Saturday, March 27, 2010

Initiation and Tuning Hammers

As I work more on my piece on Initiation for Immanence of Myth, there was something of an obscure comment I made, where I said "It is my present opinion that sometimes what cannot be accomplished with a sledgehammer may be arrived at with a tuning hammer. But time will tell." I got around to explaining that in a footnote, or at least beginning to. So this is my show and tell for the day:
FN This is rather obscure, however: Frederich Nietzsche regularly referred to "hammers" in his work, "How to philosophize with a hammer," the subtitle to Twilight Of The Idols, which he suggested be instead entitled "Hammer of the Idols" rather than "Twilight of the Idols," as his vitriol against Wagner at that point was supposedly already spent (ref fn. 3 pg .xiv Twilight of the Idols, Duncan Large translation) and the reference was taken to be meant as a parody of Wagner's "Twilight of the Gods." However, and this is the point here, within Twilight of the Idols the hammer is not one used for bashing but rather one used to "sound out" the true quality of idols, as one rings a bell. (ref. xvi, also the introduction. Duncan Large.) Not that it's important, but a tuning hammer isn't even "banged" with at all. Either way the metaphor is acoustic, it's about careful listening and resonant frequency, rather than the application of brute force. In regard to what I meant with this somewhat cryptic statement, the "resonant frequencies" that myths attempt to bring out in an audience must already exist within the audience, the way a certain pitch makes a glass or bell vibrate, or even shatter. One does not simply pound harder, or imply more shocking techniques in the hopes of drumming over the din of the polite and dispassionate speech of an audience as it strolls through the gallery. That glass has a specific frequency that derives that result from it. If the frequency is off, no result. The same may be true in regard to the task of the mythic artist, and so the challenging task for us, is to find the frequencies that will move the audience in such a way that it moves them beyond the detached mental state of mere entertainment, without falling into the opposite defensive posture of intellectual contemplation that much performance art does, where one goes "ah, that is interesting," and then tries to snaffle more wine and cheese before it runs out. This is of course, supposing that the intention of the mythic artist is an initiatory one, which it often is but certainly needn't be.

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