Philosophy and Poetry: Rilke and Nietzsche
Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei, author of The Ecstatic Quotidian: Phenomenological Sightings in Modern Art and Literature, and Katja Brunkhorst, author of Verwandt/Verwandelt. Nietzsche’s Presence in Rilke, discuss their recent work on philosophy and poetry in Nietzsche and Rilke
Moderator: Mark Daniel Cohen
Date: Friday, March 28
Time: 7 - 10 PM
Place: NYU’s Deutsches Haus, 42 Washington Mews, at University Place
Nietzsche & Religious Conflict
Talibanism in the Abrahamic Religions
An Evening with Horst Hutter
What happens when the metaphysics of religions loose their ability to calm anxieties? What are the movements in the ‘soul,’ as Nietzsche configures it, that ignite in us emotions of fear and anxiety, anger and rage? How does a rethinking of Nietzsche’s reversal of Platonism help us to critically confront the psychopolitics of our contemporary situation, plagued by war, religious strife, psychic conflict and the incapacity to manage the resources of the planet?
For a copy of Horst’s insights, click here for his thought-provoking abstract.
Click here for an event flyer in pdf format.
The Culture of Contest
Christa Davis Acampora vs. Yunus Tuncel
An Evening with Music, Poetry, Food, and Spirits
In this evening with music and poetry, Christa Davis Acampora and Yunus Tuncel will discuss Nietzsche’s agonistic philosophy and how its teachings are applicable to issues of contemporary society.
They will explore the mythic, poetic, artistic, and political aspects of the culture of agon in ancient Greece and in Nietzsche’s interpretation of it. Moreover, they will assess contemporary society, politics, and political theory through Nietzsche’s agonistic thought.
Their dialogue will be moderated by Alan Rosenberg. Music and poetry recitation by Emily Fairey, Colin Pilney, and Rachael Sotos will be interspersed throughout the evening, which will end with a leisurely discussion between the presenters and the spectators.
REQUIEM AETERNAM DEO
Experience the earthy, ritualistic spectacle of Requiem Aeternam Deo: A Play for Everyone & Nobody, written & directed by Fulya Peker. Staging the death of God, this Middle Eastern woman blends Eastern and Western traditions to explore the necessity of creating new values in the midst of such social and religious crises.
Based on Graham Parkes’ momentous new translation of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, this expressionistic work reaches out to breathe with the spectator, opening up possibilities for discovery through the experience of a communal journey, which may in fact inspire its audience to gain what Emerson called “an original relation to the cosmos,” and dissolve the borders of East and West in theater. To hear Nietzsche’s words spoken aloud is to realize once again what a truly lyrical writer he is, that, in fact, he is one of our preeminent poets, a sculptor who has transfigured words and made music of them.
A captivating fusion of painting, dance, music, and ceremonial rites, Peker’s Requiem evokes the spirit of Butoh and Grotowski and is ripe with a sense of the earth. Requiem Aeternam Deo is a timely and provocative play which expresses with real force the need for sacredness in an open universe not constricted by monotheistic laws or man made borders. In our tempestuous religious epoch, this work addresses some of the dangerous trials we are engaged in. Experience the Eternal Requiem now!
Be sure to read:
The Nietzsche Circle’s interview with Fulya Peker on Requiem Aeternam Deo: A Play for Everyone & Nobody in our Interviews section.
Horst Hutter’s interview with Graham Parkes on Nietzsche and Thus Spoke Zarathustra in our Archive Interviews section.
George Hunka’s review of Requiem Aeternam Deo: A Play for Everyone & Nobody, on his blog Superfluities.
NIETZSCHE. DREYER. GERTRUD. RODOWICK.
A screening and discussion of Carl Dreyer’s Gertrud
On Saturday, January 20th at 7 PM, the Nietzsche Circle will present the second installment of its cinema series, Nietzsche & Cinema, with a screening and discussion of Carl Dreyer’s Gertrud.
For Gilles Deleuze, the cinematic time-image is the highest expression of a Nietzschean ethics, where philosophein is, simultaneously, expression and existential choice‹the medium and idiom of a life. Here the Nietzschean moral universe defines an ontology of descent and ascent, destruction and creation, a base will to power fueled by ressentiment and the will to truth, and a creative or artistic will that affirms life and its powers of transformation while seeking out possibilities for enhancing these powers and this life. Between these two wills lies the deepest ethical problem, which is also that of Dreyer’s Gertrud, his last and greatest film: the problem of choosing a mode of existence defined by the possibility of choice. And in so doing, to affirm eternal recurrence as “the power choosing possesses of being able to start again at each instant, to restart itself, and to affirm itself of itself, by putting all the stakes back into play each time.”
The film was chosen by David Rodowick of Harvard University, who will address the relationship between Gertrud and Nietzsche’s philosophy. Rodowick is the author of Gilles Deleuze’s Time Machine and, most recently, Reading the Figural, or, Philosophy after the New Media.
Chawky Frenn – Art as Philosophy
A slide presentation and discussion with the artist.
Moderated by Mark Daniel Cohen
ECCE HOMO celebrates the release of Frenn’s new monograph, Art for Life’s Sake, which features essays by Donald Kuspit, Howard Reznikoff, Mark Daniel Cohen and others.
The paintings of Chawky Frenn take the eye as the royal road to the soul, and it is astounding how few works of contemporary visual art do that. On the soft bed of exquisite painterly technique, they do contentious battle with the alluring horrors and beckoning powers of destruction that plague the human spirit at its very center. His works are filled with images fused of tenderness and carnage, of passion and destruction, of faith and perfidy, of life and death. Frenn was born in Lebanon, where he spent his first 20 years living through six years of civil war. As Frenn has said, he witnessed, “people killed, sacrificed and terrorized in the name of God, of the Nation, of scared beliefs and basic rights.” It was an experience of “a paradox of clashing realities,” a recognition of the need to seek “meaning amongst the chaos and absurdity.”
However, for Frenn, absurdity is something other than an easy condemnation. As he quotes Nietzsche in one of his exhibition catalogues: “One must have chaos in one, to give birth to a dancing star.” The debt to Nietzsche is evident everywhere in his paintings—in the numerous quotations from Nietzsche included in his catalogues, in paintings such as Homage to Nietzsche, 1998, and in the very title of his museum exhibition, ECCE HOMO. What Frenn obtains of the philosopher is Nietzsche’s sense of “tragic insight”—the recognition that the human heart is riven, caught between the drives toward creation and decay, toward life and death, toward acceptance and slaughter. And yet, not caught, for he recognizes that these opposites are the same, and the human condition is rooted somewhere “beyond good and evil.” You can see the realization in such works as Creation, 1998, a triptych in which a portrait of the artist is partially eclipsed by a skull in profile, and in The Dance, 1998, another triptych in which all the panels couple the artist with the skeleton and, in the center panel, the two do their dance of life and death.
This is art as philosophy, as the most difficult of philosophies, as the knowledge that realizes—in the way Frenn puts it in the title of another painting—Where images stop, philosophy begins, 1997.
Frenn was born in Zahlé, Lebanon and moved to the United States in 1981. He has exhibited nationally and internationally, and has had shows in the US, France, Germany, Lebanon, and Paraguay. In 2000 - 2002, Frenn’s first traveling exhibition, ECCE HOMO, was hosted by Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, and other universities and museums throughout the country. For his work, he has received the Blanche E. Colman Award, Mellon Trust, the Basil H. Alkazzi Award, London, the Khalil Gibran Foundation Grant, and others.
To view Frenn’s work, visit his site: http://chawkyfrenn.com
Nietzsche Now: A Symposium
In the spirit of an ancient symposium, imbibe the spirits of Dionysus, enjoy Epicurean delights, and engage in discourse on Nietzsche’s philosophy in honor of his birth. Our evening will also feature the dangerous music of the flute, performed by the maenads Clea and Emily. If you wish to wear a toga, we will not object . . .
Featured Nietzsche-toasters include AGNES HELLER & HORST HUTTER.
This modern-day symposium will be an experiment; to celebrate Nietzsche’s birthday, instead of a near-ascetic academic style symposium, this symposium will be more akin to the actual more festive symposiums of ancient Greece. The ancient symposium was, at least ideally, itself a highly structured, even ritualized, drinking party. Apparently the Greeks, alone among wine drinkers in the ancient world, didn’t turn water into wine—they weren’t decadent—but mixed their wine with water, and they did this with great care and concern, even devoting theoretical and poetic consideration to the proper mixing of water and wine (beer drinkers of course were barbarians by definition—according to one legend, Dionysus fled to Greece to escape beer-obsessed Mesopotamia. . .
It is our intention with this experiment to sustain a balance of the Dionysian and Apollonian; an opportunity for indulging in veritas in vino, yet also in exercising moderation. Euboulos, the Middle period comedian, has Dionysus say in one of his plays:
“For sensible men I prepare only three kraters: one for health (which they drink first), the second for love and pleasure, and the third for sleep. After the third one is drained, wise men go home. The fourth krater is not mine any more - it belongs to bad behavior; the fifth is for shouting; the sixth is for rudeness and insults; the seventh is for fights; the eighth is for breaking the furniture; the ninth is for depression; the tenth is for madness and unconsciousness.”
Those of you who are wise will go home after the third krater; if you choose to beckon bad behavior, fights, or madness, it is not an act Dionysus would honor.
Our symposium is an experiment; we are only inspired here by the ancient symposium, not looking to recreate it in empirical detail, which Nietzsche of course would just as much find a sterile academic exercise unlike the classical Athenians.
Agnes Heller will speak on friendship in Nietzsche, and Horst Hutter will speak on the Dionysian. After each speaker’s talk, the floor will be open for all to participate in the symposium.
AGNES HELLER is the Hannah Arendt Professor of Philosophy and Political Science at the New School for Social Research. A student and friend of Georg Lukacs, Heller was one of the most well-known Marxist philosophers in the twentieth-century, although in a distinctly dissident mode. In the nineteen-eighties she was among the first to make the so-called post-modern turn and she has certainly never looked back. Although prolific in moral philosophy and social and political theory, in recent years her work has turned to aesthetics and the philosophy of religion. Her many publications include: Immortal Comedy: The Comic Phenomenon in Art, Literature, and Life (forthcoming); The Concept of the Beautiful (forthcoming); The Time Is Out of Joint: Shakespeare as Philosopher of History (2002); A Theory of Modernity (1999); Radical Philosophy (1984); Renaissance Man (1978), and many other texts. For her life-long contribution to European culture, Heller is the 2006 recipient of the prestigious Sonning Prize, Denmark’s largest cultural award.
HORST HUTTER holds a PhD in Political Science from Stanford University and an M.A. in Political Science from Hunter College, and is currently Professor of Political Philosophy at Concordia University in Montreal. He has taught at McGill University, Stanford University, Loyola University of New Orleans, University of Alberta, and the Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe, Germany. Dr. Hutter has published on friendship in classical antiquity, care of the soul in Plato’s Charmides, philosophy as self-transformation, and Cynicism. His most recent book is Shaping the Future: Nietzsche's New Regime of the Soul and Its Ascetic Practices, which the Nietzsche Circle staged an event around in February of this year. Hutter is a peripatetic oral philosopher.
Art vs. Truth: Nietzsche’s Quandary as an Adolescent
Throughout his writing career Nietzsche seems to have admired
both the sciences and arts yet to have regarded them as opposed.
In The Birth of Tragedy he proclaimed the superiority
of the great dramatists over the “scientific” Socrates. Later,
after separating from Wagner, he reversed himself, and in
Human, All Too Human applauded the sciences while patronizing
artists as naive and immature. Yet as he grew older, Nietzsche
came increasingly to emphasize the limits of “truth,” seeing
its pursuit as ascetic and life denying. The arts, by contrast,
were almost always portrayed as beguiling, deceptive, and
seductive, but seductive to life itself, and therefore friends
of life, as the pursuit of truth was not.
This was an opposition which Nietzsche first confronted during adolescence. In my presentation I will concentrate on his years at Schulpforta and examine his devotion to music and poetry on the one hand and his fascination with scholarship on the other. A number of factors (the example of Manfred, his disenchantment with Christianity, his admiration for his professors, and a withering evaluation of his own talents and drive) all led him to decide on the pursuit of truth, not the arts, as his primary task. In his graduation speech he promised to dedicate himself exclusively to knowledge, a path he would pursue over much of his life.
This presentation will feature Schumann’s and Nietzsche’s piano music as well as excerpts from the first act of Tristan.
Nietzsche and Literature
From theorists such as Walter Benjamin, Maurice Blanchot and Jacques Derrida, to poets, dramatists, and novelists ranging from Rilke, Eugene O’Neill, and Milan Kundera to countless others, the scope of the affect of Nietzsche’s aesthetic vision is not only enormous, but exceptionally diverse and variegated. David Kilpatrick (Mercy College and theater critic for The Brooklyn Rail), Christa Davis Acampora (Hunter College and editor of The Nietzschean Bestiary and the forthcoming Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals), and Duncan Large (Swansea, Wales and author of Nietzsche & Proust) will explore some of the dimensions of this influence, which continues to resound today; the discussion will be moderated by Nicholas Birns of New School University and Eugene Lang. Mr. Birns is the author of Understanding Anthony Powell and was the editor of Powys Notes (a journal concerned with the work of novelist and essayist John Cowper Powys, who was also influenced by Nietzsche). The topics include:
David Kilpatrick: “Literature and the Limit-Experience”
Christa Davis Acampora: “Fictional Freedom: Life and Literature After Nehamas”
Duncan Large: “Nietzsche’s Literary Criticism”
FRIDAY, APRIL 28th from 6 PM to 10 PM
66 W 12th St, Rm. 501 (near 6th Ave)
Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Dialogue with Graham Parkes and John Richardson
On Friday, March 31st at 7 PM the Nietzsche Circle will be celebrating the release of Nietzsche and Buddhist scholar Graham Parkes’ momentous new translation of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, what Nietzsche called “the greatest gift mankind” has ever received. Mr. Parkes’ new translation is not only the first in nearly half a decade, but the first to retain the musicality of the original and to annotate the abundance of allusions to the Bible and other classic texts Nietzsche is in a polemic with.
This book, which Nietzsche referred to as “the profoundest book there is, born from the innermost richness of truth,” has influenced and inspired much of the most significant artwork of the 20th century. From the poetry of Rilke and Yeats to the novels of Thomas Mann, Nikos Kazantzakis, and Milan Kundera, from the paintings of Otto Dix, Matisse and Munch to the music of Strauss, Mahler, and Schoenberg and the choreography of Isadora Duncan, Mary Wigman, and Martha Graham, Nietzsche’s affect upon the arts of the 20th century is not only irrefutable, but astonishing. The artistic luminaries of nearly all the arts had found Nietzsche’s ideas to be a deep well of riches which challenged and provoked them.
Thus Spoke Zarathustra addresses the crisis of the death of God and mankind’s exigent task of how to live a fulfilling life in a world devoid of meaning. In it, Zarathustra, the first to transpose morality into the metaphysical realm, the first to create the most calamitous error, morality, recognizes and overcomes his error. Before the shadow of the murdered God, Zarathustra also overcomes the non-tragic finite conception of temporality and discovers the thought of thoughts, the idea of the Eternal Return. This is ‘the highest formula of affirmation that can ever be attained’ and successful engagement with this profoundly Dionysian idea enables us to choose clearly among the myriad possibilities that existence offers, and thereby to affirm every moment of our lives and remain faithful to the earth.
NIETZSCHE’S LIFE SENTENCE:
A DIALOGUE ON THE ETERNAL RETURN
JOAN STAMBAUGH & LAWRENCE J. HATAB
In celebration of Mr. Hatab’s newly published NIETZSCHE’S LIFE SENTENCE: COMING TO TERMS WITH ETERNAL RECURRENCE, NIETZSCHE CIRCLE is elated to present this dialogue with Mr. Hatab and world renowned Nietzsche and Heidegger scholar, Joan Stambaugh.
In his presentation, Mr. Hatab aims to elucidate and defend the philosophical import of eternal recurrence and its central place in Nietzsche’s thought. This concept, what one might refer to, to paraphrase Pascal, as ‘Nietzsche’s wager’, has often perplexed readers, if not particularly, Nietzsche’s fervent avowal of it. For Mr. Hatab, ‘Nietzsche’s wager’ is an essential aspect of his thought and has philosophical validity in the light of Nietzsche’s critique of the West—it was for Nietzsche the only authentic alternative to all other conceivable models of time with respect to affirming natural life and its temporal finitude.
While Mr. Hatab concedes that Nietzsche probably did not intend eternal recurrence to be taken as an objective, scientific, cosmological fact, he stresses an existential version of the thought but believes that it should be taken “literally,” otherwise its existential effect would be lost; one would always be susceptible to the psychological loophole that repetition “isn’t really true.” To avoid the possibility of “armchair affirmation,” Mr. Hatab will focus on the literal meaning of eternal recurrence, without necessarily endorsing its factual meaning. This distinction between the literal and the factual has the advantage of fitting the world-disclosive and “revelatory” spirit of Nietzsche’s accounts of eternal recurrence (rather than simply a hypothetical thought experiment pertaining only to human psychology). Mr. Hatab’s argument is that eternal recurrence should be read as the only authentic expression of life affirmation by force of its literal meaning.
In this regard he suggests a kind of literality that can be distinguished from factuality by bringing in the literary phenomenon of “suspension of disbelief.” He draws on the Greek sense of mim sis, not in the manner of representational copying, but in the psychological sense of audience identification with poetic and dramatic performance. Mr. Hatab aims to show a way in which eternal recurrence can be read literally without committing to a cosmological thesis.
Lawrence J. Hatab, Old Dominion University. Areas of specialization include 19th- and 20th-Century Continental Philosophy, Ancient Philosophy, and Social and Political Philosophy. Aside from Nietzsche’s Life Sentence, he is the author of Nietzsche and Eternal Recurrence; Myth and Philosophy; A Nietzschean Defense of Democracy: An Experiment in Postmodern Politics; and Ethics and Finitude.
Joan Stambaugh is one of the most eminent Nietzsche and Heidegger scholars. Ms. Stambaugh has translated numerous works of Heidegger’s such as The Finitude of Being; Being and Time; End of Philosophy and On Time and Being. Her other works include The Formless Self; Impermanence Is Buddha-Nature: Dogen’s Understanding of Temporality; The Real is not the Rationaland her works on Nietzsche include The Other Nietzsche, The Problem of Time in Nietzsche and Nietzsche’s Thought of the Eternal Return.