Anna-Lena Carlsson about Nietzsche and creativity

Anna-Lena Carlsson: “…Is it hunger or superabundance that has become creative?” Nietzsche on creativity in art & life
(Dissertation for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in aesthetics,
presented at Uppsala University, 2005)

246: “If we were to talk about Nietzsche’s aesthetics, it is aesthetics from the perspective of the creator. /…/
According to Nietzsche, human beings are fundamentally artistic, down to the level of the creation of language and the truths. He thereby uses the terms ‘art’ and ‘artistic’ both in a narrow and in a broader sense.”

71: “In ‘On Truth and Lying’, Nietzsche speaks of a broader sense of the artistic. He argues that human beings are artistically creative [‘künstlerisch schaffend‘] and regards an impulse to image-making as being fundamental to language and our existence in the world.”
73: “Nietzsche writes of a ‘mysterious x and indicates how we act as if we have access to the thing-in-itself when we designate objects. /…/ The thing-in-itself is incomprenhensible to human beings, according to Nietzsche. He has turned away from his early artistic metaphysics and he no longer argues in favour of a possibility of gaining access to the sphere of things-in-themselves.”
76: “To sustain a certain society, existence is ordered into a forgetfulness of our fundamental artistic creativity. /…/ this creativity is forgotten – and thereby denied – according to Nietzsche /…/ Nietzsche thereby expresses an order of rank among human creations in the essay; everything is not equally valued as artistically creative.”

83-84n55: “He continues [in Human, all too human] ‘for he who does not have two thirds of his day to himself is a slave, let him be what he may otherwise: statesman, businessman, official, scholar’. This is a defence of a certain kind of idleness [Müssiggehen] /…/ that means being true to oneself in a more profound way, not just in a simple suspension from external demands. /…/ Nietzsche’s notion of a ‘higher culture’ is related to ‘true leisure’. This is seen, for instance, when he writes that a higher culture can only come into existence where there are two different castes in society: The cast compelled to work and the cast that works if it wants to work. /…/ The notion of work and leisure is moreover related to the capacity of suffering and being sensible. /…/ Nietzsche writes: ‘In a better ordering of society the heavy work and exigencies of life will be apportioned to him who suffers least as a consequence of them, that is to say to the most insensible, and thus step by step up to him who is most sensitive to the most highly sublimated species of suffering and who therefore suffers even when life is alleviated to the greatest degree possible.'”

86: “To ‘create a comfortable life for as many as possible’ is then to be regarded as life-negating, because it does not affirm existence in its whole.”

85: “Morality is a means to preserve society; it wards off a destruction. To be moral is to act according to custom. /…/ We only suffer from new chains, Nietzsche writes, /…/ the fettered spirit does not take its position on grounds of reasons, but out of habit.”

87: “The fettered spirits and their culture are nevertheless triumphant, according to Nietzsche, and they hold out four things to be right: 1) that which possesses duration; 2) things that are not inconvenient; 3) everything that brings them advantage; 4) and all things for which they have made a sacrifice.”

105: “It is important to note that there is no fundamental distinction between the master and the slave of morality. Although Nietzsche writes of these two types as being two different historical types of existence; their powers are not opposites but are considered as being a difference in degree. Both want to increase their power, but the slave is hindered in his activity by a stronger force, and turns his attempt at increasing in power elsewhere.”

98: “The advocates of old values or those who destroy old values without creating new values belong to forms of lives that ought to be overcome.”
118-119: “To affirm life as the will to power is to affirm one’s own increase in strength. It is self-mastery, a creation of one’s own rules, one’s own path and existence in the world. /…/
A strong will excludes, selects and orders a multitude of forces into rank. /…/ It is in association with the will to power and life-affirmation that we must also consider the question of the eternal recurrence [‘die ewige Wiederkehr’].”
121: “I interpret the eternal recurrence as Nietzsche’s attempt to express the pathos od a future type of existence; to express the pathos of the being that has overcome contemporary man and nihilism – the pathos of the overman.”

109: “When Nietzsche writes favourably about morals, he focuses on the individual and associates morals with an affirmation of life as hierarchical. There is an order of rank, he writes, between moralities and between human beings.”
246: “To affirm life is to affirm existence as creative, but also as destructive and hierarchical. /…/ In his early writings, this is described in metaphysical terms whereas in his later writings it is described in physiological terms.”
117: “If existence is affirmed as destructive and creative, one also affirms that equality is not the fundamental principle of society. /…/ Life itself is ‘essentially appropriation, injury, overpowering of the strange and weaker, suppresion, severity, imposition of one’s own forms, incorporation and, at the least and mildest, explosion’. The order of the world and life is hierarchical, because life (as the will to power) is hierarchical.”
192: “Nietzsche asks: ‘Is living not valuating, preferring, being unjust, being limited, wanting to be different?’ To want to live according to nature is to be an actor and self-deceiver.”

124: “Nietzsche writes of an active and a passive nihilism: ‘Nihilism. It is ambiguous: A. Nihilism as a sign of increased power of the spirit: as active nihilism. B. Nihilism as decline and ecession of the power of the spirit: as passive nihilism.”
125: “Vattimo underlines this difference between passive and active nihilism, where passive nihilism becomes a reactive response in its refusal to accept chaos and annihilation, while active nihilism remains open and affirmative concerning new values. Affirmation, however, is not a creation of active nihilism. Vattime writes:
‘/…/ this [reactive] nihilism has always taken an affirmative appearance since its very purpose is to conceal tha nothingness which lies at the base of all that which is believed to be true, to have value and to subsist as an objective structure.'”
125-126: “Nietzsche writes in a note from Nachlass dated 1887 that it is an exhausted nihilism which no longer fights – the most famous form is Buddhism.”

189: “Nietzsche writes that the overestimation of consciousness is absurd /…/ One can neither capture the qualities of great art by transforming the will to a form of consciousness, nor set out from consciousness and get a grip on the art. Consciousness and language are always related to a Yes-saying or No-saying to existence. /…/ Aesthetic judgements are then to be considered as a mode of existence. When a life-affirming event is given significance, the judgement made is not separated from the ‘judge’ /…/ There is nothing outside the self justifying this Yes-saying. The ‘strong’ will affirms itself.”
190: “If a life-affirming utterance about art has an effect, it is not brought about by arguments or rules. It rather imposes itself on the other, if the other affirms life. /…/
To follow one’s own path is not to be confused with a desire to have one’s own path. A striving for originality has nothing to do with this privileged uniqueness. /…/ Magistrates in matters of a life-negating taste also utter their ‘Great art!, ‘Art!’ and ‘Non-art!’, but alienate themselves from their judgements. These ‘judges’ do not walk on their own paths, but rely on something external (arguments, rules, authority, desire for power et cetera) in forming their judgements. /…/ According to Nietzsche, great works of art have more in common with other life-affirming creations (in a broader sense), than with life-negating art, such as the creation of oneself.”

242: “Nietzsche thinks of life-negation as a beautification of life and the world that makes the life-negating type of lives bearable and attractive. This beautification keeps humans within bounds. The construction of an ego, the ‘I’ of thinking, is also taken as an example of a life-prohibiting image.”

211: “Both the ego and the self are creations, but the willing of the self is an affirmation of the whole of our physiological existence. The body, Nietzsche writes, possesses a greater reason than the ‘I’.”
205: “The truth gained through the ‘I’, excluding other forms of reason is only one part of the body. Behind the ‘I’ there is a ‘self’ [das Selbst]. As we have also seen, there is a gap between the ‘I’ and the self. According to Nietzsche, we find that human beings should affirm a self, not their thinking. To affirm one’s self, is to affirm one’s own will: ‘Will a self‘, Nietzsche stresses”
206: “When Nietzsche speaks of an affirmation of the self, rather than the affirmation of the ‘I’, our physiological body is consequently also emphasised. The body, he writes, is a greater reason than the reason of the ‘I’. /…/
Zarathustra values that which human beings produce in an affirmation of their whole existence, not that which humans produce only with their thinking.
To emphasise being as becoming, the affirmation of one’s self is a state that threatens binary oppositions, such as that between a real and an apparent world. Along with the abolition of the subject, the real world is also abolished.”
207: “To create one’s own self is to become wiser than artists, Nietzsche writes in The Gay Science, because artists stop where art ends while ‘we want to be the poets of our life’. /…/ In this state of being, the need for traditional works of art passes away. If one has enough tragedy and comedy in one’s own company, one keeps away from the theatre.”
208: “Nietzsche’s emphasis on the perspective of creation and organisation also emphasise the possibility of works of art without an artist. /…/ about art as organisation /…/ A work of art without an artist represents a change in Nietzsche’s attitude from the metaphysical artist of the world, in The Birth if Tragedy, to the world as organisation and as a work of art giving birth to itself”

194: “Artistic creativity is crucial for both the life-negating and life-affirming type of existence. /…/ To stress human existence in the world as fundamentally creative, as Nietzsche does, is to stress the repudiations of all values, nihilism.”

176: “one of the beliefs protexting the life-negating artist and his art is that the artist has access to a ‘true truth’, a ‘real reality’ which is expressed in art. This is one of the consequences of elevating the artist as genious. In a life-negating culture, one believes that the work of art is able to convey such truths.”
177-178: “There is, however, also a positive aspect to art in Nietzsche’s time. Firstly, Nietzsche seems to mean that this art is better than no art at all. In Human, all too Human he says that we do not have leisure enough for art. /…/
‘Let us be grateful to it that is has consented to live as it does rather than flee away; but let us also admit to ourselves that an age which shall one day bring back true festivals of joy and freedom will have no use for our art.’
/…/ Art can restore these faded ideas and make different ages and old spirits return. Old emotions are, for a moment, aroused. This is a useful function of art, Nietzsche argues /…/ Without his knowledge, the artist’s task becomes that of making mankind ‘childlike’ and this is regarded both as a glory and a limitation.”

196: “The beautiful does not exist. /…/ That which is regarded as beautiful in a community, depends on what type of existence is triumphant in the world.”

2: “Some commentators associate current aestheticization processes with Nietzsche’s broadened sense of art and the artistic.”
3: “I soon came to believe, however, that the processes of aestheticisation spoken of today originated in an aesthetic paradigm that Nietzsche opposes. This is a paradigm that has come to associate aesthetics with the perspective of the receiver of art, while Nietzsche emphasizes the perspective of the creator.”

191: “In the aestheticism of Wilde, life itself becomes a work of art.
Nietzsche indeed also links art and life, although he does not link life to an already established notion of art. Instead, he criticises the aesthetic paradigm and emphasises artistic creativity in and outside the realm of art. This artistry is far from being disinterested and its prime concern is not beauty. Our aesthetics up to now, he writes, has been an aesthetics of the receivers of art; ‘the receivers of art have formulated their experience of “what is beautiful?” In all philosophy hitherto the artist is lacking.’ The last sentence is important: the artist is lacking in all philosophy so far.”
210: “Nietzsche’s suggestion of humans’ self-creation and the future overman has little to do with the aesthetic paradigm taken to its extreme in aestheticism, of the disinterestedness and beautification of life according to Oscar Wilde.”

243: “I believe that the processes of aestheticization spoken of today have their roots in an aesthetic paradigm that Nietzsche opposes. This is a paradigm that has come to associate aesthetics with sensory perception and the receiver of art (in a broader sense), while Nietzsche emphasises the perspective of the creator.”

4n: “Hegel writes that aesthetics [“Ästhetik”] designates the science of the senses [des Sinnes], of perception [des Empfindens]”

5: “My thesis is that there is a two-fold type of art and the artistic in Nietzsche’s writing. Nietzsche emphasises the perspective of production and asks: Has hunger or superabundance [“der Überfluss”] become creative? That is: Has life-affirmation or life-negation become creative?”
241: “Life-affirming art is made out of the artist’s own abundance; it is the result of an overflowing into a new creation. This art does not originate from the conscious intentions of the artist or from conformity to pre-established standards. /…/ The beholder of this art is physiologically stimulated; he is strengthened in his life.”

180: “Great art should be what we give away in an overflow, not something that is created and received because of a need for relief, security, and beauty. A conscious desire to create art is not favoured by Nietzsche, because the existence of great art does not have its origin in this desire. In Human, all too Human he writes: ‘I intend never again to read an author of whom it is apparent that he wanted to produce a book: but only those whose thoughts unintentionally became a book.’ /…/
Nietzsche says that creativity consists in the artists’ (or thinkers’) highly sharpened and practised power of judgement which rejects, selects and joins together.”
181: “The artist has practised and sharpened his power of judgement into a sharpness of the senses and a feeling of enhanced power when he chooses, discards, and creates new constellations. His art does not represent anything, it adds to the world of phenomena. In this creation he too, by necessity, destroys established images. /…/ Concerning art, Nietzsche emphasises the creative, organising process. This approach is in itself a critique of the existing aesthetic paradigm, of the emphasis on the receiver of art.”
185: “Great art in Nietzsche’s thinking, as we have seen, cannot serve as a standard for someone else to follow. What we can learn from the artist, he writes in The Gay Science, is their kind of creativity.”

11: “The concept ‘artist’ is sometimes used as a word of abuse, regarding someone who negates life. Sometimes it is the highest praise of someone who lives in life-affirmation. Another concept Nietzsche uses in a two-fold sense is ‘philosopher’.”
185-186: “Nietzsche argues [in HH]: ‘One man wants to enjoy his own nature by means of art, another wants with its aid to get above from his nature for a time. In accordance with both needs there exists a two-fold species of art and artist.'”
186: “there are two kinds of sufferers, those who suffer from an abundance of life and those who suffer from an impoverishment of life. The former kind wants Dionysian art, the latter seeks redemption from themselves through art. Life-denying art appeals to life-denying lives and liffe-affirming art corresponds to life-affirming beings. /…/
Art is created out of a surplus of life and it is only experienced by another ‘Yes-sayer’ to existence.”
35: “Life-affirmation is now regarded as an immanent justification of existence, in no need of any kind of external justification. Life-negation depends on something external for its justification of existence – such as God.”

187: “The superabundance of creativity is involved in both the perception and creation of an object. There are certain beings incapable of producing and responding to great art. /…/
judgements have nothing to do with understanding /…/
What happens when a life-denying existence is confronted with life-affirming art? Nietzsche answers that they ‘would interpret their own value feelings into it’.
In the correspondence between art and life, Nietzsche opposes the strict division between the artist, the beholder of art, and the work of art.”
188: “The physiological correspondence between the artist, the work, and the beholder of art levels out a hierarchy among them, which can be regarded as a critique of the cult of the geniusm of the autonomy of the work of art, and of the disinterested contemplative beholder of art. /…/ The beholder is therefore /…/ active in the participation of both the creative process and the work of art.”

224: “When [Wolfgang] Welsch writes that Nietzsche’s views on the aesthetic constitution of reality have become commonplace /…/ – he does not recognise the difference between a life-affirming and a life-negating structuring of reality. ”
234: “Both Wolfgang Welsch and Richard Shusterman acknowledge an all-embracing notion of creativity, as did Nietzsche. Both of them refer to Nietzsche’s writings in their attempt to broaden the field of the aesthetic, but in contrast to Nietzsche they do not distinguish between a life-affirming and a life-negating type of artistic creativity. This is evident, for example, when Shusterman regards Oscar Wilde’s ‘life itself is an art’ as a ‘Nietzschean maxim’. /…/ Welsch and Shusterman do not acknowledge Nietzsche’s affirmation of an order of rank. Instead, they hold that this coexisting plurality of aesthetic phenomena is democratic.”
238: “An acknowledgement of the hierarchical character of life as the will to power, however, eliminates an interpretation of Nietzsche as a philosopher who affirms plurality without any order of rank.”

199: “Nietzsche asks: How does the subjective become an aesthetic phenomenon? He finds the answer in a certain ‘musical mood‘ which is prior to the actual act of creation. The ‘subjective’ poet, as a Dionysian artist, first has to become united with the ‘primordial unity’, he then has to produce its image as music. /…/
Nietzsche writes that subject and object, as well as doer and deed, are constructions. This is expressed, for example, in a note from Nachlass dated 1888: ‘Subject, object, a doer added to the doing, the doing separated from that which it does: let us not forget that this is mere semiotics and nothing real.'”

40: “the Apollonian, this is characterised as an acknowledgment of human beings as artistically creative in their production of ‘beatutiful illusions’ /…/ a plastic energy forming a harmonious whole.”
41: “The Apollonian also forms individuality. /…/ Apollo is the image of principium individuationis
43: “The Olympian world is produced through the Apollonian tendency, which made it possible for human beings to live with the terror and horror they knew from existence.”
45: “Apollonian culture indeed affirms life as artistically creative in its affirmation of illusions, but it attempts to exclude pain and contradictions within existence, inasmuch as pain and contradictions are hostile to individuality.”

46: “In the Dionysian emption, ‘everything subjective vanishes into complete self-forgetfulness [Selbstvergessenheit]’ This ‘self-forgetfullness’ is to be understood in relation to the Apollonian ‘know thyself’.”
47: “Although Dionysian music touches the essence of things, it is significant to note that Nietzsche does not consider music as the will in itself. /…/ Music precedes other formations and creations – such as words and concepts – because it is more closely related to the universal ‘primal unity’ [‘das Ur-Eine’].”

189: “a kind of music which has forgotten the world and speaks to itself, of itself, while disregarding the hearers’ and listeners’ effects and failures. He regards it as ‘innocent, as opposed to ‘guilty’ music in need of justification and explanation. Nietzsche generally dislikes verbal explanations of great art.”

62: “There is a difference between Schopenhauer and Nietzsche regarding their respective views on what constitutes the veil of illusion. Nietzsche makes a distinction between the artistic Apollonian and the inartistic theoretical, or Socratic, world of illusion. Nietzsche uses the word ‘artistic’ as an indication of something highly values and ‘inartistic’ as a sign of something of low value. The inartistic veil of illusion is indeed artistically produced, as we shall see later, although it denies itself as such a creation.”

49: “We may now say that the Dionysian brings a fuller view of existence into Apollonian culture and art. The Dionysian affirms the whole of existence. I regard this as an artistic life-affirming alternative in The Birth of Tragedy, in the sense that the Apollonian-formed Dionysian state affirms the whole of existence.
One might also say that the Apollonian relieves existence of the suffering associated with the Dionysian.”

53: “We have three types of culture: a dominant theoretical culture, an artistic one and a tragic culture. Although Nietzsche seems to distinguish between an Apollonian artistic culture and a Dionysian tragic one here, we must keep in mind that the Dionysian tragic culture must always be Apollonian formed and hence artistic as well as tragic.”


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