“Much will have been gained for esthetics once we have succeeded in apprehending directly – rather than merely ascertaining – that art owes its continuous evolution to the Apollonian-Dionysiac duality, even as the propagation of the species depends on the duality of the sexes, their constant conflicts and periodic acts of reconciliation.”
Life is a process of becoming, not a state of being. The process is driven by mythotropic will. And mythotropic will is fueled by an agon arising out of a symbiosis between the two realms of ideation and sensation. Most importantly, life, as a willful process of growth, culminates in mythopoeia.
The fact that Nietzsche calls the pupil to a direct apprehension of this engine should not be overlooked. It is not enough, he says in the above statement, that the pupil should merely formulate a conception of it. Rather, it is necessary that he experience it. Notwithstanding his call, The Birth of Tragedy offers nothing more than just this conception. It is only in Thus Spoke Zarathustra that the pupil is offered an opportunity for an embodiment of life’s primum mobile.
“I have borrowed my adjectives from the Greeks, who developed their mystical doctrines of art through plausible embodiments, not through purely conceptual means.”
The first sentence of The Birth of Tragedy, “…art owes its continuous evolution to the Apollonian—Dionysian duality…” is Nietzsche’s fundamental Thalesian insight into the workings of the inner world of man. It expresses a single force of nature, mythotropic will, by which the philosopher may explain how life manifests itself within the human spirit. It is valuable by virtue of its ability to explain contradiction in becoming, insofar as it explains the manner in which life requires death. As with all Thalesian insights, Nietzsche’s insight is difficult to articulate. In some cases, such an articulation requires the invention of a vocabulary. In Nietzsche’s case, the vocabulary is borrowed from his studies of ancient Greek culture. We must not, therefore, let our focus sway from a discussion of metaphysics, which is what The Birth of Tragedy really is, to a discussion of Greek scholarship, which The Birth of Tragedy is not, simply because the vocabulary suggests the latter.
“It is by those two art-sponsoring deities, Apollo and Dionysos, that we are made to recognize the tremendous split, as regards both origins and objectives, between the plastic, Apollonian arts and the non-visual art of music inspired by Dionysos.”
Throughout BT, Nietzsche discusses many art forms. Indeed, there are even valuable insights given about dithyrambic music and dithyrambic drama. But the most important art form for the pupil to learn is that which is employed by nature for the purpose of forming idea, arousing sensation, and, as a fine cultivation of the two, generating mythotropic will. Nietzsche saw the engine that drives the inner process of becoming, which is life itself, in mythotropic will. And he saw the creation of a new myth, mythopoeia, as the consummate act in life. Thus, he viewed life as a period of growth which necessarily employed art, both in the process and in the end.
Henceforth, whenever Nietzsche speaks of Apollonian and Dionysian, we will speak of the realms of ideation and sensation, respectively. In this quote, we are asked to consider the antipodal nature of these two realms of the world. Regarding their origins, idea arises from within the mind, and sensation arises from within the body. With respect to their objectives, in short, sensation drives man and idea paves the way, especially when the drives enter into a conflict with each other. With respect to both, they each have the power and the tendency to predominate; idea can act as a restraining agent on the sensations to such a degree as to castrate man or to exile him into an unnatural Egyptian rigidity, and sensation can plunge him into abyssal torment, even madness, in which ideas cease to arise completely.
We are asked also to note that idea imparts form upon the world:
“The two creative tendencies developed alongside one another, usually in fierce opposition, each by its taunts forcing the other to more energetic production, both perpetuating in a discordant concord that agon which the term art but feebly denominates: until at last, by the thaumaturgy of an Hellenic act of will, the pair accepted the yoke of marriage and, in this condition, begot Attic tragedy, which exhibits the salient features of both parents.”
The two creative tendencies are the tendency toward the formulation of idea and the tendency toward the arousal of sensation. Nietzsche perceives an agon existing between the two. The formulation of idea arouses sensation and, likewise, the arousal of sensation prompts the formulation of idea. In individuated human nature, this primordial agon is subordinated to a symbiosis. When individuated man becomes embroiled in a dilemma which is posed by conflicting emotions, he quite naturally formulates the idea which forges a path out of the dilemma. In this way, his ideas complement his emotions and he maintains a healthy balance between his ideas and his emotions. In other words, his ideas are meaningful and his emotions are manageable. But in satyrical man, the symbiosis is lost due to his being dismembered from his emotions. When satyrical man becomes embroiled in a dilemma posed by conflicting emotions, rather than dealing meaningfully with his emotions, he resorts to obsessive ideation; he formulates ideas with which to subdue sensation. And this obsessiveness works within both realms. Lacking the all–important ability to act, an ability imparted solely by mythical being, satyrical man must employ those sensations which drive him to act, as is the case with morale and moral man. Tragedy dissolves dismemberment and thereby restores the symbiosis in the primordial agon between sensation and ideation.
“To reach a closer understanding of both these tendencies, let us begin by viewing them as the separate art realms of dream and intoxication, two physiological phenomena standing toward one another in much the same relationship as the Apollonian and Dionysiac.”
With this, Nietzsche begins to explain the Apollonian–Dionysiac duality. He compares that which he means by Apollonian to dream and that which he means by Dionysiac to intoxication. In this analogy, we can see the agon he speaks of above: a beautiful dream intoxicates the beholder with, say, wonder, and, on the other hand, the most powerful intoxications, such as might be felt during a performance of Mozart’s Requiem, compels the spectator to imaginative daydreams.
“The fair illusion of the dream sphere, in the production of which every man proves himself an accomplished artist, is a precondition not only of all plastic art, but even, as we shall see presently, of a wide range of poetry.”
If our inquiry into Dionysian metaphysics is to succeed, then we must understand that the art which Nietzsche speaks of in his Thalesian insight is not that cultural creativity which manifests itself in the various musical, literary, and physical forms but rather that spiritual creativity which manifests itself in the realms of ideation and sensation. And in the above quote, we can see as much, insofar as Nietzsche views man as an artist in the accomplishment of dream. Later in the essay, he will replace the word dream with the words image and concept. And that really is the focus of this discussion on metaphysics: divination of the mystery by which idea is formulated and an understanding as well of the role played by sensation in such production.
Do not overlook his mention of illusion in the above quote. At this point in the discussion, the pupil’s focus is directed toward a consideration of the need for illusion in the inner world of man. Nietzsche views this need as the spark that starts the engine; the engine being the agon between ideation and sensation which itself drives the process of growth that is life.
“Despite the high intensity with which these dream realities exist for us, we still have a residual sensation that they are illusions; at least such has been my experience – and the frequency, not to say normality, of the experience is borne out in many passages of the poets.”
At this point, we are asked to reflect upon the experience of dream, particularly the sensations which are universally associated with dream. And then we are asked to consider the delight which is aroused within us by the illusoriness of dream. Nietzsche is moving to make the point that man delights in illusion. Later, he will make the point that mythopoeia, the postulation of mythical being, is the greatest accomplishment for man as artist, precisely because it imparts more delight to its beholder than any other manifestation of the ideational realm.
“Men of philosophical disposition are known for their constant premonition that our everyday reality, too, is an illusion, hiding another, totally different kind of reality.”
Points: (1) There are two realities: the reality of sensation which is physical and the reality of ideation which is iluusory. At In satyrical man, the two are hidden from each other.
It’s difficult to see, but he’s referring to the mythical foundation of reality. Insofar as the sensate realm is made manageable, perceptible, and intelligible only by mythical being, the reality of sensation is colored and overshadowed by the reality of being.
“The person who is responsive to the stimuli of art behaves toward the reality of dream much the way the philosopher behaves toward the reality of existence: he observes exactly and enjoys his observations, for it is by these images that he interprets life, by these processes that he rehearses it. … All these facts clearly bear witness that our innermost being, the common substratum of humanity, experiences dreams with deep delight and a sense of real necessity.”
Points: (1) Illusion is a necessity of life; (2) and it makes life enjoyable.
The point is enfeebled if we consider the reality of dream; it is the reality of existence with which we are most concerned. Man delights in the image of his being, and he delights in his sensations only insofar as they animate his being, insofar as they become a part of his being. It is not the sensations – in and of themselves – that arouses redemptive delight in man; it is the image of being amidst the swirling ebb and flow of sensation. Sensation comes and goes but the image of being is constant. And when those sensations enter into an abyssal conflict, man is driven to formulate the ideas and images by which to transcend the conflict and forge ahead. In such a way, being triumphs over discordant sensation and man delights in his ideas and images precisely because his being triumphs in them.
“This deep and happy sense of the necessity of dream experiences was expressed by the Greeks in the image of Apollo.”
Points: (1) Nietzsche uses the Greek god Apollo as an analogue for the PI.
“Apollo is at once the god of all plastic powers and the soothsaying god. He who is etymologically the “lucent” one, the god of light, reigns also over the fair illusion of our inner world of fantasy.”
Notice the traits ascribed to Apollo: plastic (or formative) powers, soothsaying abilities, illumination, illusion and fantasy.
“The person who is responsive to the stimuli of art behaves toward the reality of dream much the way the philosopher behaves toward the reality of existence: he observes exactly and enjoys his observations, for it is by these images that he interprets life, by these processes that he rehearses it. … The perfection of these conditions in contrast to our imperfectly understood waking reality, as well as our profound awareness of nature’s healing powers during the interval of sleep and dream, furnishes a symbolic analogue to the soothsaying faculty and quite generally to the arts, which make life possible and worth living.”
Points: (1) image, as art, heals and makes life both possible and worth living.
We must take note in man’s profound delight in illusion. In fact, it is more than a delight; there is actually a need for illusion, as we will see later in the essay. And it is this need which partly constitutes the competetion between the realms of ideation and sensation. (It is this need which generates the progeny of idea.) It is this need which calls art, in the creation of illusory being (mythopoeia), into a highly significant role in the life process of growth. Art, as mythopoeia, as the creation of illusory and mythical being, heals subindividuated man.
“In an eccentric way one might say of Apollo what Schopenhauer says, in the first part of The World as Will and Idea of man caught in the veil of Maya: ‘Even as on an immense, raging sea, assailed by huge wave crests, a man sits in a little rowboat trusting his frail craft, so, amidst the furious torments of this world, the individual sits tranquilly, supported by the principium individuationis and relying on it.’ One might say that the unshakable confidence in that principle has received its most magnificent expression in Apollo, and that Apollo himself may be regarded as the marvelous divine image of the principium individuationis, whose looks and gestures radiate the full delight, wisdom, and beauty of ‘illusion.'”
Points: (1) Man relies upon the PI amidst the torrents of emotion that threaten to overtake him; (2) the PI is an illusion which begets delight, wisdom, and beauty.
There is nothing eccentric about the analogy; the comparison is dead on. All one needs to understand this analogy is a little dithyrambic drama. Just for a moment, summon up some intense fear and allow that fear to overtake you. As it does, one will feel the ground give way to darkness. That ground is one’s being, a sense of Self, which Schopenhauer calls the PI because it individuates man from the sensate realm and makes him an entity that is distinct from that realm. No matter how torrential the emotion, the PI keeps man afloat. For Nietzsche, Apollo means the same thing which Schopenhauer meant by the PI.
“But the image of Apollo must incorporate that thin line which the dream image may not cross, under penalty of becoming pathological , of imposing itself on us as crass reality: a discreet limitation, a freedom from all extravagant urges, the sapient tranquillity of the plastic god. His eye must be sunlike, in keeping with his origin. Even at those moments when he is angry and ill-tempered there lies upon him the consecration of fair illusion.”
Points: (1) The PI imparts sophrosyne, and it is difficult to maintain such serenity in light of the fact that the PI must assimilate the sometimes titanic sensate realm into itself.
Mythical being must incorporate the sensate realm into itself. And that poses a problem because sensation is characteristically flux, exigent, and titanic, but being is characteristically calm, constant, and reflective. Thus, we find a primordial conflict in human existence: the conflict which arises from the fact that being must assimilate sensation without being destoyed by either its torrents or by the conflicts that inhere in its many drives.
“In the same context Schopenhauer has described for us the tremendous awe which seizes man when he suddenly begins to doubt the cognitive modes of experience, in other words, when in a given instance the law of causation seems to suspend itself. If we add to this awe the glorious transport which arises in man, even from the very depths of nature at the shattering of the principium individuationis, then we are in a position to apprehend the essence of Dionysiac rapture, whose closest analogy is furnished by physical intoxication.”
Points: (1) suspension of the law of causation; (2) glorious transport; (3) shattering of the PI; (4) Dionysian rapture=physical intoxication
We are asked to consider the awe which man feels when sensations come to the fore which are not assimilable, usually due to their intensity. If the sensations are minatory, the Self can be shattered, but if the sensations are not minatory, such as we see in profound love, then man becomes transported beyond the limits of his manageable inner world and, in riding the crest of the wave, he gleefully leaves his Self behind. In that intoxicating transport, he also becomes aware of the power of the sensate realm, and he is awestruck by that tremendous power, which his normally restrained Self prevents him from experiencing.
“Not only does the bond between man and man come to be forged once more by the magic of the Dionysiac rite, but nature itself, long alienated or subjugated , rises again to celebrate the reconciliation with her prodigal son, man. The earth offers its gifts voluntarily, and the savage beasts of mountain and desert approach in peace.”
Points: (1) the bonds between man and man and those between man and nature are restored through tragedy.
“Now the slave emerges as a freeman; all the rigid, hostile walls which either necessity or despotism has erected between men are shattered. Now that the gospel of universal harmony is sounded, each individual becomes not only reconciled to his fellow but actually at one with him – as though the veil of Maya had been torn apart and there remained only shreds floating before the vision of mystical Oneness. Man now expresses himself through song and dance as the member of a higher community; he has forgotten how to walk, how to speak, and is on the brink of taking wing as he dances. Each of his gestures betokens enchantment; through him sounds a supernatural power, the same power which makes the animals speak and the earth render up milk and honey. He feels himself to be godlike and strides with the same elation and ecstasy as the gods he has seen in his dreams. No longer the artist, he has himself become a work of art: the productive power of the whole universe is now manifest in his transport, to the glorious satisfaction of the primordial One. The finest clay, the most precious marble – man – is here kneaded and hewn , and the chisel blows of the Dionysiac world artist are accompanied by the cry of the Eleusinian mystagogues: ‘Do you fall on your knees, multitudes, do you divine your creator?'”
Points: (1) Insofar as the existence of the Ego precludes any perception of that which torments suffering man, and since such perception would afford an opportunity for tormented man to free himself from the yoke of his suffering, man is a slave to his Ego; (2) since it is the Ego which makes man idiosyncratic, its collapse – and the subsequent resurrection of Self – necessarily leads to a harmony between man and man and between man and his own inner nature; (3) the resurrection of the highest Self leads to an overcoming of the bad conscience and a transcendance of that highest Self which, in turn, leads to mythopoeia, the creation of an even higher and more comprehensive sense of being. Insofar as the individual is created anew through mythopoeeia, he becomes himself a work of art; (4) mythopoeia is driven by will which is itself a confluence of sensations. Thus, life, as a process of growth leading to mythopoeia, is essentially Dionsyian.
“It would appear that the Greeks were for a while quite immune from these feverish excesses which must have reached them by every known land or sea route. What kept Greece safe was the proud, imposing image of Apollo, who in holding up the head of the Gorgon to those brutal and grotesque Dionysiac forces subdued them. Doric art has immortalized Apollo’s majestic rejection of all license.”
Point: (1) “Apollo kept Greece safe from the brutal and grotesque Dionysiac forces” = idea, image,and concept have the power to subdue titanic sensation = ideation has the power to dominate sensation.
When either domain (either ideation or sensation) becomes dominant, there is madness. A man who feels threatened by his emotions and who exerts control over his emotions with the power of his ideas and images is just as mad as a man who is tormented and overrun by his emotions and conceptualizes nothing.
Keeping in mind that we wish to understand the relationship that exists between the two realms of ideation and sensation, this statement adds to our understanding of that relationship. The image of Apollo kept Greece safe from the feverish excesses of the Dionysiac barbarians in the same way that myth and idea keep man safe from the feverish excesses of the sensate realm. Mythical Self defines the limits of individuated being, and, insofar as man listens to his Self, he maintains those limits and thereby subdues any titanic flow of sensation.
“But resistance became difficult, even impossible, as soon as similar urges began to break forth from the deep substratum of Hellenism itself. Soon the function of the Delphic god developed into something quite different and much more limited: all he could hope to accomplish now was to wrest the destructive weapon, by a timely gesture of pacification, from his opponent’s hand.
That act of pacification represents the most important event in the history of Greek ritual; every department of life now shows symptoms of a revolutionary change. The two great antagonists have been reconciled. Each feels obliged henceforth to keep to his bounds, each will honor the other by the bestowal of periodic gifts, while the cleavage remains fundamentally the same.
And yet, if we examine what happened to the Dionysiac powers under the pressure of that treaty we notice a great difference: in the place of the Babylonian Sacaea, with their throwback of men to the condition of apes and tigers, we now see entirely new rites celebrated: rites of universal redemption, of glorious transfiguration. Only now has it become possible to speak of nature’s celebrating an esthetic triumph; only now has the abrogation of the principium individuationis become an esthetic event.
That terrible witches’ brew concocted of lust and cruelty has lost all power under the new conditions. Yet the peculiar blending of emotions in the heart of the Dionysiac reveler – his ambiguity if you will – seems still to hark back (as the medicinal drug harks back to the deadly poison) to the days when the infliction of pain was experienced as joy while a sense of supreme triumph elicited cries of anguish from the heart.
For now in every exuberant joy there is heard an undertone of terror, or else a wistful lament over an irrecoverable loss. It is as though in these Greek festivals a sentimental trait of nature were coming to the fore, as though nature were bemoaning the fact of her fragmentation, her decomposition into separate individuals.
In the Dionysiac dithyramb man is incited to strain his symbolic faculties to the utmost; something quite unheard of is now clamoring to be heard: the desire to tear asunder the veil of Maya, to sink back into the original oneness of nature; the desire to express the very essence of nature symbolically.
In order to comprehend this total emancipation of all the symbolic powers one must have reached the same measure of inner freedom those powers themselves were making manifest; which is to say that the votary of Dionysos could not be understood except by his own kind.”
In order to comprehend the meaning and value of the ideas which become manifest through the engenderment of mythotropic will, the actor must become driven by that will. In such a way, the dithyrambs cannot be understood except by an initiate. And initiation into the drama is achieved with a rendition of the Prologue.
“It is not difficult to imagine the awed surprise with which the Apollonian Greek must have looked on him [the votary of Dionysos]. And that surprise would be further increased as the latter realized, with a shudder, that all this was not so alien to him after all, that his Apollonian consciousness was but a thin veil hiding from him the whole Dionysiac realm.”
Point: (1) Apollonian consciousness is but a thin veil hiding from the individual the whole Dionsyiac realm = the Ego is but a tenuous veil hiding from the individual the whole subconscious and with it his Self.
“In order to comprehend this [above, last paragraph] we must take down the elaborate edifice of Apollonian culture stone by stone until we discoöer its foundations.”
More to the point, he is setting out here to discover the foundations of the ideated realm in such a way as to reveal both its meaning and its value.
“The fact that among them [the Olympian gods] we find Apollo as one god among many, making no claim to a privileged position, should not mislead us. The same drive that found its most complete representation in Apollo generated the whole Olympian world, and in this sense we may consider Apollo the father of that world. But what was the radical need out of which that illustrious society of Olympian beings sprang?”
Point: (1) the same drive that found its most complete representation in Apollo generated the whole Olympian world; (2) Apollo is the father of the Olympian world; (3) what is the radical need out of which the Olympian world sprang?
“The same drive that found its most complete representation in mythical being (or the PI) also generated the realm of ideation, and, in this sense, we may consider mythical being to be the progenitor of that fictive world.”
But what is the need out of which the ideated realm springs? To know that is to know the engine that drives the process of becoming which is life itself. There is no more important question than this: what is the need out of which mythopoeia happens, and what is the need out of which the ideated realm springs and evolves from myth. More specifically, why does the Self need the mind? How does the striving, desiring, far–reaching Self consummate itself in the mind? That’s the better question. That’s what we need to know.
In order to understand the need, we need to understand the problem that poses the need. Nietzsche identifies that problem, which also constitutes the most fundamental objection to human existence, by relating it in a Greek legend, as follows.
“Listen first to what the Greeks themselves have to say of this life, which spreads itself before you with such puzzling serenity. An old legend has it that King Midas hunted a long time in the woods for the wise Silenus, companion of Dionysos, without being able to catch him. When he had finally caught him the king asked him what he considered man’s greatest good. The daemon remained sullen and uncommunicative until finally, forced by the king, he broke into a shrill laugh and spoke: ‘Ephemeral wretch, begotten by accident and toil, why do you force me to tell you what it would be your greatest boon not to hear? What would be best for you is quite beyond your reach: not to have been born, not to be, to be nothing. But the second best is to die soon.'”
In this passage, we are asked to consider that moment in the course of our individual existence when we have felt most tormented by life, such as we feel when emotions come to the fore which drive the Self into the most wrenching and insupperable conflicts with the conscience. It is in that particular, critical, and decisive moment, when the tunnel seems to have bceome darkest and impassable, and we cannot lift even a finger against what surely seems to be fate itself, it is in that moment when we feel that, truly, it would have been better never to have been born, insofar as our torment seems endless and insupperable. But since that is impossible, then, clearly, the next best thing is to end this miserable existence at the earliest possible opportunity.
“What is the relation of the Olympian gods to this popular wisdom? It is that of the entranced vision of the martyr to his torment.”
The redemptive vision toward which the matyr struggles and thereby transcends his torment is born of that same torment.
The simplest interpretation of this statement is to say that the Olympian gods did for the suffering Greek who could not bear his horrible existence and who wished to end it what the PI does for the individual about to be swallowed up by abyssal chaos. It keeps him afloat amidst threatening tidal waves of emotion and produces an idea that illumines a path for the will which is fettered by the most quiet and still darkness. transcends the moment and negates the threat of destruction. But since the question of the relation between myth and phenomenal contradiction strikes at the heart of life, let us clarify this point a bit further.
What is the relation between Self and mind, between being (and the ideas which make being comprehensible) and that moment of insupperable torment?: it is the same relation which exists between the hopeful vision of the struggling hero and the torment which inspires his hope and struggling. In other words, primordial dilemma, that which arises within the conscience, and such as is powerful enough to block the path of the will, such dilemma instigates the formulation of idea, image, and concept. In short, the dilemma which torments the conscience also compels the Self to produce an idea, an image, or a concept that forges a path upon which the will transcends that dilemma.
“Now the Olympian magic mountain opens itself before us, showing us its very roots. The Greeks were keenly aware of the terrors and horrors of existence; in order to be able to live at all they had to place before them the shining fantasy of the Olympians. Their tremendous distrust of the titanic forces of nature: Moira, mercilessly enthroned beyond the knowable world; the vulture which fed upon the great philanthropist Prometheus; the terrible lot drawn by wise Oedipus; the curse on the house of Atreus which brought Orestes to the murder of his mother: that whole Panic philosophy, in short, with its mythic examples, by which the gloomy Etruscans perished, the Greeks conquered – or at least hid from view – again and again by means of this artificial Olympus. In order to live at all the Greeks had to construct these deities. The Apollonian need for beauty had to develop the Olympian hierarchy of joy by slow degrees from the original titanic hierarchy of terror, as roses are seen to break from a thorny thicket. How else could life have been borne by a race so hypersensitive, so emotionally intense, so equipped for suffering?”
The sensate realm is titanic insofar as its powerful passions and unrelenting drives can lead the individual into catastrophic conflicts between Self and conscience. Such conflicts bear down upon the individual in such a way as to fetter the will. When the will seems most fettered, idea appears as a spark of light to forge a path out of the conflict. Life is the struggle of the will itself, and the value of idea in that struggle is as its plow and herald. More importantly, however, is that when the conscience goes bad in one of those tremendous conflicts, the Self dies. When the Self dies, no idea will forge a path because the will itself dies with the myth. When the myth dies, all that can be hoped for is mythopoeia, the creation of a new myth, a new Self.
“The same drive which called art into being as a completion and consummation of existence, and as a guarantee of further existence, gave rise also to that Olympian realm which acted as a transfiguring mirror to the Hellenic will.
To exist in the clear sunlight of such deities was now felt to be the highest good, and the only real grief suffered by Homeric man was inspired by the thought of leaving that sunlight, especially when the departure seemed imminent. Now it became possible to stand the wisdom of Silenus on its head and proclaim that it was the worst evil for man to die soon, and second worst for him to die at all.
Whenever we encounter “naiveté” in art, we are face to face with the ripest fruit of Apollonian culture – which must always triumph first over titans, kill monsters, and overcome the somber contemplation of actuality, the intense susceptibility to suffering, by means of illusions strenuously and zestfully entertained. But how rare are the instances of true naiveté, of that complete identification with the beauty of appearance!
The naiveté of Homer must be viewed as a complete victory of Apollonian illusion. Nature often uses illusions of this sort in order to accomplish its secret purposes. The true goal is covered over by a phantasm. We stretch out our hands to the latter, while nature, aided by our deception, attains the former. In the case of the Greeks it was the will wishing to behold itself in the work of art, in the transcendence of genius; but in order so to behold itself its creatures had first to view themselves as glorious, to transpose themselves to a higher sphere, without having that sphere of pure contemplation either challenge them or upbraid them with insufficiency. It was in that sphere of beauty that the Greeks saw the Olympians as their mirror images; it was by means of that esthetic mirror that the Greek will opposed suffering and the somber wisdom of suffering which always accompanies artistic talent.
We can learn something about that naive artist through the analogy of dream. We can imagine the dreamer as he calls out to himself, still caught in the illusion of his dream and without disturbing it, “This is a dream, and I want to go on dreaming,” and we can infer, on the one hand, that he takes deep delight in the contemplation of his dream, and, on the other, that he must have forgotten the day, with its horrible importunity, so to enjoy his dream.
Apollo, the interpreter of dreams, will furnish the clue to what is happening here! Although of the two halves of life – the waking and the dreaming – the former is generally considered not only the more important but the only one which is truly lived, I would, at the risk of sounding paradoxical, propose the opposite view. The more I have come to realize in nature those omnipotent formative tendencies and, with them, an intense longing for illusion, the more I feel inclined to the hypothesis that the original Oneness, the ground of Being, ever-suffering and contradictory, time and again has need of rapt vision and delightful illusion to redeem itself.
Since we ourselves are the very stuff of such illusions, we must view ourselves as the truly non-existent, that is to say, as a perpetual unfolding in time, space, and causality – what we label “empiric reality.”
But if, for the moment, we abstract from our own reality, viewing our empiric existence, as well as the existence of the world at large, as the idea of the original Oneness, produced anew each instant, then our dreams will appear to us as illusions of illusions, hence as a still higher form of satisfaction of the original desire for illusion.
Raphael, himself one of those immortal “naive” artists, in a symbolic canvas has illustrated that reduction of illusion to further illusion which is the original act of the naive artist and at the same time of all Apollonian culture. In the lower half of his “Transfiguratiïn,” through the figures of the possessed boy, the despairing bearers, the helpless, terrified disciples, we see a reflection of original pain, the sole ground of being: “illusion” here is a reflection of eternal contradiction, begetter of all things. From this illusion there rises, like the fragrance of ambrosia, a new illusory world, invisible to those enmeshed in the first: a radiant vision of pure delight, a rapt seeing through wide-open eyes. Here we have, in a great symbol of art, both the fair world of Apollo and its substratum, the terrible wisdom of Silenus, and we can comprehend intuitively how they mutually require one another. But Apollo appeals to us once again as the apotheosis of the principium individuationis, in whom the eternal goal of the original Oneness, namely its redemption through illusion, accomplishes itself. With august gesture the god shows us how there is need for a whole world of torment in order for the individual to produce the redemptive vision and to sit quietly in hió rocking rowboat in mid-sea, absorbed in contemplation.
If this apotheosis of individuation is to be read in normative terms, we may infer that there is one norm only: the individual – or, more precisely, the observance of the limits of the individual: sophrosyne. As a moral deity Apollo demands self-control from his people and, in order to observe such self-control, a knowledge of self. And so we find that the esthetic necessity of beauty is accompanied by the imperatives, “Know thyself,” and “Nothing too much.” Conversely, excess and hubris come to be regarded as the hostile spirits of the non-Apollonian sphere, hence as properties of the pre-Apollonian era – the age of Titans – and the extra-Apollonian world, that is to say the world of the barbarians.
The effects of the Dionysiac spirit struck the Apollonian Greeks as titanic and barbaric: yet they could not disguise from themselves the fact that they were essentially akin to those deposed Titans and heroes. They felt more than that: their whoìe existence, with its temperate beauty, rested upon a base of suffering and knowledge which had been hidden from them until the reinstatement of Dionysos uncovered it once more. And lo and behold! Apollo found it impossible to live without Dionysos. The elements of titanism and barbarism turned out to be quite as fundamental as the Apollonian element.
The individual, with his limits and moderations, forgot himself in the Dionysiac vortex and became oblivious to the laws of Apollo.
Wherever the Dionysiac voice was heard, the Apollonian norm seemed suspended or destroyed. Yet it is equally true that, in those places where the first assault was withstood, the prestige and majesty of the Delphic god appeared more rigid and threatening than before. The only way I am able to view Doric art and the Doric state is as a perpetual military encampment of the Apollonian forces. An art so defiantly austere, so ringed about with fortifications – an education so military and exacting – a polity so ruthlessly cruel could endure only in a continual state of resistance against the titanic and barbaric menace of Dionysos.
We are now approaching the central concern of our inquiry, which has as its aim an understanding of the Dionysiac-Apollonian spirit, or at least an intuitive comprehension of the mystery which made this conjunction possible.”
The spirit which he wants us to understand is the competetive spirit arising out of the agon that exists between the realms of ideation and sensation. The competetion arising out of this agon is the engine that drives life–as–a–process–of–growth. It is important to “catch” this spirit because it teaches something about mythotropic will. Under the influence of this spirit, the actor is drawn into those circumstances under which the will becomes ever more manifest; the spirit N speaks of here, forges the path of the will’s advancement.
The fact that he calls us to an intuitive comprehension of it harkens back to the opening statement in which N calls the pupil to a “direct apprehension” of that will and spirit.
The last point to consider is that he calls us to an apprehension of the spirit arising out of the marriage of the ideate and sensate realms. This marriage restores the symbiosis between the two and thereby dissolves dismemberment. Thus, the resulting spirit is more encompasing, more perceptive, of more of the world. (The will does not work alone to expand the limits of individuation. Its spirit also helps to increase those limits.) Under the influence of this spirit, the sensate realm becomes vibrant; sensations previously unknown to the individual arise out of even greater depths from within him; and those sensations speak to him more loudly and more clearly than he has previously experienced. Most importantly, the entire sensate realm exudes an extraordinary harmony. There are less conflicts between the drives. At the same time, under the influence of this spirit, ideation becomes highly prolific. Upon its prodigy, man extends his perception and comprehension beyond the limits of individuated being and rises to the heights of genius.
“Our first question must be: where in the Greek world is the new seed first to be found which was later to develop into tragedy and the dramatic dithyramb?”
This question initiates an inquiry into the composition and rendition of the dithyramb. At this point, he is a long way from explaining the metaphysics of tragedy, but it will be easier to understand those metaphysics if we first grasp an understanding of the art form through which the meaning and value of tragedy is taught.
Here we begin an extended discussion into dithyrambic art, particularly the meaning and value of dithyrambic drama and the method of composing a dithyramb. Nothing which follows here will reveal anything about the rendition of a dithyramb or of the actual practice and rehearsal of dithyrambic drama; that will follow later when we undertake a reading of WB. What follows here is theory, not praxis.
The seed he speaks of is the origin of an as of yet unborn art form which will come to be called dithyrmbic drama.
When he asks “where in the Greek world” is this seed to be found, he then turns to a discussion of lyric and epic poetry, in the persons of Archilochus and Homer. In dithyrambic art, you have the interplay between the sensate and ideate realms. Homer is an analogue of the ideate realm, and Archilochus is an analogue for the sensate realm. Thus, when he speaks of Homer, he is moving toward a point regarding the Apollonian (or ideational) role in dithyrambic art, and when he speaks of Archilochus, he is moving to illumine a point regarding the role of the sensate realm in the art. That must be our focus if we are to make sense of what follows.
We can learn something of these two art forms, lyric and epic poetry, from N’s discussion of them, but we can learn much more about the more powerful art of dithyrambic drama, if we consi der his insights into the former (lyric and epic poetry) with an eye towards understanding the latter (dithyrambic art),
“Greek antiquity gives us a pictorial clue when it represents in statues, on cameos, etc., Homer and Archilochus side by side as ancestors and torchbearers of Greek poetry, in the certainty that only these two are to be regarded as truly original minds, from whom a stream of fire flowed onto the entire later Greek world. Homer, the hoary dreamer, caught in utter abstraction, prototype of the Apollonian naive artist, stares in amazement at the passionate head of Archilochus, soldierly servant of the Muses, knocked about by fortune.”
For N, Homer is a symbol for epic poetry and Archilochus is a symbol for lyric poetry. Insofar as N uses the words ‘dreamer, abstraction, and naivite’ to describe Homer, we may take him to view epic poetry as apollonian in the sense that it urges the spectator on to a contemplation of image in his mind. In contrast, insofar as he uses the words ‘passionate’ and ‘knocked about’ to describe Archilochus, he views lyrical poetry as dionysian in the sense that it urges the spectator on to an arousal of emotion within himself. In the dithyramb, N sees an admixture of the two art forms; he sees an art form which offers the spectator both image and passion. But, most importantly, he sees the dithyramb as an art form primarily devoted to the arousal of those particular passions which produce a meaningful image.
“All that more recent esthetics has been able to add by way of interpretation is that here the ‘objective’ artist is confronted by the first ‘subjective” artist. We find this interpretation of little use, since to us the subjective artist is simply the bad artist, and since we demand above all, in every genre and range of art, a triumph over subjectivity, deliverance from the self, the silencing of every personal will and desire; since, in fact, we cannot imagine the smallest genuine art work lacking objectivity and disinterested contemplation. For this reason our esthetic must first solve the following problem: how is the lyrical poet at all possible as artist – he who, according to the experience of all times, always says ‘I’ and recites to us the entire chromatic scale of his passions and appetites? It is this Archilochus who most disturbs us, placed there beside Homer, with the stridor of his hate and mockery, the drunken outbursts of his desire. Isn’t he – the first artist to be called subjective – for that reason the veritable non-artist? How, then, are we to explain the reverence in which he was held as a poet, the honor done him by the Delphic oracle, that seat of ‘objective’ art, in a number of very curious sayings?”
The dilemma he poses is this: if bad art is that which represents the passions and intents and hopes of a particular individual, then those pathoi may be considered idiopathic (idiosyncratic) and therefore worthless to an audience whose ideopathy may not match that of the artist. The point here is that Archilochus is not, in fact, a subjective artist because the pathoi he speaks of are not his own or those of any other individual, the passions he speaks of are not unique passions arising only out his Ego. Rather, he speaks of pathoi which arise out of Self and are therefore universally felt (or at least potential or latent) within all ranges of human nature. This is what he means when he goes on to speak of the lyrical poet speaking out of the womb of Oneness.
So when he asks how is the lyrical poet possible, he speaks of the dilemma which arises from the premise that art must not be egotistical; it must be universal; and the passions which were written about by the lyricist Archilochus seem to be his own. They are not, N says, they are universal, and all art must appeal universally.
“Schiller has thrown some light on his own manner of composition by a psychological observation which seems inexplicable to himself without, however, giving him pause. Schiller confessed that, prior to composing, he experienced not a logically connected series of images but rather a musical mood. ‘With me emotion is at the beginning without clear and definite ideas; those ideas do not arise until later on. A certain musical disposition of mind comes first, and after follows the poetical idea.'”
Nietzsche is moving toward the point that the entire realm of ideation is contingent upon the will for its progeny. However, in the above quote, the insight is still only embryonic. Here, all he says is that the formulation of idea or image is preceeded by emotion such as the listener imagines when he hears a beautiful melody. Note also, however, that he says it is not just emotion when provokes idea or image, but that it is a musical disposition. As we will see later, will, not simplistic will power, but mythotropic will, is also musical in the sense that it is a mellifluence or meaningful confluence of the sensations.
“If we enlarge on this, taking into account the most important phenomenon of ancient poetry, by which I mean that union – nay identity – everywhere considered natural, between musician and poet (alongside which our modern poetry appears as the statue of a god without a head), then we may, on the basis of the esthetics adumbrated earlier, explain the lyrical poet in the following manner. He is, first and foremost, a Dionysiac artist become wholly identified with the original Oneness, its pain and contradiction, and producing a replica of that Oneness as music, if music may legitimately be seen as a repetition of the world; however, this music becomes visible to him again, as in a dream similitude, through the Apollonian dream influence. That reflection, without image or idea, of original pain in music, with its redemption through illusion, now produces a second reflection as a single simile or example.”
“The artist had abrogated his subjectivity earlier, during the Dionysiac phase: the image which now reveals to him his oneness with the heart of the world is a dream scene showing forth vividly, together with original pain, the original delight of illusion. The ‘I’ thus sounds out of the depth of being; what recent writers on esthetics speak of as “subjectivity” is a mere figment. When Archilochus, the first lyric poet of the Greeks, hurls both his frantic love and his contempt at the daughters of Lycambes, it is not his own passion that we see dancing before us in an orgiastic frenzy: we see Dionysos and the maenads, we see the drunken reveler Archilochus, sunk down in sleep – as Euripides describes him for us in the Bacchae, asleep on a high mountain meadow, in the midday sun – and now Apollo approaches him and touches him with his laurel. The sleeper’s enchantment through Dionysiac music now begins to emit sparks of imagery, poems which, at their point of highest evolution, will bear the name of tragedies and dramatic dithyrambs.”
When N speaks of Dionysian music, he is not speaking of music per se. Rather, he is speaking of a mellifluence and confluence of pathoi. A Dionysian melody, for instance, might begin with a particular desire which then engenders a particular hope which then engenders a particular determination, and so on. In such a way, the pathoi are musical in the sense that one leads into the other which then leads into the next.
The phenomenon which N has just described above, the representation of connected passions in music whose rendition evokes redemptory images within the listener, is the singlemost significant phenomenon upon which dithyrambic drama rests. As we will shortly see, a dithyrambic is a composition of Dionsyian music whose rendition, which is another matter entirely, evokes images, concepts, and most importantly, myth within the actor.
“The sculptor, as well as his brother, the epic poet, is committed to the pure contemplation of images. The Dionysiac musician, himself imageless, is nothing but original pain and reverberation of the image.”
This is the contrast we are asked to consider if we are to succeed in understanding the Apollonian–Dionysian duality. The sculptor and epic poet may be taken as an example of the dismembered individual in whom the ideational realm has achieved predominance. He looks away from the sensate realm and rejoices only in his images of Self despite the fact that those images may be inanimate, that they may not be founded in reality. The Dionsyiac musician (the dithyrambicist) may be taken as an example of the natural individual who looks unhesitatingly upon the sensate realm, who gives total freedom to his sensations, and who divines the nature of the inner world through his experience of those sensations.
“Out of this mystical process of un-selving, the poet’s spirit feels a whole world of images and similitude’s arise, which are quite different in hue, causality, and pace from the images of the sculptor or narrative poet.”
After having succeeded in looking beyond the hopes, intents, and purposes arising from his individual existence, the dithyrambicist then discovers the pathoi that comprise the fundaments of human existence, not individual existence, and those pathoi evoke images, ideas, and beliefs which possess a vibrancy and animation that is lacking in the individual who conjures up images from his own individual existence.
“While the last lives in those images, and only in them, with joyful complacence, and never tires of scanning them down to the most minute features, while even the image of angry Achilles is no more for him than an image whose irate countenance he enjoys with a dreamer’s delight in appearance – so that this mirror of appearance protects him from complete fusion with his characters – the lyrical poet, on the other hand, himself becomes his images, his images are objectified versions of himself.
While the epic poet looks upon an image of passion and deights in the image and marvels at the accuracy of the depictéon, the dithyrambicist looks upon the same image for the purpose of divining and therewith embodying the passion itself which is depicted in the image.
Being the active center of that world he may boldly speak in the first person, only his ‘I’ is not that of the actual waking man, but the ‘I’ dwelling, truly and eternally, in the ground of being. It is through the reflections of that ‘I’ that the lyric poet beholds the ground of being.”
When, in the course of reading TSZ (for instance, in the Prologue), the actor reads “I love him who…”, it is not Zarathustra who speaks; Zarathustra is not a character. The “I” which speaks here is either the will–to–power or the Self which lies beyond the highest condemned Self, the super–self if you will.
“The man Archilochus, with his passionate loves and hates, is really only a vision of genius, a genius who is no longer merely Archilochus but the genius of the universe, expressing its pain through the similitude of Archilochus the man. Archilochus, on the other hand, the subjectively willing and desiring human being, can never be a poet.”
Insofar as the dithyrambicist looks beyond his own egotistical ends and prejudices and into the world of man, the ground of being, the Oneness, those pathoi which he represents in his dithyrambs are plausibly embodiable by every man, provided, of course, that the man is capable of the same pathos. But for the dithyrambicist to speak of pathoi and ethoi which are unique to his ego is a waste of his and our time.
“At this point we need to call upon every esthetic principle so far discussed, in order to find our way through the labyrinthine origins of Greek tragedy.”
This is the premise of the inquiry which follows in this chapter. Such an inquiry will yield knowledge of the meaning and value of tragedy to life.
“That tradition tells us in no uncertain terms that tragedy arose out of the tragic chorus and was, to begin with, nothing but chorus.
What is a dithyrambic chorus and what is the role of chorus in dithyrambic drama? Its name implies music. Are we to think that in the beginning tragedy was music without action. No, but we may take the liberty to think that in its earliest form the dithyramb was a represenetation of mere passion and nothing else. Later, it would become a representation of a particular pathos whose confluence with other pathoi would become will and such willfulness would constitute the action proper of the drama.
For we are indeed amazed when we compare our familiar theater audience with the tragic chorus and ask ourselves whether the former could conceivably be construed into something analogous to the latter.”
The chorus is not an audience, and dithyrambic drama does not have an audience.
“We had supposed all along that the spectator, whoever he might be, would always have to remain conscious of the fact that he had before him a work of art, not empiric reality, whereas the tragic chorus of the Greeks is constrained to view the characters enacted on the stage as veritably existing. The chorus of the Oceanides think that they behold the actual Titan Prometheus, and believe themselves every bit as real as the god. Are we seriously to assume that the highest and purest type of spectator is he who, like the Oceanides, regards the god as physically present and real? That it is characteristic of the ideal spectator to rush on stage and deliver the god from his fetters? We had put our faith in an artistic audience, believing that the more intelligent the individual spectator was, the more capable he was of viewing the work of art as art; and now Schlegel’s theory suggests to us that the perfect spectator viewed the world of the stage not at all as art but as reality.”
And the dithyrambic actor must regard a dithyramb as a veritable depiction of reality. Insofar as he is required to rehearse the pathoi which is represented in the dithyramb, he possess a willingness to enter into the world fromw hence that pathoi comes, a world beyond his own individual existence.
“An infinitely more valuable insight into the significance of the chorus was furnished by Schiller in the famous preface to his Bride of Messina, where the chorus is seen as a living wall which tragedy draws about itself in order to achieve insulation from the actual world, to preserve its ideal ground and its poetic freedom.”
We can look at this point from two vantages. Dithyrambic drama imparts ideas and images which make life salvagable and meaningful. But those ideas and images are invisible to the reader; they only become perceptible to the actor who is driven by the willfulness out of which those ideas and images arise as a resolution of the many imbroglios in which the will becomes mired. The drama of the dithyramb lies in wrestling with and overcoming the dilemmas in which the will becomes entagled. In such a way, the will is a ‘living wall’ which protects the reality of dithyrambic idea and image from being defiled by the peculiar egotistical ideas and images of the individual. But even the pathoi themselves are protected from being distorted by the casual reader. Insofar as the dithyramb is a representation of a verisimilar pathos that is written in metaphor, it is impossible to ‘lay one’s hands’ upon the pathos because the pathos lies behind the metaphor. In such a way, metaphor protects the pathos from being distorted.
“It is certainly true, as Schiller saw, that the Greek chorus of satyrs, the chorus of primitive tragedy, moved on ideal ground, a ground raised high above the common path of mortals. The Greek has built for his chorus the scaffolding of a fictive chthonic realm and placed thereon fictive nature spirits. Tragedy developed on this foundation, and so has been exempt since its beginning from the embarrassing task of copying actuality. All the same, the world of tragedy is by no means a world arbitrarily projected between heaven and earth; rather it is a world having the same reality and credibility as Olympus possessed for the devout Greek.”
Insofar as dithyrambic tragedy transports the actor within himself through the spectrum of humanity, from subindividuation through individuation and onto supraindividuation, it takes him to a reality higher than any he has ever known before. And, insofar as the actor beholds – and then transcends – his highest Self through this dramatic transport, the dithyrambic drama possesses for him a reality equal to the reality he beholds in his Self.
The satyr, as the Dionysiac chorist, dwells in a “reality sanctioned by myth and ritual. That tragedy should begin with him, that the Dionysiac wisdom of tragedy should speak through him, is as puzzling a phenomenon as, more generally, the origin of tragedy from the chorus.”
The dithyrambic drama is ritualistic in the sense that the actor manifests will within himself by rehearsing the pathoi he renders from the many dithyrambs. This rehearsal is ritualistic. Every time he wants to make an attempt at life, he must go through the same rehearsal of pathoi. And he performs this ritual wholeheartedly because he wants to behold the myth, which unfolds slowly as gradations of Self. Thus, the reality into which the dithyrambic actor enters is sanctioned by myth, and it is for this reason that he throws himself into it so willingly. The fact that dithyrambic tragedy begins with the satyr is due to his subindividuated existence. In him, myth has disintegrated. In dithyrambic drama, it is re-created.
“Perhaps we can gain a starting point for this inquiry by claiming that the satyr, that fictive nature sprite, stands to cultured man in the same relation as Dionysiac music does to civilization. Richard Wagner has said of the latter that it is absorbed by music as lamplight by daylight. In the same manner, I believe, the cultured Greek felt himself absorbed into the satyr chorus, and in the next development of Greek tragedy state and society, in fact all that separated man from man, gave way before an overwhelming sense of unity which led back into the heart of nature.”
Insofar as the dithyrambic actor throws off all the pretentions of Ego, all of its prejudices and distortions, and, by doing so, grows that much closer to his truer Self, then, for these reasons, he becomes more wholesome, more real, more down–to–earth than cultured man, who cares less of how he stands to his Self and more of how he stands to his neighbor, and especially his boss. But as soon as ‘cultured man’ experiences for just a moment the reality which is sanctioned by myth, he quickly abandons the former reality.
“With this chorus the profound Greek, so uniquely susceptible to the subtlest and deepest suffering, who had penetrated the destructive agencies of both nature and history, solaced himself. Though he had been in danger of craving a Buddhistic denial of the will, he was saved by art, and through art life reclaimed him.”
Insofar as dithyrambic drama offers suffering man a way beyond his suffering Self, it offers him salvation. And insofar as dithyrambic drama consummates itself in mythopoeia, the highest manifestation of art, salvation comes in the form of art.
“While the transport of the Dionysiac state, with its suspension of all the ordinary barriers of existence, lasts, it carries with it a Lethean element in which everything that has been experienced by the individual is drowned. This chasm of oblivion separates the quotidian reality from the Dionysiac. But as soon as that quotidian reality enters consciousness once more it is viewed with loathing, and the consequence is an ascetic, abulic state of mind. In this sense Dionysiac man might be said to resemble Hamlet: both have looked deeply into the true nature of things, they have understood: and are now loath to act. They realize that no action of theirs can work any change in the eternal condition of things, and they regard the imputation as ludicrous or debasing that they should set right the time which is out of joint. Understanding kills action, for in order to act we require the veil of illusion; such is Hamlet’s doctrine, not to be confounded with the cheap wisdom of John-a-Dreams, who through too much reflection, as it were a surplus of possibilities, never arrives at action. What, both in the case of Hamlet and of Dionysiac man, overbalances any motive leading to action, is not reflection but understanding, the apprehension of truth and its terror. Now no comfort any longer avails, desire reaches beyond the transcendental world, beyond the gods themselves, and existence, together with its gulling reflection in the gods and an immortal Beyond, is denied. The truth once seen, man is aware everywhere of the ghastly absurdity of existence, comprehends the symbolism of Ophelia’s fate and the wisdom of the wood sprite Silenus: nausea invades him.
Then, in this supreme jeopardy of the will, art, that sorceress expert in healing, approaches him; only she can turn his fits of nausea into imaginations with which it is possible to live.”
The main point in this entire passage is to be found in the last paragraph. Upon the force of his will, the actor eventually beholds his highest Self and with it the bad conscience by which it disintegrated. Of all the dilemmas encountered in the dithyrambic drama, this dilemma is the most critical. Unable to look upon that which torments him most, and unable to ignore it, the actor can go no further. And then, just when he thought all would be lost to this single but greatest obstacle, he sees a way beyond the bad conscience, and, in that transcendance, he beholds the new Self which rises directly from the ashes of his former Self. Thus, in a supreme jeopardy of will, art, as mythopoeia, saves man.
“For the Greek the satyr expressed nature in a rude, uncultivated state: he did not, for that reason, confound him with the monkey. Quite the contrary, the satyr was man’s true prototype, an expression of his highest and strongest aspirations. He was an enthusiastic reveler, filled with transport by the approach of the god: a compassionate companion re-enacting the sufferings of the god; a prophet of wisdom born out of nature’s womb; a symbol of the sexual omnipotence of nature, which the Greek was accustomed to view with reverent wonder.”
Indeed, the satyr is uncultivated, but, insofar as he holds the promise of mythopoeia, he also holds the most potential for cultivation. To what more unwholesome condition would cultivation be more meaningful? Insofar as the satyr needs myth to the extent that he does, mythotropic will is most potential. The satyr aspires to mythopoeia (which is man’s highest goal) more than any other condition of man precisely because, in him, myth has perished. The fact that Nietzsche calls him “a compassionate companion re–enacting the sufferings of the god” also says something about the dithyrambic actor whose dismemberment allows him to enter into the world of another, the dithyrambicist, whereupon he re–enacts the pathoi represented in the dithyrambs.
“Here archetypal man was cleansed of the illusion of culture, and what revealed itself was authentic man, the bearded satyr jubilantly greeting his god. Before him cultured man dwindled to a false cartoon.
Schiller is also correct as regards these beginnings of the tragic art: the chorus is a living wall against the onset of reality because it depicts reality more truthfully and more completely than does civilized man, who ordinarily considers himself the only reality.”
“Poetry does not lie outside the world as a fantastic impossibility begotten of the poet’s brain; it seeks to be the exact opposite, an unvarnished expression of truth….”
When the actor reads a dithyramb, he is expected to render the metaphor in which the dithyramb is composed and thereby transport himself within himself to the pathos represented therein. In order to achieve both the rendition and the transport, the actor must have faith that the metaphor actually depicts the pathos and that the pathos is universally embodiable, that it is not a pathos peculiar or idiosyncratic to only one individual. Of course, the accuracy of the metaphor is dependent upon the abilities of the dithyrambicist.
“The contrast between this truth of nature and the pretentious lie of civilization is quite similar to that between the eternal core of things and the entire phenomenal world. Even as tragedy, with its metaphysical solace, points to the eternity of true being surviving every phenomenal change, so does the symbolism of the satyr chorus express analogically the primordial relation between the thing én itself and appearance.”
“Thing in itself:” Nietzsche uses this expression often, and it presents some difficulty when trying to reckon its meaning. Its use here gives a clue as to the meaning he ascribes to it. It is the same thing which he elsewhere refers to as the eternal core of being, and I think he also refers to the same thing as the original Oneness.
“What must be kept in mind in all these investigations is that the audience of Attic tragedy discovered itself in the chorus of the orchestra. Audience and chorus were never fundamentally set over against each other: all was one grand chorus of dancing, singing satyrs, and of those who let themselves be represented by them.”
And so too does the reader find himself in the dithyrambs. Specifically, By rendering the metaphors, he begins to feel the pathoi represented in those metaphors, and, as he embodies those pathoi, he becomes driven by the will which they comprise and thereby enacts the drama himself. Thus, dithyrambic drama has no audience.
“The chorus is the “ideal spectator” inasmuch as it is the only seer – seer of the visionary world of the proscenium. An audience of spectators, such as we know it, was unknown to the Greeks.”
Insofar as the actor embodies the pathoi that comprise mythotropic will and thereby becomes driven by that will, he comes to grapple with the many dilemmas found along the path of that will’s engenderment. In those dilemmas, he gets bogged down and struggles strenuously to free himself, and just when he seems most bogged down, he realizes the idea which leads him out of the imbroglio and forges a new course for him. But those ideas are a part of its path and cannot be encountered except along that path. Thus, only the actor of the dithyramb is a seer of its visionary world which remains unseen to the casual reader.
“The clearest illustration of this phenomenon is the experience of the actor, who, if he is truly gifted, has before his eyes the vivid image of the role he is to play.”
A truly gifted theatrical actor becomes the character he wants to portray, and he does not put the character to rest when he stops acting. He truly brings the character to life within his being so as to anticipate that character’s reaction to various stimuli. In the same way, the dithyrambicist lives with the pathoi which he wants to represent in his dithyrambs. And it is for that reason alone that the dithyrambic actor is able to animate those pathoi within himself, if, that is, he can render their metaphors.
“The satyr chorus is, above all, a vision of the Dionysiac multitude, just as the world of the stage is a vision of that satyr chorus – a vision so powerful that it blurs the actors’ sense of the “reality” of cultured spectators ranged row on row about him.”
“And yet nothing can be more evident than the fact that the poet is poet only insofar as he sees himself surrounded by living, acting shapes into whose innermost being he penetrates.
Metaphor, for the authentic poet, is not a figure of rhetoric but a representative image standing concretely before him in lieu of a concept. A character, to him, is not an assemblage of individual traits laboriously pieced together, but a personage beheld as insistently living before his eyes, differing from the image of the painter only in its capacity to continue living and acting.”
“What is it that makes Homer so much more vivid and concrete in his descriptions than any other poet? His lively eye, with which he discerns so much more.
At bottom, the esthetic phenomenon is quite simple; all one needs in order to be a poet is the ability to have a lively action going on before one continually, to live surrounded by hosts of spirits. To be a dramatist all one needs is the urge to transform oneself and speak out of strange bodies and souls.”
I’ve already spoken of the dithyrambicist’s need to go beyond his egotistical existence to find the river of pathoi which flows through universal man and of his talent to live with those pathoi which he seeks to represent in his dithyrambs. The actor must possess the complementary talent to go beyond his egotistical existence and to enter into the soul of the dithyrambicist which he seeks to read. The talent of the actor is typically found in satyrical man because satyrical man is dismembered and able to go in and out of his Self.
“What happens in the dramatic chorus is the primary dramatic phenomenon: projecting oneself outside oneself and then acting as though one had really entered another body, another character. This constitutes the first step in the evolution of drama. This art is no longer that of the rhapsodist, who does not merge with his images but, like the painter, contemplates them as something outside himself; what we have here is the individual effacing himself through entering a strange being.
The virgins who, carrying laurel branches and singing a processional chant, move solemnly toward the temple of Apollo, retain their identities and their civic names. The dithyrambic chorus on the other hand is a chorus of the transfïrmed, who have forgotten their civic past and social rank, who have become timeless servants of their god and live outside all social spheres. While all the other types of Greek choric verse are simply the highest intensification of the Apollonian musician, in the dithyramb we see a community of unconscious actors all of whom see one another as enchanted.
Enchantment is the precondition of all dramatic art. In this enchantment the Dionysiac reveler sees himself as satyr, and as satyr, in turn, he sees the god. In his transformation he sees a new vision, which is the Apollonian completion of his state. And by the same token this new vision completes the dramatic act.”
I believe that he is speaking about intoxication, not enchantment. Life, as will, intoxicates the satyr, and, in turn, he becomes enchanted with life, with the whole process of becoming, the whole process of growth – but the enchantment is contingent upon the intoxication, and the intoxicated state comes from the manifestation of willfulness within the satyr. The satyr becomes intoxicated with desire and with vision, neither one alone produces the intoxication or the enchantment.
“Thus we have come to interpret Greek tragedy as a Dionysiac chorus which again and again discharges itself in Apollonian images.”
By chorus, he means music, and by music, he means a multitude of pathoi whose confluence produces a willfulness within the actor. This will drives the actor through a series of dilemmas whose resolution is produced in idea, image, and concept. In this way, the actor creates a vision of Self out of the imbroglios in which he becomes mired by going into the subconscious. Thus, art owes its continuous evolution to the Apollonian–Dionysian duality.
“Those choric portions with which the tragedy is interlaced constitute, as it were, the matrix of the dialogue, that is to say, of the entire stage-world of the actual drama. This substratum of tragedy irradiates, in several consecutive discharges, the vision of the drama – a vision on the one hand completely of the nature of Apollonian dream-illusion and therefore epic, but on the other hand, as the objectification of a Dionysian condition, tending toward the shattering of the individual and his fusion with the original Oneness.”
“Tragedy is an Apollonian embodiment of Dionysiac insights and powers, and for that reason separated by a tremendous gulf from the epic.
On this view the chorus of Greek tragedy, symbol of an entire multitude agitated by Dionysos, can be fully explained. Whereas we who are accustomed to the role of the chorus in modern theater, especially opera, find it hard to conceive how the chorus of the Greeks should have been older, more central than the dramatic action proper (although we have clear testimony to this effect); and whereas we have never been quite able to reconcile with this position of importance the fact that the chorus was composed of such lowly beings as – originally – goatlike satyrs; and whereas, further, the orchestra in front of the stage has alwayó seemed a riddle to us – we now realize that the stage with its action was originally conceived as pure vision and that the only reality was the chorus, who created that vision out of itself and proclaimed it through the medium of dance, music, and spoken word.”
In this view, Nietzsche sees dithyrambic drama an art form made up of a satyrical chorus which is made meaningful by a fictive vision arising out of that chorus. Later, we will come to see more plainly that dithyrambic drama is a willful struggle made meaningful by a myth arising out of that struggle.
“The satyr is a replica of nature in its strongest tendencies and at the same time a herald of its wisdom and art. He combines in his person the roles of musician, poet, dancer and visionary.”
The satyr is a replica of nature insofar as he replicates within himself Dionysian will by which he sheds his unnaturalness. The satyr is a herald of nature’s wisdom insofar as he learns the wisdom required for the engenderment of will, and he is a herald of its art insofar as he becomes himself a work of art through that will.
“It is in keeping both with this insight and with general tradition that in the earliest tragedy Dionysos was not actually present but merely imagined. Original tragedy is only chorus and not drama at all. Later an attempt was made to demonstrate the god as real and to bring the visionary figure, together with the transfiguring frame, vividly before the eyes of every spectator. This marks the beginning of drama in the strict sense of the word. It then became the task of the dithyrambic chorus so to excite the mood of the listeners that when the tragic hero appeared they would behold not the awkwardly masked man but a figure born of their own rapt vision.
Instinctively he would project the shape of the god that was magically present to his mind onto that masked figure of a man, dissolving the latter’s reality into a ghostly unreality. This is the Apollonian dream state, in which the daylight world is veiled and a new world – clearer, more compråhensible, more affecting than the first, and at the same time more shadowy – falls upon the eye in ever changing shapes.”
When he speaks of the Apollonian dream state, he speaks of the other half of dithyrambic drama. When the actor beholds his highest sense of Self and encounters the bad conscience from which that Self suffers, and then overcomes that bad conscience and in the overcoming beholds a newer Self arising out of the ashes of the old Self, that new myth affords a whole new world to him, a world which is “clearer, more comprehensible, more affecting than the first, and at the same time more shadowy.”
“The language of the Sophoclean heroes surprises us by its Apollonian determinacy and lucidity. It seems to us that we can fathom their innermost being, and we are somewhat surprised that we had such a short way to go. However, once we abstract from the character of the hero as it rises to the surface and becomes visible (a character at bottom no more than a luminous shape projected onto a dark wall, that is to say, of appearance through and through) and instead penetrate into the myth which is projected in these luminous reflections, we suddenly come up against a phenomenon which is the exact opposite of a familiar optical one. After an energetic attempt to focus on the sun, we have, by way of remedy almost, dark spots before our eyes when we turn away. Conversely, the luminous images of the Sophoclean heroes – those Apollonian masks – are the necessary productions of a deep look into the horror of nature; luminous spots, as it were, designed to cure an eye hurt by the ghastly night. Only in this way can we form an adequate notion of the seriousness of Greek “serenity”; whereas we find that serenity generally misinterpreted nowadays as a condition of undisturbed complacence.
…and now we see that the poet’s entire conception was nothing more nor less than the luminous afterimage which kind nature provides our eyes after a look into the abyss.
It is Apollo who tranquilizes the individual by drawing boundary lines, and who, by enjoining again and again the practice of self-knowledge, reminds him of the holy, universal norms. But lest the Apollonian tendency freeze all form into Egyptian rigidity, and in attempting to prescribe its orbit to each particular wave inhibit the movement of the lake, the Dionysiac flood tide periodically destroys all the little circles in which the Apollonian will would confine Hellenism.”
“The god ascends the stage in the likeness of a striving and suffering individual. That he can appear at all with this clarity and precision is due to dream interpreter Apollo, who projects before the chorus its Dionysiac condition in this analogical figure.
In these notions we already find all the components of a profound and mystic philosophy and, by the same token, of the mystery doctrine of tragedy; a recognition that whatever exists is of a piece, and that individuation is the root of all evil; a conception of art as the sanguine hope that the spell of individuation may yet be broken, as an augury of eventual reintegration.”
Eventual reintegration with what? With the original Oneness. And what is that? With nature in man.
“I have said earlier that the Homeric epic was the poetic expression of Olympian culture, its victory song over the terrors of the battle with the Titans. Now, under the overmastering influence of tragic poetry, the Homeric myths were once more transformed and by this metempsychosis proved that in the interim Olympian culture too had been superseded by an even deeper philosophy. The contumacious Titan, Prometheus, now announced to his Olympian tormentor that unless the latter promptly joined forces with him, his reign would be in supreme danger. In the work of Aeschylus we recognize the alliance of the Titan with a frightened Zeus in terror of his end. Thus we find the earlier age of Titans brought back from Tartarus and restored to the light of day. A philosophy of wild, naked nature looks with the bold countenance of truth upon the flitting myths of the Homeric world: they pale and tremble before the lightning eye of this goddess, until the mighty fist of the Dionysiac artist forces them into the service of a new divinity.
The Dionysiac truth appropriates the entire realm of myth as symbolic language for its own insights, which it expresses partly in the public rite of tragedy and partly in the secret celebrations of dramatic mysteries, but always under the old mythic veil. What was the power that rescued Prometheus from his vultures and transformed myth into a vehicle of Dionysiac wisdom? It was the Heraclean power of music, which reached its highest form in tragedy and endowed myth with a new and profound significance. Such, as we have said earlier, is the mighty prerogative of music.
And even as myth, music too died under your hands; though you plundered greedily all the gardens of music, you could achieve no more than a counterfeit. And because you had deserted Dionysos, you were in turn deserted by Apollo. Though you hunted all the passions up from their couch and conjured them into your circle, though you pointed and burnished a sophistic dialectic for the speeches of your heroes, they have only counterfeit passions and speak counterfeit speeches.
Once we realize out of what substance the Promethean dramatists before Euripides had formed their heroes and how far it had been from their thoughts to bring onto the stage a true replica of actuality, we shall see clearly how utterly different were Euripides’ intentions.
From now on the stock phrases to represent everyday affairs were ready to hand. While hitherto the character of dramatic speech had been determined by the demigod in tragedy and the drunken satyr in comedy, that bourgeois mediocrity in which Euripides placed all his political hopes now came to the fore. And so the Aristophanic Euripides could pride himself on having portrayed life ‘as it really is….'”
“It entirely destroyed the meaning of tragedy – which can be interpreted only as a concrete manifestation of Dionysiac conditions, music made visible, an ecstatic dream world.”
“Apollo embodies the transcendent genius of the principium individuationis; through him alone is it possible to achieve redemption in illusion. The mystical jubilation of Dionysos, on the other hand, breaks the spell of individuation and opens a path to the maternal womb of being.
Among the great thinkers there is only one who has fully realized the immense discrepancy between the plastic Apollonian art and the Dionysiac art of music. Independently of Greek religious symbols, Schopenhauer assigned to music a totally different character and origin from all the other arts, because it does not, like all the others, represent appearance, but the will directly. It is the metaphysical complement to everything that is physical in the world; the thing-in-itself where all else is appearance (The World as Will and Idea, I).”
Here we see Nietzsche speak of the thing–in–itself as will.
” We might approach this fundamental problem [of tragedy] by posing the following question: what esthetic effect is produced when the Apollonian and Dionysiac forces of art, usually separate, are made to work alongside each other? Or, to put it more succinctly, in what relation does music stand to image and concept?
Music, therefore, if regarded as an expression of the world, is in the highest degree a universal language, which is related indeed to the universality of concepts, much as these are related to the particular things.
Its universality, however, is by no means the empty universality of abstraction, but is of quite a different kind, and is united with thorough and distinct definiteness. In this respect it resembles geometrical figures and numbers, which are the universal forms of all possible objects of experience and applicable to them all a priori, and yet are not abstract but perceptible and thoroughly determinate.
All possible efforts, excitements and manifestations of will, all that goes on in the heart of man and that reason includes in the wide, negative concept of feeling, may be expressed by the infinite number of possible melodies, but always in the universality of mere form, without the material; always according to the thing-in-itself, not the phenomenon – of which melodies reproduce the very soul and essence as it were, without the body.
For, as we have said, music is distinguished from all the other arts by the fact that it is not a copy of the phenomenon, or, more accurately, the adequate objectivity of the will, but is the direct copy of the will itself, and therefore represents the metaphysical of everything physical in the world, and the thing-in-itself of every phenomenon.
This actual world, then, the world of particular things, affords the object of perception, the special and the individual, the particular case, both to the universality of concepts and to the universality of the melodies. But these two universalities are in a certain respect opposed to each other; for the concepts contain only the forms, which are first of all abstracted from perception – the separated outward shell of things, as it were – and hence they are, in the strictest sense of the term, abstracta; music, on the other hand, gives the inmost kernel which precedes all forms, or the heart of things.
That a relation is generally possible between a composition and a perceptible representation rests, as we have said, upon the fact that both are simply different expressions of the same inner being of the world. When now, in the particular case, such a relation is actually given – that is to say, when the composer has been able to express in the universal language of music the emotions of will which constitute the heart of an event – then the melody of the song, the music of the opera, is expressive. But the analogy discovered by the composer between the two must have proceeded from the direct knowledge of the nature of the world unknown to his reason and must not be an imitation produced with conscious intention by means of conceptions; otherwise the music does not express the inner nature of the will itself, but merely gives an inadequate imitation of its phenomenon: all specially imitative music does this.”
In accordance with Schopenhauer’s doctrine, we interpret music as the immediate language of the will, and our imaginations are stimulated to embody that immaterial world, which speaks to us with lively motion and yet remains invisible. Image and concept, on the other hand, gain a heightened significance under the influence of truly appropriate music.
Dionysiac art, then, affects the Apollonian talent in a twofold manner: first, music incites us to a symbolic intuition of the Dionysiac universality; second, it endows that symbolic image with supreme significance. From these facts, perfectly plausible once we have pondered them well, we deduce that music is capable of giving birth to myth, the most significant of similitudes; and above all, to the tragic myth, which is a parable of Dionysiac knowledge.
Music alone allows us to understand the delight felt at the annihilation of the individual. Each single instance of such annihilation will clarify for us the abiding phenomenon of Dionysiac art, which expresses the omnipotent will behind individuation, eternal life continuing beyond all appearance and in spite of destruction. … The hero, the highest manifestation of the will, is destroyed, and we assent, since he too is merely a phenomenon, and the eternal life of the will remains unaffected.
The aims of plastic art are very different: here Apollo overcomes individual suffering by the glorious apotheosis of what is eternal in appearance: here beauty vanquishes the suffering that inheres in all existence, and pain is, in a certain sense, glossed away from nature’s countenance. That same nature addresses us through Dionysiac art and its tragic symbolism, in a voice that rings authentic: “Be like me, the Original Mother, who, constantly creating, finds satisfaction in the turbulent flux of appearances!”
” Dionysiac art, too, wishes to convince us of the eternal delight of existence, but it insists that we look for this delight not in the phenomena but behind them. It makes us realize that everything that is generated must be prepared to face its painful dissolution. It forces us to gaze into the horror of individual existence, yet without being turned to stone by the vision: a metaphysical solace momentarily lifts us above the whirl of shifting phenomena. For a brief moment we become, ourselves, the primal Being, and we experience its insatiable hunger for existence. Now we see the struggle, the pain, the destruction of appearances, as necessary, because of the constant proliferation of forms pushing into life, because of the extravagant fecundity of the world will. We feel the furious prodding of this travail in the very moment in which we become one with the immense lust for life and are made aware of the eternity and indestructibility of that lust. Pity and terror notwithstanding, we realize our great good fortune in having life – not as individuals, but as part of the life force with whose procreative lust we have become one.
If we are right in crediting music with the power to revive myth, then we must look for science in those places where it actively opposes the mythopoeic power of music. It did so in the later Attic dithyramb, whose music no longer expressed the innermost being, or will itself, but only reproduced the phenomenon in a mediate, conceptualized form.”
“To what does this miraculous union between German philosophy and music point if not to a new mode of existence, whose precise nature we can divine only with the aid of Greek analogies?”
“Myth shields us from music while at the same time giving music its maximum freedom. In exchange, music endows the tragic myth with a convincing metaphysical significance, which the unsupported word and image could never achieve, and, moreover, assures the spectator of a supreme delight – though the way passes through annihilation and negation, so that he is made to feel that the very womb of things speaks audibly to him.
What could possibly be immune from the salutary Apollonian charm, if it is able to create in us the illusion that Dionysos may be an aid to Apollo and further enhance his effects? that music is at bottom a vehicle for Apollonian representations? In the pre-established harmony obtaining between the consummate drama and its music, that drama reaches an acme of visual power unobtainable to the drama of words merely.
The difficult relations between the two elements in tragedy may be symbolized by a fraternal union between the two deities: Dionysos speaks the language of Apollo, but Apollo, finally, the language of Dionysos; thereby the highest goal of tragedy and of art in general is reached.”
He will remember how, watching the myth unfold before him, he felt himself raised to a kind of omniscience, as though his visual power were no longer limited to surfaces but capable of penetrating beyond them; as though he were able to perceive with utter visual clarity the motions of the will, the struggle of motives, the mounting current of passions, all with the aid of music. Yet, though he was conscious of a tremendous intensification of his visual and imaginative instincts, he will nevertheless feel that this long series of Apollonian effects did not result in that blissful dwelling in will-less contemplation which the sculptor and epic poet – those truly Apollonian artists – induce in him by their productions.”
Depending on what answer he makes, he will be able to tell whether he has any understanding at all of myth, which, being a concentrated image of the world, an emblem of appearance, cannot dispense with the miracle.”
Myth is unlike idea and concept in that it is an image of the will, an idea of being itself, through which the whole inner world can be seen.
” Greek art, and specifically Greek tragedy, were the factors preventing the destruction of myth; they too had to be destroyed if one were to live recklessly, out of touch with the native soil, in a wilderness of thought, custom, and action.”
wilderness = the town called the Pied Cow, where myth has disintegrated into subindividuation
“And if the German should despond in his endeavor to find his way back to his lost homeland, whose familiar paths he has forgotten, he has only to listen to the call of the Dionysiac bird, which hovers above his head and will show him the way.”
This is the same bird spoken of by Zarathustra in the Prologue. It shows the way to Self. Indeed, to my mind, it symbolizes one of the fundaments of mythotropic will, which is a desire for Self and a willingness to seek it out by raising oneself out of the chaos of subindividuation.
” When speaking of the peculiar effects of musical tragedy we laid stress on that Apollonian illusion which saves us from the direct identification with Dionysiac music and allows us to discharge our musical excitement on an interposed Apollonian medium. At the same time we observed how, by virtue of that discharge, the medium of drama was made visible and understandable from within to a degree that is outside the scope of Apollonian art per se. We were led to the conclusion that when Apollonian art is elevated by the spirit of music it reaches its maximum intensity; thus the fraternal union of Apollo and Dionysos may be said to represent the final consummation of both the Apollonian and Dionysiac tendencies.
When it is thus illuminated from within, the Apollonian image no longer resembles the weaker manifestations of Apollonian art. What epic and sculpture are able to do, namely to force the contemplative eye to a tranñuil delight in individual forms, is not here aimed at, despite the greater clarity and more profound animation. We regarded the drama and penetrated the tumultuous world of its motives and yet felt as though what was passing before us was merely a symbolic image, whose deepest meaning we almost divined and which we longed to tear away in order to reveal the original image behind it. The intense clarity of the image failed to satisfy us, for it seemed to hide as much as it revealed; and while it seemed to invite us to pierce the veil and examine the mystery behind it, its luminous concreteness nevertheless held the eye enhanced and kept it from probing deeper.
No one who has not experienced the need to look and at the same time to go beyond that look will understand how clearly these two processes are associated for the understanding of tragic myth. … It shares with the Apollonian the strong delight in illusion and contemplation, and yet it denies that delight, finding an even higher satisfaction in the annihilation of concrete semblances. At first blush the tragic myth appears as an epic event having to do with the glorification of the hero and his struggles. Yet how are we to account for the fact that the hero’s sufferings, his most painful dilemmas – all the ugly, discordant things which support the wisdom of Silenus – are depicted again and again with such relish, and all this during the Greeks’ most prosperous and vigorous period, unless we assume that these representations engender a higher kind of delight?
How can ugliness and disharmony, which are the content of tragic myth, inspire an esthetic delight?
At this point we must take a leap into the metaphysics of art by reiterating our earlier contention that this world can be justified only as an esthetic phenomenon.
On this view, tragic myth has convinced us that even the ugly and discordant are merely an esthetic game which the will, in its utter exuberance, plays with itself. In order to understand the difficult phenomenon of Dionysiac art directly, we must now attend to the supreme significance of musical dissonance. The delight created by tragic myth has the same origin as the delight dissonance in music creates. That primal Dionysiac delight, experienced even in the presence of pain, is the source common to both music and tragic myth.
Now that we have touched upon the musical relation of dissonance we have perhaps come an important step nearer to the solution of the problem of tragedy. For now we can really grasp the significance of the need to look and yet go beyond that look. The auditory analogue of this experience is musical dissonance, as used by a master, which makes us need to hear and at the same time to go beyond that hearing. This forward propulsion, notwithstanding our supreme delight in a reality perceived in all its features, reminds us that both conditions are aspects of one and the same Dionysiac phenomenon, of that spirit which playfully shatters and rebuilds the teeming world of individuals – much as, in Heracleitus, the plastic power of the universe is compared to a child tossing pebbles or building in a sand pile and then destroying what he has built.
You, my friends, who believe in Dionysiac music, also know what tragedy means to us. In tragedy the tragic myth is reborn from the matrix of music. It inspires the most extravagant hopes and promises oblivion of the bitterest pain.”
” Music and tragic myth are equally expressive of the Dionysiac talent of a nation and cannot be divorced from one another. Both have their origin in a realm of art which lies beyond the Apollonian; both shed their transfiguring light on a region in whose rapt harmony dissonance and the horror of existence fade away in enchantment. Confident of their supreme powers, they both toy with the sting of displeasure, and by their toying they both justify the existence of even the “worst possible world.” Thus the Dionysiac element, as against the Apollonian, proves itself to be the eternal and original power of art, since it calls into being the entire world of phenomena. Yet in the midst of that world a new transfiguring light is needed to catch and hold in life the stream of individual forms. If we could imagine an incarnation of dissonance – and what is man if not that? – that dissonance, in order to endure life, would need a marvelous illusion to cover it with a veil of beauty. This is the proper artistic intention of Apïllo, in whose name are gathered together all those countless illusions of fair semblance which at any moment make life worth living and whet our appetite for the next moment.
But only so much of the Dionysiac substratum of the universe may enter an individual consciousness as can be dealt with by that Apollonian transfiguration; so that these two prime agencies must develop in strict proportion, conformable to the laws of eternal justice. Whenever the Dionysiac forces become too obstreperous, as is the case today, we are safe in assuming that Apollo is close at hand, though wrapped in a cloud, and that the rich effects of his beauty will be witnessed by a later generation.”