Nietzsche On Music

Hello Dear Reader.

I’m going to get out and busk later on this evening and then stay with my lady so I won’t have a chance to blog about busking today.  Instead, I’m happy to share a bit more Nietzsche with you.  Today I  registered for classes for this semester so I’m feeling myself shift back into a more academic mode of being.  I’m sure that this will be more and more apparent on this here blog.  In fact I intend to start dissecting a bit of the economic injustice that is rampant in our country.

But for now, a Nietzschean conversation.  This is from The Dawn of Day, chapter 255; Conversation On Music.

“A:  What do you say to that music?

B:  It has overpowered me, I can say nothing about it.  Listen!  there it is beginning again.

A:  All the better!  This time let us do our best to overpower it.  Will you allow me to add a few words to this music?  and also to show you a drama which perhaps at your first hearing you did not wish to observe?

B:  Very well, I have two ears and even more if necessary; move up closer to me.

A:  We have not yet heard what he wishes to say to us, up to the present he has only promised to say something – something as yet unheard, so he gives us to understand his gestures, for they are gestures.  How he beckons!  How he raises himself up!  How he gesticulates!  and now the moment of supreme tension seems to have come to him:  two more fanfares, and he will present us with his superb and splendidly-adorned theme, rattling, as it were, with precious stones.  Is it a handsome woman?  or a beautiful horse?  Enough, he looks about him as if enraptured, for he must assemble looks of rapture.  It is only now that his theme quite pleases him:  it is only now that he becomes inventive and risks new and audacious features.   How he forces out his new theme!  Ah, take care! – he not only understands how to adorn, but also how to gloss it over!  Yes, he knows what the colour of health is, and he knows how to make it up, – he is more subtle in his self-consciousness than I thought.  And now he is convinced that he has convinced his hearers; he sets off his impromptus as if they were the most important things under the sun:  he points to his theme with an insolent finger as if it were too good for this world.  – Ah, how distrustful he is!  He is afraid we may get tired! – that is why he buries his melody in sweet notes.  – Now he even appeals to our coarser senses that he may excite us and thus get us once again into his power.  Listen to him as he conjures up the elementary force of tempestuous and thundering rhythms!  And now that he sees that these things have captivated our attention, strangle us, and almost overwhelm us, he once again ventures to introduce his theme amidst this play of the elements in order to convince us, confused and agitated as we are, that our confusion and agitation are the effects of his miraculous theme.  And from now onwards his hearers believe in him:  as soon as the theme is heard once more they are reminded of its thrilling elementary effects.   The theme profits by this recollection – now it has become demoniacal!  What a connoisseur of the soul he is!  He gains command over us by all the artifices of the popular orator.  But the music has stopped again.

B:  And I am glad of it; for I could no longer bear listening to your observations!  I should prefer ten times over to let myself be deceived to knowing the truth once after your version.

A:  That is just what I wished to hear from you.  The best people now are just like you:  you are quite content to let yourselves be deceived.  You come here with coarse, lustful ears, and you do not bring with you your conscience of the art of listening.  On the way here you have cast away your intellectual honesty, and thus you corrupt both art and artists.  whenever you applaud and cheer you have in your hands the conscience of the artists – and woe to art if they get to know that you cannot distinguish between innocent and guilty music!  I do not indeed refer to “good” and “bad” music – we meet with both in the two kinds of music mentioned!  but I call innocent music that which thinks only of itself and believes only in itself, and which on account of itself had forgotten the world at large – this spontaneous expression of the most profound solitude which speaks of itself and with itself, and has entirely forgotten that there are listeners, effects, misunderstandings and failures in the world outside.  In short, the music which we have just heard is precisely of this rare and noble type; and everything I said about it was a fable – pardon my little trick if you will!

B:  Oh, then you like this music, too?  In that case many sins shall be forgiven you!”

Is it just me, or is Nietzsche sort of ridiculous sometimes?

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