Dionysian Logos By Rainer J. Hanshe

      There is an acute subtlety here that must be tended to, for if the tempo of even a sentence is misunderstood as Nietzsche stresses, a sentence itself is misunderstood. And if even syllables are rhythmically decisive and affect a work’s symmetry, as series of vowels and diphthongs color and recolor each other, how can we ignore the intricate structure of Nietzsche’s works? Further, if as he confessed to Rohde that his “style is a dance; a play of symmetries of all kinds and an overleaping and mocking of these symmetries” (writing in Stücken as that mockery?) which even “goes as far as the choice of vowels” (KSB July 13, 1883), ignoring the structure of his work is truly negligible. As he laments in Beyond Good and Evil, when “the most pronounced contrasts in style are not heard […] the most refined artistry is wasted, as if on deaf people” (§246). Let us not confuse our inability to hear with the clear mastery of Nietzsche’s style. Those who lack a sense for, or knowledge of, music, will then simply not hear such artistry at all. Too often, our own limitations are imposed upon thinkers whose vision is beyond our grasp, but to a composer of genius such as Mahler, that artistry was clearly evident. As Julian Johnson notes, “In a conversation with Bernard Scharlitt in 1906, Mahler is reported to have claimed about Nietzsche: ‘His Zarathustra originated in the spirit of music; indeed it is almost symphonically conceived.’ Sherzinger links this comment, a year after the completion of the Seventh Symphony, to a structural parallel between the Finale of the Seventh Symphony and a passage in Nietzsche’s Also sprach Zarathustra. In the chapter titled ‘The Seven Seals’ Nietzsche evokes the idea of ‘the eternal return’ by reference to the form of a rondo; the rondo Finale of the Seventh has, interestingly, seven ritornello returns.”[27] And in Nietzsche and Music, Liebert observes that the order which pervades Nietzsche’s work is thoroughly informed by his understanding and knowledge of music: “Apparently discontinuous and even disparate, and throwing off the reader used to things laid out in chapters and paragraphs stitched together by the cadences of a linear causality, Nietzsche’s work in fact obeys a principle of organization and coherence that is thematic in nature. It implies a musical attentiveness comparable to the one required by Wagner’s works […].”[28] We must bear this in mind when Nietzsche continually asks us if we have heard him correctly. In repeatedly petitioning our ears, he may be compelling us to h e a r not only the oral or synaesthetic dimension of his texts, but how they are musically arranged, to  l i s t e n  to the thematic structure of each work.[29] If the very notion of causality is problematized by Nietzsche, clearly, he would not obey laws of causality in the composition of his books — his philosophical principles are embedded in the very form of how that philosophy is expressed. It is like Michelangelo’s thought shaping the contour and arc of his sculptures. Babich argues that “a specifically musical temperament” is actually “required just to follow (read) Nietzsche in his textual ventures. Without a musical reading, Nietzsche offers only contradictions and logical infelicities […].”[30] It is through tending to the musical sense of an aphorism she says that one “keeps both its subject matter and its development as parts of a whole. Thus positions, statements at variance with one another are not simply contradictions but contrapuntal […].”[31] It is illuminating to think of larger overarching structures, too, such as the structure of a symphony, if not even of Wagner’s operas, which may have been structural models for Nietzsche’s works,[32] or of architectural works such as the Mole Antonelliana, when considering the design of his books, for just as his use of words and even of seemingly innocuous syntactical devices such as dashes and ellipses is geometrically precise, so too is the architectural form of his books. If Nietzsche informs us that we must be familiar with every one of his books in order to understand each individual book, and if each one of them spiders out of itself and into the others, stretching both backwards and forwards, anticipating, predicting, and even preceding or containing future works, each book also stands on its own as a perfected single entity and must be considered on its own terms, which is to say that each book has a structure and design that must be analyzed.[33] How is it to be entered, exited, and experienced as a wholly conceived structure? What is the experience that is being conveyed?

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