Nietzsche on the drums

Hello, this is Fritz Nietzsche.
I am back, Hades could not endure me any longer.

You kindly sent the November issue of Sublines/Sublimes “Philosophieren von unten” via mail. And it’s about me, supposedly. In particular, there was one text “The Secrecy of the Veil” that appealed to me. Let me write to you in English, a language that I am still learning. Also forgive me, my writing is rusty after such a long time. So I start amateurish.

In a nutshell


 

Prologue

Whatever reached me was for sure not the same as what was “originally” sent by you. Of course, the material text stayed stable throughout delivery, but the unique constellation, that you had while writing the text is gone and I cannot – and do not want to – re-create it. This veil shall remain.

Whatever occurs when I would listen to your voice, the physical processing of waves (in the ear), in a shared moment of time, is not the same that occurs when I read your text (with the eye), at any time of the day, independent of your presence.

Also the feedback, that you would expect from me during a face-to-face conversation, or during a phone call, is different. I can write on a reply for months, can pause for weeks, and you would not even notice that I am preparing something. A reply to your message is always delayed, if it comes at all. But still, I am processing it. While I am reading, my body has resonances and dissonances, my stomach turns, when I read how you imagine my relation with woman and truth. But you will not notice, unless I tell you. Everything will go through the filter of: Should I write this or not? You will not realize that I hesitated when I wrote about my stomach, except I tell you explicitly. I might just make this up. There are so many inventive possibilities, because there is more time for imagination and creative aspects, while writing.

But before you start to protest: The fact that others form a perspective that might be an illusion is unavoidable in both cases, while listening and while reading, and can only be modified over time, with various test procedures.

Alright. No. Not right at all:

  1. . The distance is creating illusions.
  2. There is no other way for knowledge (about myself, the world, and others) than going through the channels of illusions.
  3. The role of the recipient is crucial, he plays the catalyst for the sender – or rejects to play it. Only this gives the possibility for revision, as you said:

But I am coming back from far, far away. And say to you: your horizon has limits.”

That’s why I cannot agree with you: The act of writing (alone) cannot be: “being with you”, because nobody is there that reminds you that “your horizon has limits.”. Writing is “want to be with you”, you write to someone, an audience, a single person, which is at least partially unknown. It is not clear if he will ever answer. Waiting is part of a written dialogue. You might dream about an answer, but only if you get one there is the chance of being together – in the sense of experiencing something new about us and the world:

“it is the other who sheds light on for us to see our selves – as we are, as we are about to become. So take care.”


 

Orpheus and Eurydice – some fragments

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The idea of drummer and drum, that you brought up, reminded me of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, both in love and freshly married. What could start as a quiet couple life, gets a different twist. Someone else desired Eurydice, but that was not mutual and Eurydice tried to escape. Tragically, a snake bit her and she died. The sad Orpheus did not accept her death and went down to Hades to get Eurydice back. Due to his convincing artistic skills (he played music), this was granted, under one condition: “Do not turn around towards Eurydice, while you are going back to the world of the living”. To make it short: What did Orpheus do? Exactly this. He turned around. But why? There are multiple theories around that:

  1. He could not contain himself (because he loved her too much… or, if you think it through: too little) and wanted to assure himself that she was still behind him.
  2. He (unconsciously?) sacrificed Eurydice to become an even greater poet and artist. Instead of loving a concrete person, he could love from now on his imagination about being in love with Eurydice forever. He saw her everywhere in the world, as a lost object of love. “When you hear music which mourns lost love, it is Orpheus’ spirit who guides the hand of the musicians who play it.”
  3. Eurydice sacrificed herself because she knew that Orpheus could either be happily married or become a great poet. (See Zizek)
  4. In the opera of Christoph Gluck, the role of Cupid allows a happy ending for both Eurydice and Orpheus. After Orpheus turned around and Eurydice dies a second time, he is so sad that he is ready to kill himself in order to be reunited with Eurydice. This readiness to take a serious risk for love deserves mercy. Cupid brings back Eurydice and they are reunited on earth.

At least in 2, 3 and maybe 4, Eurydice acts as a catalyst (or drum). She is helping the artist to get in contact with himself. The pattern is: The male artist and the female muse. Inspiration only increases after she disappears. One need to be more precise here. First, Orpheus was already an artist before he was in love with Eurydice. Second, his personal destiny as lonely lover and the special twist in his art started with the second death of his beloved. In 4, the commitment shifts from arts (which is, if we follow the psychoanalytical path, sublimation) towards the love encounter between two persons.

I paste you some perspectives on the situation, from different authors. consider them as fragments rather than aphorisms:


 

 The story of Orpheus’s gaze is not only the story of the mute female object passive before the male artist’s gaze. It is also the story of the artist’s dependence on that erotic other, the external subject that enables him to become the artist who is Orpheus.

Bruzelius, Margaret. “H.D. and Eurydice.” Twentieth Century Literature Vol. 44 (1998).


 

Now, absence can only exist as a consequence of the other: it is the other who leaves, it is I who remain. The other is in a condition of perpetual departure, of journeying; the other is, by vocation, migrant, fugitive; I — I who love, by converse vocation, am sedentary, motionless, at hand, in expectation, nailed to the spot, in suspense — like a package in some forgotten corner of a railway station. Amorous absence functions in a single direction, expressed by the one who stays, never by the one who leaves: an always present I is constituted only by a confrontation with an always absent you. To speak this absence is from the start to propose that the subject’s place and the other’s place cannot permute.

Roland Barthes: “A Lover’s Discourse”


 

The quotes above are taken from a project work “Eurydice without Orpheus” from Norah E. Offen, which is a mix of artistic and philosophical exploration of the Euryidce and Orpheus constellation. She also makes a point that it is not only about power dynamics and gender. One feature of love encounters is the asymmetric moment:

“However much speculation there may be about power dynamics, the reader is granted access to Orpheus’ state of mind alone; one can be fairly certain that for him to exist without her is an overwhelmingly desolate experience. Because Eurydice never lives without Orpheus, and is never present (in life or as a character in the story) enough to have a voice, she is inscrutable. For that reason, it is difficult to conclude anything more than that he seems to be emotionally dependent upon her. No one claims to know how she felt about him.
[…]
Orpheus emerges as significantly more an agent. The very ability to be affected by Eurydice – to have a character that can be affected – and to respond with actions and with art, proves him a person where Eurydice is a figure, acted upon and waiting for her life to be determined.
[…]
Later, when Orpheus dies, Eurydice has long been dead – it is impossible to imagine a scenario in which she survives him – and one may grieve for Orpheus’ life alone. The reader’s alliance is consistent throughout.”


However, there is no doubt that the perforation of personality by the solitary experience of love and the processing through art can be experienced by females as well. For a recent example, look at Austrian contemporary art in the book and movie “Chucks”. (Sidenote: The 21th century is great, especially the cinematic experience is striking.)


 

So why is Orpheus turning around?

“All he has to do is make it to the top believing that Eurydice is alive, that both can be alive outside of the sight of each other: that loneliest and most redeeming aspect of love. But – ultimately, fatally, understandably, irrevocably – he has to check, and make sure. His trust in her existence as not contingent [on] his own fails him; and so he loses her. We know as little as we do about Eurydice because Orpheus knows that little: because he loves without admitting strangeness, without acknowledging and accepting the necessary horror of solitude.”
Norah E. Offen

A lesson that I, Fritz Nietzsche, am still exploring. I have to admit that my Übermensch did not fully solve this problem. He is trying hard not to make the mistake of looking back, and he is succeeding. But what’s the price? He says, “I don’t rely on anyone. No god, no other, no regrets, just my self-creative energy.” Forward-looking, extending his horizon, being-in-progress… a tunnel vision towards the future prevents him from seeing his own mistakes and from accepting that even he relies on others. How can he love the world, and the people, if he is not affected by what’s behind him? If he does not need others at all? If he does not feel the temptation of controlling others? He rushes forward and does not know why. He is driven by disdain and pride, looking for the next disruption, and he would never admit that he is dependent on the mercy of others.

What do you think?
Yours faithfully,
Fritz