On Nietzsche’s 167th Birthday

Friedrich Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900)

A documentary on Nietzsche : Human all too human and Beyond Good and Evil.

I was first exposed to the writings of  Friedrich Nietzsche during adoloscence due to several books of his that lay around the house since my mother had a doctorate in philosophy (And much to my embarrassment, my paternal great-grandfather, an archaeologist who adored his work used to copy his style of moustache.) I am enclosing a documentary about him.

For more on his philosophy here is a wiki article :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_Friedrich_Nietzsche although the best way is to read his books, of course. One of the best aspects of Nietzsche is  that unlike some other proponents of individualistic independent thinking, he never seeked any followers nor believed in cult-tactics (in fact he abhorred it) to impose his ideas upon others. He wrote for himself and for the personal joy of his ideas , reflections and observations. And no, he was NOT anti-Semitic, quite the reverse. The above mentioned moustachioed grandpa was Jewish so I do know what I’m talking of. Even the wiki article clearly states the facts. I do like the works of the mathematician-philosopher Bertrand Russell, but the introverted, introspective Nietzsche was definitely a man who was a true individualist of his time, for which he paid a lonely price. There are many insightful and powerful quotes of Nietzsche but one of my favourites both for its brevity and wisdom is :“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

Today people/writers termed as rationalists and secular humanists and thinkers are far more visible in the media, but in many ways, in the school of philosophy and rational thinking, Friedrich Nietzsche was one of the pioneers of asking this line of  rhetoric,  as well as questioning widely -followed-irrational-mass-belief-systems.  And he knew quite well back then that he would be in a small minority.

This particular documentary shows more of Nietzsche’s human side and weaknesses, a ‘truth’ that I have often been in conflict with about many creative artists and writers and even leaders I have liked. I found (a truth my mother had told me long back but I would find too hard to digest) that often the creative/artistic output of a man/woman (painter, musician, writer etc. who is not engaging in any moral-code-preaching but purely creating works for his/her own indulgence) should not be judged by but rather be viewed independently of his/her human fallacies (i.e.’weaknesses’ that did not include any violent tendencies, of course, but rather the softer limitations and follies of human nature.)

It was one of the hardest truths I have had to accept over time and life; and in some ways to learn from my own fallacy of overt optimism in the logic or kindness of humanity or rather lack thereof; and perhaps the reason why in my own life I still adhere to following a measure of personalised integrity and ethics as honestly and as steadfastly as I can. As Nietzsche says : “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” Now that’s an objective observation I can live with. 

And in today’s world, where the patterns of consumption, production and existence are too intricately tied and criss-crossed to be untangled, this thought of his, though impossible if one wishes to maintain both the practice of practicality and humility, still remains a liberating dream-reality: “The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” The first part of the statement is the observation. The second is the process or the price. And the third is the prize, if only for one’s own sense of self, but truly one of the best gifts  you can give yourself. Should you choose to, of course.

The original documentary:

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http://documentaryheaven.com

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Barter

“In the Dionysian dithyramb man is incited to the greatest exaltation of all his symbolic faculties; something never before experienced struggles for utterance – the annihilation of the veil of Maya, Oneness as the soul of the race, and of nature itself.” – Friedrich Nietzsche in “The Birth of Tragedy.”

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BARTER

(Sap-Alert! somewhat sappy, mushy stuff, written during a bout of metaphorical madness in 2009; the predicament when logical Apollonian souls get bewitched into loving Dionysian frenzied chaos, and get churned into inspired innuendos and dancing hearts. Any similarity of characteristics outlined here, with persons alive or dead, is purely coincidental.)

“Dionysus and Artemis.” Pen, ink and water color. Completed in 3 hours. (c) Maddy, 2004. “The Greek God of chaos, madness, wine and dark ecstasy Dionysius claims Apollo’s twin Artemis (the Light Bringer and goddess of the wilderness, of mountains, animals and virginity) in her own forest.”

For the poem “Barter” (2009): Wholeness within a single person can be conceptually attributed when one has been able to identify, struggle with, embrace, incorporate and balance both one’s lighter/logical and darker/emotional realms – or in other words – the Apollonian and Dionysian aspects of one’s psyche and state of being. Generally (as in the works of most philosophers as well as Camile Paglia’s book Sexual Personae) Apollonian logic, intellect and reason is seen as the masculine aspect, and Dionysian emotion, enigma and creativity as feminine.

Nietzsche for the first time presented Dionysus as the raw, wild, engulfing, destructive, angry, chthonic, impulsive, creative, powerful, sexual alpha-male and Apollo as the structured, calm, orderly, organized, rational man.

So what happens when completing the duality constitutes of finding the Dionysian within a “logical woman” instead, one who has more Apollonian traits and is awakened to the dark mysterious emotions of womanhood through the injection of the whimsical, sexual Dionysian within her? Hence I chose Artemis as the female anima of Dionysus – one who is an Equal Opposite – and where neither one can annihilate the other, but combine to make a balanced Whole. This resilience of Artemis (and her self-reliance) is necessary, because in philosophical texts – wherever Dionysus unleashes his turbulence, Apollonian qualities are completely destroyed. But not here – due to Artemis’ innate strength.  It is through the willful subjugation at the hands of the primitive, dominating male Dionysus that Artemis (hitherto stubborn, strong, virginal, reserved) finally learns to evoke her repressed passions and sensuality and show a vulnerability and softness of deeper womanhood, first losing herself to his pain, darkness and ecstasy and then regaining herself as an individual but more complete than before. And unlike the usual victims of Dionysus – the screaming maenads who lose control and become mad – Artemis’ intrinsic Apollonian logic and rationality keep her in balance, despite being able to experience fully YET withstand Dionysus’ intoxicating chaos and frenzy. What drove the maenads to madness, only makes her laugh. Because she willingly seeks his darkness as “the fuel for her light” as well as the space for her repose.

The no-man’s land where the overlap, their meeting occurs is a neutral territory where the union of the two opposites results in the balanced expression of art, and it is in this fertile overlap that the architect dwells and shapes his/her Will in line with a Nietzschean quote. (Architecture and Music are the two art forms since ancient times viewed as the balance of Apollonian & Dionysian qualities. It is also worthwhile to remember, therefore, the mention of Hesse’s humorous “immortals” – Pablo, the theater-designer and Mozart, the musician/composer – in Herman Hesse’s symbolic novel Steppenwolf – who are presented as those capable of living and creating in that fertile yet rare overlap, through the strength of their Will, their understanding of the facades (illusions) as well as the Reality of the world, and yet be able to create and live life fully due to their advanced sense of humor. Laughter and Love are the catalysts that can make individuation possible.)

Barter

(a spontaneous silly poem written in the spur-of-the-moment in the very early springtime of 2009, as I stood looking out into the beautiful maple forest outside my bedroom widow, on the top of the Summit Forest of Mount-Royal, Montreal, Canada. The last verse at the end was added more recently, in 2011, after a solitary walk in Central Park, New York.)

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In the twilight hour
of no-man’s land
where dreams and nightmares
blend to one
On a narrow ledge
where both collide
and turn to mist
where secrets hide
and compress to form
an even narrower strand
on that strip that comprises
no-man’s land:

Light becomes an illusion to you
elusive, beyond a darkened tunnel
But light is where I’m doomed to live
till I’m scathed by brightness,
Scorched
and blinded.

A child of light
I long for darkness
It’s mystic calm
and sensuous madness

A child of darkness
you seek the light
to laugh and play
take off in flight

Freedom to you beckons
like a sunlit sky
But to me –
freedom’s the starlight
of a blackened night

Exhausted by light
I crave to rest
and close my eyes
in your mysterious cave
of satyrs and suffering
bogs and waves
guffaws and cries
of mirth and hate

My world is joyful
Too bright and blithe
Like constant daytime
of a thousand lamps
It burns the ones
who cause me harm
And wish I could cry
to brave the storms
But ‘stead of tears
only laughter forms
for I’ve learned to
just not give a damn.
I see too well
through social masks
and senseless rituals
of a blinking mass
I prefer the madness
of those who dare
to reveal anger, sadness
feel real pain and fear
Unlike the pretenders
who dwell in
Apathy
Or hide behind banal
hypocritical
Duplicity.
So I seek the truth
of unpredictable flights
of those who truly know
The ups and downs
The highs and lows
of Intensity
The breathless turbulence
of shifting soil
The flowing caress
The ebb and tides
The whimsicality
of roller coaster rides.

You have the gift
of forgetfulness
to hold memories
like an ocean’s
fleeting waves.
But I’m Doomed to hold
every memory
like consistent earth
in solid constancy
And etched in stone
is every image I have
from adult responsibility
to childhood’s laughs.

Will you teach me how
to be like ocean waves
So I can skip my stones
on the water’s surface?
Will you take my light
When I’m tired of it?
Will you share your night
When it swallows you?

I need the dark
to recharge my light
and if you want my laughter
my genuine joy and smiles
take them in lieu
for the dark I desire
for I need it to relight
my innate fire

So when the sandman
sends your eyes to sleep
or when on grey days
you’re a dead man walking
I’ll take your grey
should you want my yellow
or I’ll learn to live
in that soothing mellow
If you’re the thundering skies
of black and grey
I’m the autumn leaves
of golden glades
that get blown off by your breezy rage
only to renew in brighter shades

I need to die
so I can Live again
a child of Light
that found its fuel
I was frozen once
and forgot to die
but you killed me
so I could resurrect again

Now addicted I am
to the thrill I get
of cyclical resurrections
I seek my death
I seek a hollow
like you seek your life
Here – take my life
till you’re whole again.
My cup keeps filling
till it cannot contain
it runneth eternally
with warm summer rain

So when you need authentic joy
and I need authentic pain
a life-blood to both
We shall exchange;
please take my smiles
for I need your screams
to feel alive
like I’ve never been
I’ll enter your nightmares
and you’ll enter my dreams
of peace and love
and tender streams

So I’ll wait for you,
Barter my joy for your sorrow
on that narrow
ledge
to lend and borrow
Each twilight hour
when the sun is low
and the glow of day
sinks in shadow
When the night descends
and takes our hands
into the scarlet hollow
of no-man’s land…..

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Forbidden words,
Forbidden lies
Forbidden glances
From your eyes
And yet your madness
Set afire
And freed
the myrrh
of desire
But like all else in that overlap,
that ledge where our two worlds briefly met,
I sank again,
like you knew I would
You watched me fall
To
A
Newer
Death
The Woman arose,
For the girl was dead;
And the Man subdued
her boyish ways.
He conquered her
not in weakened state
But in all her strength
Transformed to Love, not hate.
Yet unsatisfied,
He struck again
For Dionysus maenads
are maddened dead;
He forgot though, this
was Artemis
His equal opposite
With no fear of dread
And her spirit
would never give up on Life
‘Stead she
Laughed at the follies
Of his reckless youth,
And
happily shouldered
Responsibility
And
laughed and braved
his every mood.

For it is not perfection
One must seek,
But the perfect balance of the Light and Dark
And all Re-newal leads to Spring
Be it summer heat or winter stark.
If the detritus on the forest floor
Was not removed by Bacchic rage
How could the sunlight from the skies
Re-birth the saplings, Re-verse the page?
Re-write amidst the thunderstorms
A hymn of wisdom well worth singing:

The simple secRet of Re-surection is –

The Will of
Springing
Back
To

A
New
Beginning…..

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(c) Maddy. The Gipsy Geek. 2009.


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*“The architect represents neither a Dionysian nor an Apollinian condition: here it is the mighty act of will, the will which moves mountains, the intoxication of the strong will, which demands artistic expression.” –  Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche.

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The Apollonian & Dionysian here (Wikipedia link)

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A video celebrating an entwining of the two (The Apollonian science that created NASA’s satellite images, and the Dionysian sensuality of the composition of one of Chopin’s best nocturnes, yet each entity within itself – the music and the images- already have a perfect balance of the Apollonian-Dionysian duality) http://www.youtube.com/Chopin for EROS

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The ‘forest’ or rather stills of it that I stared at through the seasons and a log that held witness to a promise that I held on to with the naivete of the belief in words:  http://www.youtube.com/Memories of Montreal

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The literal meaning of ‘Re’ – http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/re-  

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Love and the Red Balloon – an ode to love :  https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com/2010/12/24/love-and-the-red-balloon/

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Documentary Heaven

This is one of the coolest websites I have come across : Documentary Heaven

http://documentaryheaven.com

For those who are more inclined towards gaining information, insights, facts and the ‘film’ version of non-fiction books. It covers various diverse categories from Archaeology, Economics, Environment, Human Rights, Physics, Psychology,  Space Science,  Sport & Adventure and a whole lot more.

Talking of the last category a big congratulations to a friend of mine for  many years Nethra Raghuraman (pronounced Netra) who is hosting a new documentary series on adventure sports and aircraft for the National Geographic channel. Nethra is not only an adventure-sports participant herself, but is an Industrial Psychology magna-cum-laude graduate who on a lark had entered an international L’oreal modeling contest years back and not only became its winner but later she chose to leave the catwalks of Paris (based on her own observations of  the industry) and participated in art and independent films instead.

Nethra Raghuraman – psychologist, model, actress, animal rights activist

One of India’s topmost supermodels (where she feels you have more control over your appearances and choices than in agency-based modeling) and a regular on the runways both there and in New York and Paris, she chose to select film projects which had more independent directors instead of  the hackneyed Bollywood song-and-dance routines. This limited her choices, but she still chose her personal principles and ethics over giving in to more marketable strategies. Her most significant role was in the critically-acclaimed Bhopal Express (A David Lynch presentation which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival) which went on to snag 7 awards in the festival circuits including a best-actress award for her  and was based on the true story of one of the largest industrial catastrophes caused by human callousness of the Union Carbide plant resulting to a death toll of upto 15,000 people (both immediate and the aftermath of the  leaked poisonous gases.) When I went to watch the movie in a Montreal Art Film Festival in 2000, the line-up for the tickets was 6 blocks long (I’m not kidding.) And while I had known her even before her modeling days, it was wonderful to see that that young, shy, intelligent teenager I knew who was still coming to terms with her growing height at 5′-10″ and fluffy lips had years later transitioned into this elegant, sensitive artist. Unlike most other women in this field of work, she does not enter into self-promoting campaigns and does not even bother to maintain a home page. And even after featuring on the cover of Vogue Asia (she’s the one  kneeling on the left) still remains as  grounded as she has always been. I particularly liked an observation she once made : “I’d read somewhere that things are to be used, and people loved. But strangely and sadly you find in this world that so often things are loved and people used. What a reverse world we live in!” Congratulations, Nethra on hosting your new gig. And for waiting  and turning down other numerous offers till it was for a channel as informative as National Geographic. Thank you for being a woman of strength, beauty (in and out) and intellect (and I wish more interviewers would ask you about your education, insights and philosophical musings, rather than the usual cliched questions.)

Netra hosting the series for the National Geographic channel.

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A documentary on Nietzsche : Human all too human and Beyond Good and Evil.

And now, moving on to something else, particularly to one of my (and my mother’s) favourite philosophers – Friedrich Nietzsche. (And much to my embarrassment, my paternal great-grandfather, an archaeologist who adored his work used to copy his style of moustache.) While writing on Nietzsche would deserve a separate post altogether, since documentaries-are-the-topic-du-jour here, I am enclosing one taken from the link mentioned above. For more on his philosophy here is a wiki article : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_Friedrich_Nietzsche although the best way is to read his books, of course. One of the best aspects of Nietzsche is  that unlike some other proponents of individualistic independent thinking, he never seeked any followers nor believed in cult-tactics (in fact he abhorred it) to impose his ideas upon others. He wrote for himself and for the personal joy of his ideas , reflections and observations. And no, he was NOT anti-Semitic, quite the reverse. The above mentioned moustachioed grandpa was Jewish so I do know what I’m talking of. Even the wiki article clearly states the facts. I do like the works of the mathematician-philosopher Bertrand Russell, but the introverted, introspective Nietzsche was definitely a man who was a true individualist of his time, for which he paid a lonely price. There are many insightful and powerful quotes of Nietzsche but one of my favourites both for its brevity and wisdom is :“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

I will soon be starting a series about people termed as rationalists and secular humanists and thinkers (and the first post lined to be up soon is on Richard Dawkins) but in many ways, in the school of philosophy and rational thinking, Friedrich Nietzsche was one of the pioneers of asking this line of  rhetoric,  as well as questioning widely -followed-irrational-mass-belief-systems.  And he knew quite well back then that he would be in a minority.

This particular documentary shows more of Nietzsche’s human side and weaknesses, a ‘truth’ that I have often been in conflict with about many creative artists and writers and even leaders I have liked. I found (a truth my mother had told me long back but I would find too hard to digest) that often the creative/artistic output of a man/woman (painter, musician, writer etc. who is not engaging in any moral-code-preaching but purely creating works for his/her own indulgence) should not be judged by but rather be viewed independently of his/her human fallacies (i.e.’weaknesses’ that did not include any violent tendencies, of course, but rather the softer limitations and follies of human nature.) It was one of the hardest truths I have had to accept over time and life; and in some ways to learn from my own fallacy of overt optimism in  the logic or kindness of humanity or rather lack thereof; and perhaps the reason why in my own life I still adhere to following a measure of personalised integrity and ethics as honestly and as steadfastly as I can. As Nietzsche says : “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” Now that’s an objective observation I can live with. And in today’s world, where the patterns of consumption, production and existence are too intricately tied and criss-crossed to be untangled, this thought of his, though impossible if one wishes to maintain both the practice of practicality and humility, still remains a liberating dream-reality: “The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.The first part of the statement is the observation. The second is the process or the price. And the third is the prize, if only for one’s own sense of self, but truly one of the best gifts  you can give yourself. Should you choose to, of course.

http://documentaryheaven.com/nietzsche-beyond-good-and-evil/

http://documentaryheaven.com

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