Keeping out of your own way

“The subject—the striving individual bent on furthering his own egoistic purposes—can be thought of only as an enemy to art, never as its source.  But to the extent that the subject is an artist he is already delivered from individual will and has become a medium through which the True Subject celebrates his redemption in illusion.  For better or worse, one thing should be quite obvious to all of us: the entire comedy of art is not played for our own sakes—for our betterment or education, say—nor can we consider ourselves the true originators of that art realm; while on the other hand we have every right to view ourselves as esthetic projections of the veritable creator and derive such dignity as we possess from our status as art works.  Only as an esthetic product can the world be justified to all eternity—although our consciousness of our own significance does scarcely exceed the consciousness a painted soldier might have of the battle in which he takes part.  Thus our whole knowledge of art is at bottom illusory, seeing that as mere knowers we can never be fused with that essential spirit, at the same time creator and spectator, who has prepared the comedy of art for his own edification.  Only as the genius in the act of creation merges with the primal architect of the cosmos can he truly know something of the eternal essence of art.  For in that condition he resembles the uncanny fairy tale image which is able to see itself by turning its eyes.  He is at once subject and object, poet, actor, and audience.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music (emphasis in original; trans. Golffing)

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