The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music
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One of Nietzsche's earliest works, The Birth of Tragedy (1872) is a remarkable source of inspiration. It is here that the philosopher expresses his frustration with the contemporary world and urges man to embrace Dionysian energy once more. He refutes European culture since the time of Socrates, arguing that it is one-sidedly Apollonian and prevents man from living in optimistic harmony with the sufferings of life.
It is argued that the healthier culture can be perceived in the traditions of ancient Greece as the spectators of the tragic plays experienced Dionysus and Apollo in perfect harmony. However, Nietzsche has great faith in the human soul and presents a laudatory portrayal of Wagner, contending that his artistic spirit is the savior of Europe; Wagner's music has sown the seeds for a period of liberating rebirth.
illusion’. Raphael, himself one of those immortal naïves, in one of his allegorical paintings depicted that reduction of illusion to mere illusion, the original act of the naïve artist and also of Apolline culture. In his Transfiguration, the lower half of the painting, with the possessed boy, his despairing bearers, the dismayed and terrified disciples, reveals the reflection of eternal, primal suffering, the sole foundation of the world: ‘illusion’ here is the reflection of the eternal
new forms one after the other, only to let them go in horror, as Mephistopheles did the seductive Lamiae. That is the characteristic of the ‘breach’ commonly said to be the fundamental ailment of modern culture: theoretical man takes fright at his consequences, and in his dissatisfaction no longer dares to hurl himself into the terrible icy current of existence, but runs nervously up and down on the bank. He no longer wants anything whole, with all the natural cruelty that adheres to things, so
the air as they chase after the spirit of music, while it scampers away before them with an incomprehensible life, their movements falling sadly short of any standards of eternal beauty or sublimity ! Let us take a close look at these patrons of music in the flesh, as they tirelessly call ‘Beauty! Beauty!’ – do they really behave like nature’s favourite children, formed and coddled in the lap of beauty, or are they not rather in search of a deceptive disguise for their own clumsiness, an
it to be counted as a feat, as opposed to the absurdity of continuing with an existence which one knows can only be painful? The answer comes, as we have already seen, in two stages. First, the Greeks of Homer’s time lived in order to entertain the gods: ‘The same impulse that calls [Apolline] art into existence, the complement and apotheosis of existence, also created the Olympian world with which the Hellenic “will” held up a transfiguring mirror to itself.’ Because the gods enjoy the spectacle
the tragic myth only as a visualization of Dionysiac wisdom by means of Apolline artifices; it takes the world of phenomena to its limits, where it denies itself and seeks to escape back to the womb of the sole true reality; and here it seems, with Isolde, to begin its metaphysical swansong: In des Wonnemeeres Wogendem Schwall, In der Duft-Wellen Tönendem Schall, In des Weltatems Wehendem All – Ertrinken – versinken – Unbewuβt – höchste Lust!31 (In the sea of rapture’s Surging roll