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General => Feedback & Help => Topic started by: spiros on 26 May, 2005, 21:01:55

Title: Feedback: Metaphysics of Art - Nietzsche's and Schopenhauer's Theories of Art
Post by: spiros on 26 May, 2005, 21:01:55
This is feedback by Srinivasan Karpagam, konkorde AT hotmail DOT com about the site page:

Metaphysics of Art - Nietzsche's and Schopenhauer's Theories of Art (

I had the pleasure of reading your brilliant dissertation on  'Metaphysics of Art - Nietzsche's and Schopenhauer's Theories of Art'; and I was wondering, if you could help clarify a small matter there.
In chapter 10 on erotics, you write:

If it is by means of the physical, the erotic, that one can experience the metaphysical illusion then the metaphysical artist par excellence is the dancer.

What does 'the' metaphysical illusion referred to? By that, I wonder if you mean life is indifferent/immoral, or beautiful, or perhaps something else all together?
And how does the idea of Music connect with the conclusion you have reached here, that the "metaphysical artist par excellence is the dancer"?
Your thesis has been a source of thought-provoking joy for me - I'd be grateful and indeed thrilled if I could read more of your thoughts/theories on/relating to Nietzsche...

Thank you.
By the way, I think you might find this of valuable interest to this dissertation and your study of music and linguistics -
Looking forward to hearing from you,
With best wishes and regards, Kim
Title: Feedback 2: Metaphysics of Art - Nietzsche's and Schopenhauer's Theories of Art
Post by: spiros on 26 May, 2005, 21:05:13
This is feedback by Nicholas Fulford, Nicholas.Fulford AT sympatico DOT ca about the site page:

Metaphysics of Art - Nietzsche's and Schopenhauer's Theories of Art (

I was lucky to come across your website through a few random searches that are not unlike the old game of "dictionary", where a person opens up the dictionary and from one word goes on to link to other and from there to others, ad infinitum.  The web is such a creative medium as a mode of uncovering connectivities that lie latent.  It is an oracle of many voices, a reflection, a truth teller and liar.  At any rate, on to my comments on some excerpts from your essay:  "Metaphysics of Art - Nietzsche's and Schopenhauer's Theories of Art"

In the Chapter,  Music versus Language you quote:

I wondered whether music might not be the unique example of what might
have been - if the invention of language had not intervened - the means of communication between souls.

Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past

Music is what I refer to as a "thin form".  Music reaches into the deepest recesses and plays the listener.  It is a mode by which empty of 'me', pure creativity rises in an emotive rush:  A Master's breath upon me a passive instrument expressing oh so powerfully.  And in such a place the seeming paradox, the duality of rational mind collapses into a pulsing singularity, a moment of eternity on the event horizon.

Whether I read the creation story in Tolkien's Silmarillion or hear Gustav Mahler's ecstacy inducing works, or simply hear the sounds of birdsong on a spring morning as colours emerge from the blackness into interweaving musical lines, music is the primary form, that unmakes and remakes me.

Form alludes and draws not merely to a surface but into a process of passing layer by layer through "I know not where", going to "I know not what". 

In the Chapter, The Birth of Tragedy you quote:

"Only as an aesthetic phenomenon is existence and the world eternally justified"

This is true.  I imagine the Eternal, that which is timeless and without bound, being pregnant with a single query, and instantiated into form unfolds without end, fractal-like.  The unfolding universe expresses an embedded aesthetic presence, local and complete at every point and scale.  The forms emerge and collapse upon a wave, a music, that carries itself, as a photon, neither and both wave and particle. 

I now jump back to some quotes from your commentary in Music versus language:

But language, as it can only imitate the world of phenomena, it can never match the cosmic importance of music, which, in Schopenhauerian nomenclature, is an immediate reflection of the will. This, of course, being a rehashing of Schopenhauer's metaphysics of music. The only difference being that Nietzsche uses a convoluted periphrasis, which bears more affinity to poetry than philosophy. Instead of saying 'will' he says: '{music} refers to the primal contradiction and the primal suffering within the primal Oneness, and thus symbolizes a sphere beyond and prior to all phenomena.

The paradox of Eternity and expression collapses through the insufficiency of form and the imbedding of the Eternal principle at every scale and point.  It is, to use my analogy of the fractal, an implicit equation upon which the universe and every locality is contingent and necessary.  An event, the birth of existence, instantiates Eternity.  It is as though the primal Oneness, which is still and always as it is in itself, gazes through the mirror of space-time asking:  "What am I?"  A process of unfolding results and expresses the infinite variations on that One theme, a symphony of life and death, dual and singular, swirling waves and particles, spinning Dervish-like around the ever-present ineffability.

A corollary of the Dionysian condition induced by tragedy is the overcoming of the curse of individuation, whereby the spectator experiences the dissolution of the fixed boundaries between men, and between man and nature, becoming oblivious of his personal afflictions and achieving a reunification with the primitive forces of nature. Thus, the ancient Greek theatre is transformed into a temple, sharing an equal social status with the proto-christianic church, which provides metaphysical consolation for the 'horrors and terrors' of existence.

YES!  It is not mere consolation, it is return to fullness.  Longing and emptiness in the desert of individuation burn away the delusions that are shadows to the soul.  The moth is drawn to the flame and annihilated.  Form surrenders in a moment where joy and suffering touch and collapse.  The prodigal of form in dying returns to the full presence of the Eternal, the only thing that is in itself and sufficient within itself.  Temporal existence is a mask, a veil, a pearl spun around a point that dropped into the wine of ecstacy dissolves into no-thing.

The issue becomes more opaque if we consider Nietzsche's equation of the metaphysical music with the Dionysian music; since, having purely Dionysian music would have been impossible as Dionysian implies a lack of formal structure. On the one hand, he rages against formal austerity of the baroque era which cannot function without the 'arithmetical abacus of the fugue and contrapuntal dialectics36', and, on the other, he includes Bach in the conceptual vicinity of Dionysian music37! Musicologically speaking, Bach's compositions are of extreme formal elaboration and discipline but with a unique power of intimating the highest forms of emotion. Especially the way the tragic emotion is exhibited in, inter alias, his two great Passions - St John and St Matthew38 - is almost unparalleled. Music critics generally consent on the fact that Bach in these works was a precursor of Wagnerian music dramas - a century before their appearance. Hence, the empathy Nietzsche feels towards Bach. And we know by now that, if Nietzsche feels empathy for you, he will call you 'Dionysian'. Perhaps, as an attempt to explain this apparent contradiction, what Nietzsche meant is a Dionysian effect by means of Apollonian structure. But he failed to make this clear to us.

If we take this further, it is to Mahler that we must next go.  Mahler, strongly influenced by Bach and Wagner, creates what is perhaps the most perfect Dionysian symphony in existence.  And I refer of course to Mahler's 3rd symphony, which contains a poem of Nietzsche in its fourth movement:

"Oh Mensch! Gib Acht!
Was spricht die tiefe Mitternacht?
Ich schlief, ich schlief -,
Auf tiefen Traum bin ich erwacht:-
Die Welt ist tief,
Und tiefer als der Tag gedacht.
Tief ist ihr Weh -,
Lust - tiefer noch als Herzeleid:
Weh spricht: Vergeh!
Doch alle Lust will Ewigkeit -,
- will tiefe, tiefe Ewigkeit!".
Friedrich Nietzsche  1844-1900

The sixth movement is the perfect resolution with Eternity.  It answers in music what words fail to convey.  (Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic have an excellent rendition of this work on CD, as does Bernstein.)

I could go on for much longer, but must move on. 

Thanks again for your great website.