on the Birth of Tragedy, s. 1

Two quotations from the Student Companion (Lenson, David. The Birth of Tragedy - A Commentary. Boston: G.K. Hall & Co, 1987.)

1. "Thomson, in Aeschylus and Athens, gives a continuation of the myth of the young god's birth fromm the thigh of Zeus: 'Enraged at the honors which Zeus was bestowing on the child, Hera suborned the Titans and persuaded them to destroy it. Accordingly, having provided themselves with attractive toys... The Titans enticed the child from the Kouretes, in whose charge it had been placed, tore it in pieces, threw the limbs into a cauldron and boiled and ate them... When Zeus discovered what had happened, he blasted the Titans with his thunderbolt, and in some way... the dead child was brought to life again' (Thomson, George. Aeschylus and Athens. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1968.). The notion of a god whose birth and death are both cause for celebration was of course borrowed by Christianity, which put the birth of the god in the winter and conflated his death and rebirth into a single event in the spring" (Lenson, 26).

2. "Schopenhauer's depiction of the individual as a sailor on stormy seas resembles Richard Wagner's musicological conception of singers' voices as shipes floating upon the sea of the orchestra. The image of a calm individual weathering a chaotic world is a vivid one and gives a clear sense of what Nietzsche intends Apollo to stand for" (Lenson, 33).

Now a few from the text, section 1:

1. "Every human being is fully an artist when creating the worlds of dream, and the lovely semblance of dream is the precondition of all the arts of image-making, including, as we shall see, an important half of poetry. We take pleasure in dreaming, understanding its figures without mediation; all forms speak to us; nothing is indifferent or unnecessary. Yet even while this dream-reality is most alive, we nevertheless retain a pervasive sense that it is semblance..." (15)

2. "Indeed Schopenhauer actually states that the mark of a person's capacity for philosophy is the gift for feeling occasionally as if people and all things were mere phantoms or dream-images. A person with artistic sensibility relates to the reality of dream in the same way as a philosopher relates to the reality of existence: he attends to it closely and with pleasure, using these images to interpret life, and practising for life with the help of these events" (15).

3. Approaching the Dionysiac: "Now the slave is a freeman, now all the rigid, hostile barriers, which necessity, caprice, or 'impudent fashion' have established between human beings, break asunder. Now, hearing this gospel of universal harmony, each person feels himself to be not simply united, reconciled or merged with his neighbour, but quite literally one with him, as if the veil of maya had been torn apart, so that mere shreds of it flutter before the mysterious primordial one (das Ur-Eine)" (18).
Written on August 13, 2007