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What separates the Dionysian Greek from the Dionysian barbarian?
The Dionysian Greek was the first to transform the Dionysian festivals into the redemptive enterprise of art. He was able to do so because of his already strong Apollonian tendencies. The Dionysian barbarian, however, possessed no method of taming or channeling the Dionysian impulse, leaving him doomed to destructive rampages and a sickening combination of sensuality and cruelty.
Why is language unable to render the cosmic symbolism of music?
Language cannot touch the symbolism of music, because music accesses the essence of the primordial contradiction and primordial pain in the heart of the Primal Unity, and thus symbolizes a realm beyond phenomena. Language, being a system of signs and symbols is fundamentally phenomenological, and so cannot hope to access the chaos of primordial being. In its attempt to imitate music, language achieves only the most superficial contact. Words cannot bring the significance of music any closer to our understanding; instead, we must experience it for ourselves.
What is the mythical story of Dionysus's suffering?
As a boy, Dionysus was torn apart by the Titans and so was forced to experience the agonies of individuation. In his dismembered state, Dionysus was known and worshipped as Zagreus. This dismemberment is the source of Dionysus's suffering, and indicates his ability to sympathize with human suffering. Unlike many other gods, Dionysus has known true physical and metaphysical suffering, and has been reborn. For, after being torn apart, the young god was put together again and reformed in a new and more glorious state. This is a metaphor for the suffering of man and his redemption at the hands of Dionysus.
What is the profound illusion at the heart of the Socratic worldview?
The Socratic man is under the illusion that thought can reach to the depths of being, and effect a change in it. This optimistic thinker believes that he can discover the secrets of the universe by force of his logic alone. Nothing can stand in the way of a man armed with knowledge, suggests Socrates, so go forth, and learn! This worldview is painfully naive and arrogant, for it insists that the universe is entirely comprehensible to the mind of man. Man needs only to keep acquiring knowledge, which will eventually lead him to an understanding of his own existence and of the universe. This theoretical man is blinded by his own superficial scientific successes, and so is unable recognize that his entire world is an illusion. He need only reach out for the Dionysian in order to know the answers to all his questions, but he will not reach out, for Dionysus is dead to him, relegated to the outmoded gods.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Birth of Tragedy!