Fredrick Nietzsche’s Conception of the Tragic Art - the Criticism of Galaktion’s Reception

On the background of the urgency of interdisciplinarism and interliterature in the contemporary thinking, the research of the interconnection of poetry and philosophy raises a special interest. It is very important to research the Georgian poets’ attitudes towards Nietzsche’s philosophy while considering the scales of Friedrich Nietzsche’s influence. Especially, when there exists an explicit basis in case of greatest poet Galaktion. In 1918, during his visit to Moscow, Galaktion got acquainted with Nietzsche’s compositions and translated them. Moreover, he mentioned Nietzsche in his articles and diaries 11 times. The research of Galaktion’s and Nietzsche’s interconnection should start with the discussion of the explicit case of Nietzsche’s reception by Galaktion. This will be a genetic-typological basis of a further structural-typological comparison. The paper does not aim at a wide contextual analysis via the consideration of Galaktion’s other thoughts and poetic texts. It will only focus on the contrast of Nietzsche’s philosophy and those passages, which directly name him. Therefore, the topic of the paper is not a general-contextual approach. The paper is focused on Nietzsche’s direct reception on an explicit level (by Galaktion).

  I found above-mentioned 11 cases on the internet-portal, because in the collection of Galaktion’s letters and fragments of diaries published in 1975 there are no notes about Nietzsche  (there is a well-known reason). The articles having the same names are presented in the book with different forms and contents. The portal presents the drafts, the initial versions, which existed before the censorship.

Nietzsche’s philosophy was often the object of speculations, incorrect interpretations and manipulation due to its versatile style as well as the chronological changes of contradictory statements and ideas. According to Venera Kavtiashvili, during Galaktion’s youth, Nietzsche  was labeled as “a democrat and a public revolutionary”, “a decadent”, “a symbolist” [Kavtiashvili, 2004:153]. It is natural that Galaktion’s comprehension was not precise and complete. Therefore, on the basis of the study of Nietzsche’s oeuvre, I will try to reveal relevance or irrelevance of his interpretation.  

Firstly, we should mention those notes, which indicate to Nietzsche’s works read by Galaktion. This will be a particular “genetic-contrastive” introduction. 1] In 1923 in the draft of the article “The day of poetry” Galaktion wrote: “Everything having a particular dignity is necessarily light and transparent – says Nietzsche” [Tabidze, 2018d:1].  2].  In the diary of 1941, in the note entitled “The topics for short letters”, Galaktion wrote: „2. „Из стран народ куда идет“ [sings the whole army  –  not the army, but statists. It seems they are a lot. In reality, there are a few persons. Carmen. Bizet. Nietzsche’s letter against Wagner. Carmen]” [Tabidze, 2018e: 1]. 3] In the same context, in the diary of 1941, Galaktion wrote: The question of a “light lyre” is posed. “The twilight lyre surrounded with silence provokes light blue shadows and weaves them into the trees” [The cover of my first book. Nietzsche’s letters “On the question of Wagner”, where the lightness of Carmen’s author -  Bizet -  is discussed]. The problem of a lyre and a folk harp. How does the lyre turn into the folk harp? [Tabidze, 2018f:1]. 

Eventually, in the introduction of “On the question of Wagner”, Nietzsche writes about George Bizet’s “Carmen”: „This music seems perfect to me. It approaches lightly, supplely, politely. It is amiable, it does not s w e a t. 'All good things are light, everything divine runs along on delicate feet': first principle of my aesthetics” [Nietzsche, 2005a: 234].

In 1923 in the draft of the paper “Precious graves”, Galaktion discussed the following fragment as an introduction: “A close aim of the nature is not joy, but torture  -  an incomparable way of a conscious person’s moral hammer. From this viewpoint, Plato’s and Schopenhauer’s spiritual follower, contemporary martyr, skeptic Friedrich Nietzsche creates the closest goals of the art…” [Tabidze, 2018a:1]. 

  An interconnection and a particular contradiction of the mentioned topics are interesting for us. Torture and its relation to the art, Nietzsche’s opposition to Schopenhauer and Plato will be proved in contrast to Galaktion’s reception.

  The above-mentioned epithet “a tortured skeptic” should be inspired by the work “Nietzsche against Wagner”. We read in its epilogue: „Only great pain is the final liberator of the spirit, as the teacher of the great  s u s p i c i o n “ [Nietzsche, 2005a: 280]. In this passage, Nietzsche speaks about a great pain, which teaches to ask questions, a pain, as a result of which “The trust in life is gone: life itself has become a  p r o b l e m . - Yet one should not jump to the conclusion that this necessarily makes one gloomy, a barn owl! Even love of life is still possible, - only one loves d i f f e r e n t l y . . . It is like the love for a woman who gives us doubts . . .” [Nietzsche, 2005a: 280-281].  Incidentally, the same words are written by Nietzsche in the introduction of “The gay science” [Nietzsche, 2008: 7]. In the above-mentioned work „Nietzsche against Wagner“, we also read: „order of rank is almost determined by just how deeply people can suffer“, Nietzsche adds: „Profound suffering makes you noble; it separates“ [Nietzsche, 2005a: 279].

  In other passages, Nietzsche addresses hedonists, pessimists, utilitarists and eudemonists: “The discipline of suffering, of  g r e a t  suffering – don’t you know that this discipline has been the sole cause of every enhancement in humanity so far? The tension that breeds strength into the unhappy soul, its shudder at the sight of great destruction, its inventiveness and courage in enduring, surviving, interpreting, and exploiting unhappiness, and whatever depth, secrecy, whatever masks, spirit, cunning, greatness it has been given: – weren’t these the gifts of suffering, of the disciple of great suffering? In human beings, c r e a t u r e  and  c r e a t o r  are combined: in humans there is material, fragments, abundance, clay, dirt, nonsense, chaos; but in humans there is also creator, maker, hammer-hardness, spectator-divinity and seventh day: – do you understand this contrast? And that  y o u r  pity is aimed at the “creature in humans,” at what needs to be molded, broken, forged, torn, burnt, seared and purified, – at what necessarily needs to s u f f e r  and  s h o u l d  suffer?“ [Nietzsche, 2002 : 116-117]

  The following passage is also interesting: „To those human beings w h o  a r e  of  any c o n c e r n  to  m e  I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities - I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one has any v a l u e or not - that one e n d u r e s...“ [Nietzsche, 2018a: 1].

  Galaktion connects the goal of the art to suffering. Moreover, in the passage preceding this one, he speaks about tortured Kazbegi. Galaktion considers the following fragment as an introduction of the article: “A nude torture, an absolutely obvious feeling of solitude, a mute chasm of  a tomb-like silence, an inscrutable fog of a fatal madness  – this is a constant artistic element of the Georgian writing” [Tabidze, 2018a:1]. 

  According to Nietzsche, the tragic art [music, tragedy] proves the life, because it does not run away and presents a “terrible truth” of life, Dionysian chaos, suffering. However, it is always accompanied by Apollonian illusion in order to avoid becoming endurable. This is a particular synthesis” [Nietzsche, 1999: 40].

  Galaktion continues: “An inner unity of all living beings as well as a metaphysical unity of the world’s eternal existence is opened in a painter-creator. In every person’s torture and joy, in the movement of his/her thinking and feelings, the art denotes [only] typical” [Tabidze, 2018a:1]. 

  According to Nietzsche’s viewpoint, a lyric poet’s subjectivity, ego or identity obey an initial unity – a poet’s “ego” disappears and what it wares shines from “the chasm of the existence”. In contrast to a modern poet, the Antique lyrical poet is a mediator of something that is the most real, of an initial unity. This is an ecstatic mood, which enables a poet to leave his subjectivity in order to enter the condition of Dionysian disindividuality [Del Caro, 2012: 60].

Galaktion continues: “When a tragedy ends with a hero’s death, we take from it the feeling of conciliation and calming down. We feel that something that died in a hero, continues living in us. We are inspired with cognition and comprehension of an eternal life. This cognition always celebrates its victory on the death and renews the world with a [spring] beauty. The existence is an intermediary second of each of us. Despite this fact, a true sadness [art] gives our existence eternal rights…  a tragic heroism and self-sacrifice, curved on the eternal boards of the art, will be ransomed soon or later [Tabidze, 2018a:1]. 

This is connected to Nietzsche’s one of the first works “Coming back of the tragedy from the soul of music”. Its passages were translated by Galaktion and depict Schopenhauer’s influence on Nietzsche. According to young Nietzsche, a metaphysical consolation implies that beyond the chaotic world there is a “primordial unity” [Came, 2014: 93], the empirical world is so disgusting that we need the myth of the metaphysically different world [Came, 2014: 93-94]. Young Nietzsche connected his Dionysianism to the artistic metaphysics, which is connected to Schopenhauer’s metaphysical worldview [Del Caro, 2013: 109]. For Nietzsche the highest is the art, which reveals the truth most completely. Hence, all forms of the art contain an element of illusion. In contrast to Plato, Nietzsche believes that illusion is necessary. It defends our lives from becoming endurable. The highest form of this illusion is Apollonian art. However, it is not the only one. There is also the mystical religion, which offers „Metaphysical consolation that beneath the whirl of phenomena, an eternal life flows on indestructibly” [Silk, 1981: 348].

It seems that Galaktion did not know Nietzsche’s later teaching quite well, which was different and did not consider a metaphysical unity or an eternal life or a particular ransoming. Later Nietzsche fully neglected Schopenhauer and metaphysics. He „recreated the Dionysian on a purely physical and physiological basis, foregrounding the notions of superabundance, flourishing vitality, disruptive chaos, strength and capacity for life affirmation. These later Dionysian properties do not need defending on metaphysical grounds because they are self-evident” [Del Caro, 2013: 109].

  “He would say that in Zaratustra” the old worldview is neglected. Zaratustra says:  „It was the sick and the dying-out who despised the body and the earth and invented the heavenly and its redeeming drops of blood” [Nietzsche, 2006b: 21].

  It will not be proved until the end of the life, if there is the belief in the soul and in the other world [Bunnin... 2003: 837] i.e. neglecting of metaphysics is connected to its problematics.  According to Nietzsche, the problem of such consolation is in its very good work. In case of an extreme asceticism, we become so charmed with the idea of the other world that we have a little motivation of being involved in the empiric world [Came, 2014: 94]. According to Nietzsche, the goal of Dionysian condition is our liberation from the load of life via the ecstatic experience, which “is expressed in drunkenness and sexual frenzy and appears in more urbane forms as the arts of music and dance and in certain types of religious mysticism” [Came, 2013: 214]. However, Dionysian ecstasy comprises the lethargic element. After the ecstasy, Dionysianist comes across the reality. She/he is inclined to asceticism and neglecting of  the will [Came, 2013: 214]. „The orgiastic experience leads a people in just one direction, along the road towards Indian Buddhism” [Came, 2014: 93]. It may seem that Nietzsche preaches similar escapism and considers it as “Dionysian”. Hence, Nietzsche does not follow pure Dionysian tradition. He develops its Greek cutting by half i.e. the tragedy - as a positive presentation of the content of Buddhist worldview. A tragic culture is the merging of Dionysian and Apollonian [Came, 2014: 94].

  Later  Nietzsche introduces the term “overcome”: “What makes overcoming such a difficult, fearful, and truly heroic thing to do is the requirement of actively leaving behind all that is secure and familiar (including one's joys and pains), and all one is and values, thus seriously destabilizing one's very identity. Possibly more terrifying still, overcoming further requires the holding together of opposing and contradictory commitments and values—nor not their synthesis, nor their sublation, nor the repression or annihilation of the annihilation of the more uncongenial of them, nor yet their vanishing in temporary intoxication—but a holding together of their conflict and contradiction in one conscious and bold affirmation, one global yes-saying” [Came, 2013: 275].

It is noteworthy that Galaktion ends the above-mentioned note with the following words: “a tragic heroism, self-sacrifice, curved on eternal boards of the art will be ransomed soon or later”. One the one hand, this is Nietzsche’s “tragic hero”, which is mentioned during the discussion of the tragedy. On the other hand, Nietzsche characterizes his philosophy as a heroic, struggling philosophy [Nietzsche, 2005a: 83] and opposes it to Christianity and to Jesus’ real unfalsified doctrine, where he sees a fully contradictory pathos of heroism and struggle [Nietzsche, 2005a: 26]. Therefore, for Nietzsche heroism and any type of ransoming are incompatible [Nietzsche, 2005a: 115]. A metaphysical worldview is not heroic, because it runs away from the torture in the imagined world.

  Now more concretely about being a follower of Plato and Schopenhauer. Galaktion was right, while mentioning Nietzsche in the context of the interconnection of skepticism, suffering and art. However, later, in the same context, Nietzsche radically opposed Plato and Schopenhauer. Therefore, he cannot be regarded as their follower. This fact is vividly seen in the chronological observation of  the dynamics of changing Nietzsche’s assessment of philosophers in connection with the above-mentioned context.  

Misunderstanding can be caused by the fact that young Nietzsche agreed with Schopenhauer’s metaphysics. Supposedly, Galaktion considered this period, because at that time started the discussion about the tragic art. About his earlier letter “Schopenhauer as an educator”, Nietzsche said that in this letter, he had imputed his thoughts to Schopenhauer similarly as Plato imputed to Socrates  [Nietzsche, 2005a:115].

In the later book (“The dawn”) appeared some sympathy to Plato -  to a sample of a legislative philosophy  - because Plato always tried to legitimate his philosophy  and to make people’s rule of living  (as Mohamed did) [Nietzsche, 2006a: 202]. Presumably, Nietzsche valued Plato higher than the idealists of the following period. He said in “The gay science”: „all philosophical idealism until now was something like an illness, except where, as in Plato's case, it was the caution of an overabundant and dangerous health; the fear of  o v e r p o w e r f u l  senses; the shrewdness of a shrewd Socratic. - Maybe we modems are not healthy enough to need Plato's idealism? And we don't fear the senses because - “ [Nietzsche, 2008: 237-238]. Later, in his book “Beyond the kindness and the evil”, Nietzsche wrote that Socratism, which existed in Plato’s philosophy did not belong to him, because Plato was “very noble” for Socratism  [Nietzsche, 2002: 79-80].

  The later attitude is also interesting. In “Twilight of the idols”, Nietzsche criticized Schopenhauer’s idea that the art and generally, the beauty was the means of neglecting live, will, sexuality and breeding [Nietzsche, 2005a: 202]. He called him an obstinate saint and compared with Plato, who in contrast to Schopenhauer, believed that the beauty was the temptation for breeding [Nietzsche, 2005a: 203]. Nietzsche wrote: „What ultimately grew out of Plato's philosophical erotics? A new, artistic form of the Greek agon, dialectics. - I still remember,  a g a i n s t  Schopenhauer and in Plato's honour, that the whole higher culture and literature of classical France also grew on the ground of sexual interest. You can search through it for gallantry, sensuousness, sexual competition, 'woman', - you will never look in vain“ [Nietzsche, 2005a: 204].

However, a particular criticism of Plato is presented in “The birth of the tragedy”, where Nietzsche writes that Dionysian initial tries to erase an individual via the intoxication of the reality and rescue him/her via a mystic feeling of unity. For Nietzsche the intoxication is „Dionysian drunkenness and mystical self-abandon“. He writes about Socrates: „what we observe here is a monstrous lack of any capacity for mysticism, so that Socrates could be described as the specific non-mystic, in whom logical nature is just as over-developed, thanks to some superfoetation,1 10 as instinctive wisdom is in the mystic“ [Nietzsche... 1999: 67]. Nietzsche says that in Plato’s works the art transformed into philosophy and Apollonian aspect increased [Nietzsche... 1999: 69] that finally caused the fall of Dionysian tragedy [Nietzsche... 1999: 71].

  In the work of the same period “Philosophy in the Greeks’ tragic epoch”, Nietzsche aggrandizes pre-Plato philosophers and says: „from Plato on there is something essentially amiss with philosophers” [Nietzsche, 1998: 34]. Nietzsche is fascinated with pre-Plato Parmenide’s inclination to vagueness. He says that his running away from the reality is not Plato-like running to the world of ideas [Nietzsche, 1998: 80-81] in which we can see Plato’s particular diminishing once again.

  In 1881 in  “The dawn” Nietzsche’s criticism of these philosophers is connected to the neglecting of metaphysics: “Dialectics is the only way of attaining the divine being and getting behind the veil of appearance' - this is asserted by Plato as solemnly and passionately as Schopenhauer asserts it of the antithesis of dialectics - and both are wrong. For that to which they want to show us the way does not exist. - And have all the great passions of mankind not hitherto been as these are, passions for a nothing? And all their solemnities - solemnities about a nothing?“ [Nietzsche, 2006a: 478-479].

  Let us move to Nietzsche’s late works, where everything is summed up.  In “Twilight of the idols”, Nietzsche characterizes Plato as the symptom of the Greeks’ fall [Nietzsche, 2005a: 162], treats him as boring and as Christ’s predecessor [Nietzsche, 2005a: 225]. Moreover: „Plato is a coward in the face of reality, -  c o n s e q u e n t l y , he escapes into the ideal“ [Nietzsche, 2005a: 226]. 

  In “The gay science”, Nietzsche neglects Schopenhauer’s romanticism: „Every art, every philosophy can be considered a cure and aid in the service of growing, struggling life: they always presuppose suffering and sufferers. But there are two types of sufferers: first, those who suffer from a s u p e r a b u n d a n c e  o f  l i f e  - they want a Dionysian art as well as a tragic outlook and insight into life; then, those who suffer from an i m p o v e r i s h m e n t  of  l i f e  and seek quiet, stillness, calm seas, redemption from themselves through art and insight, or else intoxication, paroxysm, numbness, madness“ [Nietzsche, 2008: 234]. Nietzsche attributes Schopenhauer to the second type and says that initially he did not understand him well.

 In “Twilight of the idols”, Nietzsche characterizes Schopenhauer’s rejection of the will of life as the instinct of Decadence [Nietzsche, 2005a: 175]. He calls shameful Schopenhauer’s idea that any suffering is deserved [Nietzsche, 2005a: 180]. „Schopenhauer taught that the overall aim of art was 'to free yourself from the will', and he admired the great utility of tragedy in 'teaching resignation'. - But this - I have already suggested - is a pessimist's optic, his 'evil eye' -: you need to ask artists themselves.  W h a t  is  it  a b o u t  h i m s e l f  t h a t  t h e  t r a g i c  a r t i s t  c o m m u n i c a t e s ? Doesn't he show his f e a r l e s s n e s s  in the face of the fearful and questionable?“ [Nietzsche, 2005a: 204]. Nietzsche writes the same about Schopenhauer  in “The will of power” [Nietzsche, 1968: 434-435]. Several passages of “Twilight of the idols” are dedicated to the criticism of Schopenhauer’s pessimism. In contrast to it, the tragic art proves life, despite its terribleness. A human being does not purify from the feelings of fear and sorrow as Aristotle thinks, but raises above them. Nietzsche writes: „Saying yes to life, even in its strangest and harshest problems; the will to life rejoicing in its own inexhaustibility through the  s a c r i f i c e  of its highest types – t h a t is what I called Dionysian,  t h a t  is the bridge I found to the psychology of the  t r a g i c  poet“ [Nietzsche, 2005a: 228].

According to Nietzsche’s viewpoint expressed in “The Antichrist”, Schopenhauer disfavors life. For this reason, he considers pity as dignity: „pity negates life, it makes life  w o r t h y  o f  n e g a t i o n “, because it multiples misfortune  [Nietzsche, 2005a: 7]. Schopenhauer aspires to the diminishing of suffering via deserting life, while Nietzsche aspires to suffer and to increase joy [Nietzsche, 1996: 259]. It is noteworthy that Galaktion’s above-mentioned passage, where Nietzsche is announced as Plato’s and Schopenhauer’s follower, implies Nietzsche’s prove of suffering and paradoxically, has less connection to Schopenhauer.

Finally, in the book “Ecce Homo”, Nietzsche contrasts philosophy proving the life coming from the excess of power to its antipode „the  d e g e n e r a t e  instinct that turns against life with subterranean vindictiveness (- Christianity, Schopenhauer's philosophy, and in a certain sense even Plato's philosophy, the whole of idealism as typical forms)“ [Nietzsche, 2005a: 109]. Moreover, Nietzsche resumes: „Anyone who does not just understand the word 'Dionysian' but understands  h i m s e l f  in the word 'Dionysian' does not need to refute Plato or Christianity or Schopenhauer -  he  s m e l l s  t h e  d e c a y  . . .“ [Nietzsche, 2005a: 109].

Therefore, according the an individual’s inclination to search similarity more than difference as well as according to the aspiration of the contemporary comparativistic paradigm to discover more common than different, there exist danger and temptation of an incorrect, hurried association of  brilliant poets and philosophers neglecting Hermeneutic mildness. However, it is possible to overcome this. The given paper is the particular cautioning introduction of Nietzsche and Galaktion’s comparative research.   


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