the reasons for one's actions is a sign of nobility. From the point of view of a "declining" culture, however, that inability is more or less what Socrates said it was: a sign of his interlocutor's unwillingness to take responsibility for what they said. Of course, from Nietzsche's point of view, Socrates seriously misinterprets that unwillingness because he fails to understand what "responsibility" means here. 18 BT 13, my emphasis. "Existing art" because Aeschylus and - perhaps to a lesser extent - Sophocles had created tragic drama "by instinct" and without the use of "reason." "Existing ethics" because the practices of moral judgment Socrates wants to call into question had hitherto operated "on the basis of instinct," and in the absence of Socratic definitions. 19 As I have claimed, once they become unintelligible to themselves, Nietzsche considers the Socratic response to have been the only effective one. Thus, he writes, "Rationality was at that time divined as a saviour; neither Socrates not his 'invalids' were free to be rational or not, as they \vished ... The fanaticism with which the whole of Greek thought throws itself at rationality betrays a state of emergency: one was in peril, one had only one choice: either to perish or - be absurdly rational" (TI "The Problem of Socrates,"). Tragedy is, on this account, an expression of the Greeks' intelligibility to themselves. Nietzsche describes the need for tragedy as "neurosis of health." The effect of tragedy, however, must be either to defend the Greeks against the misunderstanding that



Socratisnl and aesthetic justification




23 24 25


Nietzsche believes underwrites the Socratic demand for reasons or at least to celebrate their immunity to it. Nietzsche, it seems to me, does not have an argument against the Socratic distinction between instinct and reason. He does, however, mean to make very explicit in what the Socratic presupposition behind this distinction consists, and to ask us whether we can in fact make good sense of it. To put the point in the sort of Schopenhauerian terms that (for reasons that will become apparent) I have been studiously avoiding, by witnessing the destruction of the tragic hero, the audience comes to appreciate the fragility of the so-called principle of individuation. They come to appreciate, in other words, that the apparent order of things does not reach below the surface of reality. The question I have been trying to ask, however, is in what way such "insight" might be relevant to the Socratic demand for reasons. My use of the term "fragility" in this context is due to Martha Nussbaum, but see Bernard Williams, "Philosophy," in M. I. Findley, ed., The Legacy of Greece (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), p. 253. By seeing clearly what is wrong with a reading Nietzsche's text so clearly seems to invite, we will be forced squarely to confront the uncritical assumption that Nietzsche meant to offer a positive alternative to what he rejects as morality. M. S. Silk and J. P. Stern, Nietzsche on Tragedy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), p. 267. Alexander Nehamas, Nietzsche: Life as Literature (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985), pp. 42-3. Many recent commentators have found that relationship to be remarkably straightforward - as though early on Nietzsche had simply adopted a few fundamental Schopenhauerian theses, and then struggled unsuccessfully later in life to distance himself from his first philosophical teacher. There is not room in this chapter to address this complicated issue of Nietzsche's relationship to Schopenhauer. It seems to me that that relationship must be assessed in the light of Schopenhauer as Educator. But that is not an uncontentious point either. For the reader who finds Nietzsche to have straightforwardly adopted Schopenhauerian views in The Birth of Tragedy, I think the first interpretative option is the appropriate one. In either case, however, my point remains the saIne: properly understood, Nietzsche's attack on Socratism does not leave room for a Schopenhauerian alternative. See, for example, Ivan Soll, "Pessimism and the Tragic View of Life: Reconsiderations of Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy," in Robert C. Solomon and Kathleen M. Higgins, eds., Reading Nietzsche (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), pp. 104-31. Soll understands the "terror and horror of existence" that Nietzsche claims the Greeks felt to be a recognition of the unavoidablity and irredeemable character of human misery. On Soll's reading, Nietzsche unreflectively took over this conception of


Randall Havas

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life from Schopenhauer, "found" it again in the tragic Greeks, and indeed maintained it in one form or another throughout his career. "The Greeks," SolI writes, "despite their acceptance of the same view of life, had affirmed the value of life and advocated living as intensely as possible" (ibid., p. 113). I have argued, however, that there is no compelling reason to attribute such a view to Nietzsche, even in The Birth of Tragedy. Silenus' message that "[w]hat is best of all is utterly beyond your reach, not to be born, not to be, to be nothing. [b]ut second best for youtis to die soon," is indeed presented by Nietzsche as a piece of folk wisdom. but hardly, as SolI would have us believe, "in any event, as true" (ibid., p. 108). The Birth of Tragedy is an attempt - as Nietzsche thought tragedy was an attempt - to understand this piece of "wisdom," to interpret it. My suggestion is that we can best understand Nietzsche's interpretation of such wisdom - and understand what is true about it - by seeing ho\v tragic insight could silence the Socratic demand for reasons. See, for example, Alcibiades' descriptions of Socrates at the end of the Symposium. It is true that Nietzsche speaks of Socrates wanting to use reason to "correct" existence. But this is, to put the point in other terms, a matter of finding some suitably stable "ground" behind the "flux of becoming," not a matter of figuring out some way to relieve human misery. In The Fragility of Goodness (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), Martha Nussbaum tries to flesh out the view that Platonic thought is motivated by an attempt to secure the individual's happiness against the vicissitudes of fate by, so to speak, guaranteeing the connection of virtue and happiness. On this view, the initiating Socratic move linking reason and virtue is driven precisely by an attempt to come to terms with the fact of ordinary human suffering. The Birth of Tragedy, however, construes the Socratic wish to correct existence by means of reason as an attempt to provide rational foundations where they are felt to be lacking. My claim is that such foundations as Nietzsche believes the Socratically inclined individual seeks are simply irrelevant to the problem of ordinary human unhappiness. On Nietzsche's view, Socratic unhappiness is suffering of a different sort altogether. It does not seem to me at all to do violence to Nietzsche here to express these worries in such Rortyian tones. See especially Z I "Of Redemption," but also TI, "'Reason' in Philosophy" 1. The claim that we suffer from time is as central to Nietzsche's thinking as a whole as is the doctrine of eternal recurrence. Fronl Nietzsche's point of view, the Platonist is motivated by a desire to speak without consequences - to speak without having to rely upon our "human, all-too-human" willingness to go on in these ways with our words, and so seeks independent grounds of the possibility of human discourse in the eternal and unchanging Forms. In making this c!laim I am presupposing a controversial interpretation of the end of the Genealogy as well as of section 344 of The Gay Science. I


Socratism and aesthetic justification

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defend that interpretation in Nietzsche's Genealogy: Nihilism and the Will to Knowledge (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995). The basic idea is that "self-consciousness" about our modern commitment to truthfulness (the 'will to truth') consists in recognizing the historical connection of that commitment to those beliefs it renders unbelievable. Our "ill-will" against time leads us mistakenly to think that acknowledging such a historical connection to the past somehow encourages us to recognize its contingency. Even though, of course, the story he tells of the rise and fall (and rise) of tragedy is itself a historical story. See in this connection Edward H. Minar, "Paradox and Privacy: On §§201-202 of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations," in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 54, 1 (1994), pp. 43-75. I am suggesting that Nietzsche's tragic Greeks can make only what we might call "practical" sense of the Socratic question, answering it in effect: "Because this is the right way to 'interpret' it." They can make no sense of the philosophical question of why this is the right way to do so. Nietzsche's conception of tragedy supposes this to show that the notion of interpretation idles here. See for example, section 345 of The Gay Science, "Morality as a Problem." See, in a different context, UDH 4. Nietzsche there suggests that the separation of form and content is the cause of the modern sense of one's subjectivity. I take "subjectivity" in this sense to be a kind of skepticism, a feeling of being cut off from the world itself. It is of skepticism of this sort that he accuses German pseudo-culture. By contrast, what is required for objective culture - and, hence, for overcoming skepticism is "unity of artistic style in all the expressions of the life of a people" (ibid., p. 79). Nehamas' Nietzsche: Life as Literature provides the best articulation of this sort of reading, and an interesting solution to the problem in question. While I have meant here to set up the problem of Nietzsche's aestheticism in particular, the main argument of this essay is explored In a different context and in greater detail in my Nietzsche's Genealogy.


II What is the Illeaning of aesthetic ideals? AARON RIDLEY

On the Genealogy of Morals is not one of Nietzsche's more art- or artist-laden books, but the role that art and artists play in it is fascinating nonetheless for that. Indeed, as I hope to demonstrate, the relatively low profile that such matters are accorded in the book is, like the dog that didn't bark, more revealing about it than a whole pack of references might have been. Julian Young, in his stimulating reconstruction of Nietzsche's philosophy of art, barely mentions the Genealogy: insofar as it figures at all, it is lumped together with The Gay Science and Beyond Good and Evil as symptomatic of the comparative lack of seriousness with which Nietzsche regarded art during his middle period. 1 In one way that is quite right: we do not hear much from Nietzsche at this time about those redemptive and existence-justifying powers which he had attributed to art at the beginning of his career. But even if art is no longer called upon to do the rather explicit job it did before, it nonetheless - and in a manner signaled by Nietzsche's odd and somewhat cursory remarks about it in the Genealogy - still occupies a place at the very center of his thought. As I will try to show, Nietzsche's apparent marginalization of art in this work is itself, in the deepest way, an affirmation of the aesthetic. 2


The one remotely sustained discussion of art in the Genealogy comes in two brief episodes at the beginning of essay III. In the first of these Nietzsche decides that artists have little to teach us about the meaning of ascetic ideals (i.e., of those ideals, foisted by the priest upon the sick at heart, which deny this world in favor of some other, non-existent "beyond"). The passage has an air of digression 128

What is the meaning of aesthetic ideals? about it from the start, as Nietzsche, with an almost touching disingenuousness, mentions "a case I have often been asked about" to introduce what looks for all the world like an opportunistic excursus into Wagneriana (GM III 2). One thinks at once: here is son1ething I pick away at all the time - and here I go again. And that, indeed, is how the passage mostly comes across. But let us look more closely. "What, then, is the meaning of ascetic ideals? In the case of an artist, as we see, nothing whatever! ... Or so many things it amounts to nothing whatever!" The reason for this is that artists do not stand nearly independently enough in the world and against the world for their changing valuations to deserve attention in themselves! They have at all times been valets of some morality. philosophy or religion ... They always need at the very least protection. a prop. an established authority: artists never stand apart; standing alone is contrary to their deepest instincts. (GM III 5)

And so, Nietzsche concludes, if one wants to learn the meaning of ascetic ideals one should bypass artists and go straight to the sources of those moralities, philosophies and religions from which they derive their support. But why does he believe that "standing alone is contrary to" an artist's "deepest instincts" - that an artist never stands sufficiently" against the world" to be taken seriously? On the face of it, Nietzsche appears to arrive at this conclusion by generalizing from a single case. Wagner, he says, went over to Schopenhauer "when the latter's 'time had come' ," and so "became an oracle, a priest, indeed more than a priest, a kind of mouthpiece of the 'in itself of things, a telephone from the beyond ... no wonder one day he finally uttered ascetic ideals" (GM III 5). Which is all very well: but it hardly, by itself, gives a reason to suppose that the same must be true of every artist. We do better, perhaps, to turn back a page or two and look at what Nietzsche calls "the typical velleity of the artist." This is the wish to negate the very condition of artist-hood, the fact that the true artist "is to all eternity separated from the 'real', the actual" (GM III 4). Insofar as he is genuine, an artist deifies the real world by falsifying it (GM III 25). The temptation that Nietzsche labels a velleity is the artist's desire to be "what he is able to represent, conceive, and express," to become a person whose "innermost existence" is not characterized by "eternal 'unreality' and falsity": he wants "to lay hold of actuality, for once actually to be" (GM III 4). So the typical 129

Aaron Ridley velleity of the artist is the fantasy of being an actor in, rather than a beautifier of, the real world. It is important to understand the force of this claim. Nietzsche's insistence that the "innermost existence" of the true artist is unreal and false is easily misread as a criticism of it. But it is not one: for it is precisely under these conditions that the artist's" will to deception" is said to have "a good conscience" (GM III 25) - ~at is, to have the good, creative version of that "bad" conscience which is the inevitable result of. the repression engendered by enclosure "within the walls of society and of peace" (GM II 16). 3 This indicates that the alternative attitude - the velleist's - is an expression of the bad version of the "bad" conscience, of a response to the exigencies of internalization that is full, not of joy and creativity, but of ressentiment. The typical velleity of the artist, then, is the wish to repudiate (to take revenge against) an inner existence whose nature is unbearable and from which the resources needed for self-affirmation appear lacking; and the wish "to lay hold of actuality" is the wish, characteristic of the resentful, "to direct one's view outward instead of back to oneself' (GM I 10). The artist-as-velleist, in other words, exhibits the worst symptoms of oppression, of slavishness; and it is in consequence of this that Nietzsche sees an intimate connection between velleity and the uttering of ascetic ideals. "Velleity," then, which is the name for ressentiment as it afflicts artists, constitutes the principal link between the discussion of art and the concerns of the Genealogy as a whole. Since the true artist is separated from the real "to all eternity," the surrender to velleity constitutes the surrender of artistry. To resist that surrender is, as one would expect, to exhibit those exceptional qualities that the slave finds altogether beyond him. The true artist arrives at the "pinnacle" of greatness, says Nietzsche, "when he comes to see himself and his art beneath him - when he knows how to laugh at himself' (GM III 3) - when, in other words, he finds it possible to revel in the unreality and falsity of his innermost existence. This is a laugh not of self-rejection but of self-acceptance: it is the laugh of a good conscience from which the specter of ressentiment is, even if only for the moment, absent. But the temptation to foreswear this "ultimate artist's freedom and artist's transcendence" (GM III 3) is enormous: the sheer difficulty of affirming oneself precisely as unreal can exhaust one, so that one becomes "weary·' with the conditions of artistry "to the point of desperation" (GM III 4). Thus it is that "nothing is more easily 130

What is the meaning of aesthetic ideals? corrupted than an artist" (GM III 25). And when one thinks of the tendency among contemporary artists and performers to give unsparingly of their views about politics, homelessness, the third world and so on, one appreciates how real is the temptation to which Nietzsche refers. The effect of giving in to temptation, of being "corrupted" by one's own "deepest instincts" - that is, of having one's good conscience wrecked by ressen tim en t - is both to cease being an artist and to turn oneself into a "valet" of something othor than one's art: of a morality, philosophy or religion. Understood in this way, Nietzsche's apparent generalization from the single case of Wagner begins to look less arbitrary. If it is plausible to portray the inner life of an artist qua artist as saturated with unreality and falsity, then it is plausible too to suppose that the artist qua man might weary of this condition and wish to "lay hold of actuality" for once, to seek the "established authority" of what would nowadays probably be called "relevance." It is this wish that Nietzsche sees Wagner succumbing to when he imagines him saying to his "disciples": "it is no good! seek salvation elsewhere!" (GM III 3) - mere art is not enough, we cannot affirm ourselves here. This is plausible, certainly, and psychologically acute: but it's still not the kind of thing one would want to write QED under. For there must be at least the possibility of resisting velleity, of being an artist whose innermost falsity is a source of joy and affirmation rather than ressentiment - otherwise there would be little point in talking of corruption or of the pinnacles of greatness to which artists can aspire. But Nietzsche is inclined to suppress this fact. Indeed, he goes on to speak as if velleity were not merely typical of artists - in the sense of being often met with, predictable - but actually essential to them. Hence his claim that "one does best to separate an artist from his work, not taking him as seriously as his work": "He is, after all, only the precondition of his work, the womb, the soil, sometimes the dung and manure on which, out of which, it grows - and therefore in most cases something one must forget if one is to enjoy the work itself" (GM III 4). This move serves to enmesh the artist still more deeply in the web of valuations that Nietzsche associates with slavishness. For now it seems that, in virtue of his (proneness to) velleity, the artist is best to be understood as seeing himself as a doer distinct from his deeds as, in other words, an instance of that fictitious "subject" presupposed by the morality of ressentiment (GM I 13). But of course this 131

Aaron Ridley conclusion follows only if there are good reasons to suppose that artists must, inevitably, be velleists - and Nietzsche has not given us reasons to think that. The picture we are offered, then, is this: the artist qua velleist is a distraction from what he produces qua artist, a distraction to which the velleist in the artist is himself only too prone. Thus, insofar as he is an artist he has nothing to teach us about anything, including ascetic ideals,· for he is "to all eternity separated from the 'real', the actual" - a circumstance from which Nietzsche later concludes that "art, in which precisely the lie is sanctified," is really "fundamentally opposed to the ascetic ideal" (GM III 25). And insofar as the artist is a velleist - while he may have all sorts of things to teach us, including things about the ascetic ideal - he teaches us not as an artist but out of ressentiment, as, for instance, a moralist, a philosopher or a priest. It is in this sense that the meaning of ascetic ideals to the artist is either" nothing whatever" (artist qua artist) or else "so many things it amounts to nothing whatever" (artist qua velleist). There are, then, two points at issue in this discussion. One concerns an artist's relation to himself: does he have a good or a bad conscience about his own innermost falsity? The other concerns actual works of art, and, as such, constitutes the only reference to them in the whole book. Here the position seems to be that works of art are either meaningless or false, and that they are best approached without reference to the people who produce them. So Nietzsche has arrived at a kind of anti-intentionalist formalism - a philosophy of art that is all Apollo and no Dionysus. It is still possible, from this point of view, to speak of the "greatness" of works of art and to go through the motions of taking them seriously. But the greatness comes to nothing more than a form of honest inconsequentiality; and to take them seriously is, at best (that is, if the artist has a good conscience), to take seriously only the sanctification of lies. Artworks - and this appears to be the official doctrine of the Genealogy - are entirely trivial.


At the opposite pole, it seems, stands the priest, who is said to be "the actual representative of seriousness" (GM III 11) - a person from whom one can learn much about ascetic ideals, and whose valuations deserve"' and gain Nietzsche's undivided attention. Where the artist is cheerful (he looks down and laughs at the idea that his 132

What is the meaning of aesthetic ideals? work might be redemptive, that it might offer solutions to life's suffering), the priest's "seriousness" consists in the fact that he fully intends, through his inventions, "to become master not over something in life" (wh~ch would be serious enough) "but over life itself, over its most profound, powerful, and basic conditions" - which is to say, over suffering tout court (GM III 11). If the artist (as one must suppose) falsifies or beautifies suffering, but leaves the basic senselessness of it untouched, the priest gives it a meaning and so makes it bearable - even desirable. "Dominion over the suffering is his kingdom," says Nietzsche (GMIlI 15). This serves to highlight the distance by which the seriousness of the priest and the triviality of the artist are supposed to be separated. But no sooner has it been established than the distance collapses: for in the kingdom to which his "instinct directs him," the priest is said to possess not only "his mastery, his kind of happiness" but also "his distinctive art" (GM III 15). There is, then, an art of seriousness - a non-trivial art that Nietzsche keeps remarkably quiet about when discussing actual artists, but to which he alludes repeatedly when Wagner et al. are safely out of earshot. What is the priest's distinctive art? It is to combat "dull, paralyzing, protracted pain" by means of "an orgy of feeling" (GM III 19): The chief trick the ascetic priest permitted himself for making the human soul resound with heart-rending, ecstatic music of all kinds was, as everyone knows, the exploitation of the sense of guilt . .. It was only in the hands of the priest, that artist in guilt feelings, that it achieved form - oh, what a form! "Sin" - for this is the priestly name for [it ... and] we possess in it the most dangerous and fateful artifice of religious interpretation. (GM III 20)

A number of things stand out about this passage, apart from its high temperature. First, the priest is allowed to be the valet of an ideal without forfeiting his claim to be an artist (if anything, the reverse). The second is the unmistakably Dionysian register of the writing: we have not heard much about human souls resounding with heartrending, ecstatic music since Nietzsche's admiration for Schopenhauer was at its height in The Birth of Tragedy. It is hard to know exactly what to make of this. There are two other passages in the Genealogy in which Nietzsche invokes a Schopenhauerian conception of music, the first of which is clearly mocking, the second almost certainly so. In the first, Wagner transforms himself into a "telephone from the beyond" by accepting Schopenhauer's view that music speaks "the language of the will itself, directly out of the 'abyss' as its most authentic, elemental, non derivative revelation" 133

Aaron Ridley (GM III 5). The other comes later, when Nietzsche declares himself unimpressed by the pretensions of those who would see in science a vanquishing of the ascetic ideal rather than the latest expression of it: "these trumpeters of reality are bad musicians," he says: "their voices obviously do not come from the depths, the abyss of the scientific conscience does not speak through them" (GM III 23). So it is tempting to regard the present passage as a put-down top - this time of the ascetic priest. And perhaps this temptation should increase when one notes that, like the artist proper, the priest is engaged in the promulgation of a lie (although with what quality of conscience it is difficult to say): the whole telos of his heartrending music is to persuade sufferers that they themselves are responsible for their own suffering - which, as Nietzsche puts it, is "brazen and false enough" (GM III 15). So it may be that Nietzsche is either poking fun at the priest for his selection of such trivial means to such undoubtedl y serious ends, albeit rather admiringly, or else is laughing along with him (on the same grounds) at the expense of those who buy the ascetic lie. Perhaps, then, the Dionysian register of the writing is intended purely as satire - but one does wonder. Nietzsche's attitude toward the priest veers in the most alarming way throughout the Genealogy, and it is extraordinarily difficult to be sure at any point whether he is really jeering at or cheering this alter ego of his, who is also his chief opponent: 4 the present passage - in which cheering and jeering go hand in hand - exemplifies the ambivalence. The purity of Nietzsche's mocking intentions is further called into doubt by the explicit connection of the priest's artistry to the achievement of "form" and the giving of an "interpretation" - in this case an interpretation so powerful and natural-seeming that it has become all but invisible (GM I 7). For this connection ties the passage to another of Nietzsche's unofficial invocations of art - and this time to one without the faintest trace of mockery. Nietzsche is describing the process of state-formation. A "pack of blond beasts of prey" fell upon a "hitherto unchecked and shapeless populace" and "went on working until this raw material of people and semi-animals was at last not only thoroughly kneaded and pliant but also formed." The work of these state-formers is an instinctive creation and imposition of forms; they are the most involuntary, uncon~cious artists there are - wherever they appear something new soon arises, a ruling structure that lives, in which parts and functions are delimited and coordinated, in which nothing whatever finds a place that


What is the meaning of aesthetic ideals? has not first been assigned a "meaning" in relation to the whole ... [T]hey exemplify that terrible artists' egoism that has the look of bronze and knows itself justified to all eternity in its "work", like a mother in her child ... [Theirs is] an artists' violence. (GM II 17)

There is little enough hint in this of the" typical velleity of the artist" - presumably because these artists are sufficiently primitive to give the doer/deed distinction, and hence ressentiment, little hold over them: their consciences are clear (eM Ill) and there is nothing to preven t them from affirming themselves directly in their work on the real world. The reference to mothers and children underlines the point. When Nietzsche is urging the separation of an artist from his work he uses a similar image, but to different effect. Wagner, he says, could no more avoid "a kind of intellectual perversity . .. than can a pregnant woman be spared the repellent and bizarre aspects of pregnancy - which, as aforesaid, must be forgotten if one is to enjoy the child" (eM III 4). One gets no sense that Nietzsche wants to say the same about his violent mothers of the state. The fact is that we have here a version of artistry that escapes Nietzsche's censure altogether - which is, indeed, celebrated in some of the most affirmative vocabulary he can command. The non-triviality of what the "blond beasts" achieve is emphasized immediately afterwards. The natural instincts of the hitherto shapeless populace are violently repressed by enclosure within the state, with the result that, because those instincts cannot "discharge themselves outwardly," they "turn inward - this is what I call the internalization of man" (eM II 16). And here, in this new inner theatre, individual men begin to go to work on themselves: "This secret self-ravishment, this artists' cruelty, this delight in imposing a form upon oneself as a hard, recalcitrant, suffering material ... eventually ... brought to light an abundance of strange new beauty and affirmation, and perhaps beauty itself" (eM II 18). This passage constitutes Nietzsche's description of the positive, good potential of repression - of the good conscience. Thus we have not only another of his paeans to art, but also, and in the circumstances not surprisingly, a case in which the "typical velleity" of artists is ruled out in advance: for when an artist's material is himself, and his work is free of ressentiment, the artist/man opposition fronl which the velleity springs is abolished. There is no longer the space across which it would be intelligible for the artist-man to yearn "actually to be." This has the effect of suggesting that the problem with artists proper is really their insistence on creating works of art which are separable 135

Aaron Ridley from themselves: had they worked instead on their own souls the problematic gap between artist and work would never have been opened up. (That Nietzsche really does want to say something like this will become clearer in section 6 below.) So if the priest's art appeared equivocal in certain respects - at arm's length, certainly, from the art of artists proper, but perhaps not at more than that then the work of "those artists of violence ... who build stat~s" (GM II 18) and the internal, affirmative work of (the best of) those whom they build them out of -inhabit a different universe. The official aesthetic of the Genealogy - the official philosophy of works of art is nowhere in sight here.


"Art," as Nietzsche uses the term in these passages, refers to the imposition of form on raw material - whether that material be the sense of guilt, a shapeless populace, or the human soul. It also refers to the giving of meaning. The priest, in giving form to the feelings of those who suffer from guilt, gives their suffering a meaning - as punishment for "Sin." The "blond beasts" impose the form of the state upon a populace and create a structure whose components are "assigned a 'meaning' in relation to the whole." Internalized man imposes form on himself and gives birth to beauty ( - on which more in a moment). One does not have to look far to find an alternative name for this kind of art. Nietzsche's name for it is "interpretation" and the whole Genealogy is devoted to its history:5 whatever exists, having somehow come into being, is again and again reinterpreted to new ends, taken over, transformed, and redirected by some power superior to it; all events in the organic world are a subduing, a becoming master, and all subduing and becoming master involves a fresh interpretation, an adaptation through which any previous "meaning" and "purpose" are necessarily obscured or even obliterated ... Thus the essence of life, its will to power,. [involves] the essential priority of the spontaneous, aggressive, expansive, form-giving forces that give new interpretations and directions. (GM II 12)

One need only round out this description with references to the "egoism," "violence," and "cruelty" with which a reinterpretation is achieved to complete the circle. If Nietzsche's chief concern in the Genealogy is to understand how certain valuations of human existence have won ·out over others, his attention, necessarily, must be focused on art - or rather, on art as it is practiced by everyone except 136

What is the meaning of aesthetic ideals? those whom we would normally call artists. And that, clearly, is why his admiration for the master-interpreters he describes, and for their master-interpretations, is couched in explicitly aesthetic terms: for we have become what we are precisely through that form-giving activity which Nietzsche (when Wagner is out of the way) calls art. This is Nietzsche's unofficial aesthetic. 4

In the first section, I discussed one episode of Nietzsche's overt philosophy of art - where the official, trivializing doctrine is set out. But there is another episode, on the face of it also rather tangential to the main concerns of the Genealogy, which I think we are now in a position to make sense of. Nietzsche cOlllplains that philosophers of art always commit the same error - an error exacerbated by their "lack of any refined first-hand experience" of the beautiful: "instead of envisaging the aesthetic problem from the point of view of the artist (the creator), [they] considered art and the beautiful purely from that of the 'spectator', and unconsciously introduced the 'spectator' into the concept 'beautiful'" (GMIII 6). And so it is, says Nietzsche, that we end up with definitions of beauty like Kant's, to which even Schopenhauer was in thrall: the beautiful calms the will, it "'gives us pleasure without interest.' Without interest!" he exclaims, and bids us compare this spectatorly conception with that of "a genuine 'spectator' and artist - Stendahl, who once called the beautiful une promesse de bonheur . .. ; to him the fact seems to be precisely that the beautiful arouses the lvill ('interestedness')." It is clear enough which conception Nietzsche favors; and the point is reinforced when he concludes that Schopenhauer's insistence on disinterestedness is itself motivated by "the very strongest, most personal interest" - that is, the wish to be free from the "torture" of sexual desire (GM III 6). Two (related) questions need to be asked about this passage. Why should aesthetic problems be envisaged from the point of view of the artist rather than the spectator? And what is it about Stendahl's definition of beauty that so particularly appeals to Nietzsche? I shall take these in turn. Julian Young wonders, entirely reasonably on the face of it, why one cannot have two aesthetics - an artist's and a spectator's - which complement but do not annul one another. 6 And it is hard, indeed, to see why not: plenty of philosophy of art is actually done from the 137

Aaron Ridley artist's point of view, and it characteristically attempts to answer different questions from the kind of investigation that privileges the spectator. If one follows this line through, I think, one will be driven to conclude that Nietzsche's preference for the artist's perspective is nothing more than prejudice - the prejudice of someone who, throughout his career, insisted in the teeth of abundant evidence to the contrary that he himself was, primarily, an artist. But I think the • position is actually a lot less boring than that. We need to look at the question less with reference to the philosophy of art - that is, of works of art - than to what goes on elsewhere in the Genealogy. For if we take the Genealogy as our context, a precedent for Nietzsche's privileging of the artist is easily found. In essay I he takes on the "English psychologists" of value, and makes exactly the same move against them as he makes against the philosophers of art: the source of the concept "good" has been sought and established in the wrong place; the judgement "good" did not originate with those to whom "goodness" was shown! Rather it was "the good" themselves, that is to say, the noble, powerful, high-stationed and high-minded, who felt and established themselves and their actions as good. (GM I 2)

So again we find a value - goodness, in this case, rather than beauty - being transferred (by Nietzsche) from the jurisdiction of the passive to that of the active. In this case as much as the other, then, the "spectator" is portrayed as having been illicitly introduced into an equation which is said to be intelligible only from the vantage point of the creator. As far as the concept "good" is concerned, Nietzsche's transfer of its origin to the noble has the effect of assigning to it a meaning derived from the noble's own interpretation of himself as powerful, high-stationed, and so on, so that the term "good" now functions as a marker of his self-affirmation: indeed it "resolves itself into a concept denoting superiority of soul" (GM I 6). The alternative, "English," claim that "good" originates "with those to whom 'goodness' was shown" is not just wrong, in Nietzsche's view, but is a symptom of that wholesale inversion of values that he calls "the slave revolt in morality" (GM I 7) - a revolt (by those who cannot affirm themselves) precisely against superiority of soul. So the question "What is the meaning of 'good'?" becomes, almost at once, a question about what sort of soul you have. This has implications for Nietzsche's privileging of the artist in his discussion of beauty. Indeed - if I am right that the passages on 138

What is the meaning of aesthetic ideals? goodness and beauty run in parallel to one another - the Kantian or Schopenhauerian emphasis on the spectator's point of view can be seen as a kind of slave revolt in aesthetics. And this should come as no surprise. For what is going on here is surely a continuation of the earlier discussion of the artist's relation to himself, of his velleity, of his readiness (or otherwise) to affirm himself as one whose "innermost existence" is characterized by falsity. Does the artist have a good conscience or not? The question that Nietzsche is raising, then, is not really about the differing conceptions of beauty that the makers and consumers of works of art might favor. It is, instead, about differing qualities of soul. It is the question whether a particular person has the right to use the term "beauty" at all (a right forfeited when he succumbs to velleity). "Artists" and "spectators" here are functioning as placeholders for "superior souls" and "others. " This is the moment to raise the second of the two questions mentioned above: what is it about Stendahl's definition of beauty as "a promise of happiness" - that so particularly appeals to Nietzsche? It cannot just be that Stendahl was an artist, or that his definition was an "interested" one. Nietzsche could have found any number of definitions that would have fitted those descriptions. The answer lies in the fact that Nietzsche treats the StendahllSchopenhauer alternative as marking not only the artist/spectator distinction but also as marking a difference in personal qualities: Stendahl is described as a "more happily constituted person than Schopenhauer" (GM III 6). So there is something about Stendahl's conception of beauty that Nietzsche regards as importantly related to his better constitution. What might it be? The answer is surely that Stendahl, unlike Schopenhauer, goes in for that "secret self-ravishment" and "artist's cruelty" which brings "to light an abundance of strange new beauty and affirmation, and even beauty itself' (GM II 18). Stendahl, in other words, has a good conscience about himself: he is an artist of his own soul; and he gains from the experience of beauty an intimation of the form - and hence the meaning - that he nlight impose upon himself, that he might make out of himself. The "promise of happiness," in other words, is a foretaste of the satisfaction to be won by going to work on oneself, by interpreting oneself anew, so that one finds - in the transformation of one's own soul that one has given birth to beauty. Read in this way, Stendahl's definition of beauty ties immediately into one of the most famous passages Nietzsche ever wrote: 139

Aaron Ridley One thing is needful. - To "give style" to one's character - a great and rare art! It is practiced by those who survey all the strengths and weaknesses of their nature and then fit them into an artistic plan until everyone of them appears as art and reason and even weaknesses delight the eye. Here a large mass of second nature has been added; there a piece of original nature has been removed - both times through long practice and daily work at it. Here the ugly that could not be removed is concealed; there it has been reinterpreted and made sublime ... For one thing is needful: that a human being should attain satisfaction with himself, whether it be by means of this or that poetry and art ... For the sight of what is ugly makes one bad and gloomy. (GS 290)

Beauty is a state of soul: it is the result of going to work on oneself, of interpreting oneself, of exercising upon oneself that artist's violence to which Nietzsche is so attached. It is a matter of resisting the seduction to ressentiment, a task which, as Nietzsche emphasizes in the same passage, requires both discipline and strength: "it is the weak characters without power over themselves that hate the constraint of style. They feel that if this bitter and evil constraint were imposed upon them they would be demeaned; they become slaves as soon as they serve; they hate to serve" - they take refuge in velleity. It is in his resistance to this temptation, surely, that Stendahl's opinion is described as an "artist's" opinion; and it is for this reason that the very idea of a "spectator's" aesthetic - involving, as it would, the privileging of the bad conscience - strikes Nietzsche as a travesty. This point receives support from another passage in The Gay Science: "there are two kinds of sufferers: first, those who suffer from the over-fullness of life ... and then those who suffer from the impoverishment of life . .. Regarding all aesthetic values I now avail myself of this main distinction: I ask in every instance, 'is it hunger or superabundance that has here become creative?'" (GS 370). Stendahl, clearly, is a case of superabundance. The hungry artist, by contrast, the velleist, either destroys, "because what exists, indeed all existence, all being, outrages and provokes" him, or he seeks to "immortalize" the "real idiosyncrasy of his suffering," revenging "himself on all things by forcing his own image, the image of his torture, on them, branding them with it" (GS 370). Which comes very close to rendering analytic the suggestion, mentioned in section 2 above, that the real problem with artists ordinarily so called - their typical velleity, if you like - is their tendency to produce "immortal," public objects. Nietzsche really does incite one to attribute this view to him (or, at any rate, the view that a work of art produced by a non-velleist is only an epiphenomenon, something 140

What is the meaning of aesthetic ideals? strictly secondary to the genuinely beautiful business being done inside).7 The claim that philosophers of art have been wrong about beauty because of their "lack of any refined first-hand experience" should read rather differently now: what philosophers of art have lacked is refined first-hand experience, not of beautiful things, but of making themselves beautiful. Which shows to what extent the present episode of Nietzsche's (overt) discussion of art is intelligible only when detached from anything that would normally go under the title Philosophy of Art. For GM III 6 seems really to be part of the serious, unofficial doctrine explored in sections 2 and 3 above. This prompts the question: why, when it so clflarly takes second place to his concern with what a true artist of the soul can achieve, did Nietzsche bother with the official version at all? 5

Partly, no doubt, the answer has to do with Nietzsche's enduring passion for art and with his never completely resolved attitude towards Wagner. Perhaps he would have felt moved to write about art in the Genealogy whether or not it had anything to do with his larger themes; and perhaps, too, he would have written about it a little less dismissively had his eye not been trained so intently on Wagner. But I am sure that that is not the whole story. For if what I have been arguing here is correct, Nietzsche had altogether deeper reasons both to engage in an explicit discussion of art - and to trivialize it. Two well-known and interestingly different claims of his are worth recalling here. In The Birth of Tragedy we are told that "it is only as an aesthetic phenomenon that existence and the world are eternally justified" (BT 5). By The Gay Science this claim has become" As an aesthetic phenomenon existence is still bearable for us" (GS 107). The earlier claim refers to the (Apollonian) imposition of form or meaning on a (Dionysian) reality so dreadful that, unmediated, it would destroy one. It is by transforming the true nature of the world, and so making it bearable, that the aestheticization of existence justifies (Nietzsche's version of) the ways of God to man. When he made the second claim, however, Nietzsche had abandoned the thought that there was some fundamental, n1etaphysical truth about the world;8 and so, since he no longer believed in the unspeakable Dionysian" 'in itself' of things," he pulls back froIn any talk of existence being justified - that is, of the "real" nature of 141

Aaron Ridley things being made acceptable by the imposition of form upon it. For there is, in that sense, no longer a "real" nature of existence to be transformed. Rather, the absence of any such underlying reality is now the predicament; and it is this that is said to be made "bearable" by aestheticization. Meaninglessness, the impossibility of ultimate justification, is rendered tolerable only when life is beautified - only when one finds it possible to impose a "form upon oneself as a hard, recalcitrant, suffering material." · In this much, the remark in The Gay Science is entirely consonant with Nietzsche's position in the Genealogy. Both works present the aestheticization of existence - the transformation and reinterpretation of it - as the best that can be done in the wake of God's departure. But in another sense it would be misleading to summarize Nietzsche's position in this way. For life's being made bearable, while that may be one important motivation for the aestheticization of it, is, according to the unofficial aesthetic of the Genealogy, not ultimately more than a side effect, however desirable it might be. For all "events in the organic world" are said to be the product of "fresh interpretation" (GM II 12), of form-giving, of aestheticization - all events, note, not just the ones that contribute to making life more bearable. Which means that there is a basic trans formative urge (Nietzsche calls it the will to power) that is related in a necessary way to the amelioration of existence only in the trivial sense that any unsatisfied urge is unbearable. That the mere satisfaction of the urge itself is paramount - irrespective of any consequent improvement in the quality of existence - is underlined most uncompromisingly when Nietzsche insists that man would "rather will nothingness than not will" (GMIlI 1). The position in the Genealogy, then, is not so much "As an aesthetic phenomenon existence is still bearable" as "As an aesthetic phenomenon is life even logically possible." The consequences of this are rather dramatic. For instance, Nietzsche's unofficial aesthetic turns out to be, in its fundamentals, non-normative: one does not in the first place seek to transform the world in order to make life better (or more beautiful) - one does so merely in virtue of being alive; and if the price of transforming it is annihilation then that is, in one crucial sense, better than nothing. So the sort of thing that Nietzsche's mothers of the state get up to - which is to say, the primal imposition of form, the assignation of meaning for better or for worse, the exercise of involuntary artistry (GM II 17) - is basic: they satisfy their urge, they affirm themselves, as a bare 142

What is the meaning of aesthetic ideals? condition of being. The priest and Stendahl, on the other hand, are engaged in something different and more sophisticated. They, too, are busy imposing forms. But the activity they are engaged in has acquired a normative dimension. The priest is deliberately trying to justify existence (by making it intelligible, by taking power over its most basic conditions - while? of course, concealing his artistry). Stendahl - if it is plausible to see him as one who seeks to "give style" to his character - is deliberately trying to make life more bearable. Both, confronted with the unprecedented dilemma of internalization, want to improve the way the world is. But whereas one, the priest, invokes the other-worldly dimension that Nietzsche had rejected with his rejection of Schopenhauer (and of Dionysian metaphysics), the other, Stendahl, feeds off those rejections and strives to render himself, his own life, bearable - if (emphatically) not justified. So Nietzsche's unofficial aesthetic has, as it were, a purely descriptive core that functions as a condition of those normative, life-ameliorating practices at which the priest (to Nietzsche's chagrin) and Stendahl (to his delight) excel. 9 It is this double nature of the unofficial aesthetic, I suggest, that helps to explain both the presence and the character of the triviaIi zing doctrine that appears as the Genealogy's official philosophy of art. For the fact that Nietzsche is up to his elbows in the aesthetic throughout, in virtue of his emphasis on interpretation, form-giving, beauty and the like, makes it necessary for him to isolate artistry in the sense that he is concerned with from artistry as it is practiced by artists-proper like Wagner. A failure to separate the two sufficiently would render his substantive claim - that one should become an artist of one's own soul, and give birth to beauty there, specifically strikingly undermotivated: there would be little reason to prefer (as a normative expression of the basic urge to impose form) Stendahl's artistry to Wagner's: there would be no reason to think that the former might constitute a remotely plausible or interesting alternative to the interpretative maneuvers of the priest that would not be constituted equally well by sitting down and writing an opera (or writing poetry, or designing wallpaper). But of course Nietzsche's preference for Stendahl's way is motivated, in the strongest sense. For he hopes that man might somehow be cured of the damage done to his soul by thoroughgoing asceticism - that he might be redeemed "not only from the hitherto reigning ideal but also from that which was bound to grow out of it, the great nausea, the will to nothingness, nihilism" (GM II 24). So Nietzsche 143

Aaron Ridley needs a countermeasure to the priest that will meet him expressly on his own ground, a means to retrieve that "human soul" which the priest has so calamitously caused to "resound with heart-rending, ecstatic music." He needs, in other words, a counter-art of the soul, an art that will allow man to "attain satisfaction" rather than sickness with himself; and to do that, he needs an art with enough depth and weight to offset the "seriousness" whose "actual represen• tative" the priest is said to be. lt might be tempting at this point to suggest that the Genealogy itself is somehow a performative instance or an exemplar of Nietzsche's counter-art of the soul. 10 But the temptation should be resisted. That the book has some bizarre formal qualities, and some other generally estimable aesthetic ones, is not in doubt. Nor is there much question that in writing it Nietzsche intended to do some work on behalf of his longed-for counter-art. But if anything I have been claiming here is right, the Genealogy simply cannot stand for what it calls for. Works of art, for Nietzsche, are, at best, symptoms of an "overfullness of life," of a soul that has gone to work on itself, made itself beautiful, and still has energy to spare. So it is that, at best, works of art offer only a promise of happiness. The Genealogy, again at best, might be construed as an artful symptom of Nietzsche's own overfullness, of his own successful counter-artistry of the soul. But, if so, the Genealogy cannot itself be or perform or be exemplary of that counter-art, unless at the cost of a kind of reverse velleity - one expressly disallowed by Nietzsche when he warns that "one does best to separate an artist from his work" (GM III 4). If the typical velleity of the artist is the desire to be what he represents, the typical velleity of the interpreter, to which Nietzsche himself was not immune, is the desire to construe the representation as a portrait of the artist rather than as a symptom of his condition. Nietzsche's own counter-artistry, if he had one, was played out in his soul, and is, at best, attested to by his books. But neither his nor anyone else's soulartistry is to be found in those books, or in any other kind of public, beautiful object. In my view this indicates a deficiency in Nietzsche's thought: there is a solipsism, a narcissism, in it. But it does serve to rule out the fantasies of wish fulfillment to which some of Nietzsche's interpreters appear prone. Peter Berkowitz seems just right to me when he complains, more generally, that much contemporary Nietzsche interpretation •

confuses Nietzsche's intention to overcome morality with its actual over144

What is the meaning of aesthetic ideals? coming, mistakes the desire to discover or invent new modes and orders of thought for their discovery or invention, and mixes up the ambition to found new forms of life with their successful establishment. Propelled by a combination of credulity and enthusiasm, the new orthodoxy equates Nietzsche's wishes a.nd promises with their fulfillment. 11

The Genealogy is not - and could not be - an exemplar of the counter-art it seeks to identify or to encourage. I think the truth is that Nietzsche is altogether clearer about the nature and power of the priest's art than he is about his own Stendahl-inspired counter-version. He is, in other words, far more convinced of the gravity of the problem than he is of the efficacy of his solution. And it is this fact, I think, that goes a long way toward explaining the official aesthetic of the Genealogy. It is, among other things, a rhetorical foil against which Nietzsche's counter-art of the soul might appear, by contrast, to have something like the potency he so desperately hopes it does have. By trivializing art-proper he implicitly privileges his counter-art, so that without having to say anything very particular or persuasive in its favor he can accord it a kind of negative grandeur simply in virtue of its not being the sort of thing that either priests or ordinary artists get up to. Thus it is that the artistry practiced by ordinary artists - that is, the production of beautiful, public objects - is permitted to function only as a promise of happiness. Thus, too, his rejection of any merely spectatorly aesthetic - and, above all, his scorn for (and insistence upon) the "typical velleity" of artists. For it is this latter that allows him to drive a wedge between art-proper and soul-artistry in the first place; and it is precisely this wedge that allows him to pursue the rather one-sided contrast I have just described. In the absence of his official aesthetic, then, Nietzsche's intervention against the hegemony of the ascetic ideal would have been notably more ghostly than it is, and the patina of significance accorded to it by his talk of beauty would have been (still) more transparent. Or so I would suggest. One might gloss the foregoing in a series of answers to the question: what is the meaning of aesthetic ideals in the Genealogy? From the point of view of life in general (or, for instance, of Nietzsche's artists of the state) the answer is either "everything" (because all meaning presupposes the purely descriptive, unofficial aesthetic) or else "Nothing" (because, if all meaning presupposes that aesthetic, there is no room for talk of "ideals"). From the point of view of the priest aesthetic ideals mean power: the priest's imposition of form on the sufferings of the internalized soul allows 145

Aaron RidJey him to take control of the "most profound, powerful, and basic" conditions of life. Artists-proper, by contrast, must answer: "Meaninglessness, falsity" - a response made unavoidable by the "velleity" and bad conscience that Nietzsche insists or asserts is typical of them. Theirs is the least serious (if most official) expression of the unofficial aesthetic in its normative form. And what about the artist of the soul? What will he answer? Presumably that aesthetic;; ideals, promising happiness as they do, provide an entirely serious alternative to ascetic ideals, a seriousness underwritten and made possible by the fact that this artistry is exercised upon oneself, so foreclosing that gap between artist and material which is said to result in "velleity." The artist of the soul, then, with his good conscience, is the sanctifier of lies. If this is right, the brief discussion of art- and artists-proper at the beginning of the Genealogy's third essay serves to dignify Nietzsche's ideal at the expense of that and those with which it might (all too easily) have been confused, and the relative suppression throughout the work of aesthetics-proper serves principally to highlight the depth of his commitment to that broader conception of the aesthetic which he hopes somehow to use against the priest and his nihilistic legacy. Which being so, he really did need to have an official aesthetic, and he really did need to make sure that it was a trivializing one. How peculiarly gratifying it must have been, under the circumstances, to find that both objects could be achieved by being nasty for a few pages about Wagner.12

Notes 1 Julian Young, Nietzsche's Philosophy of Art (Cambridge: Cambridge

University Press, 1992). I think the argument I am advancing in this chapter is broadly in line with Young's position on the Genealogy. 2 "Aesthetic," here, means "form-giving," for reasons that will become clear as the discussion progresses. There are of course other senses in which the term "aesthetic" may be relevant to Nietzsche; but I pass these by for the sake of focus. 3 I have attempted to explain the relations between the good and the bad versions of the "bad" conscience elsewhere: "Nietzsche's Conscience," Journal of Nietzsche Studies 11 (1996) pp. 1-12. In what follows I will suppress the dj.stinction between good(-bad) and bad(-bad) conscience, and refer to them simply as the good and bad conscience respectively. 4 Henry Staten has traced the fluctuations of Nietzsche's attitude to the


What is the meaning of aesthetic ideals?


6 7




11 12

priest with enormous acuity. See his Nietzsche's Voice (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1990), ch. 2. For an excellent discussion of Nietzsche's understanding of interpretation see Alexander Nehamas, Nietzsche: L1fe as Literature (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985). Young, Nietzsche's PhiJosophy of Art, p. 120. This point receives support froIn Nietzsche's discllssion of the difference between "monological art" and "art before witnesses" in The Gay Science (GS 367). For discussion of Nietzsche's abandonment of this view, see Maudemarie Clark, Nietzsche on Truth and Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), esp. ch. 4. It is unsurprising in light of this that Nietzsche nowhere gives us a genealogy of the aesthetic - for aesthetic concepts are precisely what the practice of genealogy, in his hands, presupposes. This sort of suggestion receives particularly clear expression in David Owen's Nietzsche, Politics and Modernity (London: Sage Publications, 1995), pp. 126-30. Peter Berkowitz, Nietzsche: The Ethics of an InuI10ralist (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995), p. 5 Many thanks to David Owen and the two anonymous readers for their criticisms of earlier versions of this chapter.


II The splitting of historical • conSCIousness STEPHEN BANN

Nietzsche's The Uses and Disadvantages of history is situated right at the center of the issue of historical consciousness, which Nietzsche himself was perhaps the first to consider in so illuminating a way. Deeply aware as he was of the momentous developments in historical culture that had spread throughout the Western world in the century following the French Revolution, Nietzsche was at the same time capable of formulating the needs of historical existence as giving rise to a number of possible choices: "history" is not treated as an absolute, as in the historicist orthodoxy, but as a spectrum of possible, lived relationships to the past, which must each be tested for their applicability to "life." Marx began his Eighteenth Brumaire by acknowledging that "[t]he tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living."l He then offers the encouraging prospect of how the revolutionary can transcend the "time-honored disguise" of history and learn to speak a new language. Nietzsche is not so optimistic. For him the "historical sense" is indeed capable of destroying living things, "be it a man or a people or a culture." But the solution to this problem can only lie in an appropriately fine calibration of the degree to which the past is allowed to bear down on us rather than in a utopian annulment of history. "To determine this degree, and therewith the boundary at which the past has to be forgotten ... one would have to know exactly how great the 'plastic power' of a man or a community or a culture is" (UDH 1). The implications of Nietzsche's invocation of "plastic power" will resonate particularly towards the end of this study.2 It is important This essay is reprinted with permission of Twayne Publishers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Macmillan, from Romanticism and the Rise of History by Stephen Bann. Copyright © 1995 by Twayne Publishers.


The splitting of historical consciousness to bear in mind, however, that his categories, in addition to providing a general critique, have an immediate operative value. He formulates "three ways" in which "history pertains to the living man . .. This threefold relationship corresponds to three species of history - insofar as it is permissible to distinguish between a monumental, an antiquarian, and a critical species" (UDH 2). In this chapter I will flesh out the substance of this distinction before showing its terms to be directly relevant to the analysis of a historical painting produced during the first flush of French Romanticism. 1

Nietzsche's "monumental" relation recalls Marx's VISIon of the French revolutionaries wearing Roman dress, as it does the Freudian concept of identification. Nietzsche, however, is more individualistic than Marx, and understandably more preoccupied than Freud with the historical (as opposed to the biological) dimension. He writes: "History belongs above all to the man of deeds and power, to him who fights a great fight, who needs models, teachers, and comforters and cannot find them among his contemporaries" (UDH 2). Nietzsche achieves a rare degree of eloquence in conjuring up this image of the past as a dimension in which the lonely modern can take comfort, drawing from the knowledge "that the greatness that once existed was in any event once possible, and may thus be possible again." Such a realization will be aided by the discovery that the great figures of the past themselves developed a "monumental" relationship to their predecessors in an earlier, "classic" age. Thus, the contemporary German educational reformers of Nietzsche's own times will gather strength from realizing "that the culture of the Renaissance was raised on the shoulders of just such a band of a hundred men" (UDH 2). Yet the subtlety of Nietzsche's approach is conveyed in the fact that each distinctive relation to the past implies a particular drawback as well as a specific advantage. The problem with n10numentalism is that it presupposes a view of history in which the cycles of history continually repeat themselves (the Stoic view that St. Augustine so roundly condemned in the City of God). As Nietzsche himself writes: "Only if, when the fifth act of the earth's drama ended, the whole play every time began again from the beginning, if it was certain that the same complex of motives, the same deus ex machina, the same catastrophe were repeated at definite intervals, 149

Stephen Bonn could the man of power venture to desire monumental history in full icon-like veracity" (UDH 2). Nietzsche is well aware that the "monumental" approach embodies a very traditional attitude to history, perhaps the most traditional of all, and it is not always easy to distinguish between a "monumental" past and a "mythical romance" that bears no relation to history. But the "antiquarian" approach, which he then gges on to contrast with the monumental, is a more modern strategy: indeed Nietzsche is in particular noteworthy for the way in which he expatiates eloquently on a disposition of mind that had been cultivated especially in the preceding century, and in his own native Germany. According to this disposition of mind, history is necessary "to him who preserves and reveres ... who looks back to where he came into being, with love and loyalty" (UDH 3). Scarcely has Nietzsche begun to sketch out this antiquarian personality, so different from that of the "man of power," when he is drawn irresistibly to the concrete specification of objects: The possession of his ancestral goods changes its meanings in such a soul, they rather possess it. The trivial, circumscribed, decaying and obsolete, acquire their own dignity and inviolability through the fact that the preserving and revering soul of the antiquarian has emigrated into them and there made its home. The history of his city becomes for him the history of himself. (UDH 3)

For the antiquarian, then, the relation to the past is established not through "example" but through goods: through the introjection (as the psychoanalyst might say) of the "good object" handed down from the past. Does this concern to lend "dignity and inviolability" to objects of no intrinsic value run the danger of fetishism? Obviously, in the way that Nietzsche states the matter here, it does. And we can quite easily appreciate that he will find substantial arguments against the antiquarian approach when its "very limited field" and its tendency to turn away from the life of the present day are taken into account. But the really interesting point is that Nietzsche has found room for the description of an attitude which, by the latter part of the nineteenth century, was habitually regarded as the unavowable, disreputable side of historical consciousness. He selects inspiring examples to illustrate the antiquarian approach, such as Goethe before Strasbourg Cathedral, the "monument of Erwin von Steinbach": because of "the storm of his feeling the historical clouds~were rent apart". He is even able to cite the case of a great contemporary German historian, whose antiquarian zeal rises 150

The splitting of historical consciousness to the point where all objects are renounced in favor of an ideal (but diffused) aura of historicity: "Niebuhr admits that on a moor and heathland, among free peasants who possess a history, he can live contented and never feel the want of art" (UDH 3). Nietzsche's categories have not yet attained the sophistication of Riegl, who discriminates "age-value" from "historical value" and both from any form of "art value." But he is at the same time astonishingly open in his recognition of the multiple types of modern investment in the historical past. In each of the previous categories, he is discussing the relation to history not as a mere luxury, or a domain of self-delusion, but as a necessity, first and foremost. This does not, however, stop him from acknowledging in the last resort that the "critical" attitude is also necessary and that its essential component is the will to deal roughly with - even to reject completely - the legacy of the past. As Nietzsche expresses it: "If he is to live, man must possess and from time to time employ strength to break up and dissolve a part of the past. He does this by bringing it before the tribunal, scrupulously examining it and finally condemning it; every part, however, is worthy to be condemned" (UDH 3). Hayden White draws attention in Metahistory to the way in which historians like Tocqueville, and Nietzsche's friend Burckhardt, used the trope of irony, or what Vico had called "double vision.,,3 To a great extent, as we follow Nietzsche's careful exposition of the contrasted attitudes of the "monumental" and the "antiquarian," we feel that we are being exposed to an ironic perspective: neither of the two views can be privileged, and neither cancels the other out. But the critical perspective goes further than irony: it is a conclusive distancing of the self from the examples, as well as the comforts, of history; it is a negation of the past and, in the same measure, an affirmation of what Nietzsche considered to be the overriding interest of "life." Nevertheless, the conclusion of the discussion reinstates, at least provisionally, a certain notion of equilibrium: "Every man and nation needs a certain knowledge of the past, whether it be through monumental, antiquarian, or critical history, according to his objects, powers, and necessities" (UDH 22). It is scarcely necessary to point out that Nietzsche's achievement consists in the power of his written exhortation rather than in any practical exposition of the way in which nations and individuals could perform the perilous balancing act of reconciling the monumental, the antiquarian, and the critical. But this is not to say that his tripartite analysis of the "necessity" of history is without con151

Stephen Bann sequences for the assessment and discrimination of different forms of historical-mindedness from the romantic period to the present day. One might say that historical understanding had, up to that point, been impeded by the almost uncontested observation that there was a good and a bad side to the study of the past: as with the professional historians who struggled to neutralize, and appropriate for themselves, the colorful creatures of the historical novelist, it was a question of justifying the attraction to past times by vaunting the stern, scientific claims of the new professional historiography. Nietzsche, however, shows us - at least as a utopian prospect - the possibility of accommodating and reconciling different relations to history within a single, harmonious spectrum. Yet Nietzsche's distinctions are also useful for analyzing the ways in which the representation of history exposed the fault lines existing between the different relations to the past. They help us to discern the uneasy coexistence of "monumental" and "antiquarian" attitudes and the role these attitudes perform in the development and succession of representational forms. I have selected a visual example to demonstrate in a vivid manner the way in which historical materials are being worked through at an important juncture in the early history of romantic painting. At the same time, the painting about to be discussed evokes the intense patterns of ideological conflict that were being generated in the period following the fall of the Napoleonic empire. The French nation experienced with a particular acuity the turbulent history of the years following the Revolution. For the French, the notion of the ancien regime was invested with particularly ambivalent feelings, since it figured at the same time as an oppressive system from which the efforts of the revolutionaries had emancipated the nation and as the mysterious realm of 1a vieille France - now lost forever, and for that reason irresistibly attractive to the imagination. Napoleon's determination to inaugurate a new style of government was never more than partially successful, and it might be argued that the very relentlessness of his desire to make a clean break with the past - the design of new uniforms for himself and his court, the borrowing of Egyptian mannerisms to create an "Empire" style - helped to stimulate a nostalgic reversion to the national past. Prosper de Barante, as an imperial sous-prefet advancing in his career, spent his leisure time editing the memoirs of a heroine of the Vendee wars, Mme. de La Rochejaquelein. Having experienced first hand the gigantic reach of the new Empire, he 152

The splitting of historical consciousness preferred to study the local characteristics of the region of northwestern France, which had thrown in its lot with the Bourbon monarchy and suffered a bloody repression as a result. 4 The fall of Napoleon, and the restoration of the Bourbon dynasty in the person of Louis XVIII, thus posed a particularly acute problem, and offered a corresponding opportunity, for those engaged in the representation of the past. How would it be possible to tap the legacy of la vieille France? How could the visual artists, in particular, provide icons establishing the contjnuity of French history, while simultaneously acknowledging their debt to David and the painters of the revolutionary school? 2

In the French salon of 1819, Marie-Philippe Coupin de la Couperie (1773-1851) exhibited, to great acclaim, his large historical painting: Sully Showing his Grandson the Monument containing the Heart of Henri IV at La Fleche. 5 In 1820 it entered the collection of the Duchesse de Berry, wife of the heir to the newly restored Bourbon throne, and has ended up as part of the large collection of works of art (many of them dating from the Restoration) in the National Museum of the Chateau de Pau, Henri IV's birthplace. No special imagination is needed to conceive why the cult of Henri IV became a notable feature of the visual arts in the period following Napoleon's downfall. Henri IV was the founder of the Bourbon dynasty and, moreover, a king specially associated with the reconciliation of warring factions in the interests of national unity. The fat and gouty Louis XVIII could profit from any invocation of this unimpeachable national figure. The question remained, however: how was this hero to be represented? Coup in de la Couperie decided on a strategy that does not lack originality. Henri IV was assassinated by the Jesuit Ravaillac in 1610, and after his death "his body was carried with great ceremony to St. Denis, where he was buried, and his heart to La Fleche to the College of the Jesuits, which he had founded, and where we see a marble tomb to the left-hand side of the high altar in the crossing of the church.,,6 So runs the account in Anselme's Histoire de la Maison Royale de France, compiled in the eighteenth century. In fact, by the Restoration period (and following the expulsion of the Jesuits from France), the erstwhile College of the Jesuits had been turned into a well-known military academy, where Coup in de la Couperie served briefly as drawing master in 1815. It is easy to imagine that this 153

Stephen Bonn

g. 6.1

Marie-Philippe Coupin de la Couperie. Sully showing his Grandson the MOn! 'Jnt containing the Heart of Henri IV at La Fieche. Musee National du Chateau de Pau

Irmer soldier in the imperial armies, nominated to La Fleche in th ~ar of Waterloo, would have been struck by the conjunctur ~tween the new military academy, whose vocation was to serve th )nstitutional monarchs of Restoration France, and the prestigiou ,mbol of the forrber glories of the House of Bourbon, now acquirin new contemporaneity and significance. 154

The splitting of historical consciousness Coupin de la Couperie therefore paints the former Jesuit church, the Eglise St. Louis. He paints it as architecture, in a meticulous, somewhat dry style, recording the fine detail of the stonework of the monument and a large section of the adjacent high altar as well. All that we see of Henri IV is the gilded inscription (no doubt much deteriorated by the Restoration period) and the gold and glowing sculptured heart, attended by allegorical figures who indeed seem to start from their niches to celebrate his virtue and his fame. There is, in fact, also a head and shoulder bust of the departed king installed in a roundel at the summit of the composition, but this is gI"ay and unexciting. The focus of our attention is undoubtedly the plump golden heart, cushioned with laurel wreaths and surmounted by a crown, to which our eyes travel after they have read the inscription. But it is not the spectator, outside the picture, who is envisaged as the primary scrutineer of this scene. Coup in can legitimately show the marble tomb as being in tip-top condition because his title denotes an event taking place hardly more than twenty years after the assassination of Henri IV - an event that is certainly not commemorated as being historically significant but that no doubt formed part of the folklore of La Fleche. Let us assume that the date is 1630. Henri IV's faithful counselor, the Duc de Sully, would then have been over seventy and out of power for many years. His grandson, Maximilien-Fran~ais, Prince de Henrichemont and future second Duc de Sully, would have been sixteen years of age. No special act of imagination is needed to conceive that this visit might have taken place, since Sully habitually resided in his Chateau de Villebon, near Chartres, in his late years and was himself buried at Nogent-Ie-Rotrou, a further property on the route to La Fleche. It has even been suggested that he chose this place for his tomb because the cortege bearing the heart of Henri IV rested there on its journey to La Fleche. 7 Coupin therefore paints Sully as the faithful servant of the great king, displaying the monument to the grandson who carries his own hopes for the future (Sully's son, in effect, quarreled with him and ultimately predeceased him). What could be clearer as a demonstration of the monumental relation to the past, as Coup in reinterprets the affecting story to suit a new generation - those military cadets with whom he was briefly in contact at La Fleche and later, on a more long-term basis, at the academy of St.-Cyr? Surely the two levels of interpretation dovetail impeccably? On the one hand, we have the minister and disciple who exhibits the monument of his


Stephen Bann master as an exemplum to the young: Sully was, in fact, compiling a verse set of Paralleles de Cesar et de Henri Ie Grand in the tradition of Plutarch, which he published in 1615. On the other hand, we have the nineteenth-century historical painter, whose idea it is to create a stirring image for the Restoration period, rooted in his own experience as a teacher of the French soldiers of the future. The reason why this is not an adequate interpretation of Coupin's work is precisely because it neglects, or at least takes for granted, the mechanisms the artist has used, irrespective of their effects in and through representation. Coupin was working within a specific tradition: as a pupil and friend of Anne-Louis Girodet, he was well acquainted with one of the great and original artists of the imperial epoch, himself a pupil of Jacques-Louis David. Thus, it is worth asking straightaway a more complex question than has been prompted by any of the foregoing discussions: in what way does this "exemplary" or "monumental" theme imply Coupin's modification or transformation of the existing conventions of historical painting current in France? Here there is a useful clue to Coupin's practice in what may be considered a significant, if surprising, source for the figure of the aged Sully, lost in thought. The fine profile and the white ruff are certainly not inconsistent with the image of the statesman that we find on his splendid tomb at Nogent-le-Rotrou. This, however, displays him as being altogether more alert and forceful. For the bowed head and grizzled locks even in profile, not to mention the posture of the seated body seen from the side, we can surely evoke one of the most striking and famous of David's exemplary paintings: Death of Socrates (1787). Sully'S figure, as shown by Coupin, closely resembles the grieving figure of Plato who was added to the group of Socrates' disciples despite historical testimony that he was not present on the fateful occasion. Where does this leave us? I suggest that it shows how Coupin's picture, conceived as an exemplary one is, in fact, fundamentally inconsistent in its effects. But, at the same time, this inconsistency can be regarded precisely as the index of a greater historicity, which was already working through and was shortly to transform the language of pictorial representation. It would be wrong to oversimplify the message of David's Socrates, which it itself (as Norman Bryson has argued) a work giving rise to many possible ambiguities. 8 Nonetheless, for our purposes, it can be taken as demonstrating the intention to achieve a "monumental" relation to the past, in Nietzsche's sense. Francis Haskell has discussed under the category 156

The splitting of historical consciousness "Art as Prophecy" what he calls "the ruthlessly austere style that David (and a few others) had adopted for depicting public scenes of ancient virtue - at a time when public scenes of modern virtue seemed non-exist~nt."g Retrospectively, at any rate, a major work like Socrates (which Napoleon himself vainly attempted to buy from its private owners) must have seemed to a painter like Coup in the optimal demonstration of how to use history for an exemplary purpose. Hence, perhaps, the "ruthlessly austere" way in which he, too, constructs the architectural decor in which the aged Sully passes on the lesson of history to a representative of modern youth, just as Socrates marks his passing in front of a well-composed frieze of young and old disciples, with the youth who hands him the hemlock catching our attention with the most emphatically displayed grief of all. Yet, of course, the visual dynamics of Coupin's painting do not work in the same way as those of David's Socrates, and any comparison that starts from the basis of the similarity of the figures of Sully and Plato must immediately take this difference into account. David's work is horizontally organized, with a frieze like structure that allows the diversity of Socrates' followers to be fully expressed, though a deep space opens up beyond Plato's head to show Xanthippe (Socrates' wife) being escorted out of the prison. Coupin's work follows the soaring architecture of the Eglise St. Louis, allowing our gaze to travel up, by way of the young spectator, to the glowing heart at the apex of the composition. By showing us the youth's back, however, it effects a curious displacement of psychological interest. Since no expression is visible, we linger on the purely decorative detail of the carefully assembled seventeenthcentury dress: from the smart boots, with their shining spurs, across the casually draped velvet cloak and the golden sash, to the luxuriant ringlets of the young prince's coiffure. The picturesque assembly of flags, caught in the light by the transept window, echoes this deliberate emphasis on the surface of things, as if the cold stone backdrop were being used simply to set off the quicksilver vitality of this vision of youth in awe of age. The old Sully'S face is the only place where we can read anything more specific, and, though it borrows the gravity of David's Plato, it simultaneously strives for a sentimental rather than a stoic note: from the corner of the old man's eye, there squeezes a large and luminous tear. I put forward this reading of Coupin's painting partly as an indication of how the artist's representation strategies would have 157

Stephen Bann been received at the time, and partly as an instance of how Nietzsche's analytic categories can be used to clarify the different types of investment in the past. Unfortunately my intentions were misunderstood by a reviewer of the publication in which this essay first appeared, who accused me of trying to "empty the Restoration of meaningful political content. ,,10 For this reviewer, it is possible to summon up a unified, exemplary message for the picture, Rerfectly congruent with the ideology of the restored Bourbon monarchy: "while the elderly duke. reflects on loss, the adolescent grandson, youthful, alert, and attentive in his pose, looks up simultaneously toward Henri's heart and toward the future.,,11 My skepticism about this reading is, in the first place, based on the details of the contemporary reception of the work. Critics may indeed have noted the emotional effect of the "last drop" added to the "flood of tears" wept over Henri IV. But they also noted the undue importance accorded to the architecture. This was, as the recent catalogue pointed out, a hybrid picture, "half-way between anecdotic genre and history painting. ,,12 It is probable that Coupin had in mind not only the grave figure of Plato in David's Socrates, but also the distracting image of the young cup-bearer in the foreground, whom Thomas Crow has described as a "sensual presence. ,,13 In a sense, the Restoration painter has transposed into his own work the striking antithesis between these two Davidian figures, and has made it the central focus of attention. Yet to argue that this acknowledgement of the representational status of the painting is a willful neglect of "meaningful political content," is to pursue a groundless fantasy. My reviewer claims that "France desperately needed a 'usable past.' ,,14 Indeed she did. But the real issue is whether or not she was able to achieve one: or indeed, if the very aspiration of "using" the past to provide a solution to the endemic problems of postrevolutionary society was not inherently doomed to failure. I persist in holding that the most perceptive commentators in Restoration France were precisely those who, from a liberal point of view, recognized the inanity of trying to "use" the past to political ends: who were, like the historian Prosper de Barante "sick of seeing history like a tame sophist lend herself to every proof that people want to draw from her. ,,15 However Nietzsche was able to improve on this weary skepticism by adumbrating the multiplicity of possible relationships to the past, and in this respect he "clarifies retrospectively the status of historical painting in the early part of the century. 158

The splitting of historical consciousness Coupin's painting is thus of special interest as an essay in historical representation, since it was conceived as a "monumental" statement (in Nietzsche's sense) but has resulted in something more closely akin to the "antiquarian." It attempts a new version of the exemplary neoclassical work - one suitable to the changed political circumstances of the Bourbon Restoration - but in moving from the ideal generality of the classical exemplum to the picturesque specificity of the age of Henri IV, it subverts its own didactic purpose. Instead of underlining Henri IV's claim to be a great national hero, comparable with Caesar in Sully's own estimation, it intimates (even if it does not fully accept) that the pleasure of the period decor must be its own reward. So preoccupied is Coup in with giving visual interest to displaced and incidental detail - the golden heart rather than the bust, the spur, the ringlets and the gilt trimmings of the seventeenth-century costume - that he invests the whole image with what the Freudian would see as a fetishistic character - though the antiquarian, in Nietzsche's terms, might claim that to be a legitimate component of an intense relation to the objects of the past. It is worth making just one further comparison to add to the series of David and Coupin. Richard Parkes Bonington's A Knight and Page (c. 1826), in the Yale Center for British Art, is a painting of specially illustrious provenance, having been given by the English artist to his friend, Eugene Delacroix. It is an oil painting, possibly unfinished, which appears to have been the product of some careful and imaginative historical research: Bonington probably derived the features of the "knight" from his study of the bronze of the condottiere Bartolemmeo Colleoni, by Verrocchio, which he saw in Venice, and it is likely that he intended the austere figure to represent the hero of Goethe's historical drama, Goetz von Berlichingen. 16 Whether or not this identification holds (and the very uncertainty is, in a sense, a measure of Bonington's artistic success), the Knight and Page is a brilliant feat of historical staging. Dramatizing as it does the relationship of youth and maturity - the young page and the heroic knight - it nevertheless does so within a scene whose psychological aspects are as deliberately unclear as its spatial aspects are ambiguous. The page has one foot on the level where the knight stands, but the knight seems to have his attention fixed by an event on another plane - something that is taking place beyond the decorated surface of the hanging that sets off the page's head: there is a strong sense of what, in the theater, would be described as "off159

Stephen Bann stage," but this paradoxically increases the suggestiveness of the represented scene by annexing it to something we can only conceive in our imagination. Here, indeed, in the sphere of pictorial representation, is what Barthes calls the "reality effect." Bonington's painting, like David's, is secure within its own convention of representation. But Delacroix was right to stress the important role played in his technique by the use of color: it is indeed the color values of the Knight and Page (the broad alte'rnation of passages of scarlet and gold against the black backdrop) that found the composition and establish it as a unified field. In this context, Coupin's work can be seen as a not altogether satisfactory halfway house between the dry equality of plastic treatment favored by David and the broad color and nervous touch associated with Bonington. In that transition, from the ancien regime to the Restoration, and from neoclassicism to romanticism in painting, the possibility opens up for a more concrete and more imaginative use of historical representation that will develop and manipulate effects congenial to the new historical-mindedness of the nineteenth century. Coupin, a painter of the intermediate generation, does not achieve this; his work is, however, interesting precisely because of the way in which it testifies to his ambivalent relationship to the representation of the past. The "splitting" of historical consciousness, which was later theorized by Nietzsche, finds in this painting an appropriate, if disconcerting, form.

Notes 1 Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (Moscow: Progress, 1967), p. 10. 2 In the longer work from which this chapter is an excerpt, I focus particularly on the concept of the "Living the Past," with emphasis on the life and work of the French novelist and collector, Pierre Loti. See Stephen Bann, Romanticism and the Rise of History (New York: Macmillan, 1995), pp. 151-60. 3 See Hayden White, A1etahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973). 4 For further comment on Barante, see Stephen Bann, The Clothing of Clio (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. 17-22; and The Inventions of Hi~tory (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1990), pp.206-13.


The splitting of historical consciousness 5 The work has recently been given national prominence in a major exhibition seen at Nantes and Paris in 1995-6. See Les Annees romantiques: La peinture fran9aise de 1815 a 1850, exhibition catalogue (Paris: Reunion des Musees Nationaux, 1995), p. 355. 6 P. Anselme, Histoire de la Maison Royale de France (New York and London: Johnson, 1967), vol. I, p. 146. 7 See Robert Balland, Sully: soldat, ministre, et gentilhomme campagnard 1560-1641 (Paris: Gamber, 1932), pp. 81-2. 8 See Norman Bryson, Word and Image: French Painting of the Ancien Regime (Cambridge: Cambridge University Prflss, 1981), pp. 204-8. 9 Francis Haskell, History and its Images: Art and the Reinterpretation of the Past (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), p. 398. 10 Susan Dunn, review in History and Theory 3 (1996), pp. 384-90; at p.386. 11 Ibid., p. 385. 12 Les Annees romantiques, p. 355. 13 Thomas Crow, Emulation: Making Artists for Revolutionary France (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995), p. 98. 14 Dunn, review, p. 390. 15 Bann, Romanticism and the Rise of History, p. 20. 16 See Patrick Noon, Richard Parkes Bonington: On the Pleasure of Painting (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991), p. 230.


II Gustav Klilllt's Beethoven Frieze, truth, and The Birth of Tragedy. TIMOTHY W. HILES


In the summer of 1901, Gustav Klimt and the artists of the Vienna Secession began to envision an exhibition which would encompass their philosophical and aesthetic commitment to the total work of art. Designed by Josef Hoffmann and decorated by the work of twenty-one artists, the entire fourteenth exhibition for the following year would unfold, thematically and aesthetically, around Max Klinger's monumental sculpture of Ludwig von Beethoven. Although, as we will see, the choice of the heroic Beethoven would be an important aspect of the exhibition, equally crucial to the event was the concept of a temple of art, which was enthusiastically endorsed more than ten years earlier by Klinger in his treatise Malerei und Zeichnung ("Painting and Drawing"). This essay, a portion of which would be published in the catalogue of the fourteenth exhibition, acknowledged a debt to Richard Wagner's thoughts on a Gesamtkunstwerk, yet expanded the composer's ideas concerning musical dramas to encompass" die kiinstlerische Einheit des Raunles."l Though the entire exhibition was dedicated to Max Klinger's statue of Beethoven, Klimt's contribution, the Beethoven Frieze, stands on its own as a profound philosophical statement concerning the utopian vision of the arts as humanity's salvation (figs. 7.1-4). Specifically, it is Klimt's most significant and literal affirmation of the early Nietzschean credo as presented in The Birth of Tragedy. Encompassing the upper part of three walls of the left room, Klimt's frieze, in light of earlier works, is remarkable in its display of a clear and concise symbolism. 2 All elements of the frieze are composed to convey the artist's thoughts, as is made quite evident by comparing the composition with the catalogue entry: 162

Gustav Klimt's Beethoven Frieze First long wall, opposite the entrance: the yearning for happiness [fig. 7.1]. The sufferings of feeble humanity: who beseech the well-armed strong one as external, compassion and alnbition as the internal, motivational forces, who move the former to take up the struggle for happiness. Narrow wall: the hostile powers [fig. 7.2]. The giant Typhon, against whom even the gods battle in vain; his daughters, the three Gorgons. Sickness, madness, death. Lust and lewdness, excess. Nagging sorrow. The yearnings and desires of mankind fly over and above, away from these. Second long wall: the yearning for happiness finds gratification in poetry [fig. 7.3]. The arts lead us into the ideal kingdom, where alone we can find pure joy, pure happiness, pure love. Choir of the angels of paradise. "Joy, beautiful divine spark." "This kiss for the whole world!" [fig. 7.4].3

Despite the myriad of figures which recall Klimt's prior symbolic works such as Philosophy (fig. 7.5), nearly every character in the frieze has a distinct purpose and can be related to a corresponding reference in the catalogue. Earlier ambiguity and confusion have now given way to concise monumental form. On a literal level, the symbolism of the work is quite clear. The first long wall (fig. 7.2) reflects the sufferings of humanity pleading to the armed soldier who, in the dress of a Tyrolean medieval knight, can be equated with the pan-Germanic mood of the day.4 His struggle for humanity takes him over the "hostile powers" (fig. 7.3), and he ultimately finds solace in poetry (fig. 7.3). The greater significance of this work, however, reaches well beyond this prosaic reading to reveal to us a zeitgeist prominent among avant-garde artists in fin-de-siecle Vienna, a zeitgeist which put great store in the ability of the artist to lead society to a more profound understanding of itself and, thereby, to an enlightened existence. Among the many layers of meaning apparent in the frieze, the most evident is the connection to Beethoven, the subject of Klinger's sculpture. Klimt's use of quotations from Schiller's "Ode to Joy" in the catalogue entry has led many scholars and early critics to suggest that the frieze is a literal interpretation of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, which also employs Schiller's words in the final movement. 5 Certainly, Klimt's composition lends itself to this interpretation with its melodious, floating figures (see figs. 7.1 and 7.3), blank space after "Poetry" (corresponding to a caesura) and visual intensification in the final "joyous" panel, which introduces, like Beethoven's Ninth, a chorus (fig. 7.4).6 This connection was made official you might say when, in honor of Max Klinger's visit to Vienna, Gustav Mahler conducted an arrangement of part of the Ninth Symphony in the very room which contained Klimt's frieze. 7 167

Timothy W. Hiles The relationship to Beethoven's Ninth has been strengthened in recent years by scholars who have recognized a correlation between Klimt's frieze and Richard Wagner's essays of 1846 and 1870 which boldly interpret the Ninth Symphony.8 Of particular interest here are certain excerpts from Wagner's 1846 program which suggest that Klimt's work is all but a literal translation. Indeed, when Wagner describes the first movement of the Ninth Symphony as founded on a "titanic struggle of the soul, a thirst for Joy, against the veto of that hostile power which rears itself' 'twixt us and earthly happiness,' " one could easily imagine him describing Klimt's future work. 9 Despite these similarities, however, a direct connection with Wagner's essay remains elusive. Although Schopenhauerean elements concerning the unified will of humanity are apparent in both Klimt's and Wagner's work, Wagner's emphasis on the continual and repeated striving for joy, represented in an almost orgiastic build-up to happiness and fueled by the orchestral progression of sound culminating in the chorus, is narrower in focus and more pointed than the complete philosophical picture presented by Klimt. Indeed, Wagner's enthusiastic explanation of Beethoven's masterpiece in 1846 had a very practical purpose. As the composer himself would later explain, his intention was to overcome the "ill repute" which was felt toward the Ninth Symphony in Dresden. 10 As a result, Wagner's program notes, although sometimes philosophical, read as a pragmatic attempt to explain the merits of Beethoven's piece, particularly the unique and innovative elements of the choral arrangement. 11 This being said, one must acknowledge the exuberant explanation that Wagner provides, which he described as a guide to an emotional understanding of the work. 12 On a philosophical level, Klimt's frieze is more closely related to Wagner's 1870 essay concerning Beethoven, which provides a more complete picture of Wagner's relationship to Schopenhauer's interest in the revelation of the unified will. Once again, however, the strong emphasis on music and, indeed, the limitations Wagner attributes to the plastic arts, does not reconcile with Klimt's vivid visual message. 13 This is not to say that the emphasis which has been placed on the connection between Klimt's frieze and Wagner's heroic Beethoven is unwarranted. Certainly, the Wagner cult among university students and the general public in Vienna was quite substantial, and, as we will see, Klimt would have been thoroughly aware of the great , . composer s VIews. 168

Gustav Klimt's Beethoven Frieze There is also a compelling case to be made, however, that Klimt's entire enterprise is deeply indebted to the thoughts put forth in Friedrich Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy, which elucidates, and contributes to, th~ ideas of Schopenhauer and Wagner. The Birth of Tragedy (1872) - which originally appeared with the title The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music - was dedicated to Wagner in 1871, a year after the composer's commemoration to Beethoven was published. In fact, Nietzsche acknowledged the inspiration of Wagner's essay in his preface. 14 Before exploring the substantial philosophical similarities between the painter and the philosopher, it is instructive, as well as intriguing, to compare Nietzsche's words with Klimt's image: Transform Beethoven's "Hymn to Joy" into a painting; let your imagination conceive the multitudes bowing to the dust, awestruck - then you will approach the Dionysian. Now the slave is a free man; now all the rigid, hostile barriers that necessity, caprice, or "impudent convention" have fixed between man and man are broken. Now, with the gospel of universal harmony, each one feels himself not only united, reconciled, and fused with his neighbor, but as one with him, as if the veil of maya had been torn aside and were now merely fluttering in tatters before the mysterious primordial unity. In song and in dance man expresses himself as a member of a higher community; he has forgotten how to walk and speak and is on the way toward flying into the air, dancing. 15

This aspiration for universal harmony is vividly portrayed in Klimt's work, which appears to take Nietzsche's advice and transform Beethoven's Ninth Symphony into a painting. Much more than a literal interpretation, however, the frieze is Klimt's most profound statement involving Nietzsche and his suggestion that the artist has the power to lead society out of its rational decadence. Specifically, it relates to Nietzsche's notion that the artist has the ability to uncover the primal unity (or will) of humanity. In The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche explained how a healthy society contained both a mystical and a rational side. He presented this idea as analogous to the Greek concepts of Dionysus and Apollo: Dionysus represented the mystical and purely emotional side of humanity (the primal unity) and Apollo the rational being who must transfigure and represent this unity. Nietzsche explained that in modern society the Dionysian aspect had been concealed, rather than revealed, by the Apollonian. In other words, a scientific and rational world of symbols had concealed the purely emotional or mystical side of 169

Timothy W. Hiles existence. There was no longer an essential balance between these two parts of society. Nietzsche considered the artist as the true savior of humanity, because he was the one able to perceive, and represent, the primal unity or will of mankind which was too terrifying in its Dionysian state. As Nietzsche explained, only art can make the terrible Dionysian truth palpable: Conscious of the truth he has once seen, man now sees everywher~ only the horror or absurdity of existence; now he understands what is symbolic in Ophelia's fate; now he understands the wisdom of the sylvan god, Silenus: he is nauseated. Here, when the danger to his will is greatest, art approaches as a saving sorceress, expert at healing. She alone knows how to turn these nauseous thoughts about the horror or absurdity of existence into notions with which one can live: these are the sublime as the artistic taming of the horrible, and the comic as the artistic discharge of the nausea of absurdity.16

Through Nietzsche, the artist is given the enormous responsibility of recovering the Dionysian aspect of society through Apollonian symbols, thus restoring the delicate balance. He becomes the essential factor in the regeneration of an overtly rational society and thus, for many, an incentive for the will to live. For Nietzsche, music accompanied by poetry most nearly approximated the primal will; thus Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, which contains both music and poetry, was an entirely appropriate subject for Klimt's illustration of Nietzsche's thoughts. As we will see, the Beethoven Frieze embodies Klimt's most complete reference to the ideas presented in The Birth of Tragedy: the heroic artist (fig. 7.1), the terrible Dionysian truth (fig. 7.2), and the salvation aspects of music and poetry (figs. 7.3 and 7.4) are all clearly present. It will also become apparent, however, that Klimt's own heroic vision of the artist is thoroughly intertwined with that of Nietzsche. Although the Beethoven Frieze contains the most complete reference to Nietzsche's early thoughts, it is not Klimt's first allusion to the ideas presented in The Birth of Tragedy. In fact, evidence of Klimt's awareness of Nietzsche's beliefs can be seen some fifteen years earlier in his decorations for the new Burgtheater of Vienna (1886-8), which, in deference to the balance referred to by Nietzsche, portray the essential elements of a healthy society with the Altar of Dionysus and the Altar of Apollo on opposing sides of the ceiling. 17 This initial interest in Nietzsche was followed a few years later with Music I, 1895 and Music II, 1898, which contain the poet with Apollo's cithara, and the depiction of the Sphinx and 1


Gustav Klimt's Beethoven Frieze Silenus as allusions to the mystical and purely emotional aspects of the Dionysian realm. 18 2 THE HEROIC ARTIST AS CONVEYOR OF THE TRUTH

Before exploring the Beethoven Frieze's specific references to Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy, it is essential to grasp the similar heroic role in which both Klimt and Nietzsche cast the artist. Like Nietzsche, Klimt saw the artist as a conveyor of truth. Initially, however, his interest in the heroic artist revealing the truth was tied not to Nietzsche's unified will, but to the Vienna Secession's concerns for bringing modern, and more progressive, art to the city. This idea was particularly prophetic in turn-of-the-century Vienna where a crumbling, old-world empire attempted to maintain its grandeur through a shroud of the pomp and circumstance of the imperial past. Nowhere was this concept of revitalization through a connection with the past more prevalent than in the Ringstrasse, an ambitious building campaign, announced in 1860, with which Emperor Franz Josef and a new constitutional government endeavored to surround the city with a facade of historic splendor. Historic references were imperative, if a unified style was not; thus, within a short distance the Ringstrasse would contain a Parliament building in severe classicism, the Rathaus in Gothic, and the Burgtheater in Baroque style. 19 In decoration and painting, this historic approach was promoted by artists such as Hans Makart, whose baroque grandeur in canvases such as A Summer Night's Dream, 1871-2 equaled the bombastic resplendence of the Ringstrasse Although earlier in his career Gustav Klimt had participated in the decoration of Ringstrasse buildings,20 as president of the Vienna Secession (founded in 1897), he proclaimed that the art world, and society, could find salvation only in a truthful, modern art. Decrying Viennese historicism as deceptive, Klimt and the Secession artists placed the following motto over the doorway to the Secession building: "to every age its art, to art its freedom.,,21 Truth to one's time and truth to one's own vision of art became the stated mission of the Secession artists. This notion was expressed most profoundly by Klimt in Nuda Veritas. First printed in the Secession's journal Ver Sacrum in 1898, this image of a full-fronted nude woman holding a mirror represents the revolutionary power of the truth, suggesting that we drop any deceptive clothing, gaze in the mirror, and see ourselves as veritas. The serious consequences of the 171

Timothy W. Hiles truth, implied by the words written above the image "Truth is fire and truth means radiating and burning,,,22 warranted an equally serious role for the artist. As conveyor of truth, Klimt's artist was given heroic dimensions. Overcoming the restrictions of society and having faith in one's own ability as an artist was not only necessary, but crucial to the development of the arts and of the community. Thus in 1899 Klimt would present a painted version 9f Nuda Veritas, this time alluding not only to the revolutionary power of the truth, but also to the individual strength required of the artist to present that truth. By replacing the earlier quote by Schefer with Schiller's, "You cannot please everyone through your actions and your art - do it right for the few. To please many is bad," Klimt shifted his emphasis to the creative autonomy required of the artist. 3 PHILOSOPHY

With the unveiling of the University Panel, Philosophy (fig. 7.5) in 1900, Klimt would bring his vision of the heroic artist more in line with Nietzsche's, entrusting him with not only a mission to deliver a truthful, modern art to Vienna, but also with the Nietzschean ability to reveal the Dionysian truth. Commissioned, along with Franz Matsch, to decorate the ceiling of the Great Hall of the new building for the University of Vienna by Heinrich von Ferstel (1873-84), Klimt was assigned ten lunettes and three of the four faculty panels: Philosophy, Medicine and Jurisprudence. 23 The first of the three, Philosophy (fig. 7.5), became an international success in Paris; however, its earlier debut in Vienna was met with bitter dispute. Eventually, eighty-seven professors signed a protest against the placement of the work. 24 As Schorske has shown, the philosophical basis for the faculty opposition to Klimt's panel can be seen in the rational liberalism of their spokesperson, Friedrich JodI. 25 JodI represented the egotism of the growing Austrian liberal movement, leading the fight for an individualized self-advancement. As a promoter of women's emancipation and adult education, his philosophy was concerned with the individual and self-promotion through knowledge. Klimt's painting, on the contrary, was based on an acceptance of the metaphysical will of humanity, a Schopenhauerian and Nietzschean view professed by certain anti-liberal groups within the university. His mystical representation of a united will of humanity flowing through the canvas was opposed to the individual will or egotism which had 172

Gustav Klimt's Beethoven Frieze

Fig. 7.5 Gustav Klimt. Philosophy. 1899-1907. Verlag Galerie Welz. Salzburg. destroyel by fire 1945


Timothy W. Hiles developed among the liberal bourgeoisie and the growing progressive society promoted by JodI and many professors. 26 For Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer, the individual existed only within the pain and contradiction of the primal unity; just as Klimt's humanity, composed of several individuals, swirls in a unified stream on the left side of the canvas. 27 The metaphysical aspect of this will is represented by the mystery of the large Sphinx on the right side. 28 • "Knowledge," so identified in the catalogue of the seventh Secession exhibition,29 rises from the bottom of the canvas, signifying the recognition of truth, or the common will. Contrary to the pessimism of Schopenhauer, however, whose recognized will provided horror for existence, Klimt presents an early Nietzschean optimistic view of will. The acknowledgment of this will (or truth) is not horrible but leads to rebirth, presented as an infant on the right. 30 As we have seen, for Nietzsche the will as a whole included pain and sorrow as well as joy and ecstasy, and the transfiguration and representation of them was the function of the artist. Klimt's depiction of the Nietzschean will reveals his sympathies to be with certain anti-liberal groups of students. These students evolved from the earlier Leseverein group, which in the 1870s began to explore the theories of Wagner and Nietzsche and tie them to their own program which had questioned liberalism, thus shifting their political emphasis to a more aesthetic one. 31 By 1877 a group of students would address a letter to Nietzsche, on the occasion of his birthday, expressing how his image represented a "mighty presence" among them. 32 Specifically, Klimt's views can be identified with the extreme mysticism of Siegfried Lipiner, an influential member of the Leseverein. In 1876, at the age of 20, Lipiner burst on the scene with Der entfesselte Prometheus ("The Unbound Prometheus"), a lengthy romantic poem inspired by Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy and praised by the philosopher himself.33 Lipiner's influence among university students was quite noteworthy: Julius Paneth, a Viennese natural scientist, would describe him as the "ruin" of young people, driving them into "mysticism" and making them "contemptuous of scientific thinking. ,,34 Early on, Nietzsche felt a certain kinship with the young Viennese poet, considering him to be "a good Wagnerian"; by 1884, however, even Nietzsche began to question Lipiner's extreme beliefs. Although, as we have seen, Klimt's sympathies with Nietzsche's views can be d~tected as early as 1886, the enthusiasm among groups of Viennese students for the work of Wagner and for 174

Gustav Kliml's Beethoven Frieze Nietzsche's interpretation of the composer would have been apparent in Vienna throughout his early career, not only through organizations such as the Rede Klub within the Leseverein der deutschen Studen,ten Wiens, but also through publications and lectures which explained the heroic ability of the artist as represented in Wagner and interpreted by Nietzsche. Even beyond these specific student organizations, Nietzsche and Wagner were abundantly represented in other aspects of Viennese life. In fact, the Wagner cult became so proIllinent in Vienna that upon the death of the great composer in 1883, a festival was held by university students which was attended by close to 4,000 people; the event would become a focal point between liberals and their opposition and was highly visible in the press. 35 Klimt's mystical references in Philosophy, conveyed with a vague, imprecise composition, represent not only a sympathy with the young intellectuals of the university, but also with the popular cult that had developed around Nietzsche and Wagner. 3G In light of this, it is easy to understand why his piece caused such apprehension among members of the faculty. Considering Klimt's unified will to be "a field of eternal struggle, a mysterious, incomprehensible realm of seeking," the professors' criticism lay in what they regarded as a pessimistic attitude that did not encourage the "triumph of science" promoted by the university.37 4 THE BEETHOVEN FRIEZE

With the Beethoven Frieze, Klimt attempted to clarify his relationship with popular Nietzschean theory as well as incorporate his negative experiences with the University Panels. Earlier, in Nuda Veritas (1899), he had boldly referred to the strength and heroic nature required of the artist if he is to reveal the truth. With the University Panels he had experienced the necessity of this strength first hand, as he withstood the condemnation of the press and academic community for portraying the Nietzschean view in his own unique, if vague, manner. With this controversy still echoing in his ear, Klimt now portrayed his philosophical sentinlents in a nlore complete, bold, and concise style. No longer is the revealer of the Dionysian will the passive Sphinx as in Philosophy (fig. 7.5). No longer is the flow of humanity portrayed in a barely distinguishable impressionistic manner. Klimt now sees the transformation and revelation of the unified will as a battle, presenting his heroic artist 175

Timothy W. Hiles in the guise of a medieval warrior. (fig. 7.1).38 He is the seeker of truth, who must overcome the constraints of a rational society in order to reveal and transform the terrible Dionysian will. The dreams and desires of a disillusioned society, represented by pleading humanity, are carried by the artist/warrior through the "hostile powers" (fig. 7.2). These "hostile powers" represent the Dionysian terrifying truth about the will of mankind: sickness, madness, death, etc. Nietzsche described how "overweening pride and excess are regarded as the truly hostile demons of the nonApollonian sphere"; they are terrifying in their Dionysian state, but are made palatable by the artist who transforms these basic emotions into recognizable symbols. Nietzsche explained that the Apollonian culture: "must first overthrow an empire of Titans and slay monsters, and which must have triumphed over an abysmal and terrifying view of the world and the keenest susceptibility to suffering through recourse to the most forceful and pleasurable illusions. ,,39 The desires and hopes of society are only realized through the artist who transforms the Dionysian "hostile powers" into pleasurable artistic images: "art approaches as a saving sorceress, expert at healing. She alone knows how to turn these nauseous thoughts about the horror or absurdity of existence into notions with which one can live: these are the sublime as the artistic taming of the horrible. ,,40 Finally, the desires and hopes of humanity find solace in "poetry," personified by the lyric poet (fig. 7.3). Here Klimt displays his understanding of Nietzsche's unique approach to Schopenhauer and Wagner, emphasizing not the Schopenhauerian unresolved relationship between poetry and music or the Wagnerian accentuated music, but the union of poetry and music. "Poetry" leads us to the "ideal kingdom" (fig. 7.4), where man and woman embrace in a field of gold amid a choir of heavenly angels. The chorus, as Nietzsche explained, provides a wall against the assaults of reality: "as a living wall that tragedy constructs around itself in order to close itself off from the world of reality and to preserve its ideal domain and its poetical freedom. ,,41 Freedom of the artist to create is once again addressed by Klimt, as it was by Nietzsche, with his presentation here of the chorus. For Klimt, the chorus provides not only an allusion to the Dionysian qualities of art, but also "preserves" an "ideal domain" and "poetical freedom." By portraying m?-n and woman in a state of ecstasy within this living • wall, Klimt now alludes to the primordial Dionysian unity, transformed from the "hostile powers" into a pleasurable, visual illusion. 176

Gustav KliInt's Beethoven Frieze This unity is emphasized by the bell shape which encloses them in a n1anner related to Nietzsche's Apollonian drean1 sequence of the Dionysian primal unity. Above then1 the sun and moon represent the union of the will and all nature. In this state, the recognition and transformation of the unity of humanity and nature is complete: "Joy, beautiful divine spark." "This kiss for the whole world!" Throughout the Beethoven Frieze, Klimt's figures are a compendium of his previous experiences with Nietzschean philosophy. His "hostile powers," part of the Dionysian primordial unity, include figures related to the unified flow of humanity in the University Panels, Philosophy (fig. 7.5) and lv1edicine. "Poetry," in the last panel, is related to the Apollonian figure in Music 1. And the malo torso, as well as the elnbracing couple, of the last panel reflect aspects of the pure Dionysian will of Philosophy. Yet, as we have seen, Klin1t's frieze represents much more than a mere interpretation of Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy. It is a vision of the artist as prolnoter of the truth, be it the Dionysian truth or the artistic truth. Vienna's liberalism and historical facade rejected by Klimt and the Secession, was equated with Nietzsche's veil of Inaya or illusion. Just as Nietzsche felt that the Apollonian image (representative of an increasingly scientific and rational society) had concealed the Dionysian or basic priI110rdial unity, its pain and contradiction, through symbols, so Klin1t saw a rational society as illusional, stifling to creativity. Both recognized the artist as a conveyor of veritas. Klimt's longing for a poet-priest was shared by n1any intellectuals in Vienna who felt reality sli pping away as the facade of heroic court life, once the glue that held the empire together, began to crumble. Death became a preoccupation in Vienna, where suicide was all but common among the intelligentsia. 42 In the year of the fourteenth exhibition Hugo von Hofn1annsthal prophetically affirn1ed: "I have lost con1pletely the ability to think or to speak of anything coherently.,,43 Certainly, Klimt's frieze refers to the artistic transfonnation of the Nietzschean Dionysian will; but it also considers the loss of identity and self-worth, as well as the aCCOl11 panying confusion, which permeated Viennese society. Klin1t's armored artist speaks to a n1uch needed hope. A hope which continued to be recognized by Hermann Bahr eight years later as the I-Iapsburg Empire stepped ever more deliberately towards its demise: From these disillusioned and dreanl-drunk lnembers of the middle class, 177

Timothy W. Hiles some enter the proletariat, which sets about destroying the middle class world in order to replace it with a humane one. Others of these disillusioned and dream-drunk ones (more peaceful or perhaps only to find momentary refuge) remember the example presented by the theater and imagine in art that life of the whole man denied them in the reductions of the middle class world order. Their procession is led by Beethoven, followed by Wagner and the young Nietzsche. They have given the German people hope. 44

Notes Raurnkunst first appeared in 1891 in a private printing of Malerei und Zeichnung. In the portion reprinted in the fourteenth exhibition catalogue, Klinger refers to Wagner and his Gesarntwirken which he strove for in his musical dramas. He emphasizes not the single work of art but the "artistic unity" of the room and the spiritual environment provided by the art and the surroundings. See "Aus Klingers Schrift 'Malerei und Zeichnung,'" in XIV. Ausstell'g der Vereinigung Bilden der Kiinstler Osterreichs Secession Wien (Vienna: Adolf Holzhausen. 1902), pp. 15-20. For a contemporary discussion of the exhibition, with many illustrations, and the idea of Raumkunst, see Josef August Lux, "Klinger's Beethoven und die moderne Raum-Kunst," Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration, 10,1 (1902), pp. 475-518. 2 Klimt's frieze, like most supporting works, was meant only as part of an art environment; therefore, his, and the surrounding works, were signed with a monogram (identified with the artist in the catalogue). Similarly, few of the supporting works were designed to endure for more than the duration of the show. Klimt used plaster strengthened with reeds and decorated with casein, gold leaf, semi-precious stones, mother-of-pearl, gypsum, charcoal, pastel, and pencil. The work has not held up well over the years. It was only in 1985, when the restoration of the frieze was completed for the "Traum und Wirklichkeit" exhibition in Vienna, that its true colors were once again revealed. See Ivo Hammer and Manfred Koller, "Zu Technik und Restaurierung von Klimts Beethovenfries," in Traurn und Wirklichkeit - Wien 1870-1930 (exhibition catalogue) (Vienna: Historisches Museunl der Stadt Wien; Eigenverlag der Museen der Stadt ·Wien, 1985), pp. 544-57. See also Manfred Koller, "Klimts Beethovenfries: Zur Technologie und Erhaltung," in Mitteilungen der Osterreichischen Galerie, 22-3, 66-7 (1978-9), pp. 215-40. For a history of the provenance of the frieze, see Peter Vergo, "Gustav Klimt's Beethoven Frieze," The Burlington Magazine, 115, 839 (1973), pp. 108-13, which credits the saving of the work \vith the Viennese collector Carl Reininghaps. The upper part of the back wall of the room apparently contained a gallery from which to view Klimt's work. although its exact design is unknown. See the discussion of the reconstruction of the room

1 "The artistic unity of the room." Klinger's original essay on


Gustav Klirnt's Beethoven Frieze





for the "Traum und Wirklichkeit" exhibition in I-Ians Hollein, "Die Rekonstruktion des Raumes von Josef Hoffmann fOr Klimts Beethov(!nfries," in Traum und Wirklichkeit - Wicn 1870-1930, pp. 558-70. "Erste Langwand, dem Eingang gegeniiber: Die Sehnsllcht nach Ghick. Die Leiden der schwachel1 Menschheit: Die Bitten dieser an den wohlgeriisteten Starken als auBere, Mitleid und Ehrgeiz als innere treihende Krafte, die ihn das Ringen nach dem GHick aufzunehmen bewegen. Schn1aIwand: Die feindlichen Gewalten. Ocr Gigant Typhoeus, gegen den selbst Gotter vergebens kampften; seine Tochter, die drei Gorgonen. Krankheit, Wahnsinn, Tod. Wollust und Unkeuschheit, UnmaBigkeil. Nagender Kummer. Die SehnsOchte und WOnsche der Menschen fliegen dariiber hinweg. Zweite Langwand: Die Sehnsllcht nach GlOck findet Stillung in der Poesie. Die Kiinste fiihren uns in das icleale Reich hiniiber, in dem allein wir reine Freude, reines Ghick, reine Liebe finden konnen. Chor der Paradiesesengel. 'Freucle, schoner Gotterfunke.' 'Diesen KuB cler ganzen Welt!'" (Exhibition cata logue, XIV. A llsstcll'g der Vereinigung bildender Kiinstler Osterreichs Secession Wien, pp. 25-6). Marian Bisanz-Prakken, in relating Klimt's frieze to the work of Richard Wagner, compared this figure to the heroes of Wagner's operas, such as Siegfried or Lohengrin. Sec Marian Bisanz-Prakken, Gustav Klil71l. Der Beethovenfries: Geschichte, Funktion und Bedeutung (Salzburg: Residenz Verlag, 1977; enlarged edn. Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1980), pp. 51-2. Jean-Paul Bouillon also compared this figure to Siegfried, and found a prototype for the an110r in a suit designed by Lorenz Heln1schmied at Augsburg (1485) for Archduke Siegmund of Tyrol (in the collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, as is the heln1et which belonged to another panoply). See Jean-Paul Bouillon, Klil71t: Beethoven: The Frieze for the Ninth Symphony, trans. Michael Heron (Geneva: Editions d'Art Albert Skira SA; New York: Rizzoli, 1987), pp.44-7. As early as June 1902, the critic Berta Zuckerkandl considered the entire decorative scheme of the exhibition to be related to the theme of the conclusion of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony - "Freude, schaner Gotterfunke." See Berta Zuckerkandl. "Klingers Beethoven in der Wiener Secession," Die Kunst fiir Alle, 17, 17 (1902), pp. 385-8. It should also be noted that J. M. Auchentaller created a wall painting on the left wall of the room to the right of Klinger's statue (opposite the rOOl11 containing Klimt's frieze) that was entitled "Freude, schoner Gotterfunke!" Sec the exhibition catalogue, XIV. Ausstell'g der Vereinigung bildender Kiinstler Osterreichs Secession Wien, p. 51 and the plan of the exhibition on pp. 4-5. Klinger's ideas concerning Beethoven and Raul11kuIlst were also discussed in 1902 by Lux, "Klinger's Beethoven," pp. 475-82. Bisanz-Prakken refers to the musical form of the frieze, seeing, for example, the space between the next to the last and final scene as corresponding to, and introducing, the change in musical fonn of Beethoven's


Timothy W. Hiles






final movement in the Ninth Symphony. See Bisanz-Prakken, Gustav Klimt, p. 50. The use of silence in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony would also appeal to the sculptor Alexander Archipenko, who would later correlate the sound and silences in a symphony with the space and material in sculpture. See Alexander Archipenko, Archipenko: Fifty Creative Years, 1908-1958 (New York: Tekhne, 1960), p. 58. The entire event appears to have been carried off to great effect, with Mahler and a brass section in the gallery of the left room filling the Secession building with sound. See Ludwig Hevesi, "Max Klinger in Wien" (April 13, 1902), in his Acht Jahre Sezession (Vienna: Carl Konegen, 1906; repro Klagenfurt: Ritter Verlag, 1984), p. 383. Johannes Dobai sees Klimt's frieze as paying homage to Wagner's 1870 essay on Beethoven as well as to the spirit of the philosophy of Schopenhauer; see Johannes Dobai, "Zu Gustav Klimts Gemalde 'Der Kuss,' " in Mitteilungen der Osterreichischen Galerie, 12, 56 (1968), pp. 83-142. Although Bisanz-Prakken acknowledges the danger inherent in interpreting allegories specifically, she does see a connection with Wagner's interpretation of the Ninth Symphony (both the 1870 publication and the lesser known 1846 program which was republished in 1871), but, perhaps more importantly, sees a relationship to Wagnerian and Nietzschean theories about the role of the artist in general, see Bisanz-Prakken, Gustav Klimt, pp. 46-61. See also Bouillon, Klimt, pp. 26-9. Peter Vergo explains that when the final panel of the frieze was again exhibited in a Klimt collective exhibition at the Secession in 1903 it was identified as "Mein Reich ist nicht von dieser Welt" ("My Kingdom is not of this World"), a specific allusion to Wagner's essay on Beethoven from 1870. See Peter Vergo, Art in Vienna 1898-1918 (Oxford: Phaidon Press, 1975; rev. edn. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1981), pp. 71-2. Dobai had also made this connection. See Richard Wagner, "Beethoven's Choral Symphony at Dresden, 1846" (1846), repr. in Richard Wagner's Prose Works, trans. William Ashton Ellis (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Triibner & Co., Ltd., 1893-9; repr., St. Clair Shores, Michigan: Scholarly Press, 1972), vol. VII, p. 247. Hereafter referred to as Wagner's Prose Works. Although Wagner states that one reason for his choice was that the Ninth Symphony was "as good as totally unknown in Dresden," he gives one of the causes for the unpopularity of the symphony as being a concert given some years earlier by Reissiger which was a "disastrous failure." The "Report" on the performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at Dresden in 1846 is an extract from Wagner's memoirs, which were written between 1866 and 1871. See Richard Wagner, "Report on the performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at Dresden in the year 1846, together with a Programme," repr. in Wagner's Prose Works, vol. VII, pp. 239-46. In the opening.paragraph of the program Wagner wrote: "Considering the great difficulty presented by a first hearing of this extraordinarily


Gustav K)imt's Beethoven Frieze

important tone-work to those who have not yet had the opportunity of making its close and intimate acquaintance; and seeing that a by no means insignificant portion of the audience will probably be found in that position, it well may seem permissible to furnish, not so much a help to absolute llnderstanding of Beethoven's masterpiece - since that could come from nothing save an inner intuition - as hints in explanation of its artistic scheme: for in view of its as yet un imitated novelty, this last might easily escape the less-prepared and therefore readilybewildered hearer." See Wagner. "Beethoven's Choral Symphony at Dresden, 1846," p. 247. 12 See Wagner, "Report on the performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony," p. 243. 13 Wagner goes so far as to emphasize these limits in the following: "We can but take it that the individual lNi)) , silenced in the plastic artist through pure beholding, awakes in the musician as the universal Wi)), and - above and beyond all power of vision - now recognises [sic] itself as such in full self-consciousness. Hence the great difference in the mental state of the concipient musician and the designing artist; hence the radically diverse effects of music and of painting: here profoundest stilling, there utn10st excitation of the will. In other words we here have the will in the Individual as such, the will imprisoned by the fancy (Wahn) of its difference from the essence of things outside, and unable to lift itself above its barriers save in the purely disinterested beholding of objects; whilst there, in the musician's case, the will feels one forthwith, above all bounds of individuality: for Hearing has opened it the gate through which the world thrusts home to it, it to the world. This prodigious breaking-down the floodgates of Appearance must necessarily call forth in the inspired musician a state of ecstasy wherewith no other can compare: in it the will perceives itself the almighty Will of all things: it has not mutely to yield place to contemplation, but proclaims itself aloud as conscious World-Idea." See Richard Wagner, "Beethoven" (1870) repr. in Wagner's Prose Works, vol. V, p. 72. 14 In his imaginary discussion with Wagner in the preface Nietzsche writes: "Sie werden dabei sich erinnern, dass ich zu gleicher Zeit, als Ihre herrliche Festschrift fiber Beethoven entstand, das heisst in den Schrecken und Erhabenheiten des eben ausgebrochnen Krieges n1ich zu diesen Gedanken sammelte." ("You will recall that it was during the same period when your splendid Festschrift on Beethoven can1e into being, amid the terrors and sublimities of the war that had just broken out, that I collected myself for these reflections. ") Nietzsche's essay is dedicated to Wagner. See Friedrich Nietzsche, Die Geburt der Tragodie aus dem Geiste der Musik (Leipzig: E. W. Fritzsch, 1872), pp. iii-iv; the English translation is from Friedrich Nietzsche, "The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music," trans. and ed. Walter Kaufmann in Basic Writings of Nietzsche (New York: Random House/The Modern Library, 1968), p. 31. Hereafter referred to as Kaufmann, Basic. 181

Timothy W. Hiles 15 "Man verwandele das Beethovenische Jubellied der 'Freude' in ein Gemalde und bleibe mit seiner Einbildungskraft nicht zuriick, wenn die Millionen schauervoll in den Staub sinken: so kann man sich dem Dionysischen nahern. Jetzt ist der Sclave freier Mann, jetzt zerbrechen aIle die starren, feindseligen Abgrenzungen, die Noth, Willkiir oder 'freche Mode' zwischen den Menschen festgesetzt haben. Jetzt, bei dem Evangelium der Weltenharmonie, fuhlt sich Jeder mit seinem Nachsten nicht nur vereinigt, versohnt, verschmolzen, sondern eins, als ob der Schleier der Maja zerrissen ware und nur noch in Fetzen 'vor dem geheimnissvollen Ur-Einen herumflattere. Singend und tanzend aussert sich der Mensch als Mitglied einer hoheren Gemeinsanlkeit: er hat das Gehen und das Sprechen verlernt und ist auf dem Wege, tanzend in die Liifte emporzufliegen." (Nietzsche, Die Geburt der Tragodie, section 1, pp. 5-6; English trans., Kaufmann, Basic, section 1, p. 37.) 16 "In der Bewusstheit der einmal geschauten Wahrheit sieht jetzt der Mensch iiberall nur das Entsetzliche oder Absurde des Seins, jetzt versteht er das Symbolische im Schicksal der Ophelia, jetzt erkennt er die Weisheit des Waldgottes Silen: es ekelt ihn. Hier, in dieser hochsten Gefahr des Willens, naht sich, als rettende, heilkundige Zauberin, die Kunst; sie allein vermag jene Ekelgedanken iiber das Entsetzliche oder Absurde des Daseins in Vorstellungen umzubiegen, mit denen sich leben lasst: diese sind das Erhabene als die kiinstlerische Bandigung des Entsetzlichen und das Komische als die kiinstlerische Entladung vom Ekel des Absurden." (Nietzsche, Die Geburt der Tragodie, section 7, pp. 35-6; English trans., Kaufmann, Basic, section 7, p. 60.) 17 Werner Hofmann, Gustav Klimt, trans. Inge Goodwin (Greenwich, Conn.: New York Graphic Society, 1971), p. 20. It should also be noted that both the first (1872) and second (printed 1874; appeared 1878) editions of The Birth of Tragedy were reissued in 1886 with the new title page The Birth of Tragedy or: Hellenism and Pessimism. 18 Schorske recognizes these symbols in Music II, 1898. It should be pointed out, however, that Klimt created an earlier version of this motif in 1895 (Music 1) which also depicts Silenus and the Sphinx. In this version Silenus is partially hidden behind the woman playing the cithara. The later painting from 1898 is perhaps more significant because of its former position in the Villa Dumba in Vienna (destroyed in 1945) facing Klimt's Schubert at the Piano, 1899. The latter painting is a rather traditional, if somewhat mystical, image painted in an impressionistic manner, as opposed to the more blatantly symbolic Music II; as Schorske explained: "Thus, over against the gently glowing lost historical paradise of Schubert stand the archetypal symbols of instinctual energies, to which art has mysterious access through the heavy stony lid of civilization's coffer." (Carl E. Schorske, Fin-de-Siecle Vienna: Politics and Culture [New "ork: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980; 2nd edn., New York: Random House/Vintage Books, 1981], pp. 220-1). Bouillon sees even more


Gustav K]imt's Beethoven Frieze








significance in the placement of these two paintings, referring to Scll ubert at the Piano as reproducing "the Apollonian serenity of the lyre player in an idealized Biedermeyer interior" as opposed to the "Dionysiac Music II." See Bouillon, Klinlt, p. 69. Theophil Hansell was the architect of The Parliament (1874-83); Friedrich Schmidt designed the Rathaus (1872-83); and Gottfried Semper and Carl Hasenauer, The Burgtheater (1874-88). Although, as we have seen, Klimt would eventually rebel against this type of pseudo-historicism; ironically, his interest in the ideas associated with a Gesamtkunstwerk and the healing power of the arts may very well have been encouraged by this attempt to revitalize Vienna through the encircling Ringstrasse. In fact, the origins of KI imt 's artistic career can be found in the decorative campaigns carried out with his younger brother Ernst and with Franz Matsch in Ringstrasse project buildings such as the Burgtheater and the Kunsthistorisches Museum. This phrase was chosen by the Secession from a list drawn up by Ludwig Hevesi. See Ludwig Hevesi, "Weiteres vom Hause der Sezession" (November 13, 1898) in Hevesi, Acht Jahre Sezession, p. 70, fn. Hevesi, an art critic, was an important supporter of Klimt and the Secession. This version of Nuda Veritas was reproduced in Ver Sacrum, 1, 3 (1898), p. 12. It was printed on the same page as its pendent Der Neid and accompanied an anonymous article entitled "Symbolistik vor Hundert Jahren." The illustration, like the others accompanying the article, appears to have little direct connection with the contents of the prose, which discuss the spiritual and symbolic aspects of romantic painting and its relevance to more contemporary work. This earlier version of Nuda Veritas does, however, appear to be a reference to the work of the aesthete Leopold Schefer (1784-1862) who wrote "Kiinstler-Neid," a cycle of short stories that appeared in Helena fur 1838 (Bunzlau: Appun, 1838). These novellas emphasized the essential role of the arts, and yet the jealousy attendant to their masterful creation. The fourth faculty panel depicting Theology, the centerpiece, and six lunettes were painted by Matsch. For a reconstruction of the intended scheme by Matsch and Klimt and for information on ho\v the work was divided, see Alice Strobl, "Zu den Fakultatsbildern von Gustav Klimt," Albertina Studien, 2, 4 (1964), pp. 138-69. For a contemporary account of the controversy, although biased in favor of the artist, see Hevesi, "Klimts 'Philosophie'" (March 28, 1900); "Fur Klimt" (March 29, 1900); "Die Bilderstiirmer von Wien" (March 30, 1900); and "Der Protest gegen Klimts 'Philosophie'" (May 18, 1900) in Hevesi, Acht Jahre Sezession, pp. 243-5, 245-50, 250-4, and 261-4 respectively. See also B. Zuckerkandl, "Gustav Klinlt's DeckenGemalde," Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration, 22, April-September (1908), pp. 69-73. For other reviews see Hermann Bahr, Gegen Klinlt (Vienna: J. Eisenstein, 1903). Schorske, Fin-de-Siecle Vienna, pp. 231-4.


Timothy W. Hiles 26 Ironically, JodI, who supported individual freedom of the artist to create, found himself reluctantly in the company of those who stood against modern art. 27 Hevesi compared this flow of humanity in Klimt's Philosophy to that in Hans Canon's The Circle of Life (1884-5), a ceiling painting in the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna. See Hevesi, "Der Protest gegen Klimts 'Philosophie'" (May 18, 1900), in Hevesi, Acht Jahre Sezession, pp.263-4. 28 One of the complaints of the professors was that the Sphinx did not properly represent scientific advances, but rather gave a false impression of mystery. See particularly the response by the rector, Wilhelm Neumann, which is partially reproduced in Strobl, "Zu den Fakultatsbildern von Gustav Klimt," pp. 153-4. 29 For a description of the different interpretations of this figure see Peter Vergo, "Gustav Klimts 'Philosophie' und das Programm der Universitatsgemalde," Klimt-Studien special issue of Mitteilungen der Osterreichischen Galerie, 22-3, 66-7 (1978-9), pp. 69-100. The original conception of this figure was quite different, see the studies in the Albertina and in the Historisches Museum, in Vienna, as illustrated in Strobl, "Zu den Fakultatsbildern von Gustav Klimt," p. 145, fig. 1, and p. 147, fig. 3 and also the composition study (destroyed), p. 146, fig. 2. 30 Recently, Julian Young put forth the proposition, quite convincingly, that Nietzsche, at this point in his career, was still very much involved with the pessimism of Schopenhauer. See Julian Young, Nietzsche's Philosophy of Art (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), esp. pp. 25-57. It seems clear, however, that Klimt's interpretation was that of an optimistic vision of the recognition of the primal unity. Although this seems to be consistent with the positive reading of The Birth of Tragedy prevalent among the intellectuals of Vienna, it is also more consistent with the post-1876 Nietzsche who turns away from Schopenhauer's pessimism with more assurance. On the other hand, one could make a case that Klimt's original intention for Philosophy was less optimistic. In early studies for Philosophy the figure of "Knowledge" is depicted leaning on her hand in a more contemplative, one might even say pessimistic, position. Also missing from these early studies is the child representing rebirth on the right side of the 1900 version of the painting. See n. 29 for more on these early studies. 31 For a discussion of the anti-liberal student organizations in Vienna and their connection to the ideas of Nietzsche and Wagner see William J. McGrath, Dionysian Art and Populist Politics in Austria (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1974), pp. 53-83. 32 See Nietzsche Briefwechsel: Kritische Gesamtausgabe, ed. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari (Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1980), vol. II, pt. 6, no. 2, letter no. 1000 (October 15, 1877), pp. 737-8. 33 See Siegfried tipiner, Der entfesselte Prometheus (Leipzig: Breitkopf & Hartel, 1876). On the title page of Nietzsche's Die Geburt der Tragodie


Gustav KliInt's Beethoven Frieze




37 38

aus deln Geiste del' Musik (1872) the philosopher represented Prometheus, unbound and triumphant over the eagle which had tortured him, a triumph of will, and the arts, over the illusionary restrictions of society. Nietzsche expressed his admiration for Lipiner's work in a letter to Erwin Rohde, see Nietzsche Briefwechsel, vol. II, pt. 5, letter no. 656 (August 28, 1877), pp. 277-8. It should also be noted that Friedrich Konig, in a relief for the fourteenth exhibition, depicted a bound Prometheus. For an illustration of this work see Lux. "Klinger's Beethoven." p. 508. See a letter from Nietzsche to Franziska Nietzsche dated August 25, 1877, and also a letter from Nietzsche to Reinhart von Seydlitz dated January 4, 1878 both of which refer to Lipiner in favorable terms. By 1884, however, criticisms were noted by Nietzsche in a letter to Franz Overbeck dated April 7, 1884. Nietzsche explains that he received this negative information frOln a "Viennese natural scientist." Christopher Middleton has identified this scientist as Julius Paneth. See Selected Letters of Friedrich Nietzsche, ed. and trans. Christopher Middleton (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969). p. 222. n. 29. For the letters in the original Gernlan see, respectively, Nietzsche Briefwechsel, vol. II, pt. 5. letter 653 (postcard) (August 25, 1877), p. 275; letter no. 678 (January 4, 1878), p. 300; and vol. III, pt. 4, letter no. 504 (April 7, 1884), pp.494-6. For the political implications of this festival, beyond the scope of this chapter. see McGrath, Dionysian Art, pp. 187-92. See also Jacques Le Rider. Modernity and Crisis of Identity: Culture and Society in Fin-deSiecle Vienna, trans. Rosemary Morris (Cambridge: Polity Press. 1993), pp. 197,210-11. It should be noted here that a good portion of the protest concerned the anti-academic composition chosen by Klimt. Hevesi points out that the professors were unable to accept the blur of an image that was not precise and narrative. He goes on to explain that no one complained about similar ideas represented in Hans Canon's Circle of Life (1884-85) (a ceiling painting in the Vienna Naturhistorisches Museum) because it was more precise, easily understood, and within the grand tradition of history painting, see "Der Protest gegen Klimts 'Philosophie' " (May 18, 1900), in Hevesi, Acht Jahre Sezession, pp. 263-4. Hevesi hiIllself would maintain that Klimt's painting should be judged on its artistic l11erit, see "Die Bilderstiirmer von Wien" (March 30, 1900), in Hevesi, Acht Jahre Sezession, p. 252. See excerpts from the letter of protest by the professors as reproduced in Strobl, "Zu der FakulHitsbildern von Gustav Klimt," pp. 152-4. In The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche compared Schopenhauer to the armored knight in Albrecht Durer's engraving Knight, Death, and Devil, 1513: "den geharnischten Ritter mit dem erzenen, harten Blicke, der seinen Schreckensweg, unbeirrt durch seine grausen Gefahrten, und doch hoffnungslos, allein mit Ross und Hund zu nelunen weiss. Ein 185

Timothy W. Hiles







solcher Dtirerscher Ritter war unser Schopenhauer: ihm fehlte jede Hoffnung, aber er wollte die Wahrheit. Es giebt nicht Seinesgleichen" (Nietzsche, Die Geburt der Tragodie, section 20, p. 117; "the armored knight with the iron, hard look, who knows how to pursue his terrible path, undeterred by his gruesome companions, and yet without hope, alone with his horse and dog. Our Schopenhauer was such a Dtirer knight; he lacked all hope, but he desired truth. He has no peers" [Kaufmann, Basic, section 20, p. 123]). "als welche immer erst ein Titanenreich zu sttirzen und Ungeihtime zu todten hat und durch kraftige Wahnvorspiegelungen und lustvolle Illusionen tiber eine schreckliche Tiefe der Weltbetrachtung und reizbarste Leidensfahigkeit Sieger geworden sein muss" (Nietzsche, Die Geburt der Tragodie, section 3, pp. 13-14; English trans., Kaufmann, Basic, section 3, p. 43). "die Kunst; sie allein vermag jene Ekelgedanken tiber das Entsetzliche oder Absurde des Daseins in Vorstellungen umzubiegen, mit denen sich leben lasst: diese sind das Erhabene als die ktinstlerische Bandigung des Entsetzlichen" (Nietzsche, Die Geburt der Tragodie, section 7, p. 36; English trans., Kaufmann, Basic, section 7, p. 60). Hals eine lebendige Mauer betrachtete, die die Tragodie urn sich herum zieht, urn sich von der wirklichen Welt rein abzuschliessen und sich ihren idealen Boden und ihre poetische Freiheit zu bewahren" (Nietzsche, Die Geburt der Tragodie, section 7, p. 32; English trans., Kaufmann, Basic, section 7, p. 58). Nietzsche, in explaining the significance of the chorus, finally settles on Schiller's interpretation, particu1arly in the poet's preface to the Bride of Messina in which the chorus is regarded as a living wall used by tragedy in order to close itself off from the world of reality. For a characterization of this malady see William M. Johnston, The Austrian Mind: An Intellectual and Social History. 1848-1938 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1972), pp. 174-80. See Hugo von Hofmannsthal. "Ein Brief," in Gesammelte Werke (Frankfurt-on-Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1979), p. 465. This English translation can be found in Hugo von Hofmannsthal. "The Letter of Lord Chandos," in Selected Prose, trans. Mary Hottinger, Tania and James Stern (New York: Pantheon, 1952), p. 133. Hermann Bahr, "Mahler und das Deutsche Theater," in Paul Stefan, ed., Gustav Mahler: ein BiJd seiner Personlichkeit in Widmungen (Munich: R. Piper & Co., 1910), p. 20. Bahr's belief in the power of a truthful art was proudly displayed when he hung Klimt's Nuda Veritas in the study of his villa (designed by Joseph M. Olbrich); see a photograph in Joh. J. Cort, "Auslandische Urteile tiber Wiener Interieurs," Dos Interieur, ltViener Monatshefte fur Wohnungsausstattung und angelvandte Kunst, 2 (1901), p. 30.


II Illlprovisations, on Nietzsche, on jazz JOHN CARVALHO

Adorno was wrong about jazz. 1 "A diversion," he called it, "a compromise between aesthetic sublimation and social acceptance," a "mechanically and ritually subdued" symbol of castration anxiety (Adorno, Prisms, p. 131). That's strong stuff and, true enough, in its weaker moments, jazz may be "the false liquidation of art" (ibid., p. 132), but no more so than any other "culture industry.,,2 There are even moments, I have thought, when jazz importantly redirected the production of culture in ways Adorno should have appreciated. And, as I now think, had Adorno listened to jazz more for the flutesong of Nietzsche's aesthetics than for the percussive march of dialectical or psychoanalytic redemption, he would have heard how wrong he was. 3 It would be interesting to evaluate Adorno's focus on the emasculating function of jazz. 4 I will rather elaborate on the Nietzschean aesthetic that corrects Adorno's view. Because the critique of Adorno will be more satisfying. And because there is something more at stake. The elaboration of these aesthetics will lead me to challenge the guiding insight of a very influential reading of Nietzsche on aesthetic terms. So that I will be arguing, here, against Adorno on the basis of an interpretation of Nietzsche I am wagenng remains convincing even when its initial foothold is moved. 1 ART AND SELF-FASHIONING

The interpretation I have in mind is presented by Alexander Nehamas in Nietzsche: Life as Literature. 5 Quite generally, the view is that Nietzsche formed himself as a person, becanle who he \vas, in the way one forms or shapes a literary character, as one text anl0ng others in a context both shared and alien. So, Nietzsche produced 187

John Carvalho himself as he produced his texts, discursively and subject to all the laws and norms governing the formation of texts. Under this description, Nehamas accounts for perspectivism, will to power, the eternal return, the critique of morality and Nietzsche's production of his philosophy as a way of life comparable to the life of Socrates. Again, quite generally, this interpretation is thought to be compelling. 6 I myself am generally compelled by it. Still, I wonder so:r;netimes whether the forming principles of literature Nehamas appeals to are so well suited to be the forming principle of the subjects in Nietzsche's philosophy or of Nietzsche himself as a subject. How, more precisely, does one form a literary character? Arguably by inserting the image of an individual in a story, broadly construed, assigning him or her a role in the action of that larger text, identifying him or her with a special set of thoughts, feelings and interactions, giving him or her a history always more or less styled, more or less contemporaneous with the character he or she is always only becoming in the context of the larger story fashioned on the same terms. Moreover, there is a profoundly reflexive structure to literature so fashioned that refers these characters and stories to one another and to this art of becoming through writing literature. 7 And this reflexivity can impose limits on literary formations, limits on the kinds of lives represented in literature and on the forms those lives can take. It can also cast a traditional narrative pall on the meanings of those lives. Yet, Nehamas shows, the life Nietzsche produces through his writings is singular and "unique" and literary. Better, it is the presence of style, the "most multifarious art" of connecting, intimately, "a large number of powerful and conflicting tendencies" that makes a life outstanding on Nehamas' view (Nehamas, Nietzsche, p. 7). But how does such a self-styling navigate the reef of traditional narrative form? Nehamas says these strong tendencies must be "controlled and harmonized" (ibid.). Exactly how do the "literary situations" adduced by Nehemas suggest a non-traditional model for the formation of admirable subjects? What counts as Nietzsche's philosophy is arguably non-traditional on Nehamas' account, but the literati Nehamas cites in the context of his interpretation could not be called non-traditional even in Nietzsche's time. 8 They are sometimes controversial, but always in the context of a traditional narrative form and style. Perhaps this is just a structural limitation of specifying what a tradition is not. Or perhaps there is another artistic situation that more readily suggests the formative style Nehamas wants to attribute to Nietzsche? For 188

Improvisations, on Nietzsche, on jazz example, would most of what Nehanlas says about the relation between art and philosophy in Nietzsche remain substantially unchanged if music were substituted for literature? If the music in question were jazz? Would Nehamas' view be in any way enhanced by this allusion? there a basis for the substitution in Nietzsche? And where does this connect back to Adorno? According to Nehamas, in fashioning himself the way he did, Nietzsche sought to make his life a work of art. According to Nietzsche, art is the offspring of two powerful, conflicting tendencies: the power of illusion and the force of intoxication, the world of dreams and the underworld of useless suffering, the principle of individuation and the priInal non-individuated "one," the Apollonian art of sculpture and the Dionysian art of music. 9 "And behold," Nietzsche says, "Apollo could not live \vithout Dionysus" (BT 4). That is, Nietzsche holds, the inlagistic arts, including lyric and tragic poetry, are born from the spirit and sustaining power of nlusic. They image, these arts, just the vastness of "primordial pain and its primordial re-echoing," the terror and joy in creation that is this Dionysian music. As it turns out, this Dionysian impulse is the subject of considerable reflection and elaboration in Nietzsche's writings in connection with many of the key elements of his philosophy. If, following Nehamas, Nietzsche's philosophy is the elaboration of a form of life, and this Dionysian tendency is intimately connected to that philosophy, it does not seem obviously out of place to discuss the forming impulse of music in connection with Nietzsche's efforts to give style to his life. Still, I will not argue from the place of prominence accorded music in Nietzsche's writings to a place of prominence for it in the styling of his life, a life, as we know, very much caught up with music. 10 It could very well be that Nietzsche esteemed music as an art yet valued literature, because of its connection to his o\vn writing, as a model for giving form and sty Ie to his life. But I \vill not also discount the possibility that there are features of Nietzsche's philosophy of music and his personal involvement with music composition that influenced his approach to literary style and his "life style." Zoltan Roman tells us that Nietzsche conceived of his Zarathustra on the plan of a sylnphonic score (Roman, "Nietzsche via Mahler," p. 294). Frederick Love says Nietzsche described his preferred music in terms he also occasionally applied to his o\\'n writing style, "particularly that of Zarathustra" (Love, "Nietzsche's Quest," p. 180). And Anthony Storr reports as conlmon kno\vledge



John Carvalho that Nietzsche himself suggested "improvisation at the keyboard could serve as a model for writing prose which would escape the shackles of convention" (Storr, "Nietzsche and Music," p. 216). These remarks suggest Nietzsche's views about music had an impact on what Nehamas has called Nietzsche's "life as literature" that is worth exploring further. Still, it will seem a difficult leap from the significant iIl).pression music appears to have had on Nietzsche in the 1880s to the suggestion that its living reminder is modern jazz improvisation. But this is what I want to show. Because I think there is in jazz music (and in certain other forms of contemporary music as well) the example of a style that better suits Nietzsche's plan to make his life a work of art. And there would seem to be some support for this view. According to Andy Hamilton, improvisation, especially modern jazz improvisation connects more directly to the "abstract musical idea," the "spontaneous" and "unmediated transmission" of art through music (329).11 And Paul Berliner has shown in remarkable detail just how jazz artists use improvisation to shape a singular, unique style. 12 I will argue further that jazz improvisation approximates Nietzsche's Dionysian music. In stark contrast to the artistic individual giving shape to his or her life in forms borrowed from a lost tragic ideal the jazz musician embellishes on the work of a non-individuated "world-artist." And where, in Nietzsche's later formulations of the Dionysian as in the shift from traditional to modern jazz, this "world-artist" becomes a "this-worldly" artist, jazz improvisation points forward from the literary situations provided by Nehamas to the styles of writing one's own life Nehamas' interpretation of Nietzsche wants to describe. Finally, if through improvisation jazz does for certain listeners what Nehamas says literature did for Nietzsche, Adorno's view will be seriously discredited. 2 DIONYSUS AND THIS-WORLDLY MUSIC

It is difficult and somewhat misleading to say what Nietzsche's "philosophy of music" is. Nietzsche never composed or commented on works like On the Musically Beautiful, the book by his near contemporary Eduard Hanslick. 13 At the same time, Nietzsche writes about music so extensively and in such a variety of contexts, it is difficult to distinguish a view about music that is distinct from his whole phildsophy. This difficulty is sewn into The Birth of Tragedy itself, where Nietzsche appears to be developing a mUSIC


Improvisations, on Nietzsche, on jazz theory. There we find two very different conceptions of music discussed: the art of music, one art among others, more or less tragic, music expressing the confluence of the two strong tendencies personified in Apollo and Dionysus; and what Nietzsche calls "nonimagistic music," the terror and "blissful ecstacy that wells from the innermost depths of man" (BT 1), the isolation of the Dionysian impulse given form by the Apollonian in the arts. What makes matters somewhat more complicated, this primary Dionysian music itself - that only endures images and concepts as "accompaniments" (BT 6) - becomes an important principle in Nietzsche's whole philosophy, elaborated on and modified significantly over the course of Nietzsche's writings. This includes the "Attempt at a Self-Criticism" Nietzsche appends to the 1886 edition of The Birth of Tragedy and where he writes the following. To be sure, apart from all the hasty hopes and faulty applications to the present with which I spoiled my first book, there still remains the great Dionysian question mark I raised - regarding music as well: what would a music have to be like that would no longer be of romantic origin. like German music - but Dionysian? (ASC 6)

In this case, a look at just what, in the final analysis, is Dionysian will be crucial for understanding Nietzsche's philosophy of music. But a philosophy of music is also thought to be reflected in Nietzsche's critical remarks about the more or less tragic, imagistic music of his contemporaries. Most notoriously, Nietzsche's taste and distaste for the music of Richard Wagner, his fascination with Bizet's Carmen and his collaborations with Peter Cast are invoked as indicative of Nietzsche's preferred aesthetics of music. Nietzsche, who read Hanslick, would probably be quite modest about the conclusions that could be drawn about any such aesthetics from his personal taste. 14 But Nietzsche's disaffection from Wagner does seem to parallel closely important shifts in Nietzsche's conception of the Dionysian principle. And, on Love's reading of the correspondence with Cast, Nietzsche's ideas for his friend's composition of a sym phonic opera to challenge the Wagnerian standard rest on a "practical application of the basic thesis of Die Geburt der Tragodie shorn of its metaphysics" (Love, "Niezsche's Quest," p. 168), meaning, presumably, cut off from a certain understanding of the Dionysian. On these terms, what Nietzsche describes as the "grand style" of this new music should provide important clues about the non-metaphysical Dionysian impulse guiding Nietzsche's consid191

John Carvalho ered philosophy of music. But Nietzsche never specifies its parameters, and Love can only speculate that Gast and Bizet, with Carmen, represent its outer limits. So, once again it seems, if we want to fashion a philosophy of music out of Nietzsche's musical preferences, we will have to look closely at Nietzsche's changing conception of the "spirit of music," the Dionysian impulse styling his philosophy and life. So, what is Dionysian? To this point, I have only rehearsed the broadest points of Nietzsche's account from The Birth of Tragedy. In that book, the Dionysian is expressed on several planes. On the plane of unmediated nature, the Dionysian is identified with primal excess, the abyss of everything both frightful and worth experiencing in life and, especially, the spirit of music. The divinity of this primordial affect is derived from the Asiatic cult celebrations of the god Dionysus in acts of "extravagant sexual licentiousness, ... the most savage instincts, ... including that most horrible mix of sensuality and cruelty" Nietzsche calls "the real 'witches brew' " (BT 2). On the human plane, the Dionysian is identified with the artistic impulse to imitate this divine affect and dance to the music of this "witches brew." Now, for a long time, Nietzsche says, the Apollonian Greek artists resisted the emotional power of this barbaric Dionysian music. 15 And when the same seductive impulses "burst from the deepest roots of the Hellenic nature and made a path for themselves" these Greeks continue to distinguish themselves (BT 2). For in their celebrations of the god of dancing music, the Dionysian impulse operates only through the destruction of the thoroughly entrenched Apollonian principium individuationis. And with this destruction of their individuation these Greeks performed, for the first time, an artistic act. For in their festivals, the ancient Greeks imitated and recomposed the primordial oneness of Dionysian music by loosing the impulse to images and individuation so vividly represented in their Apollonian vision and dreams. By this act, Nietzsche posits, they gave themselves an aesthetic justification for living under the conditions of life bursting from the primal Dionysian impulse. Consequently, the Dionysian impulse in Greek art is found in the "curious" emotions of the revellers, "the whole pantomime of dancing, forcing every member into rhythmic movement" that only remind the celebrants - "as medicine reminds us of deadly poisons" - of the pain that begets this joy, the agony in the ecstasy, the whole "witches brew" of the primal Dionysian scene (BT 2). We ask again, what is Dionysian? And the answer appears to be 192

lInprovisations, on Nietzsche, on jazz that it is, all at once, differentiated only in its application. It is at once the primary impulse in nature, the imitation of that impulse by artists, and the operation of that impulse through the principle of individuation that governs the natively Apollonian Greek. If Greek art is distinguished by the combination of these impulses, it flourishes, according to The Birth of Tragedy, by a mixture that dignifies the primary impulse of Dionysian wisdom. Because what is prior in the Dionysian is the primal connectedness of all nature, the metaphysical unity of everything living of \Nhich our own lives are only an image, a representation. Through the resistance of the Apollonian impulse, Greek tragedy gets the beautiful illusion, dialogue, and the mask, features which continuously redeem through a "rapturous vision" the "truly existent primal unity" (BT 4). But the Dionysian remains the "gospel of universal harmony," the union of men with other men and "man" with otherwise alienating and hostile nature. In The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche gives us to expect great things from the influence of this impulse: "Freely, earth proffers her gifts, and peacefully the beast of prey of the rocks and desert approach. The chariot of Dionysus is covered with flowers and garlands; panthers and tigers walk under its yoke" (BT 1). These are the metaphysical trappings Nietzsche says he found so embarrassing and incompatible with his later views (ASC 3). Still, he finds something worth preserving in precisely the aesthetic economy of his first book, a very definite instinct for life in all of its formations that he can still only call "Dionysian" (ASC 5). In a recent essay, Daniel Conway helps chart a course from what he calls Nietzsche's "Gotterdammerung," the twilight of the gods Apollo and Dionysus - as they are represented in The Birth of Tragedy, to Nietzsche's Gotzen-dammerung or Twilight of the Idols where a developed Dionysian persona is unveiled. 16 Here, in the last passages of the last work he published himself, Nietzsche refers to his very first work, "my first revaluation of all values" and to the Dionysian soil out of which his ability grows" - I, the last disciple of the philosopher Dionysus - I the teacher of the eternal recurrence." Saying Yes to Life even in its strangest and hardest problems, the will to Life rejoicing over its own inexhaustibility even in the sacrifice of its highest types - that is what I call Dionysian, that is what I guessed to be the bridge to the psychology of the tragic poet. Not in order to be liberated from terror and pity ... but in order to be oneself the eternal joy of becoming, beyond all terror and pity - that joy which included even joy in destroying. (TI, "What lOwe" 5).


John Carvalho Here the Dionysian tendency is recast as the indestructibility of Life, the principle of "a transient subsystem within the boundless economy of Nature" (Conway, "Returning to Nature," p. 35). Against this, the Apollonian stands for the "aesthetic justification" of this Life, the restricted economy of art giving form to Nature. On these terms, Conway argues, Dionysus comes to represent the "genuine justification of human existence" that regards Life "as it is, as fully natural, as bearing no transcendent meaning or' beauty whatsoever" (ibid.). For Conway, Dionysus stripped of all metaphysical comfort is strictly natural, physikos. But we do not have to go that far. 17 We can contrast a general economy of Life to the restricted exchanges of signs that characterize the Apollonian on Conway's interpretation. What else can the art of "this-worldly comfort" entail than the fashioning of this-worldly lives, affirmations of all the varieties and vagaries of Life "as it is," the inexhaustible images, all of them mere appearances. To say Yes to this Life, this eternal Life, more, to give style to a life from this excessive expenditure, that would require a truly Dionysian impulse, that would be worthy of Zarathustra's "holy" laughter. 18 And with this laughter, Nietzsche says, we can "dispatch all metaphysical comfort to the devil" (ASC 7), even the mythic trappings that, Conway goes on to argue, tempted Nietzsche's philosophy of Nature. For Nietzsche's philosophy of music, we can dispatch all drama and romanticism, all moral formulations, everything "modern" and "German" to a neighboring inferno. Only then will we be worthy of the lightness of step and the honest melodic style of this-worldly Dionysian music. 3 "MUSIC" - AND THE GRAND STYLE

Beyond The Birth of Tragedy and apart from a few remarks that can be sorted out of The Case of Wagner Nietzsche wrote nothing more that could be counted as rigorously advancing these Dionysian aesthetics in relation to the art of music. He clearly continued the practices of an active musical life, playing piano, arranging performances and consulting on the composition of Gast's operatic inventions. Yet nothing in the published works indicates a principle of selection that guided these practices. From the records of Nietzsche's activities in his letters and fragments from Nietzsche's texts, Frederick Love has assembled a working conception of what he calls Nietzsche's "new aesthetic of music." It will be useful for my purposes to rehearse Love's discussion of Nietzsche's reflections on 194

Improvisations, on Nietzsche, on jazz opera that bear on the development of this new aesthetic as the basis for the discussion of jazz improvisation to follow. Beginning with Human, All- Too-Human, Love says, music dropped out of Nietzsche's formal philosophizing. According to Love, the disaffection with Schopenhauer and metaphysics in general, suggested at moments in The Birth of Tragedy itself, had taken hold firmly by this date (1878) leaving music, whose central function had been to link human experience to the transcendent unity of nature, without a role in Nietzsche's thinking. What persisted was a sustaining concern with "the problem of musical continuity or self-contained structure" (Love, "Nietzsche's Quest," p. 158), an interest Nietzsche shared with Hanslick (ibid., p. 161). Love speculates that, as early as 1875 (ibid., p. 159 and n. 16), in letters and conversations with Gast, Nietzscne had begun to articulate his opposition to Wagner's music from the perspective of the historical development of musical continuity and structure in opera. On that view, the first operas, Florentine Camerata, deriving from a supposition about ancient Greek drama and life, did little more than provide musical accompaniment for a privileged literary form. Monteverdi, the first recognized operatic genius, found a way to balance the requirements of musical organization and literary expression in a series of closed musical forms. But by the middle of the eighteenth century the developed opera seria, as it was called, introduced such a number and complexity of these musical forms that it "virtually obliterated the original justification of the opera as drama" (ibid., p. 159). The comic opera buffa of Niccolo Piccinni was a late-eighteenth century heir of these baroque stylings that would be developed significantly by Mozart (and, later, by Rossini). In response to this baroque tendency to "spectacle, static posturing and vocal virtuosity," Christoph Gluck began producing a lyrical tragic opera form that invoked principles of nature for the purposes of unifying dramatic, musical and emotional elements. Not surprisingly, Wagner would later claim Gluck as his "spiritual ancestor." And Love divulges how Nietzsche exploited this association to comment indirectly on Wagner in The Wanderer and his Shadow. 19 More importantly, Love also shows how, in Nietzsche's correspondences with Gast, the Piccinni-Gluck axis was conceived as the pole around which the problem of operatic structure turned. 20 Nietzsche dispatched Gast to Venice to find evidence in Piccinni's scores that would support this thesis. When his inquiries at the Doge's Palace 195

John Carvalho turned up no archival trace of the features in Piccinni's music that could distinguish it stylistically from Gluck, Gast invoked the terms "active" and "reactive" to differentiate the two composers. It is thought Nietzsche borrowed this terminology from Gast to gloss his own classic/romantic antithesis and to characterize the opposed poles of operatic style. Love notes that "active," associated by Gast with the "true musicians," and "reactive," reserved for "abolitionists, reformers and theory dominated" composers, turn up in the notes collected for The Will to Power. In one (WP 847), Nietzsche asks simply whether "the antithesis active and reactive" is "behind" the classic/romantic distinction. In the other, Nietzsche apparently applies the terms "activity" and "reactivity" to a comment written under the title "Order of rank." In the body of the note, as it is printed in all the authorized editions of the text, Nietzsche associates himself with "the highest man" who represents °the antithetical character of existence most strongly, as its glory and sole justification." The condition for greatness in man increases, Nietzsche says, with "the multiplication of elements and the tension of opposites ... That man," Nietzsche writes, "must grow better and more evil is my formula for this inevitability - " (WP 881). Still, the synthesis of this rare unified type does not necessarily advance the human condition. In order to evaluate the contribution of this "high type" Nietzsche adds, "One must have a standard: I distinguish the grand style; I distinguish activity and reactivity; I distinguish the excessive, the squandering from the suffering who are passionate ( - the idealists)" (WP 881, editor's n. 7). Thus, the terms Gast applies to the buffo-reform debate in music turn up in Nietzsche's descriptions of his ideal type and its opposite. This becomes even more to the point when we recall the function of these terms in one of Nietzsche's most important published writing, On the Genealogy of Morals, where "active" and "reactive" are reserved for the characterizations of the noble and slave morality. Specifically, ressentiment is characterized as a fundamental reaction to the "hostile external world" (GM I 10) and associated with the "reactive affects" - "hatred, envy, jealousy, mistrust, rancor and revenge" - of "bad-conscience" (GM II 11). Contrarily, the active man is associated with the noble aristocratic knights who value, with themselves, "a powerful physicality, a flourishing, abundant, even overflowing. health, together with that which serves to preserve it: war, adventure, hunting, dancing, war games and in general all that involves vigorous, free joyful activity" (GM 7). 196

Improvisations, on Nietzsche, on jazz The active aggressive, arrogant man is still a hundred steps closer to justice than the reactive man; for he has absolutely no need to take a false or prejudiced view of the object before him in the way the reactive man does and is bound to do. For that reason the aggressive man, as the stronger, nobler, more courageous, has in fact had at all times a freer eye, a better conscience on his side. (GM II 11)

The active principle on this description clearly invokes the later fashioning of the Dionysian impulse in Twilight of the Idols, an impulse opposed more to the life-denying principles of Christianity than to Apollonian impulse to images and beautiful appearances. 21 With this in mind, Love's reading of "grand style" as Nietzsche's developed idea of the classical form in music and as the antithesis of the "decadent" condition of the musical arts takes on a new dimension. 22 On this reading, what is "active" in the grand style is much of what Nietzsche valued about the classical form: music governed by its own internal logic, musical structures built with clear contrast of theme and tonality into which the drama would be integrated (Love, "Nietzsche's Quest," pp. 161, 167). By contrast, "decadent" music is not called "reactive" but rather "baroque" for the nuanced complexity and drama that characterized these typical "late" works. On these terms, Nietzsche is ready to trade off the "facile show of beauty" in music for a "will that creates form and order out of chaos" (ibid., p. 175). This is, presumably, what he "discovered" in Bizet's Carmen. This is how he describes it in Twilight of the Idols: The highest feeling of power and sureness finds expression in a grand style. The power which no longer needs any proof, which spurns pleasing, which does not answer lightly, which feels no witness near, which lives oblivious to all oppositions to it, which reposes within itself, fatalistically, a law among laws - that speaks of itself as grand style. (TI, "Expeditions of an Untimely Man" 11)

In The Will to Power (842), under the title" 'Music' - and the grand style," he writes the following: "This style has this in common with great passion, that it disdains to please; that it forgets to persuade; that it commands; that it wills - To become master of the chaos one is; to compel one's chaos to become form: to become logical, simple, unambiguous, mathematics, law - that is the grand ambition here." In both passages Nietzsche cites architecture as the aesthetic realization of this will to power and notes (TI "Expeditions of an Untimely Man" 11) it is neither an Apollonian nor Dionysian state. No doubt, where such a will is exemplified in a grand style of music, its expression will fall to the provenance of the latter god, again, no 197

John Carvalho doubt transformed from the restricted role assigned him in The Birth of Tragedy. To understand Nietzsche at this level we must understand that the grand musical Dionysus will have absorbed the Apollonian impulse into its operation and delight in giving forms to life just for the this-worldly comforts it brings, no longer for dramatic effect, much less for any remotely metaphysical reasons. Bizet's Carmen would seem to be the product of a musician who approaches these Dionysian aspirations. About Carmen Nietzsche writes, "It is rich. It is precise. It builds, it organizes, finishes: thus it constitutes the opposite of the polyp in music, the "infinite melody" (CW 1). This gives us some idea of the qualities Nietzsche might count as the realization of his preferred aesthetics of music. But it is still difficult to specify from descriptions like these, or from examples of who Nietzsche singles out as qualified musicians, a music theory that might be applied to music not yet written, operas of the sort Gast had tried to compose, for example. To fill this gap, Love offers some further reflection on grand style from various comments Nietzsche made about "southern music." Again, this is a term of endearment reserved for music in the first place and it designates, Love says, not the actual musical south (Italian opera, for example) but music with qualities that northerners like Nietzsche himself might need in the way of mediterranean restoration for their romantic afflictions. Music discussed under this tag, Love reports, roughly comprised Nietzsche's musical refuge from Wagnerianisms of all sorts. Where Nietzsche describes "southern music," he uses words he also applied to his own "most multifarious art of style," "deceptive naivete combined with great subtlety," "refined awareness of its own modernity and a delight in the deliberate exploitation of tradition" (Love, "Nietzsche's Quest," p. 180). In addition, Love says, Nietzsche's south "involves the superimposition of the world of pagan antiquity on the modern and the resultant characteristic combination of surface naivete, amoralism and modern self-consciousness, but above all a world of sunlight, strong color and firm contour" (ibid., p. 181). From this we can conclude that Nietzsche's philosophy of music, if there is such a thing, would likely hold that the "true musician" the active one, the Dionysian one, the one with grand style - has, by a special kinship and through the articulation of several specific aesthetic principles and procedures, the capacity to draw out and give fornl to the Dionysian impulse of all art understood now as the absorption of the Apollonian dream-world of images and beautiful 198

Improvisations, on Nietzsche, on jazz appearances in a vigorous, dancing affirmation of the value of life and a will to fashion admirable styles of life from the strongest and most dangerous tendencies. It would also likely hold that music so composed exhibits a southern affinity for subtlety, refinement, "strong color and firm contour." I want to show that modern jazz music, by virtue of its origins, its structures and its sound, exhibits these "southern" affinities. I want to argue that improvisation is the special capacity modern jazz musicians have to give style to the chaotic images and dangerous tendencies swirling around them, the expenditure that economizes on the general excesses of life that is Jazz. 4 "SO WHAT"

"Jazz," like "hip hop," today, names a complex phenomenon that includes jazz music as one of its elements. Jazz music would be unthinkable without the Harlem Renaissance, for example, and the general economy of African-American social, civic, spiritual, cultural, educational and commercial enterprises, especially as these developed out of the migration of blacks from the rural south to the industrial north in the early part of the twentieth century.23 The development of jazz music is roughly isomorphic with the development of this economy, especially in regard to the impact on this economy of its exchanges with the restricted economy of the dominant white population. My interest in modern jazz represents an interest in a particular stage in the development of these exchanges, the music and culture of the 1950s and 60s, the era of more direct confrontations between blacks and whites. Musically, I have in mind the sounds of Thelonius Monk, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, and Ornette Coleman; for better or for worse the discussion that follows will focus on examples from the music of Miles Davis. Specifically, I want to discuss "modal" jazz improvisation and, more specifically, the ways it is treated from Kind of Blue to Bitches Brew. This music is not touched much by philosophers. Lee Brown comments usefully on Andre Hodeir's attempt to define jazz nlusic generally in terms of its rhythmic features. 24 Brown reconstructs this as a definition of "swing," a characteristic typically associated with big-band music from 1930 to 1940 and the "nlainstreanl" smallgroup style of the 1950s. As Brown points out, however, "swing" refers not just to an historical style of jazz but more importantly to the complex interaction between the infrastructural pulse beat and 199

John Carvalho the superstructural phrasing of the musical line that results in a definitive "tension and release" (Brown, "Theory of Jazz Music," p. 120). This "swing" turns out to be a characteristic of AfricanAmerican music from blues to jazz to funk and rap that distinguishes it from its European counterpart. This is evident in Miles Davis' solo work over a range of modal improvisations from "So What" (Kind of Blue) to "What I Say" (Live Evil). Brown discounts the importance of improvisation in his' account of jazz. Because it is pr~sumed to be a modification of the melody and jazz music often lacks, Brown says, features that, following the cantabile model of European music, might be described as melodic. Instead he emphasizes jazz musicians' interests in rhythmic opportunities arising out of the complicated interactions between the sustaining pulse beat and a swinging musical line. "Modern jazz," Brown writes, "has simply carried this idea further" and "searches for more daring ways to challenge our expectations without losing touch with the rhythmic continuity that gives these efforts sense" (ibid., p. 121). Where classical European composers alternate tension and release to produce meaningful musical scores, modern jazz musicians respond spontaneously to problems as they arise in the perpetually swinging relation of tension and release. Brown suggests that this spontaneity may redefine jazz improvisation in a useful way. What drives jazz and gives it form is just a musician's spontaneous, improvised response "to problems generated by the interaction between specific musical events" and his or her "sense of the harmonic and rhythmic possibilities in the music and of his or her own capacities" (ibid., p. 124). This includes responses to the spontaneous interventions of other players as well as to new problems created by features of the improvisor's own responses. But the richness of this contribution can only be fully appreciated in the context of the jazz musician's will to drive the music by making what Brown describes as "precisely the kinds of dangerous moves to which the player must respond" afresh (ibid.). Probably without intending to, Brown gives an account of modern jazz that makes improvisation the impulse to give forms to a near chaotic swirl of musical phenomena that, at the same time, preserves, chaotically, this swirl as the source of the impulse to create ever nevv forms. Perhaps, today, it still needs to be said that improvisations are not random selectiolls of music picked out of thin air any more than the Dionysian impulse I have tried to describe is an instinct on the level 200

Improvisations, on Nietzsche, on jazz of pulling our hand away from a heated surface. 25 Both are practiced arts of giving forn1 to chaos by virtue of (or even in spite of) long experience and special knowledge. In the case of the jazz improviser, knowledge and ex,perience, won through performance, form the ideas the musician hears as solutions to specific musical situations. Also in the case of the jazz improviser, this practice tends to set a norm for improvisatory form and content the musician must "think against" to avoid falling into cliched responses. Andy Hamilton reports Ornette Coleman's description of his attempts to overcome this temptation by playing "without memory," by a kind of "active forgetfulness" that befits the noble aristocrat of Nietzsche's Genealogy. In jazz improvisation, musicians must actively forget the orders of music as they have been rehearsed to fashion an idea that, in the very act of playing it, orders the music that is always threatening to collapse all around them, undoes what would otherwise undo them with an impulsive musical phrase. So what about "modal" jazz improvisation improves on this Dionysian score? By the 1940s, improvisation had become a sine qua non of what was, so, called "modern" jazz (Hamilton, "The Aesthetics of Imperfection," p. 334). The term "modal" is used to pick out a kind of modern jazz based exclusively on the characteristic styling of these improvisations and the effects of this styling on the rhythm, harmonic structure, and melodic line of jazz music. The "modes" are scales, arrangements of seven intervals of a whole-tone or half-tone each as a series of notes from which soloists' draw in their improvisations. This technique is used, we may say now, to actively "forget" the harmonic structure and tonal organization of the music that had come before. By focusing the soloists' attention on scales rather than chords, modal jazz opened up non-traditional melodic lines set against seemingly arbitrary harmonic patterns. Whole songs were composed of two chords connected by rhythmic structures but very little in the way of harmonic direction. Opportunities for rhythmic improvisation expanded with modifications in the infrastructural pulse beat permitted by these loosened harmonic relations. The locus classicus of this style of improvising is the Miles Davis recording, Kind of Blue. On the lead track, "So What," a free-form piano and bass solo introduces the lead figure, played in the bass. supported by rhythmic chordal patterns based on two scales in the piano and horns. Davis' solo charts a musical landscape, varying pitch, tempo, emphasis, introducing small figures. drawing longer 201

John Carvalho lines, defining a musical idea that styles the music to be taken over abruptly by Coltrane's rather more harmonic treatment of the same scales. Throughout this solo Davis swings with a vamping piano accompaniment by Bill Evans that deftly ranges over a variety of rhythmic patters, unexpectedly "side-slipping" to neighboring scales to produce more harmonic tension to be released by Davis' improvisation. The effect, in the context of each scale, is synchronic: each soloist in turn, Davis, Coltrane, Adderly, and Evans, explores a range of solutions to the problems stated in one specific musical situation and then moves on to the next. The music gets its drive, its swing, exclusively from the soloists' linking of ideas from one musical situation to the other. Miles orchestrates these improvisations so that they are heard in their stylistic uniqueness. On "So What," these innovations are fitted into a standard AABA form that concludes with the same lead figure or "head" repeated in the bass. To this extent, as the leader of this band, Miles is something of the prototypical dramatic artist in Nietzsche's sense (BT 8). In all of his group ensembles, and particularly on Kind of Blue, Davis produced music that actually enters into the bodies of other musicians and takes on another character. To put it differently, by encouraging spontaneity, going so far, as legend has it, as to pay his side-men not to practice their solos, sketching musical situations only hours before recording sessions, Davis "became who he was," gave style to his life in music by improvising a unified musical idea through the lyrical (Adderly), harmonic (Coltrane), and rhythmic (Evans) improvisations of other players he himself styled with a subtle sound, deceptively simple phrasing and extended musical ideas. 26 On Kind of Blue, Davis' music clearly resonates the "refined awareness of its own modernity," the delightful "exploitation of tradition," the "amoralism," "strong color and firm contour" of Nietzsche's musical south. In the bands Miles would lead over the next fifteen years, he would continue to improvise more and more rhythmic musical effects in what are otherwise sounded as horizontal melody lines made thick by incorporating the vertical improvisational contributions of an expanding rhythm section. Bitches Brew, believed on its release to have approached that mix of sensuality and cruelty Nietzsche attributed to the "witches brew" of Asiatic cult celebrations of the Dionysian impulse to dance, employs three drummers, • three bassists (counting Maupin on bass clarinet), two or three keyboards, an electric guitar, and a percussionist. It shocks not 202

lInprovisations, on Nietzsche, on jazz because of its thematic but because of its commitment to rhythm and because of the unified hand of Miles executing the mix. 27 Nothing exemplifies this better than the last "movement" of "Pharaoh's Dance" where Miles improvises eight different rhythmic takes on a motile musical situation modified from Inoment to moment by the musical ideas of eleven other players and the themes Miles has added to this polyphony. The musical passage lasts as long as the line Miles defines and is contoured by the improvisational responses of the rhythm players to these solos. Moreover, Bitches Brew exemplifies, for the music Miles would play over the next five years, an iden tification with the musical culture of Africa that had remained implicit in his music so far, a superimposition of pagan antiquity, to use Love's words, on a thoroughly modern musical world with strong evidence of amoralism and modern self-consciousness but, above all, "sunlight, strong color and firm contour," Nietzsche's musical south (Love, "Nietzsche's Quest," p. 181). This was featured, ever more prominently, in the music's identification with "funk" style, "music which is extremely physical and 'dirty'" with rhythms that are "strong, clear and hypnotic. ,,28 So, ever more in the music he played over the ten years from 1959 to 1969, Miles continues to dance more and more in step with the Dionysian impulse in music, "composing" chaos as the chance to produce styles of music that playfully swing out of that chaos improvised musical passages that are compelling to hear. A quarter of a century ago, Miles Davis set a standard for jazz music that many would say has not been challenged seriously by any new forms. 29 5 - THE MOST MUL TIF ARIOUS ART OF STYLE

And, yet, Miles Davis is just one example of a modern jazz musician whose improvisations express a decidedly Dionysian impulse. This impulse is heard whenever musicians improvise those spontaneous complications and resolutions of challenging musical situations especially when, following Brown, those improvisations emphasize the rhythmic element in the music; because rhythm is so closely connected to the whole symbolics of the body in dance, and Dionysian music seems more than anything to have a connection to dancing. Quoting from part 4 of Zarathustra at the conclusion of his "Attempt at a Self-Criticism," Nietzsche glosses his recommendations about "this-worldly comfort," goal of the reformed artist, "in 203

John Carvalho the language of that Dionysian monster who bears the name Zarathustra: 'Raise up your hearts, my brothers, high, higher! And don't forget your legs! Raise up your legs too, good dancers; and still better: stand on your heads!'" (ASC 9). Nietzsche seemed to think the occasions for such dancing were rather rare in what he called "modern" times. This was especially true in the musical arts where the shared affinities with the Dionysian impulse had all the more obviously become "decadent," guided by a misplaced passion for spectacle, drama, and everything else extraneous to the production of music itself. To put it another way, music had become decadent by confusing extraneous affectation with excessive expenditure in the service of the aesthetic impulse. Clearly, there is no shortage of "modern" music in our times aspiring to this confusion, especially, as it would seem, music called "jazz" or otherwise produced to sate the market for popular art. Ironically, this confusion often operates today in conjunction with that opposed aesthetic impulse Nietzsche writes about, an overwrought Apollonian affect tending to increasingly Doric effects, militant encampments against Dionysian influences, found as much in what is called "classical" music culture as in the rigidity of popular music formats. But this confused state is especially evident in music produced by or attempting to convincingly reproduce literal intoxication. What Nietzsche counted as the first artistic act of the ancient Greeks was the imitation of primordial nature, the Dionysian impulse acting through the Apollonian to recompose the conditions of the terrifying collapse of the principium individuationis and so to provide the conditions for art. Modern jazz does the same and all the more so with modal improvisation. Modal jazz compositions, themselves improvisations on the traditional compositional forms, reconstruct a chaotic musical situation as the condition for musicians to make themselves works of art, the spontaneous occasion for admirable forms of music with an identifiable style. In Zarathustra Nietzsche writes, "I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star" (Z 1 "Zarathustra's Prologue" 5). In modern jazz improvisation, musicians explore the chaos in themselves and give birth to dancing music. But how, more precisely, does this music provide a model for artistic self-fashioning comparable to the model Nehamas has fashioned for Nietzsche out of literature? I have borrowed one of the chapter titles fr6m Nehamas' book as a section heading to this chapter to indicate a return to that theme. Nehamas borrowed it 204

Improvisations, on Nietzsche, on jazz already from Ecce homo ("Why I Write Such Good Books" 4). There, remember, Nietzsche repeatedly describes his own style and the life that was defined by that style in terms of rhythm. Nehamas' reading of self-styling in Nietzsche suggests that the myriad of tenacious conflicting tendencies harbored in us can be, in the right circumstances, more or less admirably composed as a monistic aesthetic whole from a selective perspective and in response to the circumstances we find ourselves inextricably caught up in. In Ecce homo Nietzsche writes the following. Good is any style that really communicates an inward state, that makes no mistake about the signs, the tempo of the signs, the gestures ... The art of great rhythm, the great style of long periods to express a tremendous up and down of sublime, of superhuman passion, was discovered only by me. ("Why I Write Such Good Books" 4)

Where Nehamas appears attracted to the image of admirable style, Nietzsche seems to me more interested in the activity of reproducing a singular, primal rhythm. Nietzsche's writing communicates tempo in the way it changes subjects, changes languages, shifts emphasis, increases tempo, produces breaks, stages points as scaffolding to be torn down and moved to the next position. 30 Modern jazz improvisation expresses rhythm in its spontaneous and decidedly provisional resolutions of the musical situations it modifies sometimes strategically sometimes merely for the convenience of developing this line this time. Modern jazz is importantly experimental in this respect. Some of these experiments have been recorded. Many more have been performed for the moment and for the chance to play it this way one time, to divulge a musical impulse just for the this-worldly comforts it gives, now. To accommodate the variety of musical situations he or she finds him- or herself in, the jazz musician must be able to mold this impulse to the formations of conflicting tendencies expressed by other players. This is what is so challenging about the music I have been describing: to give style to a situation that is spontaneously taking on new forms. In addition to being characterized by its provisional, experimental, and plastic goals, self-fashioning on the model of jazz improvisation is also multiple. We hear this in the music of Miles Davis who is able to hear himself in a number of different voices, able to change personnel and fashion a sound from the combined strengths of the impulses driving these new voices, employing players not because 205

John Carvalho they duplicated his sound but because they multiplied the number of voices he had to play with and against. John Coltrane made the same point about his decision to add a second percussionist (Rashied Ali) and Pharoah Sanders as a second tenor sax in his last compositions. For a time, Ornette Coleman toured playing the front man for two trios (one acoustic, one electric) each playing different music simultaneously. These jazz artists experimented especially with harmonic and rhythmic forms, with arrangements of music and musicians, with a variety of musical and other-musical influences to fashion a sound. And the real point to be made here is that they fashioned themselves and through music and a musical style made lives for themselves. These artists' lives can no more be separated from their music than Nietzsche's can be separated from his writings. But now, perhaps, you may be ready to ask whether this chapter is arguing that modern jazz improvisation exhibits such grand style and a Dionysian enthusiasm, that it is "good," because it please me. Would it be so pleasing to Nietzsche, you may want to know. But I want to avoid speculating about how Nietzsche's taste might respond to music played over half a century after his death. As to the first query, I will say this music does please me, as Carmen pleased Nietzsche, and for my part all the more because it discharges, even in recorded versions of it, the developed view of the Dionysian impulse that was always lurking in the aesthetic model of The Birth of Tragedy. If, as Conway notices, Nietzsche leaves that aesthetic model largely intact in the "Attempt at a Self-Criticism," choosing rather to castigate its metaphysical optimism and rebuke its romantic faith in the healing power of music, it may very well be because in this aesthetics, he could still find, after so many years, science viewed from the perspective of the artist, art looked at from the perspective of life and "an entirely reckless and amoral artist-god who wants to experience, whether he is building or destroying, in the good and in the bad, his own joy and glory" (ASC 5). Modern jazz music gives a voice to that divine impulse that can not be mistaken as "the false liquidation of art." There is no satisfying account for Adorno's failure - perhaps it just did not please him - to notice this music coming to prominence in the last ten years of his life. Finally, after all this, Nehamas might very well respond, "Fair enough, so far. I can begin to see how will to power and even perspectivism could be explained on these terms. Now how would you account for other aspects of Nietzsche's philosophy on these 206

Improvisations, on Nietzsche, on jazz terms, the eternal return and Nietzsche's critique of morality, for example?" And I would have to admit I am a long way from satisfying anything like the completeness achieved by his interpretation of Nietzsche's life as literature. But I am encouraged with the results gained by this experiment, and I believe it would be worth pursuing these improvisations further. In an unexpected way, the turn to music does comment on Nietzsche's relation to Socrates who, in the Phaedo (60e4-7), is represented as having been visited, over the course of his life, by the same dream (perhaps a missive from Apollo?) in different appearances but with the same message, "Socrates, make music and practice it." Socrates is said to have interpreted this as the encouragement to continue practicing philosophy in his customary way. But when the dream recurs to him in prison, after having been tried and sentenced to death for this very practice, Socrates interprets it as the injunction to write poetry and he attempts some early versifications. But what if Socrates was wrong again, and the dream referred not just to the content of his philosophizing but also to his style. What if the dream was calling Socrates to a new lightness of touch, a new rhythm of speaking, to a forgetfulness of dialectics and didactics, to a philosophy that can dance. What if this" Socrates who practices music" approaches the model Nietzsche invokes for himself in the last passages of his first version of The Birth of Tragedy,31 one of those witnesses to the "tremendous struggles and transitions" of the present age who, because of the magic of this "restless, barbarous, chaotic whirl" must also take part in these struggles and fight (BT 15)? Can great musicians be great fighters? In an important respect, jazz musicians have always had to fight, for their music and for their lives. Miles Davis, anyway, thought the two were very much alike, because both are driven by "a higher sense of theory going on in their heads. ,,32 Science, art, the affirmation of life, this eternal life, dancing, Dionysian music, yes, there's something worth considering further about these connections between Nietzsche and im provisation and jazz.

Notes 1 Theodor W. Adorno, "Perennial Fashion - Jazz," in PriSI11S, trans. Samuel and Shierry Weber (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1981). See also "Jazz," Zeitschrift fur Sozialforschung (1936), pp. 252ff. All references

are to Prisms.


John Carvalho 2 Adorno's summary judgment, the last sentence of his essay reads in full.



5 6





"Jazz is the false liquidation of art - instead of utopia becoming reality it disappears from the picture." This means, I suppose, both that jazz fails to pay its debt to art and that, because it issues false coin as art, jazz obliterates the ideal that should be realized in art. That Adorno was capable of turning such an ear is abundantly clear from his numerous treatments of Nietzsche. See those in Minima moralia (trans. E. F. N. Jephcott [London: NLB, 1978]) \vhose ,notorious Nietzschean maxim is, "The whole is false" (p. 50). For a different review of Adorno on jazz see Lee Brown, "Adorno's Critique of Popular Culture: The Case of Jazz," Journal of Aesthetic Education 26, 1 (1992), pp. 17-31. Alexander Nehamas, Nietzsche: Llfe as Literature (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985). The influence of Nehamas' interpretation continues to spread. In 1994, a translation was published in French following translations into German (1989) and Italian (1987). I am thinking of literature, here, as a form of what French critics call ecriture and of reflexivity as the condition of literature, as the reference of literature to itself as a form of writing. See, especially, Roland Barthes, Writing Degree Zero, trans. Annette Lavers and Colin Smith (New York: Hill and Wang, 1968). Another way of stating something of what is at stake in this chapter: how close does what Nehemas calls "literature" come to ecriture? Of all the writers Nehamas singles out, mostly as exergues on the title pages of each chapter, Joseph Conrad, Milan Kundera, Henry James, Hermann Hesse, Henry Adams, Thomas Mann, and Oscar Wilde, only Proust, cited on a separate page between the table of contents and the abbreviations, comes close to exhibiting a creative difference from traditional narrative norm. Compare WP 1050 where Apollo is presented as the urge to beauty and perfection and as the "victory" of the Greeks over their native, Dionysian tendencies. Beauty is also Nietzsche's victory on Nehamas' interpretation of self-fashioning. (As it is the mark of Nehamas' "victory" over a certain interpretation of Nietzsche altogether.) On a different front, I will rather continue Nietzsche's questioning of this beautiful capitulation of the Greek fascination with the terrible, multifarious and uncertain aspects of life. All quotations of Nietzsche are from Kaufmann's translation and editions for Viking/Vintage Press, except where noted. There are several discussions of Nietzsche's personal relations with music, including those documenting Nietzsche's extensive interactions with Richard Wagner and Heinrich Koselitz (hereafter Peter Gast). For my purposes, here, I will restrict my references on this theme to Frederick R. Love, "Nietzsche's Quest for a New Aesthetic of Music," Nietzsche-Stud-ien 6 (1977), pp. 154-94; Zoltan Roman, "Nietzsche via Mahler, Delius and Strauss," Nietzsche-Studien 19 (1990), pp. 292-311;


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11 12 13






and Anthony Storr, "Nietzsche and Music," in A. Phillips Griffith, ed., Philosophy, Psychology and Psychiatry, Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement, 37 (1994), pp. 213-29. Andy Hamilton, "The Aesthetics of Imperfection." Philosophy 65 (1990), pp. 323-40, at p. 329. Paul F. Berliner, Thinking in Jazz: The Infinite Art of Improvisation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994). Eduard Hanslick, On the Musically Beautiful, trans. Geoffrey Payzant (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1986). Of course, in the foreword to the first edition, Hanslick himself considers a "complete musical aesthetics" possible "only in a restricted sense" and. in his autobiography, he says such an aesthetics would require "a profound historical awareness ... What is the musically beautiful? Obviously different times, different peoples, and different schools have answered the question in altogether different ways" (pp. xii-xiii). WP 838: "We lack an aesthetics in music that would impose laws on musicians and give them a conscience ... we come close to believing 'what is good is what pleases us'" As Love says ("Nietzsche's Quest," p. 189), the reservation in the final statement is important. Compare Hanslick's uncertainty in the passage from the autobiography quoted in the previous note. Seven editions of Vom Musikalish-Schonen had been printed by 1885. According to Storr ("Nietzsche and Music," pp. 216-17), Nietzsche read the 1865 edition of On the Musically Beautiful in Bonn that same year. BT 2: "It is in Doric art that this majestically rejecting attitude of Apollo is immortalized." BT 4: "Only the incessant resistance of the titanicbarbaric nature of the Dionysian could account for the survival of an art so defiantly prim and so encompassed by bulwarks." Daniel W. Conway, "Returning to Nature: Nietzsche's Gotterdammerung," in Peter R. Sedgwick, ed., Nietzsche: A Critical Reader (London: Blackwell, 1995), pp. 31-52. Conway seems to be following the terms of The Birth of Tragedy right back into metaphysical repose. There Life is empirical existence and so clearly restricted. It represents a mere appearance of the primordial unity of Nature. This Nature is what, I take it, Conway calls "Life as it is" governed in this formation by a decidedly general economy. excess without individuation, expenditure without resolve. But it is not clear this has anything to do with "Nature," one of the most metaphysically loaded of philosophical terms. (I follow Conway's convention of capitalizing "Nature" and "Life" in this discussion of his essay.) Can we not avoid this temptation to metaphysics and say "Yes" to a general economy of Life, the inexhaustible phantasmagoria of images (including images of natural forms) as mere appearances, "beyond all terror and pity," untouched by standards of beauty? This is the interpretive strategy I execute in the following. For a development of Conway's view on this issue see his "Nietzsche's


John Carvalho






24 25


Art of This-Worldly Comfort: Self-Reference and Strategic Self-Parody," History of Philosophy Quarterly 9,3 (1992), pp. 343-57. Love, "Nietzsche's Quest," p. 160. See especially Wanderer 164: "Victory and rationality. - As in the case of other wars, so in the case of aesthetic wars which artists provoke with their works and their apologias for them the outcome is, unhappily, decided in the end by force and not by reason. All the world now accepts it as an historical fact that Gluck was in the right in his struggle with Piccinni: in any event, he won; force was on his side" (translation by R. J. Hollingdale for Part Tw~, Volume Two, "The wanderer and his shadow," in Friedrich Nietzsche" Human All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986). Interestingly, Nietzsche conceived of the problem of opera in the Piccinni-Gluck debate as a power play decided on French soil against the Italian composer that cast German music as derivative and irrelevant (Love, "Nietzsche's Quest," p. 163). Love assigns Gast's use of "active" and "reactive" to a letter late in 1887. It is possible that the Genealogy, published that year, was not yet publicly available. But would Gast not have seen substantial portions of this text in draft or advanced manuscripts? Could the terms of this relation not have been a subject of Nietzsche's discussions with Gast? It seems more likely Gast borrowed the terms from Nietzsche's analysis, not as his own "self-justification" (Love, "Nietzsche's Quest," p. 164) but to flatter his friend. Against Heidegger's attempt to apply the concept to Nietzsche's conception of the arts in general, Love argues Nietzsche derived the idea from his preoccupation with music and developed a stable articulation of what it was only in this context. It is also clearly unthinkable without the diaspora of black Africans to the North American continent. Paul Berliner (Thinking in Jazz, p. 4) refers to the compelling work of Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), Blues People (1963) and Black Music (1970), both published by William Morrow, New York. On the development of jazz in the milieu of black culture see Berliner (Thinking in Jazz, pp. 21-59). Lee Brown, "The Theory of Jazz Music: 'It Don't Mean a Thing ... '," Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 49,2 (Spring 1991), pp. 115-27. Of course, for Nietzsche, the challenge was to make this impulse instinctive because it wasn't. For jazz musicians the challenge is to make their musical idea as natural to the music as any composed or otherwise improvised part of it. This idea can be pushed further. Adderly's solos on all the tracks he plays represent the lyric poet, the conscious expression of musical ideas through images and symbols that "are nothing but his very self and ... different projections of himself' (BT 5). Coltrane's more harmonically derived solos. represent deeper, more depersonalized emotions, the impulse to give expression to the immediate confrontation \vith the


Improvisations, on Nietzsche, on jazz





31 32

terrifying. ecstatic abyss of life. Coltrane would go on to be an influence on Miles in bands he would lead himself, expanding the harmonic parameters of the modal style and pushing the dense group improvisational style pioneered by Ornette Coleman and celebrated by Miles in recordings like Bitches Brew (1969), Live Evil (1970), Agartha (1975), and Pangeia (1975). Interestingly on all but one track on Kind of Blue, Coltrane solos before Adderly followed by Evans who adds the rhythm for this Dionysian dance. Davis functions to frame these musical events with comic or sublime effects but just as equally expresses himself in everyone of these elements. This is regularly cited as an instance of the impact of white rock music on jazz. But what is rock, in its better forms, but a development of the intricate relations between an infrastructural pulse beat and the superstructural melodic or improvisational phrasing. The lyrical "poetry" of rock often centers on more mundane themes, but the musical impulse succeeds just in case it swings. Ian Carr, Digby Fairweather, and Brian Priestly, Jazz: The Rough Guide, with contributions by Chris Parker, John Corbett, Jeff Kaliss, Richard Plant, and Charles Alexander (New York: Penguin Books, 1995), p. 733. This is an excellent compendium to the artists and albums that made Jazz. For many commentators, Miles "killed" jazz by inviting forms of improvisation that did not advance the position of jazz. In fact, beginning in the 1970s, jazz entered something of what Nietzsche might describe as a baroque period dominated with bands lead by players from Miles' larger ensembles (Zawinal's "Weather Report," McLaughlin's "Mahavishnu Orchestra," Corea's "Return to Forever," Hancock's Headhunters quintet) as well as Ornette Coleman's "Prime Time," and Larry Coryell's "Eleventh House." This "late" jazz music comes as close as any to advancing the impulse of Miles' 1970s adventure with varying "baroque" affects. Nehamas' reading of Beyond Good and Evil as a monologue exhibits a deep appreciation of just these features and suggests an openness to a more musical interpretation of Nietzsche. See his "Will to Knowledge, Will to Ignorance, and Will to Power in Beyond Good and Evil," in Y. Yovel, ed., Nietzsche as Affirmative Teacher: Papers Presented at the Fifth Jerusalem Philosophical Encounter (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1986), pp.90-108. See Kaufmann's n. 11 (BT 15). Miles Davis with Quincy Troupe, Miles: The Autobiography (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989), p. 400.


II Perforlllative identity: Nietzsche on the force of art and language FIONA JENKINS

The art of "becoming what one is" as portrayed by Nietzsche in his final work, Ecce homo, preserves the fullest sense of that phrase's paradoxical force; in order to become what one is, one must already in some sense be what one is to become. It is, he suggests, an achievement, and yet not something one could set out to achieve; "let us assume," he writes, "that the task, the destiny, the fate of the task transcends the average very significantly: in that case, nothing could be more dangerous than catching sight of oneself with this task. To become what one is, one must not have the faintest notion what one is" (EH "Why I Write Such Good Books" g). This task, then, comes upon a person as a "destiny"; it cannot be "willed," and, as Nietzsche has it, the greatest risk is that in "catching sight of oneself with it," it would become a mere pose, something inauthentic. The phrasing suggests that there is a kind of dishonesty built into the very gesture by which a person might seek to know "what" he or she is, so that if the truthfulness to which Nietzsche constantly alludes in Ecce homo is to be possible, it must somehow evade the autobiographer's objectifying gaze. The self which cannot be known is mutable, indeterminate, at risk, yet is at once the paradigm and realization of strength. In claiming that its task cannot be "willed" Nietzsche seems to wish to distinguish the selfs "becoming" from anything that could be construed as a free act on the part of the subject; rather, this self affirms its "necessity," as a "destiny" or "fate." The question that I shall explore here is how such a self might be formed and why it becomes a paradigm for Nietzsche, through an examination of his thought on art, language and culture. The following interpretation adopts several guiding principles which may initially seem contentious. The first is that if we are to do


Performative identity justice to Nietzsche's sense of the importance of art, then art cannot in the end be at odds with the central role he gives in his philosophy to the "intellectual conscience." "Art" and "Truth" are often spoken of by Nietzsche as antagonistic values; it is clear that they can be divorced from one another and that they are so divorced in "moral" interpretations of existence. Where Nietzsche judges between them, he claims that "art is worth more than truth" (WP 853). The reason he gives for saying this, however, is that art is "more honest" than truth. Such claims suggest at least thR possibility that it is not straightforwardly an antagonism, but an internal relationship between the value of art and that of truth which is proposed as ideal, insofar as this is mediated by a peculiarly aesthetic notion of truthfulness. This interpretation might be supported by the idea we find in The Birth of Tragedy, that art is only truly of aesthetic value when it appears as a response to insight into reality. The second principle, then, is that true creativity represents a response to life, and is not in any straightforward sense the imposition of meaning upon life. The creativity of the self is not expressed in an act of will which would stamp upon phenomena a subjectively valid meaning. Rather the "willing" of the creative self is an effect of the immersion in life. Moreover, it is only as such that the self who has "become what he or she is" wins the right Nietzsche claims for himself, which is that of a kind of "wisdom." Such wisdom represents an insight into the character of life; Nietzsche holds that moral interpretations of existence which seek to place the subject beyond the forces of life necessarily conceal and falsify this character. The affirmation of existence requires a participation in life, and a capacity to express that participation, which is only available to the artist-philosopher. Third, although there is an important sense in which this perspective has a kind of authority - for it represents a "true" insight into the character of existence and thus confers the perspective from which the moral interpretation can be regarded as "false" - nonetheless it is not an authority that derives fron1 the self-possession of the subject. Rather, it presupposes a kind of loss of self, an openness to the experience of life, which is at once the source of the aesthetic insight and exemplifies a state which only art can bring about. The aesthetic subject speaks with "wisdom," but can do so only as a "persona" through whom life itself finds expression. This position represents the fundamental antithesis to the instrumental attitude, in which the mastering conSCIousness of the n10ral man and the 213

Fiona Jenkins scientific attitude alike stand towards an existence on to which the categories of understanding are projected. Nietzsche rejects Schopenhauer's view that the value of art lies in its capacity to induce a state of "selflessness"; yet he retains a great deal of the structure of Schopenhauer's account insofar as the aesthetic perspective represents transcendence of the instrumentalism of reason. Indeed, whilst for Nietzsche it is not the point of art to overcome the ego, it is nevertheless the case that the aesthetic response to existence is only available on condition of a certain loss of self-possession, modeled on the ecstasy and intoxication of the Dionysian moment, or the peculiarly rapt state of the Apollonian visionary. To make art serve the end of overcoming the ego would be to subordinate it to morality; for Nietzsche, art is on the contrary a form of self-realization, a "promise of happiness" (GM III 6). Nonetheless, it seems that the self that is realized is also the self that loses itself; its happiness is that of a rapture whereby it is given over to existence. The best account of this is perhaps that Nietzsche gives in describing his Zarath ustra as born from the experience of "inspiration": one could hardly reject altogether the 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 shakes one down 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. (EH, "Thus spoke Zarathustra" 3)

The idea that this is an involuntary experience, though "marked by a feeling of freedom, of absoluteness, of power," is key to the way in which the authority of what is said is deferred to some other source than the subject. "It actually seems," he writes, "as if the things themselves approached and offered themselves as metaphors", as if "all being wishes to become word, all becoming wishes to learn from you how to speak" (ibid.). The characterization of this experience of the power of the image and of its essential truthfulness - "on every metaphor you ride to truth" - provides a paradigm for Nietzsche and a source of contrast with logical and rational thought, as I shall argue below. It is necessary here to give some sense to the idea that existence "desires" to be brought to speech - that there is an essential continuity between "reality" and the voice of the poet. It is in this sense, t take it, that we can best read Nietzsche's claim in Ecce homo that "the truth speaks out of me" (EH IV 1). Moreover, in 214

Performative identity the displacement of identity that is necessary if one is to become such a conduit of reality, we may find the key to the sense in which "one becomes what one is" - not, as is usually assumed, in becoming the mastering agent of one's will to power, but rather as a patient of its forces, on the model of the ecstatic and enraptured artist. These themes mark generally overlooked aspects of Nietzsche's thought, yet I shall argue that they are essential to it. For, in the first place, if we are to make any sense of Nietzsche's reference to "life" we need some account of what it means to be "embedded" in life rather than alienated from it; this structures the contrast which runs through Nietzsche's work between two fundamental forms of outlook, that of the "moral worldview" and the perspective within which affirmation becomes possible. Nietzsche's exemplar for the latter is usually the tragic culture of the ancient Greeks. Tragedy represents for Nietzsche the insight of wisdom, a wisdom that becomes lost through the quest for scientifically valid knowledge initiated by Socrates, and by the idea that knowledge should serve the ends of virtue, on the assumption that the highest form of knowledge is knowledge of the Good. Aesthetic wisdom, by contrast, serves no instrumental ends. This, as much as any positive characterization, determines its importance for Nietzsche. It represents the position in which we must come to stand once we have recognized that the world we "know" reflects the image of what we have become, rational beings who are forced to recognize the limits of rational cognition, "actors" whose lives will only achieve profundity when their significance is inscribed within a tragedy. The analysis of nihilism leads Nietzsche to look for a different model of agency, one appropriate to the experience of art; a model of that which was repressed or excluded by the emergence of the Socratic, Slavish or Christian conception, which situated "will" in the governing rationality of a "doer" behind each deed. The nihilistic problem confronted by the modern age is that it has lost all sense that knowledge of existence is knowledge of the Good; rather, our quest for knowledge, and, under Nietzsche's treatnlent, our knowledge of what knowledge is - a means of mastering nature, by "projecting" reason onto it - has brought us to the point at which we confront a world which seems meaningless. We know ourselves only as beings who impose their will upon the \vorld. Nietzsche is often read as though this were the stance he finds ultimately desirable, that we should affirm ourselves by acknowledging that the world which lacks inherent form is lent a deternli215

Fiona Jenkins nate character only on the basis of a subjective act of will. 1 But not only does this reading imply that we stand outside existence as transcendent beings, a suggestion which seems quite at odds with Nietzsche's rejection of the idea that "will" stands outside the world, it also ignores his deep preoccupation with the necessity of becoming open to a sphere of reality which is no less real for being rationally incomprehensible. Thus when Nietzsche writes of our • relationship to "reality" there always seems to be a triple gesture involved; we are divided from a "true world" and lack insight into it, first, because our representations of it are projections of ourselves; second, because we learn that the "true world" is itself another of our fictions; nonetheless, there are constant intimations in his thought of the reality which eludes our conceptual grasp, of a world which is irreducible to subjectivity. Our truthfulness is inseparable from engagement with this reality, as Ecce homo, perhaps more strongly than any other of Nietzsche's writings, makes explicit. To characterize this relationship to "reality" will, then, be the basis for a rather indirect approach to addressing the question of what it means for Nietzsche "to become what one is." The relationship to a world in which man is no longer "the measure of things," but in which nonetheless the world impresses itself upon the self as being replete with value - as somehow desiring to learn from man "how to speak" - is at the centre of the Nietzschean task and confers its exemplary importance as a redeeming "destiny." Here we may find the core of thought that makes sense, on the one hand, of Nietzsche's objections to the notion that the "truth" about the world would refer either to the "objective" world (ordered through the categories of understanding) or to a higher order (not of our making), and on the other hand, of the affirmative experience in which the self comes to express what is most essential to its participation in existence. The truthfulness of this latter figure rests upon its participation in a reality marked by everything which is judged from a rational perspective to be "false." But how are we to grasp this idea? Here I shall approach it in several stages. The next section looks first at Nietzsche's treatment of art in The Gay Science (370), with the aim of bringing to the fore the idea that an interpretation of the world not only reflects but also constitutes a form of subjectivity, and hence the sense in which art is a greater power than that available for a given subjectivity to deploy in interpreting the world. The thought here is that the power of art displaces the "normal" 216

Performative identity constitutive role of subjectivity in constructing the world that is known under the categories of understanding; it thereby makes "participation" in existence possible. A more detailed treatment of this possibility is presented in The Birth of Tragedy, which depicts a tragic culture marked by its capacity to place the identity of subjects at risk, and hence by its power to reveal truth as wisdom. It is worth noting that this is not a purely individual experience; indeed, there are two essential moments in Nietzsche's treatment of the value of poetry whose relationship we must grasp. First, the moment of insight or inspiration, which marks the response of the (individual) poet; but second, the moment at which this inspiration has force for others, as an overwhelming experience beyond the power of any individual determination. Together they delineate what it means to be brought to participate in an experience of the world, as poet or as audience to a dramatic performance. I shall argue that Nietzsche shows how the possibility of this experience depends upon putting the self at risk in the manner modeled by tragedy. Art which enacts these moments has, in Nietzschean terms, the power to disclose rather than to conceal reality. Sections 3 and 4 look further at Nietzsche's treatment of the experience of "inspiration," and at the theory of meaning which makes an intuition grounded in artistic performance the condition of aesthetic truthfulness. The contrast between the "rational" prerequisites of "speaking the truth" and an aesthetic mode in which an intuitive grasp of "reality" is brought to expression, appears in his early essay "On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense." This essay has most often been cited in the context of the evidence it seems to provide that Nietzsche believes reality (as "becoming") must escape every articulation in language, wherein lies the metaphysical ground of the "untruth" of all truth. I shall argue, however, that the essay's thesis that metaphor is the primary form of language points to meaning's basis in poetic performance. "Becoming" is not the character of reality "in itself' - a self-contradictory thesis - but the character of performance through which life "lives" or is expressed. The essay rehearses the themes of The Birth of Tragedy in relating antithetical forms of "truthfulness" to the divergence between a moral interest in creating an "essence" of man - a stable identity, no longer at risk - and a more "intuitive" way of existing as a participant in the "appearances" of the world. It is this latter possibility that is expressed in "becoming what one is." I shall, then, first articulate the poetics of agency which contrast 217

Fiona Jenkins with the "egological" model Nietzsche traces to Socratic, Slavish, and Christian sources; and, second, carry this analysis through to interpret his treatment of language as a primarily artistic activity. We may then be in a position to address the errors inherent both in a certain reading of Nietzsche, and in a certain pattern of response to that reading. It is common to attribute to Nietzsche a hyperbolic version of the egological model of agency, expressed in the assumption that meaning can be individually legislated. This t~ndency would reach its apogee in the idea that one could, in "becoming what one is," somehow invent the significance of one's own life. On my reading it is mistaken to suppose that "becoming what one is" represents either an individualistic project or reflects an egological model of agency; it turns, rather, upon entering into a mode of subjectivity which confers receptivity to, and identification with, all that is "other" to oneself qua individual ego. As such, it can form the basis of a shared aesthetic experience, as modeled in Nietzsche's early work on tragedy. Equally, however, Nietzsche's account of the grounds of shared experience are radically at odds with many current accounts of the conditions of possibility of meaning, which depend upon the public availability of a common frame of reference. Yet if it is possible to read Nietzsche as displacing a dominant model of agency, it is also necessary to consider how that view of agency has informed our typical strategies for theorizing about language. In post-Socratic cultures, interests in achieving "stability" of identity as the basis for moral imputation have led to the repression of the performative moment of art and language, a repression which, I argue in section 4, is continued in dominant contemporary theories of communication and interpretation. Nietzsche's Lectures on Rhetoric offer the basis of a very different theory of meaning, with implications for the way in which we conceive of the grounds of shared cultural experience, and its conditions of vitality or stagnation. In the final section, I shall outline how the apparently individualistic project of "becoming what one is", in fact stands as a marker for a radical cultural transformation. Only in this sense can the "truthfulness" of Ecce homo be a significant response to nihilism. 2 THE SUBJECT OF TRAGEDY

Art plays more than one role in Nietzsche's thought. Often it designated as a "lie," and even as a virtuous lie in so far as it 218


Performative identity necessary if life is to be "endurable." However art also has an essential role to play in the affirmation of experience from a position of strength. In the latter sense, art is "truthful." The contrast between art's compensatory and affirmative values is spelt out particularly clearly in a passage from The Gay Science: Every art, every philosophy may be viewed as a remedy and an aid in the service of growing and struggling life; they always presuppose suffering and sufferers. But there are two kinds of sufferers: first, those who suffer from the overfulness of hfe - they want a Dionysian art and likewise a tragic view of life, a tragic insight - and then those who suffer from the impoverishment of life and seek rest, stillness, calm seas, redemption from themselves through art and know ledge ... He that is richest in the fullness of life, the Dionysian god and man cannot only afford the sight of the terrible and questionable but even the terrible deed and any luxury of destruction, decomposition, and negation. In his case, what is evil, absurd and ugly seems as it were, permissable, owing to an excess of procreating. fertilizing energies that can still turn any desert into lush farmland. Conversely, those who suffer most and are poorest in life would need above all mildness, peaceableness, and goodness in thought as well as deed ... ; also logic, the conceptual understandability of existence. (GS 370)

The distinction Nietzsche formulates here finds frequent expression in his work. The abstract culture, of those "poor in life," is contrasted with the Dionysian culture capable of affirming life because it has the strength to do so. To conceive of existence as intelligible presupposes a formally artistic activity; nonetheless, within this interpretation of existence, the role of art must be "forgotten." This repressed, neglected art is divorced from insight; its function is to construct a representation of the world that is instrumental in concealing what is "evil, absurd, and ugly," excluding it from "Truth." Redemption comes through this art only given the belief in a God, or a "Truth" higher than appearances. The art of the strong, conversely, is exemplary of participation in both destructive and creative processes of mutable life; it indicates the possibility of redemption appearing within life itself, rather than through an "art and knowledge" which serves the purpose of redemption from life. What are the structures of artistic creativity in this passage, and how can they be interpreted in terms of their strength or weakness? The first point to notice is that strong art is an exemplification of life, whereas weak art is a representation; the former is characterized in terms of its dynamic and transfigurative qualities (destruction, procreation, and so on); the latter in terms of desire for the static 219

Fiona Jenkins (rest, stillness, calm). The stabilization effected by representation satisfies a need, yet falsifies existence precisely in relinquishing the dynamism of performance. The second point to notice is that although weak art serves the purposes of a certain kind of life, and in this sense is instrumentally deployed, it is not deliberately deployed by a free subjectivity, any more than strong art signals freedom. In this passage, it is proposed that the value of the product of art be judged in terms of the processes which brought it into being; but such judgment points to the forces shaping production as "facts" about types of will and thus treats the will as something quite other than the possession of a free subject. 2 When Nietzsche makes use of this contrast in types of will, its importance for him is revealed no less in any difference in what the possessors of an active or a reactive will are capable of doing, than in the specific way in which they find themselves within an interpretation of the world, and, indeed, are incapable of doing otherwise. Thus the nature of the will is revealed not as potentiality, but in the specific mode of figuring the world, which, according to its strength or weakness, exemplifies dynamism or represents stasis. The character of the "will" is read off from the aesthetic product, and is itself as much the product of the art as the producer. The embeddedness of the will is important, for it suggests that the "strong" individual or culture does not mysteriously possess special powers of "will," available in advance for conferring meaning upon existence. Rather, strength is revealed by the self or culture which is mutable, at risk and yet, embedded in life, also derives from it its power of renewing energy. Qua participant in existence, the active will is discovered through an identification with life's transfiguring power, manifest in the art which identifies and locates it. In Ecce homo, we find Nietzsche's formula for this "ascending" type: "[he] conceives reality as it is, being strong enough to do so; this type is not estranged or removed from reality but is reality itself and exemplifies all that is strange and questionable in it - only in

that way can man attain greatness" (EH IV 5). If we take this as the model for the realization enacted in "becoming what one is," we see that this figure is not merely truthful in the sense of being truthful about existence; rather he is the truthful image of existence itself - the image of an existence which attains its greatness in him; his exemplary stature seems far removed from anything that might rest upon his own self-determination or powers of representation. How, then, is this manifestation of strength 220

Perfonnative identity related to the achievement represented by the poetic art of tragedy? How might tragedy fonn such a self?

The Birth of Tragedy is a rich, complex, and sometimes confused work, and all I can hope to do here is to sketch certain relevant themes. It is, I suggest, fundamental to Nietzsche's approach to tragedy that he makes this art stand for the dispossession of the subject from conscious control, and by the same means leads us to recognition of a form of subjectivity which can be grasped as the product rather than the source of the artwork. This, too, is the ground of the political importance Nietzsche attributes to tragedy that out of it a culture is born which has an aesthetic quality missing from the modern world. He does not merely celebrate Greek culture for producing "great art"; rather, he celebrates the culture that great art produces. The key thought here is that the value of the work of the tragic poet, characterized in terms of the synthesis of Apollonian and Dionysian aesthetic drives, is at once due to the poet being brought into a participatory experience of existence, and to the power of the art form to engender in its audience a corresponding intuition. In tragedy, the intuition of the character of existence is experienced as a compulsion: in this way, the Apollonian Greek "had to recognize [that] despite all its beauty and moderation, his entire existence rested upon a hidden substratum of suffering and of knowledge revealed to him by the Dionysian" (BT 4, my emphasis). Artistic activity of this order is not voluntaristic: "the'!, of the lyrist ... sounds from the depths of his being; its 'subjectivity' in the sense of modern aestheticians is a fiction" (BT 5). Yet the character of the compelling intuition of existence is not only that of suffering. Life has, too, "a primordial desire for illusion" (BT 4). The problem in reading Nietzsche's treatment of the relationship between Apollonian and Dionysian drives is to see how the pull of suffering and the pull of illusion can combine in a relationship, whereby the beautiful does not merely conceal, but conditions the possibility of disclosure of the terrible. This possibility rests upon the poet's and audience's capacity for succumbing to an experience which, in both aspects, is dis-possessing. To see this, we need to examine n10re closely Nietzsche's treatment of the double structure of tragic experience. It is important to note that in the tragic n10del of aesthetic subjectivity,3 the Dionysian and the Apollonian are essential to one another, "necessarily interdependent" (BT 4). In Nietzsche's account 221

Fiona Jenkins of Apollonian art, the "individual" corresponds to a world disclosed in its measure, limits, order and sense. That the illusion of the "subject" arises, can, at one level, be interpreted in terms of the need for the illusion of stability corresponding to and rendering bearable the insight of Dionysian art into the irreducibility of suffering. The subject is "saved" from that nature to the extent that it is wrapped in transfiguring illusion. This might seem to suggest that the Apollonian stands for a turn towards the "superficiality" of art, its power to conceal reality through illusion. Yet whilst it is indeed from the perspective of the Dionysian that it appears illusory to detach the play of forces from their effects and hypostatize the individual, it is also the case that even within the domain of Apollonian art the subject lacks self-possession, and is interpreted as the product rather than the source of the artwork. The Apollonian individual emerges through a dream-like process that affirms "illusion as illusion" (BT 4). It is essential to Nietzsche's characterization of the Apollonian that its "illusion" is constitutive of a world in which the self finds itself first as the dreamed, and only secondarily as the dreamer who resolves to "dream on" (BT 1). This alone allows for a tragedy in which illusion is never simply concealment, for it is structurally prepared to permit the experience of the Dionysian - as loss of individuality and stability, as transgression of the bounds of selfpossession - to erupt within it. The significance of this model is best elucidated by contrasting it with the model of the relationship between art and the self that is shaped by a "rational optimism," whose aim is precisely to falsify and conceal Dionysian truth. In The Birth of Tragedy such optimism marks tragedy's death, and hence the end of a form of subjectivity constructed within the poised reciprocity of Apollonian and Dionysian art. A new form of subjectivity comes into being through "aesthetic Socratism," structured by the dual principles that "to be beautiful everything must be intelligible" and "knowledge is virtue" (BT 12). Within this worldview, a self-possessed, stable subjectivity is prized as the achievement of knowledge, and inscribed as a possibility within the rational order of existence. Nietzsche's reversal of this picture begins with an account of tragic art structured by a repeti tion and re-evaluation of the very same terms Plato uses to condemn it for depriving the self of the power of self-possession, and hence the philosophical relationship to "Truth." In the Republic, Plato's hostility \0 art is given two grounds; first, that the poet does not "know" that of which he speaks, but only imitates its external 222

Performative identity forms, at "two removes from reality," and therefore cannot act as a moral guide since what he says lacks truth; second, that poetry acts upon the lowest parts of the self, leading the self away from the ideal of rational self-possession to an identification with the sufferings of the figures on stage - "we surrender ourselves, let ourselves be carried along, and share the hero's pain" (60sd), thus poetry "has a terrifying capacity for deforming even good people" (60Sc). The concepts of the Apollonian and the Dionysian in Nietzsche's work on tragedy take up the terms of this twofold objection and revalue their force. In the Apollonian, Nietzsche affirms the idea of art as the mimetic production (as in a mirror) of the appearances of the world, bringing "what is" to perfection in representation (a dream world, not an intelligible one). In the Dionysian, he affirms that aspect of art which, through intoxicated emotional arousal and identification with nature, carries the subject away from himself. The further reversal of Platonic metaphysics comes, then, in drawing the consequence that the self must be viewed as a product of artistic processes, which are, in turn, the effects, or rather, the expression of forces we do not control in advance, but embody and live. It is in this sense that, for Nietzsche, the artistic subject is not self-possessed but a "persona," a character through whom life speaks, and wherein the significance of dramatic art as performance lies. Nietzsche consistently holds that in moral interpretations of action the value and power of self-directed consciousness or rationality is overestimated, and we might well extend the point to include artistic activity. His criticism of Euripedean drama, for example, is that in it the subject is split between conscious intention and action: "as Socratic thinker he designs the plan, as passionate actor he executes it. Neither in the designing nor in the execution is he a pure artist" (BT 12).4 The pure artist does not declaim his reasons, but shows life in an unpremeditated performance. There is a further point worth noting here concerning Nietzsche's attempt to construct an alternative to "rational optimism." The importance of tragedy for Nietzsche might be read as lying primarily in the content of the drama, and in the pedagogic role of such content. It reminds us of how human beings can act nobly in the face of the pain and suffering of existence; of how tragic heroes do not seek redemption from an existence that condemns them to death, but take the suffering upon themselves. Thus tragedy presents us with exemplary models of how to live in the face of the "facts" of existence, which the moral interpretation of existence would cause 223

Fiona Jenkins us to deny are facts. But whilst it is certainly the case that we can characterize something of Nietzsche's idea of what it is to "affirm" rather than to "deny" life in these terms, we risk remaining thereby at the level of propositional truths, which rest upon a strictly metaphysical thesis of which it would be paradoxical to attempt any rational vindication. In line with what has already been said, however, we should look for the sense in which tragedy does not merely illustrate and instruct us in the "facts" of existence, but actively brings its audience to participate in an experience which exemplifies what Nietzsche calls "existence." In particular, we might consider how an audience to tragedy is brought to experience its own identity as mutable, at risk and yet strong, through the synthesis of suffering and illusion. In tragedy, neither self nor world is an object of contemplation, and this both at the level of the action, and at the level of the processes of identification condemned by Plato. Such effects are those highlighted by Nietzsche when he remarks how tragedy, which emerges from the procession of the chorus, does not seek to merely represent the spectator as stable witness to events on stage, but rather invites a double process of transformation as the condition of insightful vision. The dramatist feels the overwhelming "urge to transform himself and to speak out of other bodies and souls"; and it is the very same Dionysian excitement which communicates the artistic gift to a multitude, so that they see themselves surrounded by such a host of spirits, while knowing themselves to be essentially one with them. This process of the tragic chorus is the dramatic proto-phenomenon: to see oneself transformed before one's own eyes and to begin to act as if one had actually entered into another body, another character ... Here we have a surrender of individuality ... [the] phenomenon is encountered epidemically ... In this magic transformation, the Dionysian reveller sees himself as a satyr, and as satyr, in turn, he sees the god, which is to say that in his metamorphosis he beholds another vision outside himself, as the Apollonian complement of his own state. (BT 8)

Here the self is at once put at risk and made strong through its identifications. What is at stake is a way of encountering oneself without the preconceptions which would warrant the possibility of "recognition" of a given identity; rather, one encounters oneself only in one's otherness (just as in the Aristotelian anagnorisis). It is a form of self-experience constituted by the power of a poetic vision, which, felt as carning from beyond the self, permits the entry of Dionysian fatality. It is here alone, on condition of this dispossessed 224

Performative identity structure of subjectivity, through this performance, that art functions as disclosure, not concealment. One final point of difference from "rational optimism" concerns the mode of cultural transformation. Nietzsche provides the outline here for a quite different characterization of this process than that which he identifies as issuing in the moral "lie"; that is, the positing of an "ideal" divorced from reality. The "ideal," in this sense, is linked to the idea that man would have been realized only once he had transcended nature. The vision of man as rational, as a being who, in coming to understand nature by "objectifying" it as an intelligible process of cause and effect, also comes to a recognition of himself, is treated by Nietzsche as the Socratic basis for the destruction of tragedy. He ridicules it as a solution to the "problem of existence," claiming that "the entire morality of improvement . .. has been a misunderstanding" (TI, "The Problem of Socrates" 11), that to choose reason in opposition to nature can never be other than a desperate expedient of "declining" life. 5 The tragic model presents an alternative possibility of transfiguration, on the very terms which Plato rejects. Apollonian art is an art of detachment from the pressure of instincts, but based on the ability to contemplate a "vision outside oneself". As such, it is linked to the ability to "see oneself as" - that is, to identify with a "persona" beyond selfpossession; it confers the freedom to occupy the space which a Dionysian nature "continually transforming himself" (TI "Expeditions of an Untimely Man" 10) holds out as a possibility. The major point of such descriptions would seem to be that they represent a mode of transfiguration in which all "objectivity" is removed from the conception of the real, and the real on the contrary comes to "seize" the self. This is an account of the transfiguration of the self in which no room is given to formulating an image of the "ideal"; the ideal too takes possession of the subject. Objectivity and self-identity both dissolve within the dispossessing experience of the tragic. It may be important, then, that this is an experience that an audience passes through; it remains drama and not everyday life. Nonetheless, insofar as it is a transfiguring experience, it demonstrates the constitutive role of art in forming life, of life itself conceived as a process of transfiguration, and hence of the role of the poetic performance in exemplifying existence's deepest reality. But it might well be asked if we can make sense of this seemingly mystical thesis at the level of a theory of meaning? If we are not to take the route suggested by Heidegger's interpretation of Nietzsche's 225

Fiona Jenkins thought, which leads us to view him as affirming the role of a constitutive subjectivity in a response to nihilism that merely deepens its disenchantment, then we need some account of another site from which he might offer a genuine critique of abstractinstrumentalist culture. Thus far, we have only begun to articulate the structures of tragic subjectivity which may be counterpoised to the Socratic model, that of an ideal agency which begins in consciousness, is completed in self-mastery, and has access to truth only on condition that the ~alse and dispossessing effects of art are repressed or excluded. We should now turn to a closer examination of Nietzsche's writings on language, which employ a similar strategy of reversal and displacement of certain theoretical priorities reflecting the egological model of agency. I shall argue that here, too, the notion of a non-egological performativity as exemplification of the real, in contrast to the deployment of conceptual representation, is the key to understanding how Nietzsche imagines a "truthfulness" that contrasts with the "falsifications" wrought by logical optimism. 3 DISSIMULATING TRUTH

In his early essay "On Truth and Lies," Nietzsche gives one of his first extended treatments of the genealogy of the value of truth; the value of truthfulness is said to precede that of truth and this in turn derives from "the duty which society imposes in order to exist ... The venerability, reliability, and utility of truth is something a person demonstrates for himself from the contrast with the liar, whom no one trusts and everyone excludes" (OTL 84). Such truthfulness is, however, a function of the "duty to lie according to a fixed convention, to lie with the herd and in a manner binding upon everyone" (ibid.). This claim, I suggest, is made from a non-moral aesthetic perspective, which permits recognition that the "value of truth" has been misconceived, and misconceived in line with an early reconceptualization of "truthfulness" as a "duty." The important figure of the "liar" in this essay has two aspects; in one aspect, it stands for an artistic nature which is repressed by the injunction to be "truthful" before a certain kind of audience - that of "the herd"; in the other aspect, it stands for the "lie" of self-identity, that of being what one is. What, then, is the very different form of "truthfulness" of the artist? In order to approach this question, I shall argue that the essay links a question about the character of language (proposing a contrast between a poetic power of language and 226

Performative identity language that has become subordinate to rational ends) to a question about the constitution of subjectivity (distinguishing the "rational" from the "intuitive" man). It is natural in reading this essay to focus upon the claims it makes

about the irreducible gap between the representations of things that are formed in language, and "things as they are in themselves." Nietzsche poses the questions: "Are designations congruent with things? Is language the adequate expression of reality?" (OTL 81), and these formulations seem to lay the essay open to a number of obvious objections. In the first place, it appears that Nietzsche makes this claim because he assunles the pre-Kantian view that representations ought to correspond to "things as they are in themselves," and that in so far as they fail to do so, our "truths are illusions." In addition, the view that representations fail to correspond to reality depends upon a metaphysical assumption about the nature of reality - that it is in flux, a process of "becoming," in relation to which the linguistic categories of "being" are necessarily false. This dogmatic commitment would be a prejudice unwarranted for exactly the same reasons as Nietzsche himself deploys in his attack on the metaphysics of being. If we cannot "know" what ultimate reality is, precisely because we depend on our language for every judgment concerning it, then why characterize it either as "being" or as "becoming"? Moreover, the view that language is a medium of representations to which truth-values can be ascribed only if such representations correspond to a linguistically transcendent reality would seem to have been thoroughly refuted by an important strand of modern language theory. This holds that truth is only expressed linguistically, and that to be meaningful, language does not need to be "tied" part by part to the objects that words denote. 6 Rather, the relationship between meaning and truth is construed as an internal one, governed by the validity conditions of utterances. So to suppose, as Nietzsche appears to do in this essay, that the fact that language is dependent for its meaning on "arbitrary conventions" implies that it cannot be true to reality, reveals a fundamental misunderstanding; for the conventions of meaning construct the logical form of language in such a way that questions about the truth or falsity of claims about the world become possible. This last objection is interesting in part because it makes a number of assumptions about the role and viability of language which Nietzsche echoes in this essay, whilst nonetheless holding that 227

Fiona Jenkins conventionally validated language is somehow less than "truthful." To see why, it is worth paying attention to the context in which such questions about the congruence of designations and "things" are posed. Nietzsche's concern in this essay is as much with how a "herd" society comes into being as it is with how language emerges; indeed, his argument is that society comes into being through making effective a certain sort of demand for truthfulness, and that this form of truthfulness requires a conformity in the designation of things, a purpose language can be made to serve. Equally, however, what is being required in the name of "truthfulness" derives from an imperative of honest self-presentation, a certain type of performance. The story he tells about the emergence of herd society postulates as background a "natural" state of man, for whom dissimulation is the primary power. Amongst the weaker animals, he speculates, the intellect develops as a means of preservation. Principally this means the capacity to pretend the possession of qualities that are not, in fact, present; to make oneself appear as one is not, but by doing so to manifest "being other" than one is; this "art of dissimulation reaches its peak in man" (OTL 80). The emergence of society is premised upon the need within a "herd" to prevent its members from using this power against one another; hence it is a "peace treaty" which "brings in its wake something which appears to be the first step towards acquiring that puzzling truth drive: to wit that which shall count as 'truth' from now on is established" (OTL 81). The "legislation of language" it entails directly concerns the accepted and appropriate manner of presentation of things as having the "value" (that is the fixed "reality") which is socially ascribed to them; what is required for this is a ground of self-identity. The example Nietzsche gives makes clear how this demand applies primarily to the socially constituted self: "The liar ... uses the valid designations, the words, in order to make the unreal appear as real. He says, for example, 'I am rich,' when the proper designation for his condition would be 'poor.' He misuses fixed conventions by means of arbitrary substitutions or even reversals of names" (ibid.). In interpreting this remark, it is important to note that the "liar" uses conventions of language in order to represent himself as what he is not; Nietzsche's point, then, cannot be that the liar differs from the truthful man only in disobedience to what are arbitrarily fixed linguistic conventions, bearing no valid relationship to truth. The point, rather, is Ithat the establishment of a communicative order requires a condemnation of the liar which preserves social conven228

Performative identity tions as a condition of possibility of meaning. Representations, including self-representations, must conform as "truthful" to a postulated ground of identity. Hence it is crucial to Nietzsche's argument that when the liar "dissembles" in representing himself as rich when he is pour, he abuses the conventions of self-identity to achieve the immoral advantages of dissimulation; he is condemned not because his statement is false, but because he is false. The imperative of truthfulness within the herd, and its consequences for the construction of identity, are spelt out very clearly in a later note: Morality of truthfulness in the herd. "You shall be knowable, express your inner nature by clear and constant signs -- otherwise you are dangerous: and if you are evil, your ability to dissimulate is the \",orst thing for the herd ... Consequently you must consider yourself knowable, you may not be concealed from yourself, you may not believe that you change." Thus: the demand for truthfulness presupposes the knowability and stability of the person. In fact, it is the object of education to create in the herd member a definite faith concerning the nature of man: it first invents the faith and then demands "truthfulness". (WP 277.1883-8)

The premise of that "faith concerning the nature of man" is that it is possible to discern behind the "appearances" a reality, a true state of being in relation to which dissimulation is a supervenient and disruptive force. The true "cause" behind the appearance is sought. 7 By extension, the whole of existence is interpreted in the same terms (from the concept of "ego," on Nietzsche's account, we derive the concept of "things "). Yet since within this constructed order it is perfectly possible to establish a regular designation of "things," in what sense could it be a "falsification" of existence to do so? Nietzsche's point here is complex, but it involves, first, the claim that this society misunderstands itself insofar as it believes it to be possible to capture in language the "essence of things" and insofar as it believes that this "essence" is what it actually aims at. For what this society wants is the "beneficial effect" of a belief that there is an essence of things, and, most particularly an essence of man, which justifies it in condemning "dissimulation"; dissimulation poses a fundamental threat to the social order, to its demand for the stability of identity that secures the conditions of mutual recognition and trust, this being premised upon the sublimation of dynamic performance into static representation. The term "dissimulation" (Verstellung) is important. We should note that "dissimulation" is only equivalent to "lying" inasmuch as it is possible to drive a wedge between the "reality" and the 229

Fiona Jenkins "appearance" of that which dissimulates; understood in a performative sense, however, dissimulation implies the power of some being to transform itself which is fully part of "what" that being is. Indeed, Nietzsche will argue that to act as if one had a fixed and unalterable nature is itself a form of dissimulation (in "moral terms," it is to adopt the duty to lie [OTL 84]). Moreover, Nietzsche's argument suggests that the power to create language requires the powers of imitation and transformation possessed by the dissimulator; the "primitive world of metaphor," governed by relationships between appearances, and the art of making one "thing" appear as another, is the domain of the "artistically creating subject" (OTL 86). Linguistic abilities form a continuum with the powers of free performance, or with the Apollonian imagery of dreams. Like Dionysus, language is inherently seductive and persuasive; for "language," Nietzsche says in his Lectures on Rhetoric, "does not desire to instruct, but to convey to others a subjective impulse and its acceptance" (RL 21). In the attempt to regulate and master that dangerous power the ideal of rational self-possession is born; and with it a conception of the "truthful man" who, insofar as he is rational, belongs to an order "of laws, privileges, subordinations and clearly marked boundaries - a new world, which confronts that other vivid world of first impressions, as more solid, more universal, better known than the immediately perceived world, and thus as the regulative and imperative world" (OTL 84). If Nietzsche's argument in this essay depends upon unwarranted metaphysical commitments they lie in the assertion that "dissimulatory" existence has primacy over the stability attributed within a socially regulated use of language to "really existing things"; put more cogently, his argument turns upon the idea that language is a power and a performance, essentially continuous with natural powers of dissimulation, and that society "in order to exist" seeks to morally regulate that power. The essay contains an argument that accepts the presupposition that "agreement in judgments" is a condition of communication about "what is the case," but refuses to accept that this is an adequate expression of reality; what the linguistic community "lies" about is a reality upon which it is itself dependent; that is, reality expressed in performance, at whose heart lies the power of making appear. In this sense, language is being interpreted as part of a natural order of meaning, yet Nietzsche's whole endeavorJn this essay is premised on breaking down conventional assumptions about the division of "culture" from "nature." 230

Performative identity Hence whilst it is indeed the case that there can be no adequate representation of reality in language, there is a form of artistic expression with which that failure can be contrasted, as the more (performatively) "truthful" mode insofar as it rests upon a "metaphorical ability" to -generate appearances. A nloral need to repress such expressive powers (and to "forget" their role in constructing language) explains the genesis of the" faith in logic." Here we find a primary source of Nietzsche's skepticism about the morality of the herd and of "rational language" alike. To grasp more fully how Nietzsche construes the nature of a "truthfulness" that defers to the requirements of maintaining a rational order of discourse, and contrasts it with the truthfulness of artistic activity, it will be worth briefly examining how his views on language subvert theories of interpretation which argue for the necessity of maintaining an internal relationship between meaning and a rationally valid truth, and do so in order to establish that the more "primitive" expressive relationship between meaning and truth appears within the aesthetic sphere. This amounts to an implicit critique of communicative rationality and its normative construction of a social order. To recognize the limits of this model of the conditions of meaning, is an important stage towards consideration of the merits of that artistic culture which Nietzsche celebrates as the product of tragedy. 4 IDEAL ST ABILITY: THE DIVORCE OF MEANING FROM


"To understand one another," Nietzsche writes, "it is not enough that one use the same words; one also has to use the same words for the same species of inner experience; in the end one has to have one's experiences in common" (BGE 268). A "people" is defined by Nietzsche precisely as "people who 'understand one another' [sich versteht]" (ibid.). As a means for generating commonality by encouraging conformity in the associations linked with words, the conditions under which communication takes place is inseparable from an agreement in dispositions that is increased by the exchange. It leads, Nietzsche believes, to "the continual development of man toward the similar, ordinary, average and herdlike," towards the "common" (BGE 268). Consciousness is a function of the same process: "consciousness does not really belong to man's individual existence, but rather to his social or herd nature; ... as follows from this, it has developed subtlety only insofar as this is required by


Fiona Jenkins social or herd utility" (GS 354). Hence we cannot "know ourselves" - become self-conscious - in a way that is true to our individuality; we "always succeed in becoming conscious only of what is not individual but 'average'''; and the thinking of which we are conscious is "the most superficial and worst part - for only this conscious thinking takes the form of words which is to say signs of communication" (ibid.). The utility of consciousness derives only from the need for communication between vulnerable human beings forming a "herd," and our ordinary language primarily serves this intersubjective function. The language code (in which meaning is internally related to truth-values) is interpreted by Nietzsche as constructed to secure a regularity in behavior; this has a representational significance in so far as what is "made to appear" fulfills the conditions of being regular and repeatable. Thus he accepts that the relationship with "things" which is stabilized in a language governed by considerations of universal validity is a mirror of logical form; however, he holds that concepts dilute the "primary impressions." Such "impressions" are those which language, treated on a model of forces, offers as the mode of expression in which we grasp what is "individual and particular," that is, unmeditated by the prejudice of conceptualization in favor of a familiar, regular, and repeatable world. According to Nietzsche, the conditions of ordinary "meaning" are bound to the conditions of "truth" to the extent that our conceptual "knowledge" is knowledge of what is familiar and common (GS 355); but this involves a "great and thorough corruption, falsification, reduction to superficialities and generalization" (GS 354).

If we are to take these views at all seriously, it is important to take account both of just how central they are to Nietzsche's treatment of language and truth, and of how he thereby places the study of questions of meaning and interpretation within a primarily rhetorical and poetic framework; it is from these points of view that he is (implicitly) critical of accounts of language dominated by the need to establish the internal relationship between meaning and truth as the principle of interpretation. Here he attacks at a fundamental level a certain picture of the necessary functions of language. Philosophical interpretation of the communicative act has often taken it for granted that what has to be explained is an exchange of a "content," which becomes by virtue of that act a shared property of the parties involved. Confiaence in the determinacy of meaning is directly connected with the concept of the "communicability" or "share232

Performative identity ability" of meaning; it is the stability of the content of meaningful sentences that requires and facilitates a harmonious intersubjectivity. Theories of interpretation which seek to relate the determinacy of meaning to commonality in judgment about what is true or false, entail that any aspect of an utterance to which truth is unimportant or where disagreements in interpretation may arise, must be treated as secondary levels of meaning; given the variable significance sense may have for different individuals, it must be interpreted as dependent upon a primary grasp of the meaning of the concepts employed in making a statement, that understanding being available to all competent users of a language. 8 This outlook establishes meaning as rooted in an empirically validated conception of truth, the ethical implications of which might be derived not only from the commonality of judgment it presupposes, but its essential neutrality with respect to evaluation. 9 The condition of possibility of communication is taken to be the constant and consistently determinable meaning of a significant unit (a sentence) that "expresses" its content. For it seems that if "communication" (understood as the achievement of perfectly symmetrical mutual understanding) is to be possible, signification must be taken out of the hands of the individual agent and interpretation divorced from the particular conditions of reception of a message. 10 Meaning must be divorced from free or unique performance. Nietzsche's theory of language reverses many of these assumptions. "Mutual understanding" is not a paradigm for Nietzsche, but represents on the one hand a "common sensibility" of no intrinsic value, and on the other hand, stands for the petrification of a language which, in its originary movement, is a vital force. As we have seen from The Birth of Tragedy, however, this does not entail that Nietzsche rules out the possibility of a shared experience of the poetic, so long as this is conceived as a fully performative moment. The outlines of a theory of language corresponding to that thought may be found in his Lectures on Rhetoric. In the respect in which language creates a "herd" - a common way of going on, a "grasp" of reality that is determined by the need that it should be equally available to others - Nietzsche is dismissive of its virtues. This is language in which the rhetorical arts have been suppressed and forgotten, subordinated to the interest in obtaining a "truth" characterized by its common use-value, and evidence of our "pale and abstract" culture (RL 21). Language defined in terms of its force is most properly employed rhetorically: 233

Fiona Jenkins It is not difficult to prove that what is called "rhetorical," as a means of conscious art, had been active as a means of unconscious art in language and its development ... There is obviously no unrhetorical "naturalness" of language to which one could appeal; language itself is the result of purely rhetorical arts. The power to discover and to make operative that which works and impresses, with respect to each thing, a power which Aristotle calls rhetoric, is at the same time the essence of language; the latter is based as little as rhetoric is upon that which is true, upon the essence of things. Language does not desire to instruct, but to convey to others an impulse and its acceptance. Man who forms language does not perceive things or events but impulses . .. It is not the things that pass over into consciousness, but the manner in which we stand towards them, the pith anon [po\ver of persuasion (plausibility; also a thing producing illusion)] ... Language is rhetoric, because it desires to convey only a doxa [opinion]' not an episteme [knowledge]. (RL 21-3)

Here the capacity of language both to influence perception and to respond to insight, is lent depth at a number of levels. Our ways of seeing have "plausibility" not "truth" (where "truth" is taken in the sense of ontological accuracy or fidelity to the "things-in-themselves"); nonetheless what an "artist" finds himself inclined to say is indicative of an insight or experience which lies beyond his control; his images are not arbitrary inventions, and they are true to the nature of an experience that "impresses" itself on the mind through perceived aspects of an existence which is never directly given as a single aspect or as the unity of a "thing." The essence of language is a power in two senses. First, that of communicative pressure - the capacity for "conveying to others," for "carrying" the listener into a train of thought or feeling, the power to "set the scene before our eyes" which is fundamental to rhetorical skills. 11 Second, it has the power that Aristotle characterizes when he speaks of the special skills of poets in producing metaphor: the power to "grasp" a new idea or fact in an apt turn of phrase, or more strongly, by "representing things as in a state of activity,,12 to make them vivid, that is, to make them visible. It is in this sense that Aristotle makes metaphor into a verb, to "metaphorize," an activity that rests on the perception of resemblance, requiring the "genius" of a poet's eye. 13 Again we encounter here the distinctive roles of Apollonian and Dionysian forces; ecstatic performance is the basis for receptivity to vision, whilst the vision permits the entry of Dionysian fatality in experiencing the "real." According to' Nietzsche, "the metaphor, insofar as it denotes relationships and not objects, was the earlier word, which had only 234

Performative identity to fade into the proper expression" (RL 53). This distinction between the formative moment of language and its subsequent use is of the greatest importance to him in separating aspects of the act of communication. Language is no static frame in its "original" form. Rather it is a "power" of transformation of impulse into image, of comparison, and fundamentally, of responsiveness to "signs." Meaning is determined in use; but an expressive play of language is the primary activity, and that which lends language its non-rational power (see RL 25). Neither poetic nor "common" modes of speech are "correct and reliable" as "a true copy of the original form" when this is conceived as imitative representation. The virtue of the former, however, is that, in the first place, poetic expression does not take itself to be such (a copy, an imitative representation), but rather exemplifies the pure performance which generates "appearances"; and in the second place, poetry sets out to "designate the relations of things to men" and to "express these relations ... [in] the boldest metaphors," whereas concepts, which are required for the establishment of a communicative order, make "man the measure of things" (OTL 86). The latter entails a falsification of existence, insofar as it is judged by the standards of the intelligible order of representations; the former, however, transfigures existence, and in doing so exemplifies that performative force, which, according to the schema articulated here, stands in Nietzsche's thought for existence itself. In this sense, the artistic activity is the more "truthful" expression, precisely to the extent that it functions as a purely dissimulatory power - that is, as a performance in which the (non-)ground of "what" something is lies in its "becoming," and not in its "being." 5 THE VIT ALITY OF CULTURE

The Nietzschean "task" of "becoming what one is" - a task which cannot in a strict sense be "undertaken" - turns, with seeming paradox, upon a displacement of the egological interpretation and experience of selfhood; it is an overturning of the attempt, corresponding to that false move, to master existence. Instead, in Ecce homo, the self embraces a love of fate and expresses its patiency in existence - its undergoing of an ecstatic experience, an inspiration "out of which" truth speaks and that, once more with seen1ing paradox, reveals a more genuine source of power in the life which courses through it. It is important to set the post-nihilistic invocation of that experience within the context of Nietzsche's thought about the 235

Fiona Jenkins vitality of a tragic culture which once supplied the conditions for its shared recognition and enactment as artistic performance, both for reasons of stressing the continuity of Nietzsche's thought on this point, and for countering the assumption that if, in the early work he was concerned to initiate a wide-ranging transformation of culture, he had, in the late work, narrowed his focus to elnbrace a purely individualistic project of authenticity. When Nietzsche returns in Ecce homo to assess his early work, he singles out as the' decisive insights of the Birth of Tragedy "its understanding of the Dionysian phenomenon among the Greeks" and "the understanding of Socratism"; the latter symbolizes decadence and the need for lies which is born of weakness; the former provides "a formula for the highest affirmation ... a Yes-saying without reservation, even to suffering, even to guilt, even to everything that is questionable and strange in existence" (EH, Birth of Tragedy," 1-2). This affirmation alone permits knowledge, which requires that one says "Yes" to reality (EH, "Birth of Tragedy," 2), with the willingness of one's whole self to assent to all that must be suffered, undergone, and only thereby overcome through the performative re-enactment which is tragedy. This reading brings us to a position which is more genuinely an overthrowing of Plato than the inversion of Platonism that Heidegger finds in Nietzsche's thought. If man is not to be the measure of things; if it is possible to answer nihilism with the promise of a relationship to existence in which meaning is experienced as received, though no longer on condition of a transcendent God; if strength may be drawn from our embeddedness in a mutable, indeterminate, dynamic existence; then it is necessary to put the foundations of society at risk in precisely the way that Plato feared tragic art would do. Nietzsche, indeed, always speaks of the transition he promises in terms of its risk; overcoming Plato's "Truth" initiates "the most terrible, most questionable, [yet] perhaps also the most hopeful of all spectacles" (GM III 27). This, too, is the promise of Ecce homo, held out as "destiny" which breaks history in two, shattering the narrative ground of identity. I have suggested that we might read this promise as positing the possibility of a culture in which community is the achievement of a disruptive rather than a stabilizing effect of art. Tragic art is, for Nietzsche, an exemplary condition of cultural vitality; opposed to it, is the inherent tendency to stagnation of an increasingly formalized intersubjectivity which, excluding the d,namic risk of pure artistic performance, lives within the dull comfort of the conceptual order. It may be a distinct 236

Performative identity question whether the form of community enabled by the tragic performance appears desirable, whether we should seek to become immoralists in Nietzsche's sense. But on the basis of the reading given above, we can at least form a better understanding of what is at stake in that questiC)n than is possible if we assume that Nietzsche's paradoxical project of "becoming what one is" represents a purely individualistic quest, or that its point is some monstrous elevation of the role of constitutive subjectivity. Rather, we can see Nietzsche as looking for an authentic response to a reality that, in its inherent mutability, presents a constantly renewed risk, and puts every complacent ground for security into question. Here we recognize becoming not being at the basis of our lives; for at the root of human agency, and the capacity to transfigure our world, lies a will embedded in, not transcendent of life; and it is existence alone, not an immaculate rationality, which ultimately confers our power of performance. 14

Notes 1 This is the conclusion of Heidegger's highly influential reading of





6 7 8

Nietzsche. Another version of the same idea structures Alexander Nehanlas' "life as literature" thesis, or Richard Rorty's view that we should stop worrying about the truth of our interpretations and concern ourselves only with their artistry. This is wholly consistent with Nietzsche's critique of the "will": "At the beginning stands the great fateful error that the will is something which produces an effect - that will is a faculty . .. " (TI "'Reason' in Philosophy" 5). In my use of this term and in this part of the discussion I am indebted to Christoph Menke. See his "Tragedy and the Free Spirit: on Nietzsche's Theory of Aesthetic Freedom," in Philosophy and Social Criticisln, 22, 1 (1996), pp. 1-12. Cf. WP 434 on the false supposition of Socratic philosophy that consciousness is the supreme state. Socrates' rejection of tragedy as "incomprehensible" (BT 14) is linked by Nietzsche to his rejection of "instinct" - " 'Only by instinct'; \vith this phrase we touch the heart and core of the Socratic teaching" (BT 13). See, for example, Donald Davidson, Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984). See also Nietzsche's treatment of the concept of "honesty" (OTL 83). See, for example, Donald Davidson's "What Metaphors Mean," in his Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation.


Fiona Jenkins 9 These assumptions are essential to Habermas' position and to his critical dismissal of Nietzsche's views on truth. In The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity (Cambridge: Polity, 1990), he interprets Nietzsche as claiming that meaning is subjectively "imposed" and links this to the idea that there is a simple genetic fallacy involved in tracing the "value" of an interpretation to the conditions under which it arose. He argues further that questions of validity are transcendent of the conditions of their genesis (pp. 312-13). Nietzsche, however, does not think of originary meaning as subjectively "imposed" but "aesthetically apprehended," and he displaces questions of validity into questions about meaning-generating performance. See also Rudi Visker, "Habermas on Heidegger and Foucault: Meaning and Validity in The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity," Radical Philosophy 61 (1992), pp. 215-20 for a critical treatment of Habermas' views. 10 Talbot J. Taylor (Mutual Mis-understanding: Scepticism and the Theorizing of Language and Interpretation [London: Routledge, 1992]) gives a very interesting account of the evolution of modern theories of language as emerging against the background of concern to overcome Locke's communicational skepticism. It is helpful to pay attention to the rhetorical structure of theoretical justifications for the possibility of determinacy in meaning, and the relationship this bears to the urgent need to secure the conditions of disputation concerning truth. Whilst Nietzsche's skepticism about communication is unlike Locke's, it does pose a serious challenge to conventionalist theories of language from a point of view which privileges questions of interpretation arising within rhetorical and poetic forms, where the nature of "understanding" cannot be readily taken for granted, nor the viability of disputing truth. 11 See Aristotle, Rhetoric 1410b33. 12 Ibid., 1411b24-5. 13 Aristotle, Poetics, 1459a3-8. See also Paul Ricoeur, The Rule of Metaphor (London: Routledge: 1986), pp. 23-4. 14 I would like to thank Jay Bernstein and Daniel Conway for their comments on earlier drafts of this chapter.


Dionysus lost and found: literary genres in the political thought of Nietzsche and Lukacs HENRY STATEN 1

Nietzsche's attachment to the idea of the "great n1an" is to many readers, including me, the most troubling aspect of his work. His admiration for the great man as conqueror or tyrant, which I will call his tyrannophilia, is the most extreme expression of his anti-democratic tendencies, those tendencies that also Inanifest themselves in his glorification of cruel warrior nobilities and his fantasies of "healthy aristocracy." And yet Nietzsche's admiration for conquerors and warrior aristocracies is fundamental to his in some ways very attractive analysis of morality. This analysis, which distinguishes a "noble" type of morality from a "slave" type, has always seemed full of promise for a deep spiritual, and perhaps ultimately social and political, liberation of humanity. There is a long history of readings of Nietzsche on morality from democratic and liberationist perspectives of various sorts - socialist, anarchist, feminist, and artistic-Dionysian. 1 The most influential recent liberationist interpretation of Nietzsche has been that of Gilles Deleuze, one of the most radical contemporary critics of the structures of domination in the period of capitalisn1, who enthusiastically embraced the distinction between noble and slave moralities. 2 At the base of Nietzsche's distinction Deleuze discerned a n1etaphysics that divides the cosmos between the two principles of "activeness" and "reactiveness." Reactiveness characterizes the slave, who denies the value of this world. This is the will to nothingness that Nietzsche sees as the essence of Christian n10rality; it is the will of a "weak, diminished" spirit that can only conserve itself by denigrating life and vitality and strength (Deleuze, Nietzsche and 239

Henry Staten Philosophy, pp. 69-70). Activeness, by contrast, characterizes the will of the strong, healthy organisms who do not need to condemn this world in the name of higher values, but who affirm being as becoming. And to affirm, says Deleuze, is "to release, to set free what lives ... not to load life with higher values, but to create new values which are those of life, light and active" (ibid., p. 185). To free what lives, to create new values, to affirm life instead of condemning it - these are the positive Nietzschean values, the values of the so-called noble morality, that have been celebrated by liberationist Nietzscheans ever since the late nineteenth century. But what about the other side of the notion of noble morality, the side that stresses the exercise of repressive power by the noble over the slave? Disturbingly, Deleuze follows Nietzsche in describing active, noble force as not only creative and liberatory but as "dominating" and "subjugating" (ibid., p. 61). These terms might conjure up images of ugly historical realities, those realities of conquest and subjugation that Nietzsche does not shrink from depicting and in fact likes to shock us with. Nietzsche, indeed, stresses that to be great one must be cruel, that nothing great can be attained without "the strength and the will to inflict great suffering" (GS 325). But Deleuze does not want to sully himself with such realities. He pushes them aside by an argument that in recent years has carried a great deal of authority: the argument that "in this area there are no facts, only interpretations" (Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy, p. 58). One side wins a war and another loses it; one group becomes master, the other slave; but according to Deleuze it is up to the interpreter to penetrate the surface of vulgar historical "fact" and "judge whether the forces that prevail" are indeed, in truth, "inferior or superior, reactive or active" (ibid.). Interpretation might show that it is noble, active force that has lost in a specific case, and petty, reactive force that struts in the role of conqueror. Now, surely, some such move as Deleuze's is not only necessary but legitimate in the interpretation of Nietzsche's thought. Nietzsche himself tells us that "strange though it may sound, one always has to defend the strong against the weak" (WP 685). It is clear that Nietzsche, like Deleuze, wants to get at the essence of active, subjugating force - a force that might or might not, in any specific case, turn out to be the actual winner in a contest of strength. Such a force could be a refined spiritual thing that could indeed be detached from the vulgarky of physical or political subjugation. Light, active, spontaneous, creative, liberating, noble force: an idea attractive 240

Dionysus lost and found enough, almost, to overwhelnl one's Wittgensteinian instincts - to prevent one, almost, from objecting that Nietzsche and Deleuze are indulging in a monstrous hypostasis when they posit a single, selfidentical force as operating in all of those instances of action that we feel inclined to praise as grand and positive and life-furthering. But even if we should indulge in such a hypostasis, why should we call the force in question noble, dominant, subjugating? How can we detach the essence of activeness and reactiveness from the vulgar realities of political hierarchy and class distinctions as long as we continue to define these essences in terms derived from these vulgar realities? To be noble is in the first instance to belong to a ruling class; and to be reactive is in the first instance to belong to a subjugated populace. "A concept denoting political su periori ty always resolves itself into a concept denoting superiority of soul," Nietzsche writes in the Genealogy of Morals (I 6); and in Nietzsche's own thought, superiority of soul always threatens to translate itself back once more into political superiority - the superiority of a "natural" aristocracy that would someday in the future reunify the essence of subjugating force with the physical fact of subjugation. Deleuze tries to make his typology float free of historical-political facts, but the text of Nietzsche relies on such facts and Deleuze relies on Nietzsche's text. When Nietzsche takes Caesar and Napoleon as examplars of noble, active force, no doubt he is engaged in "interpretation"; but it is an interpretation that harmonizes perfectly with the vulgar facts of military/political subjugation and thus takes us not one inch closer to the spiritualization of the concept of nobility. It seems to me that Deleuze glides past, without resolving, the crucial problem that any liberationist reading of Nietzsche must resolve - the problem of how to liberate the concepts of noble values and active force from their genesis in concepts of political domination and class distinction. In fact, it is not even clear how we are to distinguish Deleuze's attempt to dissolve all mere facts into the medium of interpretation from what Nietzsche calls the imaginary vengeance of the slave. This vengeance is precisely the triumph of interpretation over the physical fact of power and conquest. "It is we who are really better, even though we lose": this is the slave's interpretation of mere fact, the intellectual vengeance that is taken by the physically powerless (but intellectually cunning) against those who physically triunlph over them. I do not deny that Nietzsche imagines an affirmative will to power 241

Henry Staten that has passed beyond crude domination into a spiritual-intellectual dance; but only in Thus Spoke Zarathustra is this notion developed in a way that does not remain in disturbing proximity to his tyrannophilia and his apologia for cruelty. And in the Genealogy of Morals, the principal text in which the active/reactive distinction is developed, Nietzsche not only glorifies the dominating force of historical warrior nobilities, he presents a special paean on the value of cruelty and waxes lyrical on the pleasure of inflicting torture. One might defend Nietzsche in the way that Alexander Nehamas does, by arguing that Nietzsche does not think it desirable that people should repeat "the actual behavior of earlier barbarians in the world of today"; rather, the drive to cruelty is to be "refined" into the ruthless honesty of the seeker after knowledge. 3 Nevertheless, Nehamas himself admits that "Nietzsche's view suggests that the more honesty is cultivated, the more cruelty too increases in principal," and that intellectual cruelty can always turn back into "physical cruelty of the worst sort" (ibid.). I conclude that we cannot simply excise Nietzsche's paean on cruelty and domination from his meditation on greatness, nobility, and activeness. As Jacques Derrida has said, it is not a pure accident that National Socialism is the only political regime that has ever "brandished" Nietzsche's name as an "official banner. ,,4 On the other hand, neither is it accidental that Nietzsche has also been so persistently the inspiration of liberationist thinking. What we need to understand is the necessity that binds these two possibilities together in Nietzsche's text. 2

I know of no more striking instance of the dual force of Nietzsche's work than its opposite influence on the two great German sociologists Ferdinand T6nnies and Georg Simmel. As Stephen Aschheim, following Harry Liebersohn, has pointed out, Tonnies' ideal of GemeinschaJt, "community," was informed by Nietzsche's description in the Birth of Tragedy of the "Dionysian," "prerationalist community" (Ascheim, The Nietzsche Legacy, p. 41), whereas Simmel's conflicting ideal of Vornehmheit, social distinction, was equally influenced by Nietzsche. I want to argue, however, that the split between Tonnies and Simmel does not reflect (as Tonnies thought it did~ a difference between the "early" and the "late" Nietzsche. 242

Dionysus lost and found In fact, as I will now argue, the aristocratic/authoritarian and democraticlliberationist tendencies in Nietzsche have their common matrix in the meditation on tragedy with which he began his career as a writer, and which remains fundamental to his thought to the very end. Early or late, Nietzsche conceives the "great man" as the factor that bestows aesthetic/metaphysical coherence on life, and he conceives this individual on the model of the hero of tragedy, developed originally in The Birth of Tragedy (1872). In 1874, in Schopenhauer as Educator, we find him quoting with approval Goethe's remark that "the final cause of the activities of men and the world is dramatic poetry" (SE 5). In Daybreak (1881), Nietzsche praises Shakespeare's Macbeth as a paradigm of the heroic stance toward life. Macbeth, we are told, "acts in defiance against life for the sake of drive and idea; and if the hero perishes by this passion this precisely is the sharpest spice in the hot draught of his joy" (Daybreak 240). And in a note from the mid-1880s Nietzsche remarks that modern man has "lost dignity in his own eyes to an incredible extent" because he is no longer, as he used to be, "the center and tragic hero of existence in general" (WP 18). This image of the tragic hero is not merely a recurring motif; it manifests the persistence of a model that influences the architecture of Nietzsche's thought in a fundamental way. Nietzsche's thought in its totality is mobilized to attack the question of the destiny of humanity; his analysis of history in terms of the struggle between the noble and the slave is both a diagnosis of how humanity decayed, and a prescription for its regeneration. And both the diagnosis and the prescription are subtended by the image of the hero of tragic drama as Nietzsche imagined him in 1870-1 when he was writing The Birth of Tragedy. The greatness of great men is not enough by itself, in itself, to justify human life; this greatness must give life aesthetic form, and Nietzsche conceives this form on the model of the theatrical spectacle of tragedy. What I want to show now is that Nietzsche's meditation on tragedy is from the beginning beset by a fundamental ambivalence. On the one hand, it is true, as Tonnies felt, that in the published version of the The Birth of Tragedy, the heroic individual is subordinated to the communal-Dionysian experience. Nietzsche here describes the communal matrix of the chorus as "older, more original and important" than the "action" performed by the hero (BT 5); in the "very oldest period of tragedy," in fact, Dionysus, "the real 243

Henry Staten stage hero," is "merely imagined" by the chorus in its vIsIonary rapture (ibid.). Tragedy is thus in its primordial essence a mass phenomenon, and even in the full-blown Attic tragedy there was "at bottom no opposition between public and chorus" (ibid.), or between this mass of spectators and the hero on stage. "The satyr chorus is, first of all, a vision of the Dionysian mass of spectators, just as the world of the stage, in turn, is a vision of this satyr chorus" (ibid.). The chorus thus carries over into the beginnings of an artistic genre the primitive fusion of the Dionysian cult, under which "the slave is a free man; all the rigid, hostile barriers ... fixed between man and man are broken." The sufferings of Dionysus are the representation of the suffering of individuation, which is a universal suffering, the same for every individual qua individual; hence, in the Dionysian ecstasy "each one feels himself ... united, reconciled, and fused with his neighbor" (BT 1). On the other hand, even in these same passages in which the tragic hero is presented in such a vivid way as servant of the communal ecstasy, the "great man" register of Nietzsche's thought is present in an incipient form. The first small tremors of this incipience are perceptible from the moment that Nietzsche turns from the proto-drama to the development of the Promethean element in tragedy in the work of Aeschylus and Sophocles. At this point Nietzsche calls the tragedian a "Titanic artist" (BT 9) who represents on the stage a titanic "Aryan" hero. Prometheus is understood as "active" and "masculine" (as opposed to the "feminine" sin of Genesis in Semitic tradition [ibid.]). We can see in the irruption of terms like these unmistakable intimations of the cruel subjugators Nietzsche paints for us in his later work. And what is merely intimation in the published text of The Birth of Tragedy is in fact already fully developed in certain of the manuscripts from 1871 in which Nietzsche analyzed the political conditions for the emergence of tragedy, but which he did not include in the published version of the Birth. In the manuscript political meditations the chorus/hero nexus is replaced by the political opposition: masses/great man. Whereas the hero of tragedy is subordinated to the "community of unconscious actors," the heroic individual of the political manuscripts is conceived as the "purpose and goal" of existence (Musarion 3, p. 301)5 and the populace is described as the "chaotic masses" (ibid. p. 291) of material that must submit to the gr~at man's form-giving force. Thus Nietzsche's thought already in 1871 fractures along the 244

Dionysus lost and found faultline that will come to divide his liberationist from his authoritarian followers. Yet the great man for whom the people must be sacrificed and the tragic hero who sacrifices himself for the people are emanations of what appears in the depths of Nietzsche's psyche as one single figure .. In the Birth Nietzsche identifies the Prometheus story as the paradigm of tragic heroism. Prometheus, exemplary avatar of Dionysus, "must be torn to pieces by vultures" because of his "titanic love for man" (BT 4). But in the political manuscripts there is a grotesque reconfiguration of this very same image, as follows: In order that there might be a broad ... foundation for a development of art ... the immense majority must be submitted slavishly to dire want. At their expense, through their excess of labor, will that privileged class be removed from the struggle for survival, so that they might generate and satisfy a new world of needs. Accordingly, we must understand ... that slavery belongs to the essence of a culture . .. [This truth] is the vulture that gnaws at the liver of the promethean advancer of culture. (Musarion 3 p. 281)

As violently as these two deployments of the Prometheus image clash, one factor remains constant: in either case, it is a matter of the suffering of Prometheus - even when he is the enslaver and exploiter of the masses. One might feel that Nietzsche is disingenuous (to say the least) when he presents the subjugating class as being heroically and even tragically tortured by the fact that they have to enslave the masses. But I want to argue that this presentation is driven by a deep compulsion in Nietzsche, one that reasserts itself throughout his work and that binds together his tyrannophilic and his leveling tendencies. No matter how hard he tries to distinguish a pure essence of active, masculine, dominating force, Nietzsche is always compelled to rediscover, within activeness, a core of passivity, of suffering, of Dionysus torn. And because Nietzsche cannot extricate an essence of pure activeness from the idea of tragic heroism, of Dionysian/Promethean self-sacrifice, neither can he give a principled basis to his propaganda on behalf of cruel, conquering aristocracies and great men. It might appear that in his later work, and especially in the Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche succeeded in separating the essence of activeness from that of passivity. Here Nietzsche appears to have veered to the furthest possible distance from the image in the Birth of Tragedy of the suffering at the core of tragic heroism. Now he glorifies the torturer and the pleasures of inflicting torture, and 245

Henry Staten showers contempt on the ressentiment-filled weaklings who must endure such torture: "To see others suffer does one good, to make others suffer even more: this is a hard saying but an ancient, mighty, human, all-too-human principle ... Without cruelty, there is no festival: thus the longest and most ancient part of human history teaches - and in punishment there is so much that is festive." The passage I have just cited concludes section 6 of the second essay of the Genealogy. And yet, precisely at this moment when Nietzsche's celebration of cruelty reaches its highest pitch, a strange thing happens. In section 7, Nietzsche slides from the pleasure of cruelty - the pleasure he celebrates in section 6 - to the question of the justification of evil: What really arouses indignation against suffering is not suffering as such but the senselessness of suffering ... so as to abolish hidden. undetected. unwitnessed suffering from the world ... one was in the past virtually compelled to invent gods .... something that ... sees even in the dark. and will not easily let an interesting painful spectacle pass unnoticed ... It was with the aid of such inventions that life then knew how to work the trick ... of justifying itself. of justifying its evil. (GM II 7)

Now, the justification of "evil" here is not the justification of cruelty, though Kaufmann slurs over the difference by translating two distinct German words, bose and Ubel with the one English word "evil." The cruelty-enjoying epochs that Nietzsche celebrates he refers to as bose; but the evil that must be justified is Ubel, evil in the sense of the suffering and misfortune of life. In fact, the phrase HUbel" zu rechtfertigen that Nietzsche uses here echoes the phrase die Rechtfertiging des . .. Ubels that he had used in the Birth of Tragedy in his interpretation of the self-sacrifice of Prometheus, where he glossed Ubel as "the misfortune in the nature of things," the "primordial contradiction" between individuation and universality (BT 9). The echo in Nietzsche's wording suggests that his thought might have been thrown at this point in section 7 of the Genealogy into the orbit of the Birth of Tragedy; and in fact the entire second half of this section can fruitfully be interpreted as such. For now Nietzsche interprets the justification of Ubel once again, as in the Birth, in terms of the form of a dramatic spectacle. In this spectacle human beings cease to enjoy cruelty and instead endure it for the pleasure of the gods, who themselves become no more than a theatrical audience, spectators of the spectacle presented to them by suffering humahity. "'Every Ubel the sight of which edifies a god is justified': thus spoke the primitive logic of feeling - and was it 246

Dionysus lost and found indeed only primitive? ... What was ... the ultimate meaning of Trojan Wars and other such tragic terrors [tragische Furchtbarkeiten]? There can be no doubt whatsoever: they were intended as festival plays for the gods" (GM II 7). And the section ends with the image of the self-torture of a hero who imagines his life as a theatrical spectacle; apparently with the stoics in mind, Nietzsche writes that in later antiquity, "the moral philosophers of Greece ... imagined the eyes of God looking down upon the moral struggle, upon the heroism and self-torture of the virtuous": " 'the Herakles of duty' was on a stage and knew himself to be" (ibid.).G We see here, as in Daybreak 113, "only one character burning and consuming himself"; and this spectacle of self-sacrifice performs precisely the same function that the drama of Dionysus/Prometheus had performed: die Rechtfertigung des Ubels. Thus in section 7 of the second essay of the Genealogy of Morals, against the prevailing tendency of this book to establish a principle of pure autonomous activity attributable to conquerors and subjugators who would be the representatives of the unsullied, affirmative, cruel drive to life and thus the justifiers of life itself, the Dionysian principle reasserts itself in the figure of the hero who suffers his own action. The communal dimension of theatricality envisaged in the Birth of Tragedy has now disappeared, as the hero acts and suffers for a merely imagined audience; thus at this point we have come full circle from the proto-tragedy, in which the hero was merely imagined by the audience, to the post-tragedy, in which the audience is merely imagined by the hero. This act of imagination is an internalization or Aufhebung of the actual Greek drama; the tragic hero can in principle be anywhere, anytime, producing his spectacle of action and suffering on the transcenden tal stage of life. This internalized drama is not communal, but it is potentially democratic. In a note from 1887 Nietzsche speculates that the ultimate bestowal of meaning on human existence would come from a self-spectation in which each individual would learn to vie\\' every moment of existence as the climax of a heroic micro-drama: Every basic character trait that is encountered at the bottOITI of every event ... would have to lead every individual who experienced it as his own basic character trait to welcome every monlent of universal existence with a sense of triumph. The crucial point would be that one experienced this basic character trait in oneself as good, valuable - with pleasure. (WP 55)

This note suggests that the Dionysian essence of heroism, of affirma247

Henry Staten tion of every passive/active, suffering inflicting/suffering enduring moment of eternal existence with all its Ubel, can and ought to be reflected back into the interiority of every human being as the magnified and ennobled image of her own destiny. 7 Such a selfspectation, Nietzsche suggests in The Gay Science, can be learned only from artists "and especially those of the theatre." It is they who have taught us To see and hear with some pleasure what each man is himself, experiences himself, desires himself; o'nly they have taught us to esteem the hero that is concealed in everyday characters; only they have taught us the art of viewing ourselves as heros - from a distance, as it were, simplified and transfigured - the art of staging and watching ourselves. (GS 78)

Yet even when Nietzsche discerns "the hero that is concealed in everyday characters" the ambivalent force of the model of tragic drama remains discernible. On the one hand, because Dionysus represents the universal experience of individuated being, all persons no matter how humble share equally in the Dionysian essence and can validly view themselves in its terms. On the other hand, because Dionysus is the magnification of the universal essence, the Universal Being abstracted from the particularities of the individual qua individual, the image of Dionysian heroism involves the obliteration of the commonness that it ennobles. We see this ambivalence in the passage I cited just above: Nietzsche says that in order for us commonplace characters to view ourselves as heroes we must do so from a distance, so that we see ourselves not in all our petty, realistic detail but "simplified and transfigured." "Only in this way can we deal with some base details in ourselves," the passage continues. Thus even when Nietzsche does not press it in the direction of the great man, the image of the hero remains in a fundamental way allergic to the ordinariness of the ordinary individual.


Nietzsche began his intellectual career with a deep meditation on the form of tragedy, an archaic genre rooted in archaic, and fundamentally aristocratic, class structures; and in some ways he never transcended the limits of this aesthetic model. Nietzsche first worked out th~ idea of the aesthetic justification of existence in terms of the hero of the tragic drama, and he placed his crude 248

Dionysus lost and found ideology of the great man loosely under the aegis of this aesthetic justification. Thus the limitations of the model of tragic drama are to an important extent also the limitations of Nietzsche's political ideology. Yet the period in which Nietzsche lived offered him a new literary genre - the .novel - that undertook to give form to everyday human life seen up close, in all its base detail. It is an astounding fact that Nietzsche, prophet of modernity, substantially ignores the dominant literary form of the modern age. He often refers to Stendhal, Dostoevski, and other novelists whom he admires and claims to have learned from; yet he never retlects on the novel as a world-shaping aesthetic form. The development of the novel involved a fundamental reconception of the nature of society and of the nature and significance of the individual. According to the ancient doctrine of the separation of styles, only persons from the upper strata of society could be treated seriously in literature; merchants, workers, slaves, the masses in general could only be represented comically or satirically. As Erich Auerbach noted in Mimesis, this separation of styles was already breached by the Christian Gospels, in which common people such as Peter are treated in a "tragic-problematic" way; yet the structure of society throughout most of the Christian era remained aristocratic, and it was not until this social structure itself was transformed that a literary genre could develop that was the adequate vehicle for the serious representation of the lives of "ordinary" people. Marxist critics in the wake of Georg Lukacs have treated the realist novel as a "progressive" literary form; it seems, thus, that Nietzsche's clinging to the idea of tragedy and the tragic hero while substantially ignoring the novel is a reactionary stance at once literarily and politically. Lukacs himself, however - at least in The Historical Novel expresses a more sympathetic view of Nietzsche than one might expect. In this great work Lukacs decried Nietzsche's subjectivism about history and recourse to heroes; but he considered Nietzsche's views a natural consequence of the degradation of bourgeois existence following the Revolutions of 1848 and "an honest protest" against the "ugliness and triviality" of Nietzsche's "capitalist present.,,8 Nietzsche, along with such contemporaries as Flaubert, Taine, and St. Beuve, belongs to the period in which, Lukacs argues, the bourgeoisie ceased to be a revolutionary class and began to mystify its place in the social structure in order to veil the predatory nature of the economic relations both among its own members and between it and the lower classes. As a consequence of this change, 249

Henry Staten the classic realism of Scott, Stendhal, and Balzac gave way in the second half of the century to the decadence of "naturalistic" realism, of the "photographic authenticity of description" (ibid., p. 198) that goes hand in hand with "the decorative monumentalization of history" (ibid., p. 199). History becomes a collection of exotic anecdotes. At the same time, inevitably, as real historical relations are less and less understood, wild, sensual, indeed bestial features come to occupy the foreground. In all art of this period depicting the present, inability to understand the great problems of the age is accompanied by brutality in the presentation of physical processes, veiled by biological mysticism. 9

It is illuminating to view Nietzsche's taste for great men and cruelty in the context of such a widespread aesthetic/intellectual tendency as Lukacs here identifies. Whether or not we take Nietzsche's view of history to be a direct result of his bourgeois context, it is clear that he lacked a theory of history in terms of which he could understand the "real historical relations" that are the primary object of representation of the realist novel. Lukacs' own profound analysis of the forms of the tragic drama and the novel is made possible by the fact that he possesses a comprehensive and detailed interpretation of modern history, based of course on Marx. Lukacs' is the most compelling account I know of the nineteenth-century novel: It makes sense of a vast tangle of facts concerning the literary, historical, and philosophical writing of the period. In particular, it presents an illuminating contrast to Nietzsche's model of heroism. But just as illuminating is the way that at a certain point, as we will see, this contrast unexpectedly disappears. Beginning with an analysis of tragic heroism that is historical rather than metaphysical, Lukacs attempts, by thinking through the form of the realist novel, to resolve the problem that Nietzsche cannot adequately formulate - the problem of how the exemplarity of the hero is to be reconciled with the ordinariness of the masses. Lukacs identifies the nature and role of the protagonist as the crucial determinant of the difference between the form of tragic drama and that of the novel. The protagonist of the novel, like that of tragedy, must be "typical," must be representative of a whole class of individuals who are affected by a specific set of conflicting historical forces (for example, the feudal nobility in conflict with the accelerating cenqalization of capital). But the protagonist's typicality in the novel is a diffuse phenomenon "which emerges to the surface 250

Dionysus lost and found only by degrees out of the whole, by the complex interaction of human beings, relations, institutions, things, etc." (Lukacs, Historical Novel, p. 140). The hero of tragedy, by contrast, must be "directly and immediately typical" (ibid.), concentrating within his own personality the historical forces whose collision forms the tragic si tuation. In tragic drama, however, these historical forces are not depicted as they are in themselves, in their concrete detail, but only implied through the motives and personality of the tragic hero. The diffuseness of the protagonist's typicality in the novel actually makes the novel "more historical" than the drama; the novel "counters the general historicism of the essence of a collision [the essence represented by the drama] with the concrete historicism of all the details" (ibid., p. 151). The tragic collision that lies at the center of dramatic form, precisely because it is so concentrated, represents "only a part" of the "total world" that it is the task of the novel to portray (ibid.). The tragic hero who takes center stage in the drama is in the novel taken up into a larger external reality that is shown to be his own reality in its true form. Concrete social reality (classes, institu tions, economic and political struggle) is the true locus of the conflicts that eventuate in the choices and tragedies of individuals. The typical protagonist of the novel is not a great man but a "maintaining individual," someone who does not occupy the center of the historical stage but plays a subsidiary role - a role that, however, is just as exemplary as that of the hero of tragedy, and better suited to the representation of a complete historical reality. Up to this point, I have been developing the notion that Lukacs' focus on history distinguishes his reflections on literary heroism from Nietzsche's. And yet there turns out to be a significant confluence between them. Because genuine historicity is a search for that "deeper essence of reality that is hidden beneath the surface,,,1o it cannot, according to Lukacs, be attained by reference to "the trivial and the average" (Lukacs Studies, pp. 83-4.) Thus, even though the novel represents "maintaining individuals" rather than great men, the deep historical essence typified by these individuals remains, for Lukacs, heroic. If the "world-historical individual" is not at the center of the historical novel, there is another kind of heroism that is: the heroism of the people. In Sir Walter Scott's novels we find "everywhere" the "sudden blaze of great yet simple heroism among artless, seen1ingly average children of the people" (Lukacs Historical Novel, p. 51). The "important thing" for both Goethe and Scott is "to lay bare those vast, heroic, hun1an potential251

Henry Staten ities which are always latently present in the people and which, on each big occasion ... emerge 'suddenly,' with colossal force, to the surface" (ibid., p. 52). Lukacs' account of the historical supersession of the drama by the novel is thus just as essentially an account of the persistence of the heroic form of the drama within the unheroic form of the novel. Above all, it is the "objective historical period preparatory to revolution" that is rich with "a whole number of tragic contradictions in life itself" (ibid., p. 98). It is because · they are connected with the tragic matrix of history that the "maintaining individuals" of the realist novel transcend the meanness or greyness of the "merely individual" (ibid., p. 159): "Since the background to the action is the real suffering and real heroism ... of a people, the events lose all their trivial, mean, and haphazard qualities, all that is purely individual and private about them" (ibid., p. 203). But then, if the "ennoblement of man" proceeds from fighting out "to the end" a tragic conflict (ibid., p. 99), and it is the period preparatory to revolution that is so productive of such heroism and ennoblement, would not successful socialist revolution destroy the conditions of heroism and plunge all of humanity into the triviality of happiness? Lukacs denies this possibility, but it is instructive to see precisely how he does so. He does it by insisting that "the contradictoriness of social development, the intensification of these contradictions to the point of tragic collision" is "a general fact of life" - a fact, apparently, that belongs to the transhistorical essence of social life. The "contradictoriness of life" does not "come to an end with the social resolution of class antagonisms through victorious socialist revolution," leaving only "the monotonous serenity of self-satisfaction without problems, struggle, or conflict." Rather, Lukacs affirms, "the human side of the dramatic collision ... is present, too, as a fact of life, in Socialist society and can thus become the basis of a significant dramatic work" (ibid., p. 99). Thus Lukacs the Marxist visionary despite all his differences from Nietzsche shares with him a revulsion from mere individuality from what Lukacs calls "the detailed analysis of small, human peculiarities which have nothing to do with the historical mission of the person concerned" (ibid., p. 47). For both thinkers, only insofar as a human life exemplifies and manifests a universality, and specifically a heroic universality, is it raised above triviality and meaninglessness. Lukacs' account of the fall of the novel from realism to natuqllism parallels Nietzsche's account of the death of tragedy in the hands of Euripides: in both cases it is a matter of a 252

Dionysus lost and found decline into naturalistic realism, in which human beings are represented in their trivial everyday reality ("the painful fidelity that conscientiously reproduces even the botched outlines of nature" [BT 11]). The role of literary art, for Lukacs as for Nietzsche, is to present the simplified and transfigured essence of individuals; the "flabby shapelessness of modern bourgeois life" makes necessary the incorporation of features of the heroic form of drama into the structure of the novel (Lukacs, Studies, p. 72). Because of its focus on protagonists who are isolated and even marginalized individuals, Lukacs was sternly opposed to the literary movement we call modernism (which he treated as a continuation of naturalism); and it seems likely that Nietzsche would have shared Lukacs' distaste. 4

Yet we have seen that Nietzsche, at least at one level of his reflections on tragedy, gives us a conception of a literary art that transcends "mere individuality" and also transcends tragic heroism conceived as greatness of scale in the most literal sense. Despite his attachment to the idea of the great man, in his account of the communal matrix of tragedy, in his undoing of the dichotomy of action and suffering, and in his meditation on the self-spectation that would make every human being a dramatic hero, Nietzsche verges on a thought of unheroic heroism. If tragedy is about death in general, about the fact that "all that comes into being must be ready for a sorrowful end," (BT 17) then the real object of representation of tragedy has little to do with the greatness of either an individual or of the "popular basis" the individual represents. The contemporary imperative to historicize and the corresponding rejection of the humanist attempt to define a human essence have made us deeply mistrustful (and rightly so) of universalizing discourses like those of existentialism or The Birth of Tragedy. I have noted that in the very midst of his account of the Dionysian union of humanity Nietzsche is already busy developing an apologia for the aristocratic domination of the populace. But I persist in thinking that in his account of the tragic Dionysian Nietzsche is getting at something valuable that mere historicism cannot attain, and which needs to be, and perhaps can be, reformulated in a way adequate to the needs of modernity. Marxists like Lukacs and Frederic Jameson have argued that existentialism with its stress on the anxiety and isolation of the


Henry Staten individual is a product of the decay of bourgeois society, and I am in qualified agreement with this view. It seems clear to me that there is a peculiarly biirgerlich provenance for the stress Heidegger in Being and Time (1927) places on the isolation of authentic Dasein in its confrontation with death. And yet the question of individual finitude to which Heidegger attunes us so profoundly cannot be dismissed as a cultural epiphenomenon -least of all in a meditation on the pathos of tragedy. The vehicle of tragic empathy, which must transcend the mere individuality of the individual, is nevertheless the finitude of the tragic protagonist, his or her absolute delimitation qua individual. This is the problem that Nietzsche probed so deeply in The Birth of Tragedy and the collateral writings of the same period, particularly in relation to the figure of Dionysus. As Heidegger says, death is the "ownmost" properness of the individual and, as Hamlet says, " 'tis common," the most common property of humanity in general. Tragic pathos is generated at the confluence of this propriety and this vulgarity: the tragic hero as mask of Dionysus serves as image of death-in-common. Lukacs for his part does not directly address the question of death; he speaks more circumspectly of "tragic conflict" and the "tragic downfall." Yet tragic downfall in any of its guises draws its affective power from the fact that it is finite individuals in their finitude who fall. In the realist novel as defined by Lukacs, where the true protagonists are groups of human beings - the Scottish clans of Walter Scott or the idealistic bourgeois youth of Balzac, for example - the "death" of a way of life or of a historical class spirit must nevertheless be represented, as Lukacs himself insists, by concrete individuals who typlfy the phenomenon and in this way make it real for our perception and empathy. Lukacs does not draw the full consequences of this individuation of a common plight, and Nietzsche provides the depth analysis of the tragic affects that is missing from Lukacs (as Lukacs provides a sense of the specificity of historical forces that is missing from Nietzsche). Jameson expresses the view that "death in a fragmented society is far more frightening and anxiety-laden than in a genuine community, in which dying is something that happens to the group more intensely than it happens to the individual subject. ,,11 But it is precisely such an intense communal experience that furnished Nietzsche with the matter of his reflections in The Birth of Tragedy. The cult of Dionysus suggests not that communally experienced death is less but more agitating than it is for the bourgeois subject, so much more agitating 254

Dionysus lost and found that the experience breaks through mere anxiety into an ecstatic transport of terror. No doubt we cannot revive the Dionysus cult, nor would I like to, but from Nietzsche's meditation on it I derive this question: might not a community in which hU111an beings were not divided against each other draw the affect of their solidarity from a heightened, rather than diminished, sense of the universal pathos of individual existence and individual death? But where better do we find a literary representation of this pathos than in the kind of "naturalism" that both Lukacs and Nietzsche in their hunger for heroism reject - for instance in Joyce's Ulysses, with Leopold Bloom defecating while he reads, or meditating in the graveyard at Paddy Dignaln's funeral, or better yet, in Molly Bloom's "soliloquy." In Ulysses all distancing of perspective is gone; we see the bare human thing itself, in all its 1110St banal detail. 12 The overwhelming consensus of readers is that Ulysses is an immensely life-affirming work; but we would be hard put to understand Molly's affirmation, her Yes to life. in tefll1S of the distinction between noble and slave or active and reactive forces - at least in any non-questionbegging way. Nothing better sun1S up the limitations of (one of) Nietzsche's (two) tragic-heroic models (but Lukacs' as well) than the juxtaposition of this model with Joyce's representation of Molly. And yet, whatever Nietzsche hiInself might have thought had he been confronted with this representation (and is it not a stunning thought, Nietzsche reading Molly Bloom?), I want to say, inspired by Nietzsche, carried by his thought of affirmation of "every moment of universal existence," that here too is Dionysus.

Notes 1 See Steven E. Aschheim, The Nietzsche Legacy in Gerrnany, 1890-1990 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1992). 2 Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy, trans. Hugh Tomlinson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983).

3 Alexander Nehamas, Nietzsche: LIfe as Literature (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1985), p. 218. 4 Jacques Derrida, Otobiographies: The Teaching of Nietzsche and the Politics of the Proper Name, trans. Avital Ronell, in The Ear of the Other: Otobiography, Transference, Translation, English edn. ed. Christie McDonald. trans. Peggy Kamuf frOll1 French edn. ed. Claude Levesque and Christie McDonald (Lincoln, Nebr.: University of Nebraska Press, 1985), pp. 30-1.


Henry Staten 5 Gesammelte Werke Musarionausgabe, 23 vols. Munich: Musarion Verlag, 1920-9. 6 Nietzsche refers to the moral philosophers of Greece, but the closest




10 11 12

parallel for this passage that I have been able to find is in Seneca's letter On Providence, where Seneca describes the suicide of Cato: "Look you upon this spectacle worthy the attention of a god ... - a stalwart man matched with evil fortune ... I am sure the gods looked on with great satisfaction ... when he thrust his sword into his hallowed bosom ... and with his own hand released that holy spirit" (The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca, trans. Moses Hadas [New York: Norton, 1958], pp. 31-2). That the affirmation of suffering is entailed by the affirmation of "every moment" is explicitly stated in Thus Spoke Zarathustra IV 10: "Have you ever said yes to a single joy? 0 my friends, then you said yes too to all woe. All things are entangled, ensnared, enamored." Georg Lukacs, The Historical Novel, trans. Hannah and Stanley Mitchell (Lincoln, Nebr.: University of Nebraska Press, 1983), p. 183. Lukacs' assessment of Nietzsche was much harsher when he connected Nietzsche with the Nazis. See Aschheim, The Nietzsche Legacy, pp. 276-80. Ibid., p. 182. In these remarks, Lukacs is apparently thinking mainly of France, and to some degree of Germany; certainly his remark does not apply to England (Eliot, Dickens, Trollope). Georg Lukacs, Studies in European Realism (New York: Grosset and Dunlop, 1964), pp. 83-4. Frederic Jameson, The Political Unconscious (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1981), p. 262. I discuss further the representation of the "bare human thing" in Joyce's novel in "The Decomposition of Joyce's Ulysses," PMLA May (1997).


III Nietzsche's politics of aesthetic • genIus SALIM KEMAL

In The Birth of Tragedy and other early writings Nietzsche relies on a cluster of concepts which relates genius to the production of value and invites a particular relation between people of genius and the rest of humanity. He develops this political relation fur_ther in The Greek State and in other notes that he intended to use in a second vollime -~~rthe Birth of Tragedy; and although he later abandoned that project, traces of this t11inking also appear in passages in On the Use and Disadvantages of History for Life. Yet in his .,J883 Introduction to The Birth of Tragedy Nietzsche rejects th~~rti'sis';-metaphy;ics" iliat structured ~his ea~liercoil~e-p­ tioncl subjects, aesthetics, and the production of value, and in later works he proposes a new conception of genius and its relation to other subjects. To explain these developments, this chapter will examine aspects of the relation between genius, value, and society in Nietzsche's early work, andt'hen- ~xp1ore ilie implicatfo.ns_ that his later refection of the "artists' metaphysics" has for his conception of artistic creativity ~nd "the' relatl'on- -between subjec.ts.1 Nietzsche's middle and later work-suggests lib era tory arid progressf~e acco.1!nt of~'the aesthetic necessity of beauty" that unitesg.?i~t~1~~~tfc~-':;



Schopenhauer is a principal influence on Nietzsche at this time, but The Birth of Tragedy works also under the influence of Friedrich Schiller: the opposition between the sensual and rational inlpulses that motivates the resolution Schiller seeks in the illusion of art, in aesthetic value and judgment, becomes anthropomorphized in Nietzsche's Dionysian and Apollonian tendencies. 2 Similarly, Schiller explains beauty as the product of genius, understanding the 257

Salim Kemal latter as an ability to penetrate beyond the world of appearance and to articulate insights into reality in terms that thereby become available to all others. The artistic genius, "when he has become a man,,,3 [will] return, a stranger, to his own century; not, however to gladden it by his appearance, but rather, terrible like Agamemnon's son, to cleanse and purify it. His theme he will, indeed, take from the present; but his form he "viII borrow from a nobler time, nay, from beyond time altogether, 'from the absolute, unchanging unity of his being. Here from the pure aether of his genius, the living source of beauty flows down, untainted by the corruption of the generations and ages wallowing in the dark eddies below. The theme of his work may be degraded by vagaries of the public mood, even as this has been known to ennoble it; but its form, inviolate, will remain immune from such vicissitudes ... Humanity has lost its dignity; but Art has rescued it and preserved it in significant stone. Truth lives on in the illusion of Art, and it is from this copy, or after-image, that the original image will once again be restored. Just as the nobility of Art survived the nobility of Nature, so now Art goes before her, a voice rousing from slumber and preparing the shape of things to come. Even before Truth's triumphant light can penetrate the recesses of the human heart, the poet's imagination will intercept its rays, and the peaks of humanity will be radiant while the dews of night still linger in the valley. 4

The artistic genius is able to penetrate beyond the world of appearance and local fortunes because it has access to reality, to the Truth that is the "living source of beauty." The artist is especially sensitive to this because he can "from the absolute, unchanging unity of his being" articulate its inviolate and immutable form in "the illusion of Art." The artistic genius lives among the peaks of humanity while the rest, lacking that direct access to truth, flounder in the dark eddies in the valley from which "the dews of night" have not yet dispersed. Such hyperbole underlines the weight Schiller gives to the power of genius and art. Although Nietzsche strongly rejects the likelihood of an immutable and eternal Truth in his search for the authenticity of art, some of Schiller's images still inform Nietzsche's reflections on aesthetic value and artistic creation. Artistic beauty is at best an illusion the artist constructs in order to give some semblance of meaning to a world filled with "the terror and horror of existence," that seems to lack any inherent centre (BT 3). The order provided by beauty may be illusory, but that "consumate immersion in the beauty of mere ~ppearance" also provides redemption (BT 3, see also 4). "It is only as an aesthetic phenomenon that existence and 258

Nietzsche's politics of aesthetic genius the world are eternally justified" (BT 6, 24). The sense of pleasure, order, and harmony that beauty contains, that remains an illusion if considered a representation of reality, makes us believe that we can order the world, can give it a human meaning. Pleasure is a state that we wish to continue indefinitely. In an important sense, it is an end in itself as a state of satisfaction beyond which the agent does not seek to go. In this case of the universalizable pleasure that our experience of beauty consists in, it provides an order leading to an end in itself for all agents that gives human meaning to events. And in this process of constructing value, "[a]rt is not merely imitation of the reality of nature but a metaphysical supplement of the reality of nature, placed beside it for its overcoming" (BT 24, see also 5). The world itself seems to be entirely neutral towards human beings; it shows no intentional regard for them nor any clear antagonism but is an implacable and independent process. We may describe that process in order to try to grasp its laws, but this will not yield any clues about why things are the way they are. The laws only describe things as we can know them to be, but this description does not give us any access to a real and inviolate truth because our description is always liInited to our mode of knowledge and our use of language: it is self-contradictory to try to know things-in-themselves when these are by definition things existing independently of our modes of knowledge. The very language we use is not a transparent means but an opaque tool that has its own history and character. 5 Science itself is one form of order we give, a construal and construction of experience, whose motivations we need to diagnose. And in this activity of construing reality, in what used to be the domain of metaphysics, as the queen of the sciences, setting out the basic categories of our thought about reality, where reality remains outside an objective grasp, there other modes of understanding become important because they provide a sense of order, of a reliable and seemingly determinate direction for our actions. Beauty works here because as an illusion it answers an aesthetic need. This is because meanings depend on order, on objects and events being capable of classification and of determinable relations with each other. To apply even the simplest concepts is to order objects into those that fit the description and those that do not; and this order can develop through further classification and through establishing relations between the different parts of experience. In this context, the experience of beauty, this experience of pleasure in a given order, by suggesting an order rejects the randomness that our 259

Salim Kemal behavior would otherwise exhibit, and makes it possible for agents to have plans and hierarchies of purpose, thereby providing through its satisfactions a feeling of life, for continuing to act and produce order, meaning, and value. This description does not do justice to the full scope of the terror that, according to Nietzsche, meaninglessness unleashes. Nor does it explore fully the deep and orgiastic participation of an audience that, through following the narrative developments in tragedy, tomes to recognize that "all that comes into being must be ready for a sorrowful end; we are forced to look into the terrors of the individual existence." Nevertheless, the description is true to Nietzsche's central proposal about the need to discover order, to individuate objects, events, and subjects. Aesthetic value satisfies that need: observing the order provided by the narrative, and experiencing the pleasure available in appreciating the beautiful work, we are not to become rigid with fear: a metaphysical comfort tears us momentarily from the bustle of the changing figures. We are really for a brief moment primordial being itself, feeling its raging desire for existence and joy in existence; the struggle, the pain, the destruction of phenomena, now appear necessary to us, in view of the excess of countless forms of existence which force and push one another into life, in view of the exuberant fertility of the universal will. 6

For the audience, witnessing the controlled destruction of the tragic hero confirms that "the state of individuation" is "the primary cause of all suffering, as something objectionable in itself" (BT 10). To the pleasure in beauty and the illusion of meaningfulness that tragedy affords the audience, we add the comfort of being absorbed into the standpoint of the chorus, and they witness the suffering of the tragic figure from the point of view of all other witnesses like themselves, who are not individuated and whose perspective constantly reminds them of, by allowing them to see the pain of individuation. Members of the audience, then, enter into a relation with and seek succor from other witnesses, all absorbed into the "joyous hope that the spell of individuation may be broken in augury of a restored oneness" (ibid.). In addition to finding for artistic beauty this role as a "metaphysical supplement" that overcomes the arbitrariness of our existence, Nietzsche endorses the special powers of artistic geniuses ("The Philosopher" 17). He says he wants to show that "the entire life of a people reflects iJit an unclear and confused manner the image offered by their highest geniuses." Elsewhere he sees the task of culture as 260

Nietzsche's politics of aesthetic genius making possible a context of understanding in which great men (geniuses) do not appear as strangers. Geniuses are clearly different from the rest of us, and are the motor of human development. "There is an invisible bridge from genius to genius which constitutes the genuinely real 'history' of a people. Everything else amounts to shadowy, infinite variations in an inferior material, copies made by unskilled hands" (ibid.). Much as Schiller places geniuses in the heights while relegating the rest of humanity to the dark eddies and the valleys where night still lingers, Nietzsche talks of "[individuals who] live as [3] republic of geniuses ... ; one giant calls out to another across the desert intervals of time and, undisturbed by the excited chattering dwarfs who creep about beneath them, the exalted spirit-dialogue goes on. It is the task of history to be the mediator between them and thus again and again to inspire and lend strength for the production of the great man. No, the goal of humanity cannot lie in its end but only in its highest exelnplars" (UDH 9). And as Schiller empowers geniuses to escape the contingencies of history, similarly Nietzsche writes that geniuses live" by nleans of history." He goes on: "the birth of geniuses requires that history be overcome. It must be immersed and eternalized in beauty" (ibid., 18). The suggestion is that the distinctiveness of geniuses consists in their making history, and Nietzsche first identifies the "ironic viewpoint" - our awareness that we have to "live in an historicizing, as it were a twilight mood, with the fear that our youthful hopes and energy will not survive into the future" - then finds for works of genius, of the appearance of order, a value that is beauty. That genius speaks to genius implies a politics of private, exclusive and unjustified natural forces at work, which we must accede to because meaninglessness threatens us in every direction. This danger lies in our very depths, and we can be rescued from it only by internalizing the results of the depths of geniuses as far as \ve can understand them - even though we can never hope to be fully like them. So far as we differ from them, they alone have justifications for their actions because they alone possess that sensibility which gives order and can live with the threat of disorder. The genius OVerCOll1eS this fear by organizing the material of our existence so that through its beauty it gains a value and meaning: it thereby transcends Inere contingency and gains justification by enhancing the feeling for life, contrasting with the uncertainty that characterizes the "twilight mood" of our ordinary existence. Although Nietzsche describes "the beautiful illusion," at least in 261

Salim Kemal the rudimentary form of a dream, as something "in the creation of which every man is truly an artist" (BT 1), his discussions of genius suggest an hierarchy between individuals, based on their capacity for producing beauty. Those special individuals are necessary because they have a distinctive sensibility that results from their facility for dealing with illusions and seeing beyond contingency to possible order. Others who lack this facility cannot themselves see any escape from events, whereas by producing aesthetic value the genius provides a semblance of order and escapes history because he does not succumb to the ceaseless flow of events. This facility seems to depend on a lack of personhood of a particular sort. It requires a split between the Dionysian and Apollonian tendencies that yet come into unity through producing art. So far as those gods represent an orgiastic energy and a formal principle respectively, the personality of the genius is continuously at odds with itself but seems at times to gain order, embodied in the valuable works he produces. The work, then, becomes an exploration of the diverse relations possible between the two principles, that also make up the subject. Such construction of the subject through works that satisfy the aesthetic need for beauty allows Nietzsche to maintain that "side by side with the aesthetic necessity for beauty there occur[s] the [demand] 'know thyself" (BT 4). But this exhibition of the self remains temporary. Nietzsche seems to expect that every unity will contain the seeds of its own destruction through the opposition between order and orgiastic content. Such destruction and the subsequent construction of other orders and other understandings of the subject are not a linear progression since there may be an infinite range of order available for Dionystic impulse, but they need not reach a determinate end either. In this sense, the genius is not stuck within his personality but is himself capable of change. The motor of such change remains the capacity for producing rules in the absence of any models to imitate. We may take exemplarity to mean a particular instance that embodies the qualities and characteristics most adequate to any given context, that shows what might be done. Both the context and the way in which the instance satisfies the context are crucial to its exemplary status. And if genius is to be exemplary as Nietzsche insists, then it must be the ability to produce instances that function as rules or principles of ordering for their context. TiJ reinvent or follow an already given rule will not satisfy the notion of genius, however, because it lacks creativity; at 262

Nietzsche's politics of aesthetic genius the same time, the contingent and implacable world of our existence does not clearly provide a standard or order. Any order that is present is meaning the genius produces and a context he limns by producing that rule. This context is public, establishing a domain of rules that is capabl.e of being grasped by others. For other actors, who lack the power to produce beauty, the work of genius must be exemplary because it embodies a way of satisfying a context that other people can use as a model for their own choices. It establishes a successful pattern that others may follow, but the genius himself seems separate from others because of his special ability to produce rules. Even if these have a context, a public sphere, the latter only follows from the genius' work and is not determinative of it. The ability to produce rules has a justification in a further purpose that the experience and appreciation of beauty serves. Beauty is not valued for itself alone but for serving the need for life, for change for the orgiastic and irr3tional. Beauty promotes in subjects a feeling of life that results from appreciating order, allowing subjects to escape the sense of being caught in an implacable order and to gain a sense that their existence suits themselves. In this task, the ability to produce beauty again gives the artistic genius a special status, since he can grasp and produce order better than others can. At the basis of this ability to produce order there remains the irrational and felt element of pleasure that still, for Nietzsche, characterizes beauty. The ordering therefore is not entirely rational; nor is it imposed on something that easily accommodates itself to order. Given the synthesis between Dionysian and Apollonian tendencies that a work embodies, aesthetic value consists in ordering something febrile and ultimately uncontainable - it will change and issue in new needs. Such changes and their resolution in the production of beauty will satisfy the aesthetic need for beauty, the feeling for life and change. This ung~I~.!g..llilinlLQL..