Bruce's Reviews > The Birth of Tragedy

The Birth of Tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche
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Jun 29, 2010

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Read in May, 2010

This is less a review than ponderings and comments after having finished the book.

Could it legitimately be argued that, as in Western culture individualism is increasingly valued, the necessity for Dionysian communal frenzy becomes increasingly imperative for psychological wholeness? Hence, for example, all those phenomena of “mob” emotion - sporting events, militant nationalism, partisan politics and political polarization, any group identifications.

Nietzsche’s vision and argument, while derived from Schopenhauer, albeit different from him, is remarkably similar to the insights of Buddhism, a vision of the Universal Self, the Cosmic I. And it is this vision that he indicates by the term, Dionysian. The synthesis (to what extent is he also indebted to Hegel?) between the Apollonian and the Dionysian is profoundly this-worldly, rejecting entirely the idea of a world, a better world, beyond this one. Beauty is affirmed in the acknowledgement of the inevitability of suffering, in the acceptance of the tragic as being an integral part of life, and in the rejection of the other-worldliness of Socrates, Plato, and particularly of Christianity.

Might not music be the most perfect vehicle of the Dionysian in part because of its transience, in contrast to the plastic arts? Because of its transience as well as its non-representational nature, it focuses attention away from the individual and the particular toward the universal Oneness. And, for Nietzsche, music becomes the avenue to tragic myth, the synthesizing and balancing element “between India and Rome” that allows a society, a civilization and culture to exist and function optimally, albeit for only a transient time.
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