Dithyrambs and Ploughshares: The Cycle of Creation and Criticism in Nietzsche's Aesthetics

The European Legacy 16 (4):469 - 485 (2011)
Abstract
Pairing Thus Spoke Zarathustra with On the Genealogy of Morality foregrounds tensions between artistic creation and critical interpretation in Nietzsche's work. From The Birth of Tragedy to his genesis of the concept, Will to Power, Nietzsche describes the real, or ?what is,? in terms of a creative, form-giving force. We might therefore read Zarathustra?a linguistically experimental, richly allegorical, self-reflexive, modernist prose poem?as the pre-eminent, artistic mode of philosophical expression, at least for Nietzsche. But Zarathustra is followed by a sober Abhandlung (treatise), which professes a scientific goal of ?getting to the bottom of things? by uncovering the contingency, origin, and fabricated nature of supposedly eternal, ?given? values. These instantiations of Nietzsche-the-artist and Nietzsche-the-critic suggest art's ?double? or contradictory nature?a nature that accents its kinship with philosophy. Zarathustra and the Genealogy, read together, hint that the destruction of idols?or de-constructive, critical interpretation more generally?is not just supplemental to, but a necessary moment within the aesthetic itself
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