VESTIBULE (unfinished)
(7 large-scale paintings)




Summing up the formal characteristics of play we might call it a free activity standing quite consciously outside "ordinary" life as being "not serious," but at the same time absorbing the player utterly and intensely. It is an activity connected with no material interest, and no profit can be gained by it. It proceeds within its own boundaries of time and space according to fixed rules and in an orderly manner. It promotes the formation of social groupings which tend to surround themselves with secrecy and to stress their difference from the common world by disguise or other means.

(Johan Huizinga; HOMO LUDENS - A Study of the Play-Element in Culture, Boston, Beacon Press, 1966, p. 13.)






7 paintings

The Primordial Eternal Play and the Artistic Taming of the Horrible and Unknown







Lawrence M. Hinman*






.... Although Nietzsche's main concern in The Birth of Tragedy and the writings which form preliminary studies for it[1] was to mark out the way “through the labyrinth, as we must call it, of the origin of Greek tragedy,”[2] the significance of these works is not limited to this topic alone. In a preface added in 1886, Nietzsche draws attention to one of the main problems which, in retrospect, he saw himself as confronting: the problematic character of science itself.[3] Indeed, when The Birth of Tragedy is seen in retrospect,[4] many of the major themes of Nietzsche's later philosophy can be found to be present, especially if one concentrates upon the symbolism of the Apollinian and the Dionysian.[5] The investigation of the origins of Greek tragedy becomes the occasion for an inquiry, not only into the nature of tragedy itself, but also into fundamental questions about the nature and function of art, and in particular about the way in which art provides a means for confronting and going beyond the primordial pain of existence.

.... In the course of his investigation Nietzsche develops, albeit only implicitly at times, a notion of artistic activity as play. In so doing, he introduces a theme which recurs throughout his writings in a most elusive manner: the category of play. Present in some of the most crucial passages he has written—indeed, as I shall show below, at the heart of his description of human existence and of the world itself—the concept itself remains unanalysed. The elusiveness of the category of play, not only in Nietzsche's writings but also in itself,[6] makes analysis and interpretation especially difficult.

.... The Birth of Tragedy and the related writings from this period present a good example of this elusiveness. The word “play” is used infrequently in the final text,[7] but in “The Dionysian Worldview,” an earlier formulation of the initial chapters of The Birth of Tragedy, it is a key concept for the understanding of both the Dionysian and the Apollinian worldviews. However, even where the word is used frequently, an explicit analysis of its meaning is lacking.

.... In this chapter, I shall elucidate the meaning of the category of play and show the way in which this category is central to Nietzsche's understanding of artistic activity and of existence itself insofar as these questions are considered in The Birth of Tragedy and the related writings. In particular, it will be shown that there are five distinct senses in which the word “play” is used in these writings: (1) dreaming as a way of playing with the real, (2) the artistic activity of playing with the dream, (3) intoxication as nature playing with the person, (4) the artistic activity of playing with intoxication, and (5) the interplay of the Dionysian and Apollinian forces in the world as constitutive of tragedy. The first two senses of play are Dionysian, and the second two are Apollinian.

.... These paradigms are significant, not only in that they show that the category of play was present in Nietzsche's thought even at this early date, but also because they offer a way of distinguishing among the various meanings of play, distinctions which become rather blurred in his later works. In addition to this, a consideration of Nietzsche's category of play in relation to his view of the Greek state gives us an insight into a fundamental problem in Nietzsche's philosophy: the relationship between play and work, creativity and need, freedom and slavery. In this regard, I shall show that the category of play is central to the three main categories (the Appollinian, the Dionysian, and the tragic) in terms of which Nietzsche understands existence, and that this category of play is conceived against a background of work as slavery. As a result of this dichotomy between creative play and work as slavery, the category of play in Nietzsche's early writings is, as will be shown below, fundamentally one of alienated play.



Apollinian and Dionysian Play


.... In “The Dionysian Worldview” Nietzsche distinguishes between the Apollinian and the Dionysian by presenting them as two different types of play. The art of the Apollinian artist, the creator, is playing with the dream, and the dream itself is to be understood as the game or play of the individual man with the real.[8] The creativity of the Dionysian artist, on the other hand, is to be found in playing with intoxication, intoxication itself being a game which nature plays with man.[9] Thus there is a double sense of play within both the Apollinian and the Dionysian. This can be represented schematically as follows.


immediate manifestation
artistic form
intoxication: the game that nature plays with man
playing with intoxication
the dream: the game that the individual man plays with the real
playing with the real

The four basic senses of play follow from this. The Apollinian artist plays with the dream, and the dream itself is a way of playing with the real; the Dionysian artist plays with intoxication, but the intoxication is nature playing with him.

.... Central to this distinction is the idea of the player. In both the Apollinian and Dionysian forms of play, the player has more control of the game in its artistic form. Moreover, the Apollinian player is more clearly in control of the game that he plays than is the Dionysian player. Indeed, the difference seems to be fundamental, for in the Dionysian experience, “the man is no longer artist, he has become the work of art,”[10] for the artistic power of nature itself is manifesting itself in the Dionysian artist. “This man, shaped by the artist Dionysus, is related to nature as the statue is to the Appollinian artist.”[11] In this sense, it is more accurate to say that the Dionysian artist, rather than playing with nature, is played with by nature. While both the Apollinian and the Dionysian stem from nature, their relation to nature differs: the former being active, the latter being passive. However, even this formulation is somewhat misleading in regard to the status of the Dionysian artist. Nietzsche likens his position to that of a person who is dreaming and yet realizes that he is dreaming: “... so must the disciple of Dionysus be intoxicated and at the same time lurk behind himself as an observer.”[12] If this description does not entirely clarify the position of the Dionysian artist, it at least shows the ambiguity of his position and the need for clarification. This same ambiguity occurs in Nietzsche's description of the child playing and in his notion of the self and constitutes a fundamental tension at the heart of his category of play and his idea of man.

.... The ambiguity one encounters in the notion of the Dionysian player goes beyond its specifically Dionysian character. It is rooted in the very nature of being a player, in the ambivalent role the player has. Jürgen Moltmann has described this well. The creative playing of men is always a playing with something which, in turn, plays with the player. Man plays with the waves of the ocean and they play with him. He plays with colours, sounds, and words and also becomes their playmate. He speaks and responds, is active and passive, giving and receiving at once. Playing he is neither master nor servant. This is true not only for games in life but also for the game of life.[13] The difficulties encountered in determining the precise relationship between the Apollinian or Dionysian player and that with which he plays stem in part from the fundamental ambivalence of the relation which exists between player and plaything: to be a player involves being a plaything at the same time.



The Function of Art


.... Before turning to a more detailed consideration of Dionysian and Apollinian play, it is necessary to see clearly why they came into existence. The background, against which both the Apollinian and the Dionysian are set in The Birth of Tragedy, is the folk wisdom of Silenus, the companion of Dionysus. Asked by King Midas what man's greatest good is, he replied: “What is best of all is utterly beyond your reach: not to be born, not to be, to be nothing. But the second best for you is—to die soon.”[14] Existence itself is characterized by horror and terror, by the primordial pain which gives rise to individuation. Silenus's wisdom gives this aspect of existence its highest expression. In order to be able to live at all, in order to overcome the terror and pain of existence at least to a limited degree, the Greeks created their gods and their art. Art makes life possible by seducing man to live on through illusion. In this sense, art is a game, a form of playing, which makes it possible to live on despite the fundamental pain and terror of existence.

.... There are two fundamentally different ways in which the game of art can be played out: the Dionysian and the Apollinian ways. Both involve the creation of illusion: the Dionysian illusion is that of oneness with all of nature and man, while the Apollinian illusion creates individuation, proportion, harmony in measure and balance. Apollinian art covers up the primordial pain of existence, but that pain remains in the background. Dionysian art covers up the individual, but he continues to lurk behind himself.

.... The basic premise, upon which Nietzsche's view of existence is founded in these writings, is that existence is at its very heart contradictory, a primordial pain. The concept of play is presented as a way of coming to grips with this primordial contradiction and pain. The question which must now be considered is this: in what way, and to what degree, does each of these types of play succeed in overcoming this primordial pain and contradiction? The meaningfulness and validity of the category of play within Nietzsche's early philosophy depend upon the degree to which it can effectively deal with this challenge. In the following sections, it will be shown to what extent both Apollinian and Dionysian play are caparable of this and the degree to which it is possible at all within Nietzsche's early framework.



Dionysian Play


.... It is necessary, at this point, to make two distinctions in relation to the notion of the Dionysian in order to clarify the various senses in which Nietzsche uses this word. First, the Dionysian may be considered as either a power of nature or as art; in both senses it may be called play, but in the latter case in a double sense. As a power of nature, the Dionysian is nature playing with man in intoxication. Dionysian art is playing with this intoxication that is, playing with the game which nature is playing with man. Second, the Dionysian may appear either in its pure form (of which the titanic-barbaric may be taken as an example) or in a mediated form, in which case the Dionysian exists in relation to the Apollinian (usually in a struggle against it, but in the case of Attic tragedy in union with it). Although there is a common element which unifies these pairs, the differences are significant enough to change the understanding of play in each instance.

.... The Dionysian as a natural force manifests itself “either under the influence of the narcotic draught or with the potent coming of spring that penetrates all nature with joy.“[15] The Bacchic choruses of the Greeks and the dancers of St. John and St. Vitus are examples of the Dionysian manifesting itself as a natural force. They are characterized by the dissolution of everything subjective, a total eclipse of the self, an overcoming of the principle of individuation which leads to a becoming one, not only with one's fellow men, but also with nature. In such instances, the Dionysian arises out of nature itself without the mediation of the artist. It is a “künstlerische” force[16], force, not in the technical sense of an “artistic” force, but in the wider sense of a formative force of nature. By calling the Dionysian a “natural force” and contrasting it to “art,” I do not wish to deny the formative character of this force, but am rather reserving the term “art” to those instances where the mediation of the artist is a significant factor.

.... In addition to the feeling of intoxication which leads to self—oblivion and a oneness with other men and nature, the Dionysian consciousness is also characterized by doubts which arise about the rational character of experience, both in regard to its validity and in regard to its value. There are two major aspects to this doubt. First, the principles of causation and sufficient reason appear to admit of exceptions, and one consequently feels a certain awe—a mixture of attraction and repulsion—at the unfolding of a new world, a world no longer completely bound down by the categories of reason. Second, this consciousness involves a feeling of glorious transport which stems from the shattering of the principle of individuation.[17] The two are related: the principle of sufficient allows the world of appearances to be ordered in a causal manner, thus establishing individual entities as separate from each other; the principle of causation allows the flux of existence to be stabilized in order to create independent entities. Once they begin to admit of exceptions, the experienced world is so radically transformed that it is, quite literally, a new world which unfolds in the Dionysian consciousness.

.... The Dionysian experience has another side to it which has not been considered yet. Aspects of this side include horribleness, ugliness, pain, cruelty, destructiveness and sensuality. There are two ways in which these characteristics can be attributed to the Dionysian. First, when one takes a standpoint outside of the Dionysian framework (for example, the Apollinian standpoint), these characteristics almost follow by definition ... If the principle of individuation is central to one's vision of the world, the shattering of that principle will be a cause of suffering. If harmony and balance are the measure of beauty, then the primordial oneness and flux of existence, which the Dionysian seeks to uncover or create, will be considered ugly and horrible because they negate that harmony. All of these aspects of the Dionysian experience will be considered, at least in an implicit sense, to be destructive insofar as one looks at them from a non-Dionysian standpoint, since they are the negation of such standpoints.

.... There is a second way in which these qualities become an issue. Nietzsche distinguishes between the barbaric and the Greek forms of the Dionysian. The former is characterized by a complete sexual promiscuity which overrides tribal law and by the unleashing of “the most savage natural instincts ... including even that horrible mixture of sensuality and cruelty which has always seemed to me to be the real 'witches' brew'.”[18] This kind of sensuality and cruelty is overcome in the Greek manifestation of the Dionysian, for its exposure to the Apollinian influence transforms and tames it. The Greeks created the Apollinian vision in order to survive, and for the Dionysian to survive in its struggle with the Apollinian it had to transform itself. It changes from intoxication as the game that nature plays with man into man's playing with intoxication. When this happens, there is a fundamental change in the role of the player: while in the barbaric Dionysian the player seems to be completely the plaything of nature. In the Greek Dionysian the player assumes a more ambiguous role, simultaneously throwing himself into the game and yet with a part of himself lurking behind, observing.

.... Two factors are at play here in the transformation of the Dionysian from its barbaric form into the Hellenic one. First, there is the external threat of the Apollinian, which threatens to completely overcome the Dionysian. Second, there is an internal force which is at work here: the barbaric Dionysian consciousness, left to itself, is completely self-destructive. For it to exist in its pure form would lead, eventually, to its own negation; in order to maintain itself, it has to go beyond itself. The interplay of these two factors, the Greek need to create the Apollinian in order to survive and the internal contradiction of the Dionysian that leads to its own destruction, leads to the transformation of the barbaric Dionysian into its Greek, artistic form.

.... This transfigured form of the Dionysian is usually encountered in Greek culture in the form of the Dionysian artist, the one who plays with intoxication rather than the one who lets it completely overcome him. The portrait of Archilochus in The Birth of Tragedy gives a clear picture of Nietzsche's conception of the Dionysian artist in Pre-Socratic times.[19] The definition of the Dionysian genius, given from the notebooks of this period, is parallel to the published formulations, but somewhat more precise. The Dionysian genius is, “... the man who, in complete self-oblivion, has become one with the primordial ground of the world, who now creates out of the primordial pain the reflection of it for his redemption ...”[20] It is in the creation of a reflection of this primordial pain that distance is to be achieved and, with that distance, the possibility of delivering oneself up from the experience, redeeming oneself. The Dionysian artist, in contrast to the Apollinian, is characterized by this forgetting of self: he gives himself over completely to the fundamental contradictions in existence, in order thereby to give expression to them. He himself becomes a mirror. Moreover, the nature of that which he is reflecting leads to a preference in regard to the way in which he communicates this vision: not in the analytic fashion to which language almost inevitably leads, but rather in lyric poetry and music.

.... Music is an especially appropriate mode of expression for the Dionysian artist because it is the language of the will, “an immediate copy of the will itself.”[21] As such, it gives meaningfulness to comparisons which could not otherwise be achieved. While it is certainly the case that music is not in each and every case necessarily Dionysian,[22] it remains clear that music is a distinctive mode of expression for Nietzsche. It is not susceptible to categorization and manipulation in the same way that language is. Moreover, in the phenomenon of musical dissonance one encounters the best mirror of the ugliness and pain of existence. In discussing the way in which existence and the world are justified only as an aesthetic phenomenon, as a game which the will plays with itself, Nietzsche argues: In this sense, it is precisely the tragic myth that has to convince us that even the ugly and disharmonic are part of the artistic game which the will in the eternal amplitude of its pleasure plays with itself. But this primordial phenomenon of Dionysian art is difficult to grasp, and there is only one direct way to make it intelligible and grasp it immediately: through the wonderful significance of musical dissonance.[23] It is to this experience that the Dionysian artist brings the listener: the joyful realization that existence in its totality, even its ugliness and disharmony, is but a game or a play which the will plays with itself. It is through his play that he leads his audience and fellow participants to the basic play of forces which constitutes existence and through it he justifies this play by his erective act of joyful affirmation.

.... Yet how adequate is this justification? It seems to be problematic in at least two ways. First, the Dionysian state of this intoxication is almost by definition a transitory state. This transitory quality becomes apparent in Nietzsche's description of Dionysian rapture. For the rapture of the Dionysian state with its annihilation of the ordinary bounds and limits of existence contains, while it lasts, a lethargic element in which all personal experiences of the past become immersed. This chasm of oblivion separates the worlds of everyday reality and of Dionysian reality. But as soon as this everyday reality re-enters consciousness, it is experienced as such, with nausea: an ascetic, will-negating mood is the fruit of these states.[24] Insofar as the Dionysian is necessarily a transitory state, it is impossible for Dionysian play to provide an adequate answer to the challenge posed by the primordial contradiction of existence. While this type of play can offer a few moments of respite, it is in itself inadequate. Dionysian play will always be bounded by the world of everyday reality; while it is capable of suspending that reality, it can never finally eliminate it.

.... The second problematic aspect of Dionysian play is based on this: the truth which it uncovers is unbearable. In the paragraph following the one quoted above, Nietzsche develops this theme with great power. In this sense, the Dionysian man resembles Hamlet: both have once looked truly into the essence of things, they have gained knowledge, and nausea inhibits action; for their action could not change anything in the eternal nature of things; they feel it to be ridiculous or humiliating that they should be asked to set right a world that is out of joint. Knowledge kills action; action requires the veils of illusion ... true knowledge, an insight into the horrible truth, outweighs any motive for action, both in Hamlet and in the Dionysian man.[25] This, then, is the second factor which prevents Dionysian play from being an adequate answer in itself to the challenge posed by the primordial contradiction of existence. Truth is horrible, and the knowledge gained through the Dionysian experience kills action. The questioning of the value of knowledge is a theme which is found, not only in The Birth of Tragedy, but also in Nietzsche's notebooks from this period.[26] It is quite clear that knowledge of the fundamental essence of things is unbearable; indeed, the goal of knowledge seems to be the destruction of the world.[27]

.... These two factors, the transitory character of the Dionysian state and the unbearable quality of the truth which it uncovers, apply clearly to the Dionysian as such, but Nietzsche does not seem to find them applicable to Dionysian art in the passages cited above. When the Hellene has seen the horrible truth of existence, “art saves him, and through art—life.”[28] Art has a healing function, transforming the nauseating thoughts about the horror or absurdity of existence into notions that one can live with: ... these are the sublime as the artistic taming of the horrible, and the comic as the artistic discharge of the nausea of absurdity. The satyr chorus of the dithyramb is the saving deed of Greek art; faced with the intermediary world of these Dionysian companions, the feelings described here exhausted themselves.[29] The transitory character of the Dionysian is overcome to some degree in Dionysian art in this respect: by exhausting the feelings which are aroused in the Dionysian experience, Dionysian art extends its effect temporally until that point where those feelings begin to build up again. Yet, even given this qualification, it seems that Dionysian art remains temporally limited. It can suspend time in the everyday world, but it cannot completely overcome it.

.... Dionysian art also makes the previously unbearable thoughts of the Dionysian experience into something bearable by justifying existence as an aesthetic experience, as a game they will plays with itself. Here the sense of self-oblivion characteristic of Dionysian play seems most important: the joyful affirmation of existence in its contradiction and pain is only possible when one completely forgets oneself. But this self-oblivion is also by its very structure temporally limited: it can be extended for a while. But it seems impossible to live for a long period of time in this state.

.... The Dionysian is, then, a particular type of play characterized by intoxication which leads to self-oblivion, an overcoming of the principle of individuation, a denial of the rational character of existence, and a creation of unity between man and man as well as between man and nature. In its initial form it is characterized by cruelty and destructiveness which is transformed into a joyful affirmation by Dionysian art. Yet as a type of play the Dionysian retains certain limitations, especially a temporal finitude which prevents it from completely overcoming the challenge posed to it by the pain and contradiction of primordial existence. Indeed, it is precisely this kind of temporal limitation which is fundamentally characteristic of play: it can suspend the time and meaning of the world out of which it springs, but it is not its purpose to change that world in any but this temporary sense. The Dionysian play, whether in its original form or its artistic form, remains fundamentally play; insofar as this is the case, it can meet the challenge posed by the primordial contradiction of existence only in a temporary way.



Apollinian Play


.... If Dionysian play gives itself over to intoxication and self oblivion, there remains another way of dealing with the abyss which the primordial pain leaves gaping in front of man. This is to create another world, a safer, more clearly defined and predictable one. Such a world is necessary if man is to survive.[30] The barbaric form of Dionysian play, because it leads eventually to the destruction of life, must be overcome. A veil of illusion must be drawn across the horrors of existence revealed by the Dionysian experience. For the Greeks, it was a veil composed of the Olympian world of the gods, the Apollinian sense of beauty, Homeric epic, and later Greek philosophy itself. But even more fundamental than these is the preartistic manifestation of the Apollinian: the dream.

.... The dream, and the entire Apollinian world, spring forth from the need for illusion, which itself is felt to be rooted in the very nature of primordial reality for Nietzsche. For the more clearly I perceive in nature those omnipotent art impulses, and in them an ardent longing for illusion, the more I feel myself impelled to the metaphysical assumption that the truly existent primal unity, eternally suffering and contradictory, also needs the rapturous vision, the pleasurable illusion, for its continuous redemption.[31] In this sense, the creation of illusion, the playing with the real in images, which characterizes the Apollonian consciousness, is felt to be rooted in the ground of being itself.[32] All existence cries for redemption through illusion. The dream, a natural manifestation of this urge in human existence, is but an aspect of the larger process of existence seeking to redeem itself.

.... In dreams a certain sense of form and measure comes to the fore. In them, “we delight in the immediate understanding of figures; all forms speak to us; there is nothing unimportant or superfluous.”[33] Indeed, the dream is not a mirror image of the primordial contradiction, but a transfiguration of that contradiction. This is the essence of the Apollinian play with the real on the level of nature: the transformative redemption of the primordial contradiction of existence through the creation of illusion in dreams.

.... This transformation is, however, never quite complete, for there is always the lingering realization that it is a transformation, that something else lurks behind it—in short, that it is an illusion. Thus, “even when this dream reality is most intense, we still have, glimmering through it, the sensation that it is mere appearance.”[34] While it belongs to the very essence of the primordial contradiction to create these illusions, the illusions themselves have only that reality proper to appearance. They are the attempt of existence to redeem itself in the transformative play of images.

.... If the Apollinian as a natural force manifesting itself in dreams is the game which individual men play with the real by the creation of an alternate world of appearance, Apollinian art is playing with these dreams: the creating of illusion becoming conscious of itself. With this, certain rules make their appearance: harmony, measure, balance and stability become most important. These arise out of the need to resolve the contradictoriness of primordial existence and thereby to redeem it, to justify it. This is not done by actually changing the ground of being, but rather by giving it its “complement and consummation.”[35] Insofar as being comes to mean stability. Insofar as it is taken as the opposite of becoming, this world of appearance finally is taken to be the world of being, while the primordial oneness and its contradictions become the world of becoming, of continual change.

.... The play of the Apollinian artist is not an arbitrary activity, but rather the extension of nature's own drive toward the creation of illusion. If, for the moment, we do not consider the question of our own 'reality,' if we conceive of our empirical existence, and that of the world in general, as a continually manifested representation of the primal unity, we shall then have to look upon the dream as an appearance of an appearance, hence as a still higher appeasement of the primordial desire for mere appearance. And that is why the innermost heart of nature feels that ineffable joy in the naive artist and the naive work of art, which is likewise only “mere appearance of mere appearance.“[36] In this sense Apollinian art represents the consummation of the drive of existence to redeem itself.

.... Just as the primitive Dionysian consciousness and Dionysian art have their limitations, so do the natural Apollinian experience and Apollinian art. Dreaming, as playing with reality by transforming it into images, again does not fundamentally change primordial reality or its contradictoriness and pain. It can create an illusion, but it remains just that: an illusion. This is doubly true for Apollinian art, which is the appearance of an appearance. It is still the case, however, that Apollinian consciousness and Apollinian art are not as temporally limited as their Dionysian counterparts. The Apollinian, in fact, appears to pervade much of what one would call “everyday reality.” Its emphasis on harmony, measure and proportion contributes to its more permanent character.

.... There is, however, a more severe limitation upon the Apollinian: the constant threat stemming from the Dionysian. This, perhaps more than any other factor, prevents the Apollinian illusion from ultimately being taken as, all of reality. In a similar manner, the Apollinian stands as a constant threat to the Dionysian, for the Apollonian appears to be rooted in a fundamental longing of existence to redeem itself through illusion.



The Contrast between the Dionysian and the Apollonian


.... Both the Apollonian and the Dionysian are types of play rooted in the nature of primordial existence, in its contradictory character. While they exist in a hostile relationship toward each other, it is clear that they need one another.[37] Nevertheless; they differ radically in a number of respects, the elucidation of which points to the ambivalent role of the concept of play in Nietzsche's thinking about the Greeks.

.... Whereas Apollinian art leads to a strengthening of the principle of individuation,[38] the Dionysian intoxication brings about a reconciliation of man with his fellow man and with nature itself, thereby bringing about the negation of the principle of individuation.[39] In the first case, existence is a game needing its completion in illusion in an alternate world. In order to fulfil this need, the Apollinian artist must in effect live in two worlds: the one of appearances which he creates and, insofar as he creates this world and thus stands outside of it as creator, another, darker world, closer to the primordial pain of existence. The Apollinian artist alienated himself from this latter world through his creation of illusion and it is this alienation which allows for the appearance of the individual—indeed, necessitates it. In order to complete existence. He must separate himself from it. The Dionysian seeks to overcome such alienation, to become one with nature and other men, but it is for precisely this reason that the Dionysian poses a threat to culture; such a reconciliation would destroy its very foundation. A completely unalienated individual becomes a contradiction in terms; he would be so completely one with existence that he would cease to be an individual.

.... A parallel tension arises between the respective media of expression for the Apollinian and the Dionysian artists. The plastic arts, the image, offer the possibility of clear definition, strong lines, balance, while music allows one to forget the self, to merge with the flow of sensation. So, too the Apollinian play tends to be more static than the Dionysian one: a world in which each thing has its place (indeed, one in which there are things) and remains constant, whereas a world of music can never come to rest. This tension between rest and motion is complemented by one between space and time: the Apollinian world expresses itself primarily in spatial terms, while the Dionysian one is basically temporal in character.

.... Thus, through the mediation of the artist, existence plays two distinctly different types of games with itself. The one is a game of the individual, measure, the image, being as rest in space; the other is a game of unity, the shattering of all divisions, musical, and the flux of becoming in time. In this sense, existence is at its very heart contradictory, going in two mutually exclusive directions simultaneously, playing one direction off against the other, incapable of achieving any final resolution, at least insofar as such a resolution would imply a true transcending and unification of these fundamentally contradictory powers of primordial existence.



The Tragic


.... If a final reconciliation of the Apollinian and the Dionysian is impossible, if they are doomed to struggle against each other endlessly, they remain, as shown above, in need of each other. It is here that the final meaning of play emerges in Nietzsche's analysis of the Greeks: the tragic is the unending interplay of these two different types of games which existence plays with itself. Each of these worlds is justified on its own terms, but each is incompatible with the other. Tragedy arises because they can never truly exist only on their own terms, but are continually doomed to transgress into each other's world because of their mutual interdependence.

.... When these two worlds come together in one individual, one encounters one of the purest manifestations of the tragic. The misfortune in the nature of things ... the contradiction at the heart of the world reveals itself to him [the Aryan] as a clash of different worlds, e.g., of a divine and a human one, in which each, taken as an individual, has right on its side, but nevertheless has to suffer for its individuation, being merely a single one beside another. In the heroic effort of the individual to attain universality, in the attempt to transcend the curse of individuation and to become the one world-being, he suffers in his own person the primordial contradiction that is concealed in things, which means that he commits sacrilege and suffers.[40] The most basic form of this collision of two worlds is the coming together of the Apollinian and the Dionysian. The accompanying ugliness and disharmony can only be justified as an aesthetic phenomenon, as “part of an artistic game that they will in the eternal amplitude of its pleasure plays with itself.”[41]

.... Insofar as the Dionysian and the Apollinian constitute the two fundamental directions of existence, the two types of games which the primordial one plays with itself, then the Apollinian and the Dionysian are also the two basic aspects of human existence.[42] The tragic individual is the place where they come together with full force, where they attempt to become reconciled with each other rather than simply try to conquer each other. The relationship between the two is one of struggle until it is transformed as an aesthetic phenomenon, at which point it becomes artistic play.



On the Adequacy of Play


.... Two main themes govern the line of investigation here. The first of these is primarily expository and interpretative, showing the category of play is in fact fundamental to Nietzsche's thinking during this period. The second is critical and involves questioning the adequacy of the category of play in this context. In regard to the first theme, it has been shown, not only that the category of play occupies a central place in Nietzsche's thinking during this period, but also that the category of play is common to the three fundamental categories in terms of which Nietzsche analyzes existence: the Apollinian, the Dionysian and the tragic. As such, it provides the unifying category in terms of which his overall view of existence can be understood.

.... Some progress has already been made in regard to the second line of investigation. It has been shown that both Dionysian play and Apollinian play have certain inadequacies that they never stand alone. It was further shown that these inadequacies existed against a background of a primordial contradiction in existence. The nature of this contradiction is such that no form of play can adequately reconcile the contradictoriness of existence. It can only suspend or conceal one side of the contradiction temporarily; but that hidden side continues to exist. Tragedy does not achieve this reconciliation because it fails to eliminate the contradiction; it does, however, raise that contradiction to the level of an aesthetic phenomenon, a game which the will plays with itself.

.... What would constitute an adequate category of play, given the presence of this primordial contradiction? If a criterion of adequacy is the ability to overcome and eliminate this contradiction, then clearly the category of play remains inadequate. In fact, any category would be a priori inadequate, since it is impossible to change such a fundamental reality.

.... It is important to note, however, that this primordial contradiction is itself an assumption on Nietzsche's part, taken for granted throughout his writings here but never justified. Once this assumption is made, life is condemned to futility, incapable of finally eliminating the contradiction of existence. It is absurd to think of changing the world, of improving the human condition in any way, because in the end all such changes and improvements dwindle into insignificance when seen within the framework of this primordial contradiction. Some notion of play is practically the only alternative available, given the framework Nietzsche has assumed.

.... There is another aspect to this framework which is neglected in The Birth of Tragedy. In the forward to an unwritten book on the Greek state. Nietzsche discusses the notions of dignity of man and the dignity of work. These remarks offer a valuable insight into the background of Nietzsche's idea of the Apollinian and the Dionysian and into the conditions under which the emergence of the two forces is possible. Nietzsche argues that in order for work to be considered dignified, existence itself must have some claim to dignity. The Greeks are clearly to be praised because they had no need for such conceptual hallucinations such as the dignity of existence. They recognized the true nature of things. Work is a dishonour because existence has no value in itself; but if even this existence sparkles in the seductive jewels of artistic illusion and now really appears to have a value in itself the proposition that work is a dishonour is still valid ...[43] Even artistic creation falls under the category of work for the Greeks, and the presence of the artistic drive is but evidence that the artist is subjected to the necessity of work.

.... In this situation man develops a feeling of shame when he realizes that he is only the tool of forces much greater than himself, that he is the pawn of necessity. These feelings of shame, dishonour, and necessity belong to the experience of work and slavery, and an examination of them reveals the truth of culture itself. In order to provide a broad, deep and rich foundation for the development of art, the overwhelming majority must be put slavishly in the service of a minority, going above the measure of their individual neediness. At their expense, through their surplus work, that privileged class shall be removed from the struggle for existence in order to create a new world of needs and satisfy them.[44] This makes it clear for Nietzsche that, “slavery belongs to the essence of culture: a truth which clearly leaves no doubt about the absolute value of existence.”[45] It is nature which is at work in all this, “forging the monstrous tool of the state,” seeking “through society to come to its redemption in appearance, in the mirror of genius.”[46]

.... In the passages in his notebooks which immediately precede this preface, Nietzsche makes it clear that the purpose of culture is to allow for the appearance of genius—Apollinian, Dionysian, and tragic.[47] This casts a different light on the previous analysis. Whereas in The Birth of Tragedy the background of play was a metaphysical one, the primordial contradiction and pain of existence, this is now made more concrete. The societal correlate of this original contradiction is revealed in the dichotomy between slavery and the play of genius. Play can take place only within the context of slavery for Nietzsche. Such slavery is, however, justified—or, more precisely, not in need of justification—because existence in itself has no value anyway.

.... It is here that I think one encounters one of the true dangers of a philosophy of play. As Nietzsche develops the problem in his early writings, it is clear that there is an absolute division between work and play. As a consequence of this, certain restrictions are established on both work and play such that both are incapable of providing true satisfaction for man. It is clear from this description that work has no dignity for Nietzsche, that it is equivalent to slavery, characterized by feelings of shame, dishonour and domination by necessity. True human creativity finds its expression in the three forms of play developed here. But this expression is foreordained to an ultimate lack of meaning; while it can cover up the pain of primordial existence for a time, it cannot ultimately change anything. It can only create illusions which momentarily suspend that pain and contradiction. Any action in the world is denied to it in advance because it involves the creation of an alternate world. There is no structure of mediation which can adequately bring these two worlds together. As a result of this, one realm of activity deals with the: everyday world and changes it, but it is unable to escape the burden· of need, the domination of necessity. The other realm of activity is indeed free from such need, although this freedom is paid for by the slavery of the majority, but it cannot really change anything with the freedom that it receives.

.... Nietzsche would, I think, argue at this point as follows. First, my criticisms reflect the way I would like things to be, but —Nietzsche would argue— he is showing us the way things are, the horrible truth of existence, without making a value judgment about it. Second, no alternative is possible except the one present by him, because the primordial pain and contradiction of existence cannot be changed by human activity. Third, such phrases as “cannot really change anything” indicate a very specific notion of reality, one in which “really” refers to the world of everyday activity. Such a narrow definition of reality would be unacceptable to Nietzsche.

.... The difficulties with these Nietzschean criticisms lead to the most fundamental questions about the nature of reality itself. Not only is it impossible to settle such questions here in a definitive manner, it is also unnecessary at this point if one considers the problem only in relation to Nietzsche. His position, as has been pointed out above, is based on an assumption about the nature of primordial existence as pain and contradiction. Throughout his writings during this period, this position is assumed, not proved. He certainly never proves that things could not be otherwise, that it is impossible to alter the basic character of existence, even presuming that his description of it is adequate. The assumption of an irreconcilable contradiction at the heart of existence, expressed in the contradiction between the Apollinian and the Dionysian, is the basis for denying any value to existence in itself and for developing a notion of play as a temporary suspension of one side of that contradiction. It also provides the foundation for a devaluation of work, a denial of the dignity of work, and a justification of the slavery of the majority in the service of the play of genius. This seems to be rather a lot to base simply on an assumption.





.... This brief consideration of the role of the category of play in Nietzsche's analysis of Greek tragedy and culture provides the starting point for a systematic approach to the meaning of play in Nietzsche's philosophy by delineating the various meanings of the category itself. Play can be considered either as a category descriptive of primordial existence itself or as referring to artistic activity where the mediation of the human artist is a necessary component of the process. Alternately, it can be considered as a way of becoming one with the flux of existence in intoxication with an accompanying shattering of the principle of individuation, or it can refer to the creating of illusions in order to mask both the Dionysian threat to the individual and the primordial pain arising out of the contradiction of existence. In the latter case, it involves the creation of a world of order and stability, in sharp contrast to the Dionysian experience of flux and unity. These divisions cut across one another, yielding the four-fold division of play which Nietzsche outlined in “The Dionysian Worldview.” The interaction of these two basic forces in existence, the Dionysian and the Apollinian, gives rise to the final meaning of play: the tragic play of existence itself, an overarching category which includes the previous senses of play. The category of play is the fundamental one in terms of which both existence in general and the specific forms of existence are understood in Nietzsche's writings during the period of The Birth of Tragedy.

.... The category of play, however, proves itself to have certain inadequacies, two of which have been discussed above. First, the category of play is predicated against a background of the primordial pain and contradiction of existence, but this background proves itself to be only an assumption. Thus the specific character of Nietzsche's category of play is determined by a mere assumption. Second, when seen on the level of society, Nietzsche's category of play is situated within the context of, and dependent upon, slavery. The result is that play is condemned to being ineffectual in the world, while work is completely under the domination of necessity, shame and dishonour. The categories of work and play are unmediated and, indeed, mediation is impossible at this stage.


* Lawrence Michael Hinman (1942)


** Lawrence M. Hinman; “Nietzsche's Philosophy of Play” (Dissertations),
Loyola University Chicago, 1975.
[Chapter II - Paradigmatic Forms of Play: The Dionysian, Apollinian, and Tragic, pp. 18-54.]





[1] Of especial importance here is “Die dionysische Weltanschauung,” part of which are incorporated word for word into The Birth of Tragedy, and a revision of this same piece from June, 1870, “Die Geburt des tragischen Gedankens.” These are to be found in Nietzsche Werke, Kritische Gesamtausgabe, edited by Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari, Dritte Abteilung, Zweiter Band (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1973), pp. 43-69, 71-91.
Hereafter, all references to the Colli and Montinati edition of Nietzsche's works will be given with the title of the individual work (or an abbreviation of it) first, followed by the part number, then the volume number within that part, and finally the page number. Thus: “Die dionysische Weltanschauung,” III/2, pp. 43-69. A full list of abbreviations is to be found in the Appendix.


[2] Die Geburt der Tragödie, §7, III/l, p. 48 = The Birth of Tragedy, in The Birth of Tragedy and The Case of Wagner, translated by Walter Kaufmann (New York: Random House, 1967), p. 56. Hereafter, Die Geburt der Tragödie will be abbreviated as GT and its English translation as BT.


[3] GT, “Versuch einer Selbstkritik,” 2; III/l, pp. 7 f. = BT, “Attempt at a Self-Criticism,” 2, pp. 18 f.


[4] For a collection of essays written without the benefit of such retrospective distance, see Der Streit wn Nietzsches “Geburt der Tragödie”, edited by Karlfried Grunder (Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1969). This contains reviews by E. Rohde, R. Wagner, and U. v. Wilamowitz-Mollendorff.


[5] Jean Granier, in Le problème de la Vérité dans la philosophie de Nietzsche (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1966), p. 539, maintains this thesis: “Nous allon montret, en effet, que toute l'ontologie nietzschéenne se trouve déjà envelopée dans le noyau symbolique qui est l'âme de son premier ouvrage la Naissance de la Tragédie, et que les progrès spéculatifs de Nietzsche n'ont fait que sanctionner l'appropiation de la substance spirituelle qui était déposée dans la symbolisme de l'apollinien et du dionysien.” Granier is concerned with showing that the comprehension of the duplicity of being as the play of art and truth is at the heart of Nietzsche's view of the world and that this comprehension is symbolized later in the figure of Dionysus and explicated in the notion of the will to power.


[6] In the section of her book dealing with the ontological definition of play, Ingeborg Heidemann has commented on the fundamental ambivalence of the concept of play: Die ontologische Ambivalenz bedeutet zunächst, daß das Spiel sich einer eindeutigen Bestimmung entzieht ... Es scheint etwas zu sein und nicht zu sein im selben Aspekt; es ist real und es ist nicht real; es ist in der Welt und es ist nicht in der Welt. Seine Seinsweise ist die eines Unbestimmt-Bestirrnnten.Der Begriff des Spieles und das ästhetische Weltbild in der Philosophie der Gegenwart (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1968), 10. The ambivalence of the category of play in Nietzsche's philosophy will be considered below.


[7] Explicit use of the word “play” (“Spiel”) in The Birth of Tragedy itself is times, “Spiel” is to be found only in Chapters 23, 24, and 25. At translated as “game” in the Kaufmann translation.


[8] “Die dionysische Weltanschauung,” l; III/2, p. 46. “Während also der Traum das Spiel des einzelnen Menschen mit dem Wirklichen ist, ist die Kunst des Bildners (im weiteren Sinne) das Spiel mit dem Traum.”


[9] Ibid., p. 47. “Wenn nun der Rausch das Spiel der Natur mit dem Menschen ist, so ist das Schaffen des dionysischen Künstlers das Spiel mit dem Rausche.” Cf. “Die Geburt des tragischen Gedankens,” ibid., p. 74: “Die dionysische Kunst dagegen beruht auf dem Spiel mit dem Rausche, mit der Verzilchung.”


[10] “Die dionysische Weltanschauung,” l; III/2, p. 47 = GT, l; III/1, p. 26 = BT, 1, p. 37: “Der Mensch ist nicht mehr Künstler, er ist Kunstwerk geworden.”


[11] “Die dionysische Weltanschauung,” l; III/2, p. 47: “Dieser vom Künstler geformte Mensch verhält sich zur Natur, wie die Statue zum apollinischen Künstler.”


[12] Ibid.: “So muß der Dionysosdiener irn Rausche sein und zugleich hinter sich als Beobachter auf der Lauer liegen.”


[13] Jürgen Möltmann, Theology of Play, translated by Reinhard Ultich (New York: Harper and Row, 1972), p. 24.


[14] GT, 3; III/l, p. 31 =BT, 3, p. 42: “Das Allerbeste ist für dich gänzlich unerreichbar: nicht geboren zu sein, nicht zu sein, nichts zu sein. Das Zweitbeste aber ist für dich—bald zu sterben.” Also see, “Die dionysische Weltanschauung,” 2; III/2, p. 52.


[15] GT, l; III/l, pp. 24-25 = BT, 1, p. 36: “Entweder durch den Einfluss des narkotischen Getränkes ... oder bei dem gewaltigen, die ganze Natur lustvoll durchdringenden Nahen des Frühlings ...”


[16] GT, 2; III/l, p. 26 = BT, 2, p. 38. It should be noted that both the Apollinian and the Dionysian are regarded as “künstlerische Mächte,” but I am concerned here only with the Dionysian.


[17] GT, I; III/l, p. 24 = BT, I, p. 36. Although Nietzsche takes Schopenhauer's position as a starting-point here, he is clearly presenting his own position as such on the Dionysian.


[18] GT, 2; III/l, p. 28 =BT, 2, p. 39: “... gerade die wildesten Bestien der Natur wurden hier entfesselt, bis zu Jener abscheulichen Mischung von Wollust und Grausamkeit, die mir immer als der eigentliche 'Hexentrank' erschienen ist.”


[19] Cf. GT, 5-6; III/l, pp. 38-48 = BT, 5-6, pp. 48-56.


[20] This passage is to be found in the posthumously published notebooks from the time of GT in Friedrich Nietzsche, Die Geburt der Tragödie. Der griechische Staat, Kröners Taschenausgabe Band 70, mit einem Nachwort von Alfred Baeumler (Stuttgart: Alfred Kröner Verlag, 1964), pp. 206-07.


[21] GT, 16; III/l, p. 100 = BT, 16, p. 100: “... unmittelbar Abbild des Willens selbst ...”


[22] Arthur Danto has suggested this in his Nietzsche as Philosopher (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1965), p. 50: “... music, after all, originally had Apollo as its patron diety; and Nietzsche recognized a kind of Apollinian music—'a rhythm of waves beating the shore, a plastic art'.” (The quotation is from GT, 2; III/l, p. 29 = BT, 2, p. 40.) Mozart's description of a musical experience, in which he could hear an entire work at one time rather than in a succession of moments, seems much closer to an Apollinian experience of music than a Dionysian one. Cf. Martin Heidegger, Der Satz vom Grund (Pfullingen: Verlag Günter Neske, 1957), pp. 177 ff., for the quotation of Mozart's letter and Heidegger's interpretation of it.


[23] GT, 24; III/l, p. 148 =BT, 24, p. 141: “... in welchem Sinne uns gerade der tragische Mythus zu überzeugen hat, dass selbst das Hässliche und Disharmonische ein künstlerisches Spiel ist, welches der Wille, in der ewigen Fülle seiner Lust, mit sich selbst spielt. Dieses schwer zu fassende Urphänomen der dionysischen kunst wird aber auf direktem Wege einzig verständlich und unmittelbar erfasst in der wunderbaren Bedeutung der musikalischen Dissonanz ...”


[24] GT, 7; III/l, p. 52 = BT, 7, pp. 59-60. “Die Verzückung des dionysischen Zustandes mit seiner Vernichtung der gewöhnlichen Schranken und Grenzen des Daseins enthält nämlich während sei ner Dauer ein lethargisches Element, in das sich alles persönlich in der Vergangenheit Erlebte eintaucht. So scheidet sich durch diese Kluft der Vergessenheit die Welt der alltäglichen und der dionysischen Wirklichkeit von einander ab. Sobald aber jene alltägliche Wirklichkeit wieder ins Bewusstsein tritt, wird sie mit Ekel als solche empfunden; eine asketische, willenverneinde Stimmung ist die Frucht jener Zustande.” Hans M. Wolff, in his Friedrich Nietzsche. Der Weg zum Nichts (Bern: Franke Verlag, 1956), p. 51, argues on the basis of this passage that it is no longer possible to speak of Dionysian life or Dionysian humanity, “... denn da sich die Ekstase als zeitlich beschrankt erweist, kann nur noch von 'dionysischen Zuständen' die Rede sein, denen der Zustand der Ernlichterung als der Normalzustand gegenlibersteht.”


[25] GT, 7; III/l, pp. 52-53 = BT, 7, p. 60. “In diesem Sinne hat der dionysische Mensch Aehnlichkeit mit Hamlet: beide haben einmal einen wahren Blick in das Wesen der Dinge gethan, sie haben erkannt, und es ekelt sie zu handeln; denn ihre Handlung kann nichts am ewigen Wesen der Dinge ändern, sie empfinden es als lächerlich oder schmachvoll, class ihnen zugemuthet wird, die Welt, die aus den Fugen ist, wieder einzurichten. Die Erkenntniss tödtet das Handeln, zum Handeln gehört das Umschleiertsein durch die Illusion ... die wahre Erkenntniss, der Einblick in die grauenhafte Wahrheit überwiegt jedes zum Handeln antreibende Motiv, bei Hamlet sowohl als bei dem dionysischen Menschen.”


[26] Cf. Karl Schlechta and Anni Anders, Friedrich Nietzsche. Von den vorborgenen Anfängen seines Philosophierens (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Friedrich Frommann Verlag, 1962), esp. pp. 99-117.


[27] This view is developed, for example, in the forward to an unwritten book on the pathos of truth, “Fünf Vorreden. Ueber das Pathos der Wahrheit,” III/2, p. 254: “Die Kunst ist mächtiger als die Erkenntniß, denn sie will das Leben, und jene erreicht als letztes Ziel nur—die Vernichtung.— ” Also see Friedrich Nietzsche, Nachgelassene Werke aus den Jahren 1869-1872, in Nietzsche's Werke, Volume IX (Leipzig: Neumann, 1903), p. 72: “Der Zweck der Wissenschaft ist Weltvernichtung.”


[28] GT. 7; III/l. p. 52 =BT. 7. p. 59: “Ihn rettet die Kunst und durch die Kunst rettet ihn sich—das Leben.”


[29] GT. 7: III/l. p. 53 =BT. 7. p. 60. “... diese sind das Erhabene als die künstlerische Bändigung des Entsetzlichen und das Komische als die künstlerische Entladung vom Ekel des Absurden. Der Satyrchor des Dithyrambus ist die rettende That der griechischen Kunst; an der Mittelwelt dieser dionysischen Begleiter erschöpften sich jene vorhin beschreiben Anwandlungen.”


[30] GT, 3; III/l, p. 32 =BT, 3, p. 42. “Um leben zu können, mussten die Griechen diese Götter, aus tiefster Nöthigung, schaffen ... So rechtfertigen die Götter das Menschenleben, indem sie es selbst leben ...”


[31] GT, 4; III/l, p. 34 = BT, 4, pp. 44-45. “Je mehr ich nämlich in der Natur jene allgewaltigen Kunsttriebe und in ihnen eine inbrünstige Sehnsucht zum Schein, zum Erlöstwerden durch den Schein gewahr werde, um so mehr fühle ich mich zu der metaphysischen Annahme gedrängt, dass das Wahrhaft-Seiende und Ur-Eine, als das ewig Leidende und Widerspruchsvolle, zugleich die entzückende Vision, den lustvollen Schein, zu seiner steten Erlösung braucht ...”


[32] While Nietzsche mentions here that this is a feeling, it should be noted that the entirety of The Birth of Tragedy is characterized by a certain absence of argumentation in regard to its basic position. Eugen Fink is fundamentally correct when he maintains the following: Wie eine einzige, großartig in sich geschlossene Vision tritt uns Nietzsches Kunst-Metaphysik gleich zu Beginn des Buches entgegen, in den Grundzügen fertig: es gibt hier keinen Versuch, den Weg zu zeigen, wie er zu seinen Thesen kam; nirgends wird überhaupt reflektiert über Recht oder Unrecht der tragenden ontologischen Konzeption.Nietzsches Philosophie (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer Verlag, 1960), p. 24.


[33] GT, l; III/l, p. 34. “Wir geniessen im unmittelbaren Verständnisse der Gestalt, alle Formen sprechen zu uns, es giebt nichts Gleichgültiges und Unnöthiges.”


[34] GT, l; III/l, p. 22 =BT, 1, p. 34. “Bei dem höchsten Leben dieser Traumwirklichkeit haben wir doch noch die durchschimmernde Empfindung ihres Scheins ...”


[35] GT, 3; III/l, p. 32 BT, 3, p. 42.


[36] GT, 4; III/l, p. 35 BT, 4, p. 45. “Sehen wir also einmal van unsrer eignen 'Realität' flir einen Augenblick ab, fassen wir unser empirisches Dasein, wie das der Welt überhaupt, als eine in jedem Moment erzeugte Vorstellung des Ur-Einen, so muss uns jetzt der Traum als der Schein des Scheins, somit als eine noch höhere Befriedigung der Urbegierde nach dem Schein hin gelten. Aus diesem selben Grunde hat der innerste Kern der Natur jene unbeschreibliche Lust andem naiven Künstler und dem naiven Kunstwerke, das gleichfalls nur 'Schein des Scheins' ist.”


[37] The basic interdependence of the Dionysian and the Apollinian is described quite well by Eugen Fink as follows: ... sie [the Apollinian and the Dionysian] können nicht ohne einander sein; ihr Streit, ihre Zwietracht ist auch eine gewisse Eintracht, sie sind als die Kämpfenden verbunden; die apollinische Kunstwelt der Griechen, die Entscheidung für das Maß und seine Fügung, beruht auf dem innner lebendigen, nur unterdrückten Grunde titanischer Maßlosigkeit; das Dionysische ist der Untergrund, auf dem die lichte Welt aufruht ... Nietzsches Philosophie. pp. 24-25.


[38] GT, 4; III/l, p. 35 = BT, 4, p. 45. “Apollo aber tritt uns wiederum als die Vergöttlichung des principii individuationis entgegen, in dem allein das ewig erreichte Ziel des Ur-Einen, seine Erlösung durch den Schein, sich vollzieht ...”


[39] GT, l; III/l, p. 25 =BT, 1, p. 37; GT, 2; III/l, p. 28 = BT, 2, p. 40.


[40] GT, 9; III/l, pp. 65-66 =BT, 9, p. 71. “Das Unheil im Wesen der Dinge ... der Widerspruch im Herzen der Welt offenbart sich ihm als ein Durcheinander verschiedener Welten, z.B. einer göttlichen und einer menschlichen, von denen jede als Individuum im Recht ist, aber als einzelne neben einer andern für ihre Individuation zu leiden hat. Bei dem heroischen Drange des Einzelnen ins Allgemeine, bei dem Versuche über den Bann der Individuation hinauszuschreiten und das eine Weltwesen selbst sein zu wollen, erleidet er an sich den in den Dingen verborgenen Urwiderspruch d.h. er frevelt und leidet.”


[41] GT, 24; III/l, p. 148 = BT, 24, p. 141. “ ... ein künstlerisches Spiel ..., welches der Wille, in der ewigen Fülle seiner Lust, mit sich selbst spiel.”


[42] In The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche's argument begins with the Apollinian and Dionysian as human artistic drives, moves from them to the dream and intoxication as fundamental powers of being, and then interprets these original artistic drives in terms of these metaphysical principles. Cf. Eugen Fink, Nietzsches Philosophie, p. 25 on the structure of the argument here.


[43] “Fünf Vorreden. Der griechische Staat,” III/2, p. 259. “Die Arbeit ist eine Schmach, weil das Dasein keinen Werth an sich hat: wenn aber eben dieses Dasein im verführenden Schmuck künstlerischer Illusionen erglänzt und jetzt wirklich einen Werth an sich zu haben scheint, so gilt auch dann noch jener Satz daß die Arbeit eine Schmach sei ...”


[44] Ibid., p. 261. “Damit es einen breiten tiefen und ergiebigen Erdboden für eine Kunstentwicklung gebe, muß die ungeheure Mehrzahl im Dienste einer Minderzahl, über das Maaß ihrer individuellen Bedürftigkeit hinaus, der Lebensnoth sklavisch unterworfen sein. Auf ihre Unkosten, durch ihre Mehrarbeit soll jene bevorzugte Klasse dem Existenzkampfe entrückt werden, um nun eine neue Welt des Bedürfnisses zu erzeugen und zu befriedigen.”


[45] Ibid., p. 261. “Demgemäß müssen wir uns dazu verstehen, als grausam klingende Wahrheit hinzustellen, daß zum Wesen einer Kultur das Sklaventhum gehöre: eine Wahrheit freilich, die über den absoluten Werth des Daseins keinen Zweifel übrig läßt.”


[46] Ibid., pp. 264-65. “Hier sehen wir wiederum, mit welcher mitleidlosen Starrheit die Natur, um zur Gesellschaft zu kommen, sich das grausame Werkzeug des Staates schmiedet ... durch die Gesellschaft zu ihrer Erlösung im Scheine, im Spiegel des Genius, zu kommen.”


[47] Posthumously published notebooks in Die Geburt der Tragödie. Der griechische Staat, p. 205.



The Primordial Eternal Play and the Artistic Taming of the Horrible and Unknown