Saturday, April 4, 2009

Nietzsche's Synthesis of Aesthetic Reason

I've been thinking a bit about Nietzsche's dictum that art stems from a nihilistic paralysis that develops from a sense of the tragic. For Nietzsche the artist synthesizes what he calls aesthetic reason, instead of analyzing it. Aesthetic reason validates the right to make value judgments upon "what things we accept and how we accept them." For Nietzsche, an aversion in regards to perception (whether visual or ethical) is a challenge for the will to cleanse and overcome itself, to eventually render the aversion a joyful sensation. The joy beauty gives us is intensified by the "pleasure taken within the ugly."

Is this pleasure experienced within the ugly the same pleasure involved in sadism or masochism? To engulf oneself in the tragic, to experience tragedy within perception, and to elevate it to pleasure for the sake of the will to overcome that tragedy seems to me to be so far removed from wisdom that many of the mystics and the desert fathers seem to go beyond Nietzsche in this one, seem to judge less than him! To abandon the illusion of the right for moral or aesthetic judgment and replace it with an absorption in the origins of the art or action, seems to me to be the only way that makes a movement towards the other, in an equally volatile and difficult act of the will. It is the will to empathy, understanding, and however impractical in the organizational structures presiding over institutions, the will to the power of weakness in disappearing through the empathetic imagination into the other.

And within that vacuum of space and silence, the germination of love is possible, if only momentarily before it is co-opted by the will, selfishness, or pride once again.


Michael Conti said...

I'm trying to follow this one, Michael. A couple of steps behind. Maybe because the feelings of Masichism and Sadism are unfamaliar to me, or because the way I look at "art" is different from yours. I guess I'm trying to read in between your lines.

Michael Serra said...

We'll talk about it, Michael