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Nietzsche's Musical Askesis for Resisting Decadence

Nietzsche's Musical Askesis for Resisting Decadence Nietzsche’s Musical Askesis for Resisting Decadence RUCE ELLIS BENSON othing has preoccupied me more profoundly than the problem of Ndécadence,” writes Nietzsche in The Case of Wagner (P). That preoccupation is likewise evident in Nietzsche’s other texts of 1888—TI, A, and EH. Yet Nietzsche goes on to reassure us (or perhaps reassure himself) that he “resists” this decadence by way of what he calls his “special discipline,” which he describes in terms of “sacrif ice,” “self-overcoming,” and “self-denial.” Yet what does music have to do with this “special discipline”? That music was deeply important to Nietzsche is well known. From his youth on, he was an avid improviser at the piano. His letters (and even writings) are filled with references to particular musical pieces, composers, and even concerts that he attends. Not only does Nietzsche frequently use musical metaphors, but he also links music and thought in such a way that the latter is somehow dependent on the former (a link that I shall later consider). In his recently translated book, Georges Liébert notes that “Nietzsche’s repeated avowal is often cited: ‘Without music, life would be an error,’ but almost as though it were a quip. Rarely is the http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Journal of Nietzsche Studies Penn State University Press

Nietzsche's Musical Askesis for Resisting Decadence

The Journal of Nietzsche Studies , Volume 34 (1) – Dec 6, 2007

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Publisher
Penn State University Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 The Pennsylvania State University.
ISSN
1538-4594

Abstract

Nietzsche’s Musical Askesis for Resisting Decadence RUCE ELLIS BENSON othing has preoccupied me more profoundly than the problem of Ndécadence,” writes Nietzsche in The Case of Wagner (P). That preoccupation is likewise evident in Nietzsche’s other texts of 1888—TI, A, and EH. Yet Nietzsche goes on to reassure us (or perhaps reassure himself) that he “resists” this decadence by way of what he calls his “special discipline,” which he describes in terms of “sacrif ice,” “self-overcoming,” and “self-denial.” Yet what does music have to do with this “special discipline”? That music was deeply important to Nietzsche is well known. From his youth on, he was an avid improviser at the piano. His letters (and even writings) are filled with references to particular musical pieces, composers, and even concerts that he attends. Not only does Nietzsche frequently use musical metaphors, but he also links music and thought in such a way that the latter is somehow dependent on the former (a link that I shall later consider). In his recently translated book, Georges Liébert notes that “Nietzsche’s repeated avowal is often cited: ‘Without music, life would be an error,’ but almost as though it were a quip. Rarely is the

Journal

The Journal of Nietzsche StudiesPenn State University Press

Published: Dec 6, 2007

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