Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Reading and taking notes...

Geuss, from his introduction to The Birth of Tragedy and Other Writings
Reading Nietzsche from a distance.
The idea specifically derived from The Birth of Tragedy which has become perhaps most influential in the twentieth century is the conception of the 'Dionysiac' and its role in human life, i.e. the view that destructive, primitively anarchic forces are a part of us (not to be projected into some diabolical Other), and that the pleasure we take in them is real and not to be denied. These impulses cannot simply be ignored, eliminated, repressed, or fully controlled. As Euripides' Bacchae shows, they will have their due one way or another and failure to recognize them is just a way of, eventually, giving them free rein to express themselves with special force, destructiveness, and irrationality. In some sense higher culture rests on coming to terms with them, but that does not mean simply letting them play themselves out in a direct and unmodified way. The primitive Dionysiac orgy is not an Attic tragedy, and not a form of 'higher culture' at all in this sense, although tragedy is in some sense a development of the orgy. The construction of a higher culture requires both a sympathetic recognition of the existence of the Dionysiac and an integration of it into an alliance with what Nietzsche calls 'Apollo' and what he calls 'the daimonion of Socrates'. Different cultures are different ways of negotiating and renegotiating the terms of this 'alliance', probably a never-ending process.
What did you want, wicked Euripides, when you sought to force this dying figure to do slave's work for you once more? He died at your violent hands; and now you needed a copy, a masked myth who, like Hercules' monkey, could only use the old trappings to deck himself out prettily. And as myth died on you, the genius of music, too, died on you: however much you might plunder all the gardens of music with greedy hands, all you could manage was copied, masked music.
Sartre, in Being and Nothingness, describing, inadvertently, a version of a Nietzschean ideal.
Let us imagine that moved by jealousy, curiosity, or vice I have just glued my ear to the door and looked through a keyhole. I am alone and on the level of a non-thetic self-consciousness. This means first of all that there is no self to inhabit my consciousness, nothing therefore to which I can refer my acts in order to qualify them. They are in no way known; I am my acts and hence they carry in themselves their whole justification. I am a pure consciousness of things, and things, caught up in the circuit of my selfness, offer to me their potentialities as the proof of my non-thetic consciousness (of) my own possibilities. This means that behind that door a spectacle is presented as "to be seen," a conversation as "to be heard." The door, the keyhole are at once both instruments and obstacles; they are presented as "to be handled with care;" the key-hole is given as "to be looked through close by and a little to one side," etc. Hence from this moment "I do what I have to do." No transcending view comes to confer upon my acts the character of a given on which a judgment can be brought to bear. My consciousness sticks to my acts, it is my acts; and my acts are commanded only by the ends to be attained and by the instruments to be employed. My attitude, for example, has no "outside"; it is a pure process of relating the instrument (the keyhole) to the end to be attained (the spectacle to be seen), a pure mode of losing myself in the world, of causing myself to be drunk in by things as ink is by a blotter in order that an instrumental-complex oriented toward an end may be synthetically detached on the ground of the world. The order is the reverse of causal order. It is the end to be attained which organizes all the moments which precede it. The end justifies the means; the means do not exist for themselves and outside the end.
Sartre's Bad Faith ends where Nietzsche's Bad Conscience begins.

Sartre's "authenticity" is a fantasy ideal audience for Euripidean irony; self-aware and aware of himself or herself among others; the sort of cosmopolitan that would horrify Nietzsche. But at the same time, Sartre's ideal would make such irony unnecessary, since as viewers all we could feel is pity for the poor blind saps on stage. The point of irony in art, unlike philosophy, where only teachers have the right to indulge , is that art doesn't presume anyone's superiority. We're watching those who could be ourselves, allowing ourselves to sense their desires while still understanding their mistakes.

The absurdity of Nietzsche and Sartre both is their fantasies of an ideal or authentic self.
Repeats again.
In a passage from one of the Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis Freud says that as the result of a successful treatment repression is replaced by 'a condemning judgment'. He doesn't explain the difference between the two. What's the difference between "I don't want to kill my father and sleep with my mother" and "I don't want to kill my father and sleep with my mother." Is the first, louder and more nervous? More declarative? More cocksure? I don't know but it's a question conceptualists can't answer.
What kind of freedom is possible in a social world? We're creatures of relation. Sociopaths and gurgling infants are free.
"Hence from this moment "I do what I have to do." No transcending view comes to confer upon my acts the character of a given on which a judgment can be brought to bear. My consciousness sticks to my acts..."
Both Nietzsche and Sartre are describing characters, not people. They make art that they claim mirrors the world.

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