it seems to me that Nietzsche’s Dionysian is comparable to Kierkegaard’s aesthetic, with the main difference being that the Seducer was viewed negatively while Nietzsche does not leave room for others to critique the man-god Dionysian. Or…Kierkegaard [in my opinion] did not like the aesthetic and sided more with Judge Wilhelm and ethics; whereas, Nietzsche was a Dionysian himself and was attempting to encourage society to embrace new concepts while letting go of past misconceptions.
The Dionysian was a man-god: a human person with exceptional abilities in which one utilized personal preference to shape one’s experience. Based on Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, the Dionysian movement encouraged participants to live fully and to try anything interesting that crossed their path. They were expected to experience severe misery because they were able to know the fullest joy. In a way, they were extremists – when they loved it was true, when they cried it was agony – there was no middle ground. Nietzsche said, “He who is richest in fullness of life, the Dionysian god and man, can allow himself not only the sight of what is terrible and questionable but also the terrible deed and every luxury of destruction, decomposition, negation …” (370). The Dionysian knew that they were creating themselves, and they were able ignore labels such as “good/evil” because, as gods, they knew that there could be good as a result of evil and evil from good intentions – it was not their playing field. Their goal was to experience, to live, and most of all, to create.
Aesthetic value is found in art and music for Nietzsche, here lay the true beauty of the human experience. Once Nietzsche stripped away the need for a god, what was the human left with…music. Art and music were the human engines of creation. I have loved Nietzsche for roughly half of my life. My motto used to be: Live one’s life as art! I still find pause with process, I see much beauty in the ability to express, not just the final project. I would pay five times as much for the same piece of art if I were able to watch the art being created before I purchase it, because later, when viewing the art, I would remember the moment the artist took his stroke or the scent of paint and mad creation in the air.
Overall, I see the Dionysian as opposite to moral expectations of the masses. Dionysian is very close to “pleasure living” with their concerns fixed in the present – they want to live life while they can because there is no afterlife, this is it. Now, I know Nietzsche gets attacked from every angle, but look at what he was arguing against – set belief aside and work with only organic natural possibilities – the religious belief system is not very believable if one is not raised with the message harped into one’s existence. Christianity, boiled way down, basically says that the physical life [the one each person actually lives] is nothing compared to the afterlife [the one we have zero proof or evidence of]; that living is just a phase before one can spend eternity in heaven. Please take a moment and truly consider this. Now tell me why it is that Nietzsche is the one off base?
Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Gay Science. Ed. Bernard Williams. Trans.
Josefine Nauckhoff and Adrian del Caro. Cambridge, United
Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2015.