Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Art & Philosophy: The Apollonian and the Dionysian

The classical period Greeks worshiped two Gods by the names of Apollo and Dionysus. Apollo was the Sun God. His scope involved reason, dreams, males, homosexuality, goals, logic, structure, craft, and making things. Dionysus (later known as Bacchus by the Romans) gender-blending, trees, seduction, unrestrained passion, and more less sunny things.

The first thing to understand is that they are not mutually exclusive in an artist or work of art. They interleave and overlay. Frederich Nietzsche, a German philosopher, wrote about this in great detail in a book titled The Birth of Tragedy, published in 1872.

He thought that the friction between the two was one of the great wellsprings of psychic energy for poetry, drama and the arts.The Apollonian emphasizes individuality, the Dionysian a sense of unity -- not just with others of one's own kind, but ultimately with all things.

This dichotomy represents two types of energy that are at play in everything human, including art.

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