on The Birth of Tragedy, pts. 5-8

from the text:

1. "...for only as an aesthetic phenomenon is existence and the world externally justified..." (33)

2a. "Even when a musician speaks in images about a composition, as when he describes a symphony as 'pastoral', calling one movement a 'scene by a stream' and another a 'merry gathering of country folk', these too are merely symbolic representations born out of the music (as opposed to the objects imitated by the music), representations which are quite incapable of informing us about the Dionysiac contents of music, and which indeed have no exclusive value as compared with other images" (35).

2b. "...music itself, in its absolute sovereignty, has no need at all of images and concepts but merely tolerates them as an accompaniment" (36).

--NB - in 1956 Theodor Adorno, in his Music, Language, and Composition essay, reiterates this theme:
"Music aims at an intention-less language, but it does not separate itself once and for all from signifying language, as if there were different realms. A dialectic reigns here; everywhere music is shot through with intentions--not, to be sure, only since the stile rappresentativo, which used the rationalization of music as a means of coming to terms with its resemblance to language. Music without any signification, the mere phenomenological cherence of the tones, would resemble an acoustical kaleidoscope. As absolute signification, on the other hand, it would cease to be music and pass, falsely, into language. Intentions are essential to it, but they appear only intermittently" (Adorno, Theodor W. Music, Language, and Composition. Musical Quarterly, Vol. 77, No. 3, 1993. p. 403.).

3. Hamlet and the Dionysiac
" 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" (40).

4. The concentric structure of the Greek theater:
"The form of the Greek theatre is reminiscent of a lonely mountain valley; the architecture of the stage seems like a radiant cloud formation seen from on high by the Bacchae as they roam excitedly through the mountains, like the magnificent frame in which the image of Dionysos is revealed to them" (42).

From Lenson:

1. "This is Nietzsche's greatest contribution t the theory of tragedy: the notion that the stage figures are not merely imported from Homeric epic and Olympian mythology, and then given a musical accompaniment; the notion that music came first, and that actors rose from the music to take on provisional individual identities" (58).
Written on August 26, 2007