Nietzsche On Art “Die Wahrheit is häßlich: wir haben die Kunst damit wir nicht an der Wahrheit zu Grunde gehn.”
The Birth of Tragedy (1972)• Nietzsche’s ﬁrst book.• The later Nietzsche is highly critical of metaphysics, regarding it as the hang-over of Christianity.• But in BoT, Nietzsche still “peddled in artists’ metaphysics” and expressed himself in Schopenhauerian and Kantian formulas.
The Birth of Tragedy• Wagner was obviously a great inﬂuence at the time.• Nietzsche was hoping for a new art, an art of metaphysical comfort (he says later in 1886: “No, no! I spoiled my project by appending hopes where there was no ground for hope.”)
Human, all too human (1878)• Fell out with Wagner, became more skeptical of Schopenhauer.• “Our all-too-human humanity leaves a good deal to be desired, and yet gives us something to work with... one of those things is art, the human impulse to beauty” (Ridley)
HH II.174• “Art is above and before all supposed to beautify life, thus make us ourselves endurable, if possible pleasing to others [...] art is supposed to conceal or reinterpret everything ugly, those painful, dreadful, disgusting things which... again and again insist on breaking forth.”• “The work of art is merely an appendage. A man who feels within himself an excess of such beautifying, concealing and reinterpreting powers will in the end seek to discharge this excess in works of art as well; so, under the right circumstances, will an entire people.”• (Freud’s libido attachment at a mass-scale; C&D)
The real task of art• To make oneself tolerable to oneself (and thus to others).• To beautify, conceal, or reinterpret one’s “raw materials.” (character)• Works of art ought to be a happy side effect of the process of self-beautiﬁcation.• Art of the self must come ﬁrst.
But...• “The ceaseless desire to create on the part of the artists, together with his ceaseless observation of the world outside him, [should not] prevent him from becoming better and more beautiful as a person, that is to say from creating himself.” (HH II.102)
The Gay Science (1882)• God is dead. How do we now grapple with life?• Nietzsche’s thoughts on art and artists begin to develop further.• “The gaiety of the Gay Science is thus of a rather ambivalent kind: on the one hand it is an exhilarated laugh at our newly-found freedom, on the other, it is a kind of nervously light-hearted laugh in the face of the unknown.” (Ridley 64)
The need for Art• So what is the use of art?• It can’t mean to give us an insight into the world as it is in itself, since “either nothing can, or no insight might be had if I am right.”• But it must be able to do two things...
Art must...• 1.) Take the edge off the more unbearable truths of science, and so steer off “nausea and suicide.”• 2.) Satisfy our need for “faith in reason in life.”• Q: But isn’t this a paradox, Nietzsche?• A: No, not exactly.
nietzsche’s distinction• There’s a difference between the “good will to appearance” (to untruth) and the acceptance or promotion of untruth out of a “bad intellectual conscience”• He insists on honesty. (artist’s intent)• One must ﬁrst face the truth and then embark upon one’s (modest) falsiﬁcations and roundings off of it.
The Good Will To Appearance • Requires the maximum amount of honesty, courageousness in the face of truth, and modesty. • Art must be modest if it is to be an expression of a good intellectual conscience.
Bad intellectual conscience • Falsiﬁcation (art) without regard for the demands of honesty. • What about religious art?• (I’m sure Nietzsche would love this painting, huht?)
Bad intellectual conscience (Religious Art) • Nietzsche says yes, religion does promote the life of the species, by promoting faith in life. • BUT -- they are engaged in the project of falsiﬁcation, of purposelessness and dishonesty.But what about using religion symbolically, myth as allegory and representation?
Bad intellectual conscience (Religious Art) • Like the artist, the ethical teacher promotes untruths that make existence bearable. • BUT -- unlike the artist, the ethical teacher does not merely join up a few dots so as to create a pattern, but jettisons all truth in favor of a different, invented ‘reality’. It is this immodesty that makes him out as a man of bad intellectual conscience. (Ridley 82)
The Gay Science (con’t)• Truth is the problem (häßlich)• Art, which is meant to evade truth, can’t offer justiﬁcations of existence. It can, at most, make life livable. • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=El2l__hRta0
• [Nietzsche] is stern about the art of intoxication — ‘Does he that is enthusiastic need wine?’ he asks: ‘The strongest ideas and passions brought before those who are not capable of ideas and passions but only of intoxication!’ (GS 86); and he criticizes artists for often being ‘too vain’ and for ﬁxing ‘their minds on something prouder than those small plants seem to be that really can grow on their soil to perfection’ (GS 87). And the reason for this insistence on modesty is that it is crucial to his claim that art represents ‘the good will to appearance’. It is, indeed, only in falsifying things that art can hope to render life bearable; but it is only in falsifying them as little as possible that art can also discharge its responsibility to the demands of the ‘intellectual conscience’ (Ridley, p. 80).
Amor Fati• First mentioned in Book IV of The Gay Science.• Nietzsche writes: “I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall too be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.” (GS 276)• What is necessary in things = the course of nature and its conditions.• Idea of eternal recurrence vs. Amor Fati?
The Gay Science (con’t)• What ought we to do? Turn existence into an aesthetic phenomenon, to the least possible degree consistent with making life bearable.• “One can dispose of one’s drives like a gardener and [...] cultivate the shoots of anger, pity, curiosity, vanity as productively and proﬁtable as a beautiful fruit tree” (Daybreak 560).• “We want to be the poets of our life -- ﬁrst of all in the smallest, most everyday matters” (GS 299).
Will to Power (814)• Artists are not men of great passion, despite all their assertions to the contrary both to themselves and to others. And for the following two reasons: they lack all shyness towards themselves (they watch themselves live, they spy upon themselves, they are much too inquisitive), and they also lack shyness in the presence of passion (as artists they exploit it). Secondly, however, that vampire, their talent, generally forbids them such an expenditure of energy as passion demands. A man who has a talent is sacriﬁced to that talent; he lives under the vampirism of his talent. A man does not get rid of his passion by producing it, but rather he is rid of it if he is able to reproduce it.• Do you agree?
Will to Power (815)• The artist is perhaps in his way necessarily a sensual man, generally susceptible, accessible to everything, and capable of responding to the remotest stimulus or suggestion of a stimulus. Nevertheless, as a rule he is in the power of his work, of his will to mastership, really a sober and often even a chaste man. His dominating instinct will have him so: it does not allow him to spend himself haphazardly. It is one and the same form of strength which is spent in artistic conception and in the sexual act: there is only one form of strength. The artist who yields in this respect, and who spends himself, is betrayed: by so doing he reveals his lack of instinct, his lack of will in general. It may be a sign of decadence -- in any case it reduces the value of his art to an incalculable degree.