Philosophy 101/Miller Brown
According to the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, art is a combination of two
wholly contradictory aspects: the Apollonian and the Dionysian.
Yet although they are
contradictory, a combination of the two is essential for the creation of successful art.
Apollonian art, which consists primarily of painting, narrative literature, and poetry, gets
its name from the Greek sun god, Apollo.
Apollo, according to Nietzsche, represents
knowledge and the attainment of knowledge; Apollo additionally praises the individual
and self-knowledge (“principium individuationis”).
Nietzsche then adds that Apollo
represents dreams and illusion, a proposition which is at first confusing if one considers
the fact that such qualities seem to contrast the others. Dionysian art, on the other hand,
springs from Nietzsche’s conception of Dionysius, the Greek god of wine. Dionysius
represents qualities such as physical intoxication, excess, hubris, worldly knowledge (as
opposed to Apollonian cognition and self knowledge), and “ecstatic reality” (in contrast
with the dreams and illusion associated with Apollo).
Additionally, as opposed to the
Apollonian concept of the individual, the Dionysian represents unity and a “world will.”
Reality belongs to Dionysius because the Dionysian, in the purest sense, stands for “the
great horrors of existence.”
Survival, according to Nietzsche, deals directly with fear and
anxiety; this fear and anxiety stems from the fact that human beings live a tragic
existence that can not be changed, a fact which embodies Dionysian elements.
humans live a tragic existence, they can not survive if they immerse themselves in this