I think his declamatory German just gets lost in translation, but every time I read Nietzsche I find very little substance underneath all the sauce. I’m on page 86 of The Birth of Tragedy and I’m not entirely sure what ideas I’ve gleaned from this.
I get the idea that tragedy is the fusion of the Appollonian impulse, to weave a dream, and the Dionysian, to tear down the walls of individuality. Thus, in percieving a false Prometheus set upon a stage, we are both a) getting an impulse of cosmic truth, and b) roped into real, emotional connection with the suffering character. I get that. It makes sense. But somehow I would wish that he would ground his assertions before carrying them to their conclusion. It has the mark of circular reasoning.
The whole of the modern world is caught up in the net of Alexandrian culture, and its idea is theoretical man, armed with the highest powers of knowledge and working in the service of science, whose archetype and progenitor is Socrates.
-BoT, pg. 86
Now, one may agree with this statement. One may find it compelling. But it’s only a statement, and it has not the discipline to argue its case. A sweeping judgement is hurled down, assumed as true, and carried forward. Precisely what establishes this idea? Am I to take the “whole” in the first sentence as hyperbole?
And Birth of Tragedy is fairly disciplined in this regard. When we get to Beyond Good and Evil, I find myself filling my Kindle app with snarky asides in the notes. And by “snarky” I mean “confused to the point of rage”.
They should never have allowed Germans to do philosophy.