The Madness of Music — The Dionysian Elixir That is my Blood

9/22/2021–10/02/2021

Whoever writes in blood and aphorisms does not want to be read but to be learned by heart.

— Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra[1]

Nietzsche wrote “with his blood:” whoever criticizes him or, better, experiences him can only do so by bleeding in his turn.

— Georges Bataille, On Nietzsche[2]

1

The thirst for annihilation. The first time I can remember having that feeling of power, that is to say, the first time I can remember feeling my will to power was in delirious movement, in the bopping of my head to the beat. The beat of the music moved my body, but I am the music.

[W]hen a man is suddenly and overwhelmingly affected with a sense of power (as is the case with all great passions) it excites a doubt in his mind as to whether his own person could possibly be the cause of such an astonishing sensation; he dares not think so, and thus he posits a stronger person, in this case a deity.[3]

For the first time in my life, I attributed this will to power to myself rather than to God or something other than me.

Man takes a step further in the development of the feeling of power itself when he comes to believe that he has also caused — and consequently, he immediately concludes, has willed — his elevated states (his perfection) himself.[4]

The first time the impulse that is the will to power flowed through my body was when I was losing myself to dance.

Everybody’s dancing on the floor / Getting ready for more / Come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on / Everybody’s dancing on the floor / Getting ready for more / Come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on /Lose yourself to dance / Everybody’s dancing on the floor / Getting ready for more / Come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on / Everybody’s dancing on the floor / Getting ready for more / Come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on / Lose yourself to dance / Everybody’s dancing on the floor / Getting ready for more / Come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on / Lose yourself to dance / Everybody’s dancing on the floor / Getting ready for more / Come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on / Lose yourself to dance / Everybody on the floor, everybody on the floor / Come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on / Lose yourself to dance / Everybody on the floor, everybody on the floor / Come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on / Lose yourself to dance / Everybody on the floor / Aw yeah / everybody on the floor / Come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on / Everybody on the floor / Aw yeah / everybody on the floor / Come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on / Lose yourself to dance / Everybody on the floor / Aw yeah, oh yeah / Come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on / Lose yourself to dance / Everybody on the floor / Aw yeah, oh yeah / Come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on.[5]

Nietzsche is completely correct when he says, “Without music, life would be an error.”[6] But we must ask, “What does this reveal about Nietzsche?” Would he reject life if music weren’t?

My ears are titillated. I’m thrown into convulsive movements. I forget all my pain, I forget everything. I am not? Knowledge is lost. There is only the flow of each beat, each note, each sung word which are nothing like discursive words. This flow begins to chip away at my neck. Orgasmic movement. How do I even be? The veil of Māyā has covered my eyes. I look at the SUN! I see black dots, my eyes are lost. I am blind. My head falls to the flow. In a disorganized madness, my bloody corpse collapses onto the ground, seizing paroxysmally. My headless corpse is animated by the flows of the earth. The volcanic flows within the earth push my corpse to erection. But my head has already gone. My neck spits out magma. My heart bursts out of my overflowing body on fire. My corpse is pushed in all directions. Blood mixes with magma: wine, the drink of Dionysus. Intoxication.

Work stops the flow. RELEASE ME FROM MY CHAINS! CUT OFF MY HEAD!

I don’t want more, I moan / I cannot suffer more / My prison. / I say this / Bitterly: / Words that suffocate me, / Leave me, / Release me, / I am thirsty / For something else. / I want death / Don’t admit / This reign of words, / Enchaining / Without dread / Such that I dread / Should be desirable; / It’s nothing, / This self that I am, / If not / Cowardly acceptance / Of what is. / I hate / This instrumental life, / I seek a crack, / My crack, / To be shattered. / I love the rain / Lightning / Mud / A vast expanse of water / The depths of the earth / But not me. / In the depths of the earth, / O my tomb, / Deliver me from myself / I no longer want to be.[7]

I THIRST FOR DEATH! THE RELEASE FROM LIFE WILL BE ECSTATIC! I NO LONGER WANT TO BE!

Work always builds a pipe to stop the flow of the sound waves. The pipe it builds is the subject, the ego, the I. We interpellate ourselves, but before we can do such a thing, we must necessarily be within the flow, and thus not be at all. We are fictions. Work is the work of fictions.

2

The impossible. Nietzsche says, “Everything becomes and eternally recurs — escape is impossible!”[8] If we flip this around so as to treat it as an analytic proposition, we arrive at the statement that “Escape from the eternal return is the impossible.” What we are here to do is to show how, operating off this latter statement, those more orthodox interpretations of the eternal return actually lend themselves to my interpretation of the eternal return. The more orthodox interpretations of eternal return see it as the infinite repetition of me. They see it as the infinite repetition of my life. How am I supposed to go beyond myself if I cannot escape myself? With this interpretation of the eternal recurrence, the overman becomes impossible.

With the entrance of the very question of the eternal return, we begin to see the overman as the impossible. The overman as the escape of the eternal return. The overman is thus the negation of me, of life, of Man, of God. The overman is “a creature of zero.”[9]

The overman is the death of God. With this latter conclusion, we realize that the eternal return means nothing other than the entrance of the Acéphale, for the Acéphale “mythologically expresses sovereignty committed to destruction and the death of God, and in this the identification with the headless man merges and melds with the identification with the superman, which IS entirely ‘the death of God.’”[10] The eternal return is the death of God, it is divine.

The eternal return is Nietzsche’s madness. Nietzsche’s madness is a pathology. Its pathological principle is syphilis.

3

Laughter. I am continually met with a single sexual affliction: a desire for a lost continuity.

I want to just let myself go. Harmony with the music. The voices rise. My ears… ecstasy. I don’t know what to even say anymore. What do I write when I’m on the edge? Can my writing even be good when I’m writing? My writing seems to only be good when it isn’t me talking but rather my headless corpse communicating horror. Ah! That’s it. Horror.

4

Schopenhauer was right about music. It is beyond this world, the pure exemplar of the sublime. Art in the form of literature, painting, etc. is all still stuck within the world of representation. Dante had so much source material for his Hell, all he had to do was look around. But Heaven? We have no materials to create such an image. Heaven is nothingness, the abolition of the will. For Schopenhauer, after the principium individuationis and the will have been abolished there is only nothing. He does not try to steer away from this. And good for him! We shouldn’t steer away from this!

Music negates the principium individuationis. It delivers me beyond myself. Music delivers me into the Nothing — the absolute outside.

As the violin’s bow convulses upon its strings, my very being enters into a paroxysm, incessantly ripping itself apart.

I hear the strum of guitar strings. My strength sways.

I hear the bass strings have fingers run upon them. My being trembles trying not to break apart in the face of the lacerating vibrations. The lacerating movement of the bass’ sound cuts me open — I’m losing blood, for it has done nothing less than caused a hemorrhage so great that I flow out of myself.

I hear the singer’s voice. I enter into communication with them. I hear their pain. I feel their pain. This is the sleep of reason — I have gone mad.

Nietzsche’s insane dancers, I am one of them.

Bibliography

Bataille, Georges. Inner Experience. Translated by Stuart Kendall. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2014.

⸻. On Nietzsche. Translated by Stuart Kendall. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2015.

⸻. Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927–1939. Edited by Allan Stoekl. Translated by Donald M. Leslie, Jr., Carl R. Lovitt, and Allan Stoekl. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985.

Land, Nick. The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism (an Essay in Atheistic Religion). New York: Routledge, 1992.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Portable Nietzsche. Edited and Translated by Walter Kaufmann. New York: Penguin Group, 1976.

⸻. The Will to Power: Selections from the Notebooks of the 1880s. Edited by R. Kevin Hill. Translated by R. Kevin Hill and Michael A. Scarpitti. New York: Penguin Classics, 2017.

Punk, Daft. “Lose Yourself to Dance.” Recorded 2012. Track 6 on Random Access Memories. Columbia Records, 2013.

References

[1]: Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, quoted in Georges Bataille, On Nietzsche, trans. Stuart Kendall (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2015), 189.

[2]: Georges Bataille, On Nietzsche, trans. Stuart Kendall (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2015), 7.

[3]: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power: Selections from the Notebooks of the 1880s, ed. R, Kevin Hill, trans. R. Kevin Hill and Michael A. Scarpitti (New York: Penguin Classics, 2017), 92.

[4]: Ibid., 178.

[5]: Daft Punk, “Lose Yourself to Dance,” track 6 on Random Access Memories, Columbia Records, 2013.

[6]: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Portable Nietzsche, ed. and trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Penguin Group, 1976), 471.

[7]: Georges Bataille, Inner Experience, trans. Stuart Kendall (Albany: State University of New York, 2014), 61–62.

[8]: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power: Selections from the Notebooks of the 1880s, ed. R, Kevin Hill, trans. R. Kevin Hill and Michael A. Scarpitti (New York: Penguin Classics, 2017), 580.

[9]: Nick Land, The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism (an Essay in Atheistic Religion) (New York: Routledge, 1992), 145.

[10]: Georges Bataille, Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927–1939, ed. Allan Stoekl, trans. Donald M. Leslie, Jr., Carl R. Lovitt, and Allan Stoekl (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985), 199.

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Evan Jack

How sweet terror is, not a single line, or a ray of morning sunlight fails to contain the sweetness of anguish. - Georges Bataille