Nietzsche, F.  (2008) [1872] The Birth of Tragedy Out of the The Spirit of Music.  Trans Ian Johnston.  Online:

An Attempt at Self Criticism

Nietzsche says he wrote this book originally from ideas derived from moments of reflection during the Franco Prussian war.  Looking back, he sees the book as not much more than a kernel, and is a bit embarrassed by its romanticism and arrogance, its disregard for evidence [ it is much better than his favourite, Zarathustra!].  The idea was to criticize science/theory from the point of view of art, and to see art itself as a reflection of Life.  The point was to counter the understandable pessimism of Europeans in the circumstances, by looking at how pessimism was managed in Greek culture.  An early theme was the way in which Dionysus had produced early Greek tragedy, and how Socrates had tried to rationalize it, or theorize about it, at the expense of the instincts themselves -- so this was already bound to isolate it from the usual academic community  It was also an early dialogue with Wagner.  He now recognizes that it should have been rendered as music, or perhaps as philology [he held his chair at Basle at the time].

The point is to ask where an interest in ugliness and pessimism comes from, how the Greek experience led to  Dionysus.  It might be something to do with the developing 'hegemony of reasonableness' and utilitarianism concealing an underlying suffering or exhaustion.  Wagner had already argued that the world can only be justified from the point of view of aesthetics and aesthetic meaning, complete with contradictions and suffering, not constrained by morality, beyond good and evil, seeing morality itself as something in the world, 'something made up, a work of art'.  This will involve us necessarily in a rejection of Christianity which tries to enshrine moralism and relegate art to the world of illusion or lie, and is even hostile to life, which is only a set of appearances, something to be rejected.  In the spirit of writing about the antichrist, N called it Dionysian [Wikipedia is very good on the connections between Dionysus and the Jesus myth].

He realizes that this involved personal and critical thoughts about philosophers like Kant and Schopenhauer, who sought tragedy as something negative, resignation in the failure of life.  The book however also moved too far away from Greek conceptions to consider modern issues, like recent German music or the recent German character.  He now sees such recent developments as mere intoxication, romanticism.

Perhaps his own book is romantic in the sense of being against modernism?  He rejects this charge with a quotation saying that music in its modern form acts as a consolation, [that a proper respect for life will have no room for romanticism].  People who can laugh with life needed no metaphysical consolation, as in Zarathustra.

Addressing Wagner directly, he argues that the work on Beethoven also raises the general aesthetic problem, that art is a serious business concerned with existence.

The development of art can be seen as a struggle between Apollo and Dionysus, between the visual arts and the non visual, which were in conflict in ancient Greece until they converged in tragedy.  It is like the difference between dream and intoxication.  Artists developed poetic creativity in their dreams, building a beautiful world, expressed in poetry and the plastic arts.  However, this also gives these visual arts an illusory quality, making them look separate from life and from reality.  Dreams reveal the divine comedy of life, but sad episodes can be dismissed, leaving joyfulness.  Dreams are associated with prophecy, and so is Apollo, the god of light and of beauty, so that art also prophesies the truth.  Apollo is the wise and calm god of images.

Occasionally, both reason and conventional perception break, however, in a form of 'ecstatic rapture', opening a glimpse of underlying nature, the Dionysian, intoxication, either through drink or through the joys of nature.  We see  Dionysus still in more modern cases of religious ecstasy, St Vitus's dance.  Lots of people see these as something sick, but the notion of health invoked here is itself impoverished.  In Dionysus, nature rejoices, and forms a new bond with humans and animals.  Beethoven's Ode to Joy shows this, where all arbitrary barriers and powers in social life dissolve in the face of unity, membership of the higher community, a revelation of divine powers, man himself as artist and as work of art.

None of this involves the human artist: it is a matter of 'artistic drives of nature' the dream world vs.  intoxicating reality.  Human artists are either apollonian or dionysian, or both as in Greek tragedy.  We know that the Greeks were perfectly capable of rendering realistic sequences, from their bas reliefs, and we assume that this is a reflection of their dream world of images.  Dionysian celebrations were also very widespread, part of the Greek type itself.  The celebrations combined lust and cruelty, and feverish excitement. The dangers of excess were to be confronted by Apollo, and themes here are represented in doric art and in the activities of Delphi.  However, an unbridgeable gap persisted between Apollo and Dionysus, even though there was occasional redemption. 

In particular, dionysian celebrations demolished the [particular? dominant?] principle of individuation
[NB the principle of individuation relates to an old philosophical wrangle about the nature of essence and individuality, at least according to the Wikipedia entry. While we have identities provided by our essences and/or our species, we also have individual identities, which sociologists know became very important in some social circumstances as a kind of prologue to the modern notion of the sovereign individual. One outcome was Duns Scotus on the haecceity!], and released mixture and ambiguity, combinations of pain and joy, nature against separate and distinctly human individuals.  Music was particularly important, not as regulated and calm as in Apollo, but as emotionally disturbing, unified in melody and reconciled in harmony.  The celebrations increased intensity and symbolic capability to represent nature and the human body.  The regulation of the self disappears.  The dionysian world existed underneath apollonian consciousness.

There was a need for Apollo and other divine forms, and this is hard to grasp from a Christian tradition.  There is no asceticism, spirituality or duty.  'Everything present is worshipped', good and evil, everything in life that is to be enjoyed.  The pressures of existence called forth the 'gleaming dream birth of the Olympians'.  All the horrors expressed in Prometheus or Oedipus, melancholy and the terrors of nature were all covered and explained by this world.  Greek theology developed out of an initial fear coupled to a drive for beauty and art.

The gods had to live the same lives as men, however, as a justification or theodicy, and separation from the life of the gods in death was the only thing to avoid --hence the will to live, almost at any price.  This 'naive' stance came from a background of overcoming destructive nature, the Titans.  It was an apollonian illusion, but one which concealed a higher purpose, to reassure humans, to encourage them to do art, to offer them a mirror of beauty in the gods.

It is the same 'naivety' of the dreamer who wishes to continue dreaming even though he realizes it is an illusion.  It is true that daily, waking life seems more valuable, but the artistic impulse is equally powerful, just as connected to our true existence, forcing us to experience illusions as part of the everyday world.  This sort of working everyday illusion produces 'an illusion of an illusion' in dreams.  Raphael and the Transfiguration [also much admired by Deleuze] shows us the pain of existence as a foundation, producing an illusory reconciliation or heavenly vision.  This is the apollonian world of beauty and its foundation, and shows us how individual people necessarily suffer, but so that they can develop a redemptive vision.  This is only possible, however if individuals themselves develop knowledge of the self and act in moderation. 

The dionysian seems barbaric by comparison, although it is recognized as something equally human, and equally insightful into the links between suffering and knowledge.  In the celebrations, nature appeared in excess, or something demonic and popular, without illusion or the need for it, speaking directly of nature.  However, the apollonian responded, especially with doric art, something aloof, and one of the last stages in the attempts to reconcile the two hostile principles: drama and attic tragedy was another attempt.

Homer stands against Archilocus in much Greek art, including paintings and poetry.  Homer can be seen as apollonian, whereas Archilocus is wild.  In more recent times, the conflict appears as a tension between objective and subjective artists, with the latter as representing bad art.  Archilocus was still recognized and venerated, however.  There is a deeper identity between the lyricist and the musician: both are produced from the same dionysian spirit, 'the primordial oneness', the emotional basis for art.  Once produced, such music can be understood as a kind of dream image, the subject of reflection, a metaphor.  However, this conception assumes that subjectivity originally represents a dream of the natural world, an illusion that symbolizes the contradictions: this is deeper than current notions of subjectivity.  The subjective Archilocus expresses something deeper still, the dionysian, the originator of the worlds of images and metaphors, different from those artists who only contemplate such images [it's getting like a tension between emotional involvement and calm reflection].  But calm contemplation cannot get to the fundamental unity of the images.  When subjective artists [lyric poets] use the term 'I' they are not talking about the conventional individual, but as a representative of eternal being, again something mixed and contradictory, both a man and a metaphor.

Schopenhauer recognized that artists [singers in his case] experience both a lyrical state and the sense of being a conventional human subject, a mixture of will, emotion and contemplation.  However, this is to use modern conceptions of the subjective and the objective, implying that the subjective is still an enemy of art, mere egotism, rather than a medium to express something deeper.  Art does not just have a human,  pedagogic purpose, to flatter us as being the creators of worlds: we are ourselves projections and works of art, aesthetic phenomena which justify the world.  Individual artists often fail to realize this deeper connection.  Real creators must recognize themselves as 'simultaneously subject and object, simultaneously poet, actor, and spectator'(24).

Archilocus introduced the folk song, and we should see this as not inferior to the epic poem, but offering a suitable union between Apollo and Dionysus, extending to everyone, representing a drive of nature, as some 'primordial melody', something universal represented in different ways. [Might explain the volkisch songs in Nietzsche?].  They are poetic, emitting images of natural power, something much wilder than the epic poem.  Language imitates music, working without images, a parallel development to the conventional role for language.  We can find traces of 'orgiastic' music.  Again this is misunderstood by modern aesthetics, which deals with unemotional metaphors and ideas.  Folk songs get back to the original creative role of music, especially when developed by the youthful and creative.

Music appears as something willed, something opposed to the purely contemplative as in Schopenhauer, but it is really a difference between being and appearance: music can not just express will because it has its own aesthetics and passions, images which can be contemplated, but also something not dominated by a will but by the spirit.  Images and ideas are not central to music, which has its own universality and validity.  The symbolism of music cannot be reduced to language, because it expresses something prelinguistic, something prior to experience  [note that lyric poetry is being treated as the same as music here].

We finally come to the origin of Greek tragedy.  The earlier attempts to account for it are inadequate.  One approach sees the tragic chorus as the origin, representing some original drama on its own, with the chorus standing in for the people, commenting on something royal, like the King's actions of violence.  However, there was a religious origin before this political turn.  Nor can the chorus be seen as some sort of ideal spectator, especially in the German valorized sense of ideal: normal spectators would always be aware that they are witnessing a work of art not an empirical reality, but it is different for the Greek chorus who see themselves as part of the reality and let the reality affect them.

The chorus plays an active part in tragedy, protecting some ideal space for poetic freedom [so said Schiller].  It was the first step away from naturalism.  This shows the current prejudice for naturalism and realism, however.  But Greek tragedy never worried about copying reality anyway, and always operated with an imaginary state of nature: this is the origin of the raised stage.  There was also an early appearance of imaginary natural beings like satyrs.  The satyr represents the dionysian half of the cultured person, a reminder to the cultured, the promise of a new kind of natural unity: it is that that produces the fundamental notion of power and delight in true tragedy.  Tragic art offers a consolation of a special kind, as we shall see,  to the cultured faced with the cruelty of nature and the futility of human will.

Dionysian ecstasy still offers a form of escape into oblivion, and, on the return of sordid reality, the common reaction is to try to reassert the will in an ascetic spirit.  Dionysian men, like Hamlet, realize that it is absurd to expect to set the world to rights, and that to do so requires an illusion: knowledge kills action and there is no consolation.  At this very moment, art can channel disgust into producing the sublime or the comic as ways to overcome disgust or absurdity respectively.  This is what the chorus of satyrs offer. Both the satyr and the idealized shepherd  represent a yearning for the primordial and natural, but the Greeks had more of a taste for the former, as a reveller, a messenger from nature, something to be revered, both sublime and divine, more natural than the cultured man.  The chorus therefore represents more genuine and complete existence.  If poetry is to express the unadorned truth, it must penetrate beneath culture.  Tragedy consoles us by pointing to that existential and eternal life beneath destructive appearances [amor fati] .  The idyllic shepherd is a pathetic cultural allusion by comparison.

Followers of Dionysus saw themselves as satyrs, and later notions of the chorus stood in for them, although the public could also identify with them.  In this sense, the chorus is indeed the ideal spectator, and members of the public could imagine themselves as members of the chorus.  The chorus offers 'the self reflection of the dionysian man'(30).  The audience sitting round in circles represents the cultured world.

Modern notions of poetry tend to ignore such developments, because it is too individualized and abstract.  Dionysian excitement extended to the multitude, adopting different personae, transforming individuals, surrendering individuality, and participants forget their social position [could be Durkheim on primitive religion].  The reveller first sees himself as a satyr, and then from that perspective looks at god [and nature]

Greek tragedy radically constantly contrasts the dionysian chorus and the apollonian world of images, representing the deeper drama, objectifying a dionysian state, while following a classic dream image, smashing individuality and 'becoming one with primordial being'.  This explains the role of the chorus and its preeminence, even though it is composed only of subhuman creatures.  The chorus has no need to act because it represents Dionysus and can announce the truths of nature.  It can offer sympathy as well as wisdom, standing for the simple man.  Dionysus is the central hero, but he does not need to appear, and did not in the earliest forms which were simply a chorus.  In later forms, the chorus stimulates the listeners to adopt dionysian viewpoints, to become enchanted and thus to suspend reality in the drama, but inhabiting the illusions on the stage, as objectifications of Dionysus.

The calm and translucent dialogues on stage therefore possess a latent power [described as the ability to dance].  We see the characters as illusions, but with powerful myths behind them, offering occasional glimpses into nature, including its terrors.  This is what produces characteristic 'Greek serenity', the combination of calm perceptions and insightful glimpses.

We can see this in Sophocles on Oedipus, whose suffering arises not from sin but from the collapse of natural principles of order [incest taboos and the secret riddle of the Sphinx]. At the end, suffering redeems him, leaving the audience in a state of powerful serenity [from a knowledge effect into the human condition].  Whereas earlier striving led to suffering, the wisdom achieved at the end that emerges from the tangle offers 'profound human joy' (34)

At the more mythical level, we see that nature heals after scaring us with the abyss.  Oedipus connects with the earlier myths about wisdom arising from incest, part of a more general stance that we need to fight back against nature and its riddles.  Again this dionysian wisdom appears as unnatural.

The Prometheus myth takes a different line, where man becomes something titanic, extends his own culture and challenges the gods to unite with man.  It is driven by an impulse for justice and the sacrifices of the brave individual, but it also threatens the autocratic power of the gods and suggests that they had better reconcile themselves to human beings.  Here, Fate is able to judge both gods and men, and this is an example of how the gods came to represent all the skepticism in Greek culture and their quiet defiance, especially if artists set out to grasp them.  We also learn something about tragedy ['Aryan' tragedy in this case]: Prometheus has the same significance as the myth of the Fall.  The possession of fire posed the dilemma particularly well, because human beings had learnt to control it, so it was no longer a gift from heaven, although they believed they learned this knowledge after a crime and this explains all the suffering thereafter, as a rebuke to human ambition.  In the Semitic case, it is 'curiosity, lying falsehoods, temptation, lust, in short, a series of predominantly female emotions'(36) which lead to the fall.  The Aryan version offers a more manly active transgression, an attempt to overcome contradiction between human and divine, for which humans are not responsible, but is the source of suffering, transgressed by a 'heroic push into the universal.'[Nietzsche stresses the symbolic difference of the sexes here - men commit crimes, women commit sins] (36). 

This is also a challenge to the calmness offered by Apollo, and his respect for the sacred laws.  However, laws have to be amended to avoid social ossification, so there is an occasional challenge, to renew life in the form of a 'rising flood of the dionysian' sweeping away the individual waves. Prometheus is both Dionysus and Apollo and his message is that anything can be justified if it exists, from one perspective or the other.

So Dionysus lay behind all the tragic figures, a divinity behind the actual characters: humans were too simple and comic to represent tragedy and their lives were at best simulacra. If Dionysus looks like an individual, that is a way to also represent the Apollonian [cf telling personal stories to illustrate epics in modern cinema]. D was, after all, once dismembered, becoming the basic Greek elements but also showing how individuation brings suffering: he also sympathizes with it.  Reincarnating Dionysus in the rituals should be understood as a hope for the end of individuation, a new unity.

Again we can see what tragedy is all about: the suffering of an individuated world, the assertion of a fundamental unity of all things, art as offering hope of achieving this unity again. The myths can be reinterpreted along these lines, making even the gods subject to this overall view.  Prometheus warns the gods to join with him in an act of defiance.  The myth of the titans is reworked to point the way to a new divinity, and all myths are infected by this dionysian power.  Music shows us in particular how to grasp this new significance, and to reawaken the power of the old myths.  Usually, the old myths just look like dated history, domesticated and dogmatized, but through tragedy they can be revitalized.

Eventually, the Greeks abandoned  Dionysus and thus also Apollo, so they could appear only subsequently as masked.  It was a form of suicide rather than death by old age.  It left a significant emptiness in Greek culture.  It was replaced by Euripides and comedy.  Euripides appears to offer audience participation, but it was normal members of the audience that took the stage, people with ordinary lives, unable to penetrate to the mysteries of nature. The weight of tragedy disappears.  Theatre became pedagogic, teaching the people to observe and to speak, and this made comedy particularly possible.  For N it represented 'middle class mediocrity' (41), populist democracy.  This explains the huge popularity of Euripides.

However the Greeks lost a lot from the demise of tragedy, including their hopes for a better future, a new serenity rather than the simple contentment of the slave, a 'feminine flight from seriousness and terror' in favour of security, and it was this picture of Greece that attracted the criticism of the early Christians.  Euripides involved the public, but it was not the same public.  Even Euripides displayed contempt for them.  Before, proper tragedians had been equally popular, not because they had been misunderstood, but because they chose not to pander to popular approval.  Euripides was never sure that he was possessed of superior insight, and was prepared to accept the judgment of the spectators.  In particular, he relied on his own thoughts to guide his artistic efforts.  He was well aware of the depth of earlier versions of tragedy, its duality and ambiguity, but found this offensive or enigmatic, pompous.  He sought out those spectators who also did not understand tragedy to join him in the struggle against those older poets.

The older tragedy was indeed unsettling, and difficult enough for us to understand, until we see the duality at its heart, the role of  Dionysus.  It was very tempting just to chop all that out, but Euripides realized that that would be dangerous as well, because the old folk traditions still had some energy.  Just at the right moment, along came Socrates.  The opposition developed between Dionysus and Socrates, and this domesticated and destroyed tragedy.

Tragedy became 'dramatic epic, an apollonian art form'(44).  This is not just a matter of content.  The whole approach transforms horrific things into something that can be redeemed after contemplation, 'disinterested coolness' (45),  of the images that are presented.  There can still be emotional reactions to arouse people, combined with these cool ideas.  They are experienced as real, but not as art producing insight.  This is 'inartistic naturalism'

This follows from Socrates' insistence that we only properly see something once we have understood it rationally, using our intelligence.  We see this in Euripides' prologue, which explains and contexts the action, breaking with dramatic suspense.  Euripides did not incorporate suspense, but chose instead to illustrate emotions and dialectical reasoning, pathos which had to be set up at the beginning for the spectator to become fully immersed [the pleasures of knowledge effects again].  Euripides noticed that the audience had struggled with his earlier efforts.  The person delivering the prologue had to be trusted, and was often a divine, which helped guarantee the reality of what was to unfold [wise narrator].  The gods often appeared at the end as well to confirm the truthfulness of what had gone on, sometimes as  a deus ex machina [in its theatrical sense, something unlikely that magically resolves an otherwise insoluble problem.often at the last minute].  Euripides saw himself as bringing reason to the chaos of earlier artistic creativity, seeing that poetry did not depend on rationality.  Socrates acted for him as a kind of imaginary spectator and ally in the struggle against Dionysus.

The link between Socrates and Euripides was noted at the time, sometimes critically, as opposing the old manly sturdiness, as at Marathon.  Aristophanes' comedy depicted Socrates as a sophist.  Aristophanes in turn was depicted as a traitor to poetry.  The link was cemented by the Delphic oracle proclaiming Socrates as the wisest of men, with Euripides coming second.  Sophocles was another poet who believed that insight or knowledge was the source of wisdom [he might have come third?].

However, classically, Socrates argued that he knew nothing, while lots of other idiots claimed insight.  They wrongly valued instinct, and Socrates' contempt obviously extended to art as well as equally delusional and worthless.  Socrates was prepared to take on the very 'essence of Greece' with its great poets, and was widely regarded as destroying Greek culture.  Socrates heard divine voices, urging caution, but this could be easily seen as unwelcome voices of instinctive wisdom: instinct became the sign of a defect.  Logic came to dominate.  Curiously, it never could be turned against Socrates himself.  Instead it was some natural force, giving Socrates confidence.  The right sentence for him was to be banished, as something enigmatic or inexplicable.  Socrates probably brought about his own death, and certainly became the new ideal of Greek youth -- and Plato.

We can reconstruct Socrates' take on tragedy.  He must have seen tragedy not as pleasurable, but as confused, and as dangerously inspiring to the susceptible.  It could not appeal to rational philosophers.  It was cosmetic at best.  This was preserved in Plato's rejection of the theatre as illusory, and led to the notion of the Idea as the real mechanism behind the appearances of the empirical.  Strangely, this did permit Plato to restore some of the old artistic techniques in his dialogues, including poetry, and this preserved some of the older poetic impulses at least.  He also foresaw a new form of art, the novel, which would draw upon a form that Socrates admired - the Aesopian fable.  Nevertheless, poetry could remain only if it subordinated itself to philosophy.

Apollonian contemplation became systematic logic.  The dionysian became naturalistic emotion. 
We enter the era of 'middle class drama' (51). The dialectic promised results in its relentless analysis, even when directed against art. Socrates promised that virtue and happiness would follow knowledge, and this replaced tragedy with its eventual triumph of justice.  The old form like the chorus became something of an embarrassment, and its role first displaced and then destroyed altogether.  Dialectic had no place for music, itself the essence of tragedy in its symbolic role. Socrates was 'that despotic logician'(51), although even he came to feel the gap in his life left by his attack on music.  At the end of his days he even composed a poem to Apollo, arising from a suspicion that perhaps he had not understood the divine after all.  He was on the verge of seeing art as a necessary supplement to rational understanding.

Greek art has always been resented, and many people have tried to free themselves from its influence.  Socrates was the first of the type 'Theoretical Man' (52).  Such a type is infinitely satisfied with the present, while possessing a certain practical pessimism.  The enjoyment lies in continuous unveiling [an interesting phrase, used in Bourdieu's apology for the endlessly critical stance of sociology, its lack of commitment].  Science is also colonizing and cumulative, forever seeking theoretical truth.  The fundamental delusion turns on the argument that thinking and causality can not only understand everything, but even lead to a better form of being.  In practice, science encounters its limits and at that point must turn into art.

Socrates was willing to die in his pursuit of knowledge and reason, but even he relied on acquiring mythical status in order to justify such a pursuit, and myth must also serve science in this way.  The universal greed for knowledge, the extension of the educated world made science appear to be essential for everyone.  It succeeded in producing 'a common net of thinking' for the first time.  Had such effort had been devoted to more practical [technological?] goals, we would have seen the dreadful consequences -- 'universal wars of destruction and continuing migrations of people' (54), the triumph of practical pessimism, even an ethic that would justify mass murder.  This is what happens in the absence of art.

Socrates was the first to think that theory like this would become a universal medicine, that the only evil is found in error.  Finding true knowledge behind appearances and error seem to be the only proper human vocation, even better than developing moral or emotional capacities.  Anyone who has sampled socratic discovery will realize the pleasures of being able to complete the 'solid impenetrable net', promising a new kind of serenity and bliss, including the pleasures of producing disciples.

Inevitably, the limits of science are encountered, when something cannot be understood, and at this point logic itself compels us to recognize that not everything can be explained.  Then we encounter 'tragic insight' as a new form of knowledge, and we realize that we need art.  We can see this in the Greeks.  In the future will we follow the same path as Socrates, will we develop much needed arts, perhaps in the name of religion or science?  If not, will we not be returned to barbarism?

Tragedy in its full sense is connected to the spirit of music, but both have disappeared in the present time.  What battles and drives are at work in the present?  Tragedy and music have been attacked by other forces, for example in the development of modern theatre, but scientific knowledge remains as the most powerful opposition to the tragic world view.  However, other forces might be at work to guarantee its rebirth.

Before we consider this further, we need to remind ourselves that art does not derive from a single principle, but from the conflicts between Apollo and Dionysus.  Apollo stands for [the principle of] individuation, and for the need to consider illusions, but Dionysus shatters individuation [as key to identity]  and taps into 'the innermost core of things'(55).  This is why music was recognized as being different from all the other arts because it offered no images and directly represented the metaphysical, or so says Schopenhauer.  Wagner too insisted that music has its own aesthetic principles, and that the modern demands that music produce beautiful forms is misguided.  The analysis of tragedy has been put [by N] in a uniquely insightful way, by considering the operation of the apollonian and the dionysian, or relation of music to images and ideas.  Again Schopenhauer saw this when he says that music is a universal language with universal forms which are then related to more specific effects, so that music offers us an insight into the secret sense of things if we surrender to its experience: there is no literal correspondence, but rather music expresses the universality of the real, the heart of the thing, even though it is very different from images and representations of specific things.  This is how dionysian universality connects to apollonian art, lending the 'highest significance' to what becomes seen as a metaphor.  Thus music is particularly suited to the construction of myth, particularly the tragic myth [including the music of lyric verse?].  It knows how to express dionysian wisdom in the tragic form.

If we just consider art in its own terms as matters of illusion and beautiful forms, we will never derive the tragic.  But music shows us a joyful destruction of the individual, a glimpse of the eternal behind the principle of individuation and all appearances.   This provides 'metaphysical joy in the tragic' (58), so that it does not matter if the hero is eventually destroyed because he is only an illusion, a representative of the 'eternal life of the will'.  With plastic art it is different, and we are offered an apollonian joy in the eternity of the illusion, in the triumph of beauty over suffering, the temporary conquering of pain.  For Dionysus, the joy is in incessant change, or eternal creation, a joy in existence.  We must look behind appearances.  We must recognize that everything faces painful destruction, but we are to gain a metaphysical consolation in that we can feel the essence of existence and the necessity for struggle and change.  We experience the 'fecundity of the world will' and realize it is indestructible, that we are a part of life.  Greek tragedy told us this, even if this was never exactly clear to the Greek poets themselves.

Sometimes, art expresses a deeper wisdom than the artist detects, as with Shakespeare and Hamlet.  Greek tragedy is only a sequence of words, so that it can look shallow and superficial, but what the poet achieves is less important than what the work achieves, something deeper, at the level of myth.  Because we cannot identify directly with the Greeks, we have to recreate these effects through scholarship.

The Greeks themselves finally lost their own tragic form, even though the cult of Dionysus lived on.  Perhaps the dionysian world view will reappear?  If so, this will happen only after science has been pushed to its limits, and its claims to universal validity destroyed.  We need a Socrates figure to restore us to music, however.  We know that science has already destroyed myth [not entirely, according to Adorno and Horkheimer] , and poetry no longer had a home.  In the past, music confronted science, but in a degenerate way, in the Attic dithyramb, and this leads to still further decline.  Such music contented itself with mimesis, depicting, for example a battle or pursuing some other limited analogies ['painting with music']. Aristophanes saw that Socrates, Euripides and these new dithyrambs were connected in producing degenerate culture.  Properly dionysian music makes us confront the universal and the vital, myth.[Wagner's later turn to romantic and naturalistic music also received contempt].

The development of character in the theatre of Sophocles is another example.  Characters became individual, detailed and naturalistic [and realist] rather than representing a universal type.  Music [now? in more modern Greece?]  exists to excite or to awaken memory.  The conclusions of current[?] tragedies do not point to reconciliation but to more mundane solutions to dissonance, a reward after suffering, say. [This is the Alexandrian option as below]

Dionysus became a private secret cult in the face of more modern kinds of serenity, an uncritical delight in existence and cheerfulness.  It is the cheerfulness of the theoretical man, striving to replace myth and metaphysics with machines, the forces of nature put to human ends, a higher egoism, a life guided by science, a reduction to human individuals dealing with narrow soluble problems.

There is a common tendency to spread illusions over things in the name of the voracious will.  Some people will turn to Socrates and theory.  Some take consolation in artistic beauty, others with more metaphysical consolations that life is but an appearance.  This is only for noble people of course, who feel the pains of existence more acutely and require stimulants.  The Greeks' choice between Socrates, art, or tragedy appears in modern life as a choice between the Alexandrian, the Hellenic, or Buddhism.

Mostly, our modern world is Alexandrian, and we exalt the theoretical man.  Our education aims at this ideal, producing scholars [poor old N only knew half of it -- scholars became scholastics as in Bourdieu]  Other arts have become scholarly in turn.  Faust is the modern man, although in him , we can see at least some of the limits of the desire for knowledge [and there is some support for the man of action, a Napoleon, 62].  Promising to domesticate nature will only direct our attention to earthly desires, with science as the modern deus ex machina

We need to remember that Alexandrian culture requires a slave class, despite its talk about the dignity of human beings and of work, and this slave class will want revenge.  Christianity has become exhausted, or even scholarly in its treatment of its own myths.  A disaster beckons and is becoming increasingly apparent.

Luckily, some great people have realized the limits of science, by pushing it to its limit and and thereby showing its restrictions.  Such people include Kant and Schopenhauer, who particularly tackled the optimism based on the promise to be uncovering eternal truths, unconditional laws.  Kant argued that this was a science of appearance only, not true essence.  Schopenhauer saw the soporific consequences.  Modern science is endless in its quest to extend its thinking into short lived and new forms

There may be a new tragic culture, pursuing wisdom rather than science, aimed at uncovering 'the all encompassing picture of the world' (63), including eternal suffering.  Advocates would indeed be 'dragon slayers', rejecting weakness and optimism, focusing on what is serious and frightening, recognizing that there is a metaphysical consolation in finally grasping the nature of life.  Modern men are afraid to see this totality with its 'natural cruelty' (64), but they are realizing the limits of science and the need for art, despite all the modern comforts of endless artistic novelty: none of this is satisfying, none of it permits us to take any stance other than that of the 'librarian and copy editor'.

We can see this in the development of the 'culture of opera', is representational style and narrative structure.  This had been widely accepted and greeted with enthusiasm, despite much more profound developments of music [somebody called Palestrina].  Operatic 'recitative' is particularly likely to intensify focus on the person of the singer and the pathos inherent in 'half - singing' (65).  This overpowers the music.  It has led to unnecessarily 'poetic' lyrics, 'urgently emotional speech'.  This inferior form of recitative is a kind of mosaic, developed with an arrogance that claimed to harness the effects of music.  It was even seen as like the music of the ancient Greeks, but it is a modern form, based on some romantic and humanist yearning for the primordial and the heroic, appealing to the better nature of humanity.  It satisfies a need for 'optimistic glorification' in the face of appalling social conditions.  It is akin to the demands in the socialist movement for the rights of basic men.

Opera is produced by theory not by arts, based on the need to appeal to unmusical listeners who would respond to words, which then had to be articulated in a suitable way.  This led to the first experiments.  It is typical that inartistic people produce a form of art suitable for their own shallowness, something made easy to understand, obviously voluptuous and decorative, a stage for passionate song.  It is based on the simple faith that 'every sensitive man is an artist'(66) [a basic tenet of the faith of primary teachers these days, of course].  Amateurs can produce art guided by optimistic theory, producing an overall 'idyllic tendency', as in Schiller [who embraced a kind of realism apparently, as a way of recovering the ideal in humans and in nature].  This is accompanied by the myth of the primitive man who was inherently natural, and our need to renounce anything non-natural as superfluous, to regain this unity with nature.  This confidence and belief in good nature is at the heart of theoretical culture!

In opera, the essential man becomes the hero, the shepherd, on a journey.  This imagined reality is not easy to sustain, and the whole effort risks the efforts of honest critics, but it is not that easy, since opera is embedded in Alexandrian cheerfulness, a whole moralism.  There is always a danger that art will become mere diversion, and lose its real function as offering a solution to the conflict between Dionysus and Apollo.  Music fails to reflect the dionysian world, and ends up merely imitating surface phenomena.

Operatic culture and our dominates modern music.  Are there any signs of the reverse process happening?  There are still traces of die on us and culture in 'the German spirit' (68), especially in German music.  It cannot be represented in light opera, or the attempt to attract beauty through theory, the activities of patrons to euphemise 'their own crudity'., However, German music is the only form which remains pure, which offers the essential ambiguity of art, the ultimate judgment of Dionysis.

German philosophy also drew from the same source, and has succeeded in showing the limits of scientific Socratism.  There is a possible unity between philosophy and music, which can only be understood by thinking about the Greeks, but by suggesting the reverse path, from alexandrian to tragic.  The German spirit might revive and throw off all those external influences which have oppressed it, but it must remain in contact with the Greeks and be willing to learn from them.

There are Germanic heroes who have demonstrated what to do, but even heroes like Goethe and Schiller never accomplished it.  But we must not let this doubt enervate us.  Teachers in institutes of higher education peddle a comforting version of Greek culture, as well as a scholasticism.  German higher education is woefully low and weak, losing power to journalism in matters of culture.  It is too hard to understand the difficulties faced by those who really want to contact Greek genius, especially if the great men have failed to do it.

We need to find some fertile soil somewhere.  We should act like  knights in armour, hard in pursuit of the goal, undismayed by companions, possessing no false hopes.  Schopenhauer comes close.  A real touch of Dionysus would revive everything and bring delight, break apart the old conceptions.  'The age of the socratic man is over' (71), as long as we dare to revive the tragic.

Only the Greeks have shown us what can be done, how the dionysian spirit is combined with the democratic institutions, and fighting for the homeland, a release from individuality.  However, it is not enough to head for 'orgiastic experience' alone.  Buddhism in India shows what can be done, by using such experience in order to develop  'a longing for nothingness'. Orgies combined with extreme secularization will give us the Roman empire.  The Greeks stand between these two options, even if Greek culture did not survive very long.  Their interpretation of Dionysus preserved the healthy mixture of the two, in their tragedy.  Tragedy mediates and heals, preventing the dominance of the other two tendencies.

Greek tragedy depicts the dionysian world acted out on our behalf in an individual hero.  It draws upon parable and myth to bridge the universal and the individual listener.  It involves an illusion as a result, but this permits tragedy to develop to its greatest extent, and to end in freedom.  The myth constrains the music, and the music gives the myth great 'metaphysical significance'(72), unobtainable from words alone.  Music also offers a present amount of eventual joy, acting as if it were the voice of the abyss itself.

We should all try to explore these activities and their effects, and those who really understand music are the most likely to do so.  They should ask themselves about modern music and whether it can produce these effects, although enduring modern opera would cause much distress.  Dionysian music is dangerous as well, and it requires some intermediary in myth and the tragic hero.  The apollonian power is needed to restore illusion to the otherwise shattered individual [the examples here imagine experiencing a performance of Tristan and Isolde].  Thinking of the fate of the individuals saves us from primordial suffering, just as ideas and words save us from unconscious will: both are examples of 'marvelous apollonian deception' (73).  We identify with individuals.  We are satisfied with beautiful images.  We realize that we exist somehow with the chaos, even if this is a delusion.  The music can convey this apollonian perception as well, and with its harmony and melody, become vivid and show the relation of things in a profound way. No mere word poetry can do this.  We need a connection between the essential idea of the music, and the reflection of this idea in the drama.

Tragedy does not offer simple analogies between melody, for example, and living forms.  It offers an appearance, a link to true reality, speech from the heart and essence beneath its countless appearances.  Seeing a connection between body and soul would be too simple to model the relation between appearances and things in themselves.

Specific performances may end with the triumph of the apollonian, but the workings of the apollonian have also been revealed in the process, and the effect of the dionysian reappears in the totality of the performance.  Spectators can see that there is illusion covering Dionysus, but also that the two need to interact.  This is the 'highest goal of tragedy and art'.  [I am thinking here of some pedagogic possibilities which attempt to reconcile the two arms of learning paradox as well - having to indicate the boundlessness of knowledge, while at the same time offering a way to manage it for practical purposes].

This can be experienced by anyone is attentive enough, how we can experience a myth unfolding and as a result feel omniscient able to penetrate beneath the surface is, and, following the music, experiencing turbulence, the war of motives, passions also present.  As this intensifies, we seek both clarity and transfiguration, realizing the limits of artistic effects, which once delivered flow ['that delightful resignation of the will-less contemplation'(75)] as some individual pleasure.  We find suspend disbelief, identifying with the hero and yet also anticipating his destruction, realizing that there is something understandable but also incomprehensible, realizing that there is some greater force than the notion of individual goodness and justice, and experiencing this as 'the overpowering joy.  [W]e perceive[s] more things and more profoundly than ever before and yet wishe[s] w]e were blind' (76). This sort of division of the self and the movement towards the limits and climax is dionysian magic, yet it still draws upon Apollonian art.  The world of appearance proceeds to its limits, but this indicates some underlying true and single reality.

Both the aesthetic listener and the artist himself feels this tension, the way in which Dionysian drives go beyond the world of appearances, destroying it in order to glimpse something higher and more primordial.  It's difficult to write about these experiences in the usual way, and common to reduce them to matters of emotional excitement, or simple morality.  Few people have fully explained the tragic effect, and have seen it simply as a victory of the good after the sacrifice of the hero.  This makes it hard to give tragedy its place as supreme art, and to fail to see the pathetic as only a game with higher stakes.  Nor do explanations outside the aesthetic grasp it.

Tragedy really requires an aesthetic listener, not theoretical or moralistic critics, a type found widely among the general public, the result of inadequate education and journalism.  Theory, even with noble intentions, deepens this anesthesia [that was me!  Steady Dave!].  There is a contemporary trend to use a drama or to illustrate contemporary political and social issues, almost as propaganda.  The theatre has become a means of moral education.  Art has become entertainment [with almost a notion of the culture industry here, combining producers, media and critics].  People chatter about art as never before, but think little about it.  This has affected even the more noble and refined: at best they can report themselves as having been moved by a mysterious force at the time.

We need to examine our own feelings in the theatre.  Do we find ourselves criticizing what goes on from the point of view of academic history or psychology?  This may indicate simply that we do not understand myth and miracle.  But it is almost impossible to avoid the effects of 'mediating abstractions' (78).  Yet we need myth to control our otherwise random apollonian wanderings.

People and art have become abstracted from these higher purposes [and education too].  Thin relativism is apparent.  This is what happens when you choose Socrates to destroy myth.  The hunger for myth has to be satisfied by cultural bricolage [me again!].  French culture with its populism shows this best.  Luckily German culture has escaped these developments a bit, and not as yet touched the core of the national character.

Let us hope that there is still 'the glorious, innerly healthy, and age old power' which will revive and reconstruct German myth [here, choral music of the reformation, even Luther, is admired as proto dionysian].  A few people will agree, and they must be encouraged.  Greece must continue to inspire us, especially tragedy and its role in maintaining myth.  Myth at least helped the Greeks to see present occurrences as indicating something eternal, to escape 'the weight and greed of the moment'(80), although Greek society then endured the same kind of destruction of myth as in [modernism].

We now see the the need to reconsider what is eternal, what is the meaning of life, that historical understanding is inadequate, that secularization ends all metaphysics, including helpful myth.  There is no satisfaction in the transfigured desire of life in Socratic science, only pandemonium and relativism.

We are now in a similar situation, homeless, grabbing at foreign cultures, idolizing the present, with no heart to add to our culture.  The German culture has the potential to remove harmful foreign elements, however.  We might start with eliminating the Romantic -- and recent wars can be seen as a preparation for this.  We must value noble pioneers [again including Luther here].  We should seek a suitable leader to take us back to the homeland [hmm].

It's been argued that apollonian illusion is necessary as an intermediary, as well as its normal function of producing beautiful forms which will deliver pleasure when we contemplate them.  Theatre is different, with the surface forms concealing more profound meaning, no matter how beautiful and open to clarification from contemplation the images might be.  The two have to be combined.  We have to show full joy in appearances and in watching, while anticipating joy in destroying the world of appearances. 

We see this in the tragic myth, with the surface feature of the hero and his struggle, coming to understand the role of what is ugly and dissonant.  This is more than just representing everyday mundane tragedies, but has been developed by art to do more than imitate reality.  It provides 'the metaphysical supplement to that reality' (82), metaphysical transfiguration, pointing to some deeper reality.  Aesthetic delight and joy can arise in the spectators from some moral pleasure, including pity, but there is more, something properly aesthetic.

The ugly and the dissonant can give us aesthetic pleasure if we come to see them as also produced by the artistic game.  Music is indispensable here, especially its dissonance with the world.  Musical dissonance provides a good model to help us understand the pleasures of looking at something and at the same time looking for something beyond it, the striving for the infinite.

This is dionysian pleasure, the playful demolition of the world of the individual.  This pleasure appears both in music and in tragic myth and their interrelationship, and a sign of decline will appear in both.  We see this in the current German liking for opera and in German socratic optimism.  Dionysus might arise again from the abyss, however, German spirit might reawaken, destroying dragons and  'the crafty dwarf'(83).

So dionysian art is more than beautiful forms, it celebrates dissonance, it plays with joylessness, it depicts worlds beyond the worst imagining, beyond anything the apollonian can conjure up.  Individuals will then need some sort of illusion to keep living at all, covering dissonance with a veil of beauty.  In other words, requiring Apollo.  So both have to reveal their powers, and balance has to be restored, possibly over generations.  Anyone can experience these effects by projecting themselves back into ancient Greece, although they must realize the suffering and its management that has produced as such beautiful cultural artefacts.

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