Will-less contemp. of Art - Tragic vs Comic (Nietz. & Schop.

Schopenhauer believes that Art serves as a type of freedom from the tyranny of the Will - as a release from having to Will. The Nietzsche of The Birth of Tragedy states: “The reason for this is that the ecstasy of the Dionysiac state, in which the usual barriers and limits of existence are destroyed, contains, for as long as it lasts, a lethargic element in which all personal experiences from the past are submerged. This gulf of oblivion separates the worlds of everyday life and Dionysiac experience. But as soon as daily reality re-enters consciousness, it is experienced as such with a sense of revulsion; the fruit of those states is an ascetic, will-negating mood.

Am I alone here who experiences a catharsis when leaving the opera as opposed to during the opera?

To will-lessly (or disintresedly) contemplate Oedipus stabbing his own eyes out produces nothing but terror at the understanding of the concept of Fate. It is only when I re-enter daily life, look at the tree, feel the chill of the wind against my face, remember that I am still alive, that I am freed from the clutches of terror. Don’t these two great philosophers have something backward here? Nietzsche goes on, “In this sense Dionysiac man is similar to Hamlet: both have gazed into the true essence of things; they have acquired knowledge and they find action repulsive, for their actions can do nothing to change the eternal essence of things; they regard it as laughable or shameful that they should be expected to set to rights a world so out of joint. Knowledge kills action [he sounds like Dostoevsky’s Underground Man]; action requires one to be shrouded in a veil of illusion - […]” So what does this lead to? Not question the Sphinx? If this is what knowledge does, why not stay in the matrix of illusion? Neo finds love in the desert of the real, after swallowing the blue pill, after knowledge. It is after leaving the opera, the tragedy, that life erupts in awe and beauty! It is the boldness of the Will-to-life, the will to go on in the face of Fatalism and all such tragic knowledge, that invigorates daily life with all the majesty that the poets praise.

To see a world in a grain of sand,
Or a Heaven in a wild flower,
hold infinity in palm of your hand
and eternity in an hour.

-William Blake (italics mine)

I argue that elation and joy stem from the freedom of the individual will from the tyrannizing hands of tragic contemplation. But I am, as always, open to suggestion.

Nietzsche concludes, “Once truth has been seen, the consciousness of it prompts man to see only what is terrible or absurd in existence wherever he looks; now he understands the symbolism of Ophelia’s fate, now he grasps the wisdom of the wood-god Silenus: he feels revulsion.” He is right, in terms of my own experience. After having red Oedipus I ran into nature just to feel that I was still alive, still able to breathe. Revulsion was everywhere, just the greeness of the trees made me want to vomit. But with time, joy and lust-for-life were found again. Does that mean that I have ceased to know the tragic knowledge I attained? Self-deception? Socrates says, “To know is to remember.” Have I ceased remembering? Covered myself in a veil of Maya? Or rather, penetrated knowledge just as deep, just as powerful, as that of the tragic! That of joy, that of love, that of friendship, that of will-to-power!? There is a dilemma here. Does the tragic outweigh the comic? I open the question to the board.

(I wrote all this in the process of studying Nietzsche; in the very next paragraph, Nietzsche answered the questions I raised by pointing directly to comedy as a “saving sorceress with the power to heal.” But I believe the questions I raised are still interesting, and would like to hear other opinions, not just Nietzsche’s and my own. He answers in the same way that I did above: Comedy and the Sublime [think of Blake’s poem] to counteract tragedy and revulsion.)

Could resistance be necessary? I mean, what would life be without death?

Hello Pandora,

Slightly digressive, but a very interesting and astute question. I am assuming that you mean resistance to the Will? (Your question may also be read as the Will’s resistance to everything in opposition to it.) But I will go along with the first case (resistance to the Will, e.g., death, conflicts in life, etc.).

Necessity implies teleology. Schopenhauer may be said to imply teleology in book IV of The World as Will and Representation when he takes his metaphysical conception of the Will from book II (as a blind, purposeless, non-rational, universal, – and to put it crudely – force/energy outside of space/time/causality) and then spins it into a will-to-life through non-deductive arguments of analogy. But even if you are willing to go along with him, a Will whose purpose is a will-to-life, would not imply that resistance is a necessity, because all that resistance does is produce suffering (such is Schopenhauer’s conclusion: ](*,) ). Therefore, in Book III and IV, he proposes that the best thing to do is to not-will. In book III, it is to find refuge in art, which is a temporary cessation of willing; and in book IV, he argues toward an acetic way of life, toward non-willing, non-action, even, non-thought (like Buddhism). Resistance is seen as conflict, and is not logically linked to the being of Will (which can exist without opposition, if thought of, as, say, an expansion of pure energy in infinite space-time). But if I may alter your question slightly, rather than say necessity, if we ask if resistance can be seen as a positive phenomenon of Being, then I believe we can explore further.

Does resistance strengthen the will? like weights that resist the body that ultimately strengthen the muscles? Nietzsche’s answer, “Yes! What does not kill you, only makes you stronger,” the famous cliche. But here we are talking about an individual will as opposed to Schopenhauer’s universal Will. And even if one accepts Nietzsche’s answer, one wonders, considering the inevitability of death, how satisfactory it really is. :-k But let us move on to the question itself, “What would life be without death?”

Schopenhauer answers, tragedy. Nietzsche answers, tragedy and comedy. Schopenhauer would probably respond to Nietzsche that comedy gets boring, and soon the individual falls into apathy and inertia. Nietzsche responds, that such an individual is weak. Which philosopher is ultimately right, I am not sure, although I really want to lean toward Nietzsche. If the sublime is really the Sublime (in the Kantian sense) then life should be full of infinite wonder (though, I must add, terror as well). But how does one respond to Bukowski who in middle-age lamented that the ocean is ugly? To be constantly in the midst of willing, in the midst of this :-({|= tension, is terrible. Vampires are not happy with their immortality, are they? (Think “Interview with the Vampire.”) That constant need to feast, just to satisfy their primal urges, and all without any enjoyment! Death, it then follows, provides humanity with that structure that allows life to be valuable, for through the knowledge of an end (death) time becomes valuable, and consequently, action. The limitation of experience forces one to value the experiences one can temporally afford. In this sense, death is a good thing, for ultimately it will free the Will from suffering, and at the same time, provide life with value.

Now do all your questions open such a large box? :wink: Are my remarks satisfactory?


I have no further comments! :smiley: