"Art is the great stimulus to life: how could it be thought purposeless, aimless, l'art pour l'art?" 
 - Friedrich Nietzsche, The Twilight of the Idols (1889)
As early as his first book, The Birth of Tragedy (1872), Nietzsche had treated art in an almost religious manner (understanding 'religious' in the broadest sense possible). Art impresses upon the viewer the 'metaphysical comfort ... that life is at the bottom of things, despite all the changes of appearances, indestructibly powerful and pleasurable' and that, hiding behind the prattle of everyday politics and fashions, the comings and goings of 'civilization', lies a 'chorus of satyrs... eternally the same, despite the changes of generations and of the history of nations.' The artist presents the world in the context of its fluctuation, as ever-changing expressions of intensity and plays of forces. But in so doing, in tapping into that intensity and metamorphosis that underlies and undergirds the superficialities of the 'man of culture,' she 'represents existence more truthfully, really, and completely...' She actively participates in the expressive tapestry that nature itself ceaselessly weaves, contextualizing the tragedies and sufferings of life as moments of that aesthetic phenomenon. Thus, art makes life livable. 'Art saves him, and through art - life.' 

In On the Genealogy of Morality (1887), we see a similar sentiment expressed: 'art, in which precisely the lie hallows itself, in which the will to deception has good conscience on its side, is much more fundamentally opposed to the ascetic ideal than is science...' 

This line from The Twilight of the Idols is thus a continuation of this basic view of art, but with something slightly new. Art does not merely justify existence by presenting appearance as appearance; the artistic impulse is connected to the life impulse in terms of its evaluative function. Against those who would assess the value of life as 'nil,' Nietzsche argues that the value of life cannot be accurately or objectively assessed. To do so, he argues, would require a perspective external to life. We have, as it were, too much 'skin in the game' to be objective in the evaluation of life. However, we can also make the following two points: (1) we are living beings, (i.e., we are expressions of life), and; (2) we are essentially valuing beings. We choose things not just because they satisfy immediate physiological needs or urges, but because we value them; we assess them as being worth choosing. So we cannot accurately assess the 'value' of life, but nonetheless, 'life itself evaluates through us when we establish values...' 

In this latter formulation of the significance of art, it is in this way that art 'saves'. Art does not merely present life in terms of fluctuation and appearance; it also evaluates: '...what does all art do? does it not praise? does it not glorify? does it not select? does it not highlight? By doing all this it strengthens or weakens certain valuations...' Heidegger writes that a value for Nietzsche is a point of view - it is, we might say, a way of experiencing the world. The artist privileges certain values, while abolishing others. The artist thus transforms our experience of the world, and in so doing, transforms the world. The artist does not simply present the world; she creates it. 
 


Comments

10/18/2016 2:37pm

I agree, I believe in art, and I believe it's way to represent one self, to stimulate the person! Wonderful artilce!

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Art is a form of expressing one's thoughts, beliefs or feelings. It is a manifestation of our feelings toward the world or the people around us. I think that it is the most effective form of expression. I don't paint but I write the things I want to voice out through the form of essays or poems. The satisfaction it brings is bizarre. And I will forever appreciate the art because it's something that never gets old.

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12/29/2016 7:25am

Oil paintings can add a special touch to any decor and can come in a variety of designs and subjects. These can be a great way showcase your style and personality, they are great ways to collect, display and appreciate your art.

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