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“Cultural Strangulation” by Addison Gayle . Cultural Strangulation “There is no White aesthetic”. The Agenda: To Defend the Positing of a Black Aesthetic The Argument:
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Cultural Strangulation“There is no White aesthetic” • The Agenda: • To Defend the Positing of a Black Aesthetic • The Argument: • The failure to recognize a separate black aesthetic is not only out of step with current leftist moves forward in the field of race relations, but is also the outgrowth of a failure to come to terms with what might constitute a White Aesthetic. • This White Aesthetic is as older than the “race problem,” but its privileging of light over dark was mapped onto race relations. Let us proposes Greece as the logical starting point, bearing in mind Will Durrant’s observation that “all of Western Civilization is but a footnote to Plato,” and take Plato as the first writer to attempt a systematic aesthetic [….] However, Plato defines beauty in ambiguous terms leaving the problem of more secular, circumscribred, secular definition to philosophers, poets, and critics […] these aestheticians have been white, there, it is not surprising that, symbolically and literally, the have defined beauty in terms of whiteness,
The Ironic and Oppositional Position of Black Aesthetics • Hence, in the American realm, the entire realm of aesthetics is poisoned by a racism that comes to the fore every time it evaluates an object of Black Art. • And, the Black artist is forced into a corner. To answer to the demands of traditional aesthetics is to allow white critics to dictate the expression of Black experience (which can result in a re-instantiation of racism) • Hence, the only option other than assimilation, calls for an iconoclastic set of principles embodied in the phrase “Black is Beautiful”
Characteristics of Negro Expression (1934) Zora Neale Hurston
Asymmetry: Hurston Anticipates/Articulates “The Oppositional Black Aesthetic” of the BAM • Again, in contradistinction to traditional European aesthetic ideals that place a premium on symmetry. • Somewhat paradoxically, Negro dance and music values asymmetry and rhythm both. This is made possible because, in Negro expression, rhythm is segmented. It has a symmetry on its own but not in relation to the whole assembled by it. • The poem’s asymmetry lies in both its rhythm, and the asymmetrical depiction of a “good girl” with “low down ways”
Will to Adorn:Hurston Prefigures Henderson, Baker, and Gayle • The will to adorn is a notable characteristic in Negro expression that stems from his belief (which Hurston, again, qualifies as primitive) that there can never be enough, let alone too much beauty. • This desire to decorate the decorative may appear grotesque (in its mixture of elements), but that assignation only holds true for those outside the community. For Hurston, the Negro alone is qualified to be a critic of his aesthetic production, and whatever he does of his own volition, he embellishes. • Although the Negro has contributed to African words to the English language, he has softened and toned down hardly consonanted words and made “new force words” out of “feeble elements.” • His greatest contribution tot he language, though, is to be found in: • his use of metaphor and simile- ex) Syndicating-gossiping, sobbing hearted, You sho is propaganda • his use of the double descriptive:-ex) high-tall, low down, chop-axe • his use of verbal nous-ex) I wouldn’t friend with her • And his creation of nouns from verbs-ex) She won’t take a listen
Originality: Anticipating Baker’s “Exegetic” • Originality has less to do with original sources (which are impossible to pin-down), and more with a penchant for the modification of existing ideas. • Given that the Negro lives in the midst of white civilization, he must modify everything for his own particular use and needs. His very existence demands constant refashioning (or originality as a mode of being) • However, this refashioning although prompted by the Negro’s circumstance, can inspire refashioning on the other side of the color line.
Hurston’s “Signifying Monkey”: Cultural HeroesHurston Prefigures Larry Neal and Henry Louis Gates
Dancing: Anticipating Larry Neal • Negro dancing does not attempt to express itself fully (as does white dancing), but rather seeks to draw the performer into the dance itself by means of dynamic suggestion, one begging of the audience an interpretive reaction. • This plea, or reaching, out allows dance to move beyond the confines of the stage and to make the spectator part of the process, begging him to complete what is suggested. • No art can ever express all variations conceivable, but in its dialogical nature Negro dancing engenders more possible variations, is less exhaustible of meaning, and therefore superior to white dance.
The Marching Orders for BAM artistic Production • Reacting to felt history • Rediscovering an art where form and function coincide • Addressing the specific needs of Black people • By becoming, like music, an integral part of the community’s lifestyle. • By becoming, like music, representative of the collective psyche, achieving the same sense of ritual
Neal:Contemporary Politics and Artistic Production as Felt Shared Historical Experience 1) Every black writer has had to and has to react to history. 2) Neal makes the argument that the task of artist and activist are one, and then privileges Malcolm X’s brand of black internationalism. 3) The recipe is simple: black art should be black internationalist in its ambition and nationalist in its scope. 4) Neal turns to the notion of “feeling history”—which figures this process as an understanding of the past that leads to contemporary action—to tie artistic production and activism together.
Toasting and the Signifying Monkey Toasting, a modern and primarily urban form of Black oral lore, has its roots in older traditions like signifying and playing the dozens. A toast is a lengthy, recited narrative or poem describing a series of exploits by a central character. Focusing on the main character's heroic acts and exercises of wit, the toast presents values through actions. Toast characters include recognizable and popular figures like Shine, Stackolee and the Signifying Monkey. Many are Black entrepreneurs pursuing the American Dream and its promise of plenty for those who can achieve entry into mainstream American society--an entry which in reality is denied them. Willing to grab or take their success into their own hands, these characters announce their intentions to survive in style, which can mean "heroic masculinity" or conspicuous consumption. Toasts are commonly recited on street corners, front porches, prisons, or wherever men and groups of Blacks get together. In the performance of a toast, the "toaster" seems to become the toast character or "big man" and to take on his "style". Listeners can celebrate their existence through identifying with the success of the hero, whose actions stand in contrast to the reality of their own oppressed circumstances. The toast is heroic because the chief character will accept death in the face of danger and therefore subjugates himself or herself to the group. In fighting to the point of death or the possibility of dying, the hero ennobles the group. Mona Lisa Saloy
THE MANIFESTO: “The Artist and the political activist are one.” • Neale’s Project • To align the projects of the black artist and political activist • 2)To fashion a collective goal: the destruction of double consciousness • 3) In his well-known essay on the Black Arts Movement, Larry Neal attests, “When we speak of a ‘Black aesthetic’ several things are meant. First, we assume that there is already in existence the basis for such an aesthetic. Essentially, it consists of an African-American cultural tradition. But this aesthetic is finally, by implication, broader than that tradition. It encompasses most of the usable elements of the Third World culture. The motive behind the Black aesthetic is the destruction of the white thing, the destruction of white ideas, and white ways of looking at the world.”
Richard Wright (1908-1960) Drama Native Son: The Biography of a Young American with Paul Green(New York: Harper, 1941) Fiction UncleTom’sChildren(New York: Harper, 1938) Native Son (New York: Harper, 1940) The Outsider (New York: Harper, 1953) Savage Holiday (New York: Avon, 1954) The Long Dream (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1958) Eight Men (Cleveland and New York: World, 1961) Lawd Today (New York: Walker, 1963) Rite of Passage (New York: Harper Collins, 1994) A Father's Law (London: Harper Perennial, 2008) Non-fiction How "Bigger" Was Born; Notes of a Native Son (New York: Harper, 1940) 12 Million Black Voices: A Folk History of the Negro in the United States (New York: Viking, 1941) Black boy(New York: Harper, 1945) Black Power (New York: Harper, 1954) The Color Curtain (Cleveland and New York: World, 1956) Pagan Spain (New York: Harper, 1957) Letters to Joe C. Brown (Kent State University Libraries, 1968) American Hunger (New York: Harper & Row, 1975) Big Boy Leaves Home (2007) Essays The Ethics Of Living Jim Crow: An Autobiographical Sketch (1937) Introduction to Black Metropolois I choose Exle (1951) White Man, Listen! (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1957) The Man Who Lived Underground
The 1928 and 1930 Comintern Resolutions on the Race Problem: Nationalism and Internationalism • (2) Establishment of the State Unity of the Black Belt. At the present time this Negro zone -- precisely for the purpose of facilitating national oppression -- is artificially split up and divided into a number of various states which include distant localities having a majority of white population. If the right of self-determination of the Negroes is to be put into force, it is necessary wherever possible to bring together into one governmental unit all districts of the South where the majority of the settled population consists of Negroes. Within the limits of this state there will of course remain a fairly significant white minority which must submit to the right of self-determination of the Negro majority. There is no other possible way of carrying out in a democratic manner the right of self-determination of the Negroes. Every plan regarding the establishment of the Negro State with an exclusively Negro population in America (and, of course, still more exporting it to Africa) is nothing but an unreal and reactionary caricature of the fullfilment of the right of self-determination of the Negroes and every attempt to isolate and transport the Negroes would have the most damaging effect upon their interests; above all, it would violate the right of the Negro farmers in the Black Belt not only to their present residences and their land but also to the land owned by the white landlords and cultivated by Negro labour. • (3) Right of Self-Determination. This means complete and unlimited right of the Negro majority to exercise governmental authority in the entire territory of the Black Belt, as well as to decide upon the relations between their territory and other nations, particularly the United States. It would not be right of self-determination in our sense of the word if the Negroes in the Black Belt had the right of determination only in cases concerned exclusively the Negroes and did not affect the whites, because the most important cases arising here are bound to affect the Negroes as well as the whites. First of all, true right to self-determination means that the Negro majority and not the white minority in the entire territory of the administratively united Black Belt exercises the right of administrating governmental, legislative and judicial authority. It would be a mistake to imagine that the right of self-determination slogan is a truly revolutionary slogan only in connection with the demand for complete separation. The question of power is decided not only through the demand of separation, but just as much through the demand of the right to decide the separation question and self-determination in general. A direct question of power is also the demand of confiscation of the land of the white exploiters in the South, as well as the demand of the Negroes that the entire Black Belt be amalgamated into a State unit.
Maxim Gorky (1869-1936) John Reed(1987-1920) Social Realism Social Realism developed as a reaction against idealism and the exaggerated ego encouraged by Romanticism. Consequences of the Industrial Revolution became apparent; urban centers grew, slums proliferated on a new scale contrasting with the display of wealth of the upper classes. With a new sense of social consciousness, the Social Realists pledged to “fight the beautiful art”, any style which appealed to the eye or emotions. They focused on the ugly realities of contemporary life and sympathized with working-class people, particularly the poor. They recorded what they saw (“as it existed”) in a dispassionate manner. The public was outraged by Social Realism, in part, because they didn't know how to look at it or what to do with it
Blueprint for Negro Literature (1937)Breeching the Bourgeoisie GapThe Minority Outlook Black Literature has not kept pace with class mobilization amongst the Black Bourgeoisie • That Negro workers have demonstrated this consciousness and mobility for political and economic action there can be no doubt. But has this consciousness been reflected in the work of Negro writers? Has it been manifested in Negro writing in the same degree as it has been in the Negro workers’ struggle to free the Scottsboro boys, in the struggle to free Herndon in the fight against lynching? Have they as creative writers taken advantage of their unique minority position? The answer decidedly is no. Negro writers have lagged sadly, and the gap between the militant Negro workers and the Negro writers widens relentlessly. Wright’s project laid bare: • How can the hiatus between Negro workers and Negro writers be bridged?How canthe enervating influence of this long-standing split be eliminated? In presenting a problem of this sort, the old accepted attitude of following precedent can lead nowhere. A slavish respect for past standards hinders rather than helps.An attitude of self-consciousness and self-criticism is far more likely to be a fruitful point of departure than a mere recounting of past achievements. • Since there is a big task to be done, an emphasis upon tendency and experiment, a view of the world as something becoming rather than as something fixed and admired, is the one which points the way for Negro writers to stand shoulder to shoulder with Negro workers in mood and outlook.
Blueprint for Negro LiteratureThe Dictates of Socialist Realism:Subject Matter and Theme • (Not)Escaping the Bind: Negro Literature as Critique • If this is the Negro writers’ subject matter, then it must be marshalled toward some goal, some critique; it must be linked with the imaginative representations of the rest of mankind. Negro writing must be placed somewhere in historical space and time; in short, it must have a theme. • This does not mean that Negro writers’ sole concern must be with rendering the social scene; but if their conception of the life of their people is broad and deep enough, if the sense of the whole life they are seeking is vivid and strong in them, then their writing will embrace all these social forms under which the life of their people is manifest. • A Common People and a Prismatic Theme: Negotiating Difference and Collectivity • And in speaking of theme, one must necessarily be general and abstract; the temperament of each writer moulds and colors the world he sees. Any one theme may be approached from a thousand angles, with no limit to technical and stylistic freedom. But at the core of the life of a people is one theme, one historic sense of life, one prismatic consciousness refracting aesthetic effort in a whirlwind of color.
Blueprint for Negro Literature:The Sterility of Advocacy and New SourcesThe Role of Negro Writing: Two Definitions The Sterility of Black Literature as Humanist Plea, Ethic, and Aesthetic In short, Negro writing on the whole has been the voice of the educated Negro pleading with white America. Rarely has the best of this writing been addressed to the Negro himself, his needs, his sufferings, and aspirations. Through misdirection Negro writers have been far better to others that they have been to themselves. And the mere recognition of this places the whole question of Negro writing in a new light and raises a doubt as to the validity of its present direction. The New Sources of Negro Advocacy: Church and Folkore There is, however, a culture of the Negro which has been addressed to him and him alone, a culture which has, for good or ill, helped to clarify his consciousness and create emotional attitudes which are conducive to action. This culture has stemmed mainly from two sources: (1) the Negro church; and (2) the fluid folklore of the Negro people.
Blueprint for Negro Literature:Nationalism, Church, and Folklore The Wellsprings of Negro Folk Culture Negro folklore contains, in a measure that puts to shame more deliberate forms of expression, the collective sense of the Negroes’ life in America. Let those who shy at the nationalist implications of Negro life look at the body of folklore, living and powerful, which rose out of a unified sense of a common life and a common fate. Here are those vital beginnings of that recognition of value in life as it is lived that marks the emergence of a new culture in the shell of the old. The nationalist aspects of Negro life are as sharply manifest in the social institutions of the Negro people as in folklore. There is a Negro church, a Negro press, a Negro social world, a Negro sporting world, a Negro business world, a Negro school system, Negro professions, in short, a Negro way of life in America. Fomenting an Itinerant Black Nationalism Negro writers must accept the nationalist implications of their lives, not in order to encourage them, but in order to change and transcend them. They must accept the concept of nationalism because in order to transcend it they must possess and understand it. And a nationalist spirit in Negro writing means a nationalism carrying the highest possible pitch of social consciousness. It means a nationalism that knows its limitations, that is aware of the dangers of its position, that knows its aims are un-realizable within the framework of capitalist America; a nationalism whose reason for being lies in the simple fact of self-possession and in the consciousness of the interdependence of people in modern society.
Blueprint for Negro Literature:Socialist Realism and Social Consciousness NEGRO WRITING AS SOCIAL IR(REPONSPONSIBLITY) Naturally, all of this places upon Negro writers, who seek to function within their race as purposeful agents, a new and fearful responsibility. In order to do justice to their subject matter, in order to depict Negro life in all of its manifold and intricate relationships, a deep, informed and complex consciousness is necessary, a consciousness which draws for its strength upon the fluid lore of a great people, and moulds this lore with the concepts that move and direct the forces of history today. Every short story, novel, poem, and play should carry within its lines, implied or explicit, a sense of the oppression of the Negro people, the danger of war, of fascism, of the threatened destruction of culture and civilization; and, too, the faith and necessity to build a new world.
Blueprint for Negro WritingThe Dictates of Socialist Realism:Propaganda vs. Perspective VISION But even if Negro writers found themselves through some “ism,” how would that influence their writing? Are they being called upon to “preach”? To be “salesmen”? To “prostitute” their art? What is the relationship between “something to believe in” and artistic expression? Must they “sully” themselves? Must they write “propaganda”? No. It is a question of awareness of consciousness; it is, above all, a question of perspective. PERSPECTIVE Perspective is that part of a poem, novel, or play which writers never put directly upon paper, but which is sensed in every line of the work. It is that fixed point in intellectual space where writers stand to view the struggles, hopes, and sufferings of their people. There are times when they may stand too close and the result is a neglect of important things. Of all the problems faced by writers who as a whole have never allied themselves in act or thought with world movements, perspective is the most difficult of solution. At its best perspective is a pre-conscious assumption, something which writers take for granted, something which they win through their living.
Blueprint for Negro WritingThe Dictates of Socialist Realism:Judgment and Criticism: A Call for Critique FOREHADOWING GATES? There is but one searchlight that can help Negro writers to walk along this rocky ledge, and that is the pitiless glare of a criticism whose frame of reference is historical, political, and economic as well as aesthetic. Over and above all their achievements, Negro writers should never feel that their goal has been reached; always ahead should be the sense of areas of experience to be conquered; problems to be framed, pondered and solved; always in them should reside the sense of becoming. And out of this sense will, should, grow the need for criticism. Only when Negro writing is bathed in the white light of a constant and responsible criticism and only when that criticism has become the conscience of Negro writing, can it be said that Negro writing has come of age.
Blueprint for Negro Literature:The Dictates of Socialist Realism: Socialist Realism’s Revolutionary Potential and its Autonomous Craft The relationship between reality and the artistic image is not always direct and simple. The imaginative conception of a historical period will not be a carbon copy of reality. Image and emotion possess a logic of their own. A too literal translation of experience into images is a defeat for imaginative expression. And a vulgarized simplicity constitutes the greatest danger in tracing the reciprocal interplay between the writer and his environment. Like medicine and engineering, writing has its professional autonomy (not absolute independence). Writing should complement other professions, but not supplant them.
Blueprint for Negro Literature:In Summary To recapitulate: We are writers of a minority people whose working class is pushing militantly forward. We have the choice of writing for Negro and white “Society” or for our working class and the cause of social justice it represents. If we choose to stand on the side of social progress, then our artistic expression must shape the (folk-national) aspirations of our people. This necessitates a basic realignment, ideologically and aesthetically, on our part. It calls for a new consciousness and a new responsibility: Negro writers must live on the heights of their time and weave their subject matter into artistic patterns and suffuse these patterns with their will to live. Their resurgence against the bulwarks that stand in from of them might necessitate a resurgence against those obstacles within their own group which retard them.
1 In the Beginning Nietzsche said, Let empiricism fall into blackness And there was Blackness and it was Beautifully Abject Nietzsche is opposed, firstly, to the Empiricists and their view that knowledge is derived from the senses. He points out that mankind perceives only the forms or surface of things: our “senses nowhere lead to the truth" but merely "engage in a groping game on the backs of things” He is also opposed to the claims of Rationalists like Descartes for whom self-awareness (consciousness of a stable, immutable, transcendental self) is the a prior foundation upon which knowledge of other things is erected. Man's self-knowledge is limited in that he is unable to perceive himself completely because he has been taught to look past the body in search of a soul, a transcendental principle to his identity when, in fact, his entire being, including his consciousness and self-consciousness, is anchored in his physiology. Nature, he writes, conceals most things from him concerning his body, locking him within a "proud, deceptive consciousness, aloof from the coils of the bowels, the rapid flow of the blood stream, and the intricate quivering of the fibres!" Ironically, moreover, the "drive for truth" which man possesses may be tantamount to a "fatal curiosity" in that ultimately it uncovers at the root of his being only all that is "[p]itiless, greedy, insatiable, and Murderous.”
Pride over man’s ability to know via the senses deceives man about the value of his existence. The pride connected with knowing and sensing lies like a blinding fog over the eyes and senses of men, thus deceiving them concerning the value of existence. For this pride contains within itself the most flattering estimation of the value of knowing. Deception is the most general effect of such pride, but even its most particular effects contain within themselves something of the same deceitful character.
“The art of dissimulation reaches its peak in man” to such an extent that even self-knowledge becomes impossible. As a means for the preserving of the individual, the intellect unfolds its principle powers in dissimulation, which is the means by which weaker, less robust individuals preserve themselves-since they have been denied the chance to wage the battle for existence with horns or with the sharp teeth of beasts of prey, This art of dissimulation reaches its peak in man. Deception, flattering, lying, deluding, talking behind the back, putting up a false front, living in borrowed splendor, wearing a mask, hiding behind convention, playing a role for others and for oneself-in short, a continuous fluttering around the solitary flame of vanity-is so much the rule and the law among men that there is almost nothing which is less comprehensible than how an honest and pure drive for truth could have arisen among them. They are deeply immersed in illusions and in dream images; their eyes merely glide over the surface of things and see "forms." Their senses nowhere lead to truth; on the contrary, they are content to receive stimuli and, as it were, to engage in a groping game on the backs of things.
A social agreement on truths is invented through “a legislation of language,” and lies arise when there is straying away from this agreement Given this situation, where in the world could the drive for truth have come from? Insofar as the individual wants to maintain himself against other individuals, he will under natural circumstances employ the intellect mainly for dissimulation. But at the same time, from boredom and necessity, man wishes to exist socially and with the herd; therefore, he needs to make peace and strives accordingly to banish from his world at least the most flagrant bellum omni contra omnes. This peace treaty brings in its wake something which appears to be the first step toward acquiring that puzzling truth drive: to wit, that which shall count as "truth" from now on is established. That is to say, a uniformly valid and binding designation is invented for things, and this legislation of language likewise establishes the first laws of truth. For the contrast between truth and lie arises here for the first time. The liar is a person who uses the valid designations, the words, in order to make something which is unreal appear to be real. He says, for example, "I am rich," when the proper designation for his condition would be "poor." He misuses fixed conventions by means of arbitrary substitutions or even reversals of names.
Language as Social Contract (who else thinks this?)Nietzsche’s curveball- Language provides no truth, tricks us into believing in causality, and actually inhibits our sensory capacities to experience the “thing in itself” Though pretence forms an important part of all social relations (in our effort to gain the upper hand over others, we try to impose our version of thing and events), the fact that man must coexist with others implies the necessity of establishing the truth upon which all agree, in other words, the formation of a consensus: a "uniformly valid and binding designation is established for things, and this legislation of language likewise establishes the first laws of truth.” The question that consequently looms in importance is whether our linguistic designations of things are congruent with or accurately correspond to our perception of the things themselves. Nietzsche has in mind Locke’s views on the link between our sensory apprehension of objects, language and knowledge: he felt that there is a pretty straightforward relationship between objects in the external world (cause) and the sense impressions which they produce within us (their effect). In Nietzsche’s view, the word is a copy in sound of the stimulus which our encounter with an object enacts upon a nerve. In other words, we feel something in some way and then translate that into a sound-image of that feeling. However, Nietzsche argues that any inference from a feeling internal to our bodies (the effect) to a possible cause outside of ourselves is a tenuous one and remains in the realm of pure conjecture. (Nietzsche is influenced in this regard by another Empiricist, David Hume, who sought to undermine our confidence in the existence of cause and effect relationships – he argued that there is no proof of relationships of consequence, only of succession, that is, that something precedes something else.) Moreover, even if a cause and effect relation could be established, it remains to be established whether we can ever objectively apprehend the properties of an external object: the qualities inherent in things, for example, the hardness of a stone. It is the copy in sound of a nerve stimulus. But the further inference from the nerve stimulus to a cause outside of us is already the result of a false and unjustifiable application of the principle of sufficient reason. If truth alone had been the deciding factor in the genesis of language, and if the standpoint of certainty had been decisive for designations, then how could we still dare to say "the stone is hard," as if "hard" were something otherwise familiar to us, and not merely a totally subjective stimulation be, he contends, a totally subjective perception.
“Knowing” and knowledge are language-based metaphors that do not correspond to pure truth or “the thing in itself.” The various languages placed side by side show that with words it is never a question of truth, never a question of adequate expression; otherwise, there would not be so many languages. The "thing in itself" (which is precisely what the pure truth, apart from any of its consequences, would be) is likewise something quite incomprehensible to the creator of language and something not in the least worth striving for. It is this way with all of us concerning language; we believe that we know something about the things themselves when we speak of trees, colors, snow, and flowers; and yet we possess nothing but metaphors for things--metaphors which correspond in no way to the original entities. Thus the genesis of language does not proceed logically in any case, and all the material within and with which the man of truth, the scientist, and the philosopher later work and build, if not derived from never-never land, is, at least, not derived from the essence of things.
Part 6: Both abstract and concrete designations (words) become concepts through generalizing (i.e. “leaf” becomes “leaves”), but as a result the individual and the actual is lost. In particular, let us further consider the formation of concepts. Every word instantly becomes a concept precisely insofar as it is not supposed to serve as a reminder of the unique and entirely individual original experience to which it owes its origin; but rather, a word becomes a concept insofar as it simultaneously has to fit countless more or less similar cases--which means, purely and simply, cases which are never equal and thus altogether unequal. Every concept arises from the equation of unequal things. We obtain the concept, as we do the form, by overlooking what is individual and actual; whereas nature is acquainted with no forms and no concepts, and likewise with no species, but only with an X which remains inaccessible and undefinable for us
Defining and Arriving at Truth What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and; anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions- they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins. We still do not yet know where the drive for truth comes from. For so far we have heard only of the duty which society imposes in order to exist: to be truthful means to employ the usual metaphors. Thus, to express it morally, this is the duty to lie according to a fixed convention, to lie with the herd and in a manner binding upon everyone. Now man of course forgets that this is the way things stand for him. Thus he lies in the manner indicated, unconsciously and in accordance with habits which are centuries' old; and precisely by means of this unconsciousness and forgetfulness he arrives at his sense of truth. .
The thing that distinguishes man from beast is language, but language is a metaphor-making-machine, and these metaphors have their origin in, but little to do with, the perceived world. Everything which distinguishes man from the animals depends upon this ability to volatilize perceptual metaphors in a schema, and thus to dissolve an image into a concept. For something is possible in the realm of these schemata which could never be achieved with the vivid first impressions: the construction of a pyramidal order according to castes and degrees, the creation of a new world of laws, privileges, subordinations, and clearly marked boundaries-a new world, one which now confronts that other vivid world of first impressions as more solid, more universal, better known, and more human than the immediately perceived world, and thus as the regulative and imperative world.
There is no adequate reflection of theessence of an object in the consciousness of the subject: at most, there is an aesthetic or metaphorical relation. But in any case it seems to me that "the correct perception"-which would mean "the adequate expression of an object in the subject"-is a contradictory impossibility. For between two absolutely different spheres, as between subject and object, there is no causality, no correctness, and no expression; there is, at most, an aesthetic relation: I mean, a suggestive transference, a stammering translation into a completely foreign tongue-for which I there is required, in any case, a freely inventive intermediate sphere and mediating force . All that conformity to law, which impresses us so much in the movement of the stars and in chemical processes, coincides at bottom with those properties which we bring to things. Thus it is we who impress ourselves in this way. In conjunction with this, it of course follows that the artistic process of metaphor formation with which every sensation begins in us already presupposes these forms and thus occurs within them. The only way in which the possibility of subsequently constructing a new conceptual edifice from metaphors themselves can be explained is by the firm persistence of these original forms That is to say, this conceptual edifice is an imitation of temporal, spatial, and numerical relationships in the domain of metaphor.
The drive towards metaphor making fuels both the drive towards truth and the artistic impulse. So long as art doesn’t injure, it allows for freedom of the intellect. The drive toward the formation of metaphors is the fundamental human drive, which one cannot for a single instant dispense with in thought, for one would thereby dispense with man himself. This drive is not truly vanquished and scarcely subdued by the fact that a regular and rigid new world is constructed as its prison from its own ephemeral products, the concepts. It seeks a new realm and another channel for its activity, and it finds this in myth and in art generally. This drive continually confuses the conceptual categories and cells by bringing forward new transferences, metaphors, and metonymies. It continually manifests an ardent desire to refashion the world which presents itself to waking man, so that it will be as colorful, irregular, lacking in results and coherence, charming, and eternally new as the world of dreams. So long as it is able to deceive without injuring, that master of deception, the intellect, is free; it is released from its former slavery and celebrates its Saturnalia. It is never more luxuriant, richer, prouder, more clever and more daring. With creative pleasure it throws metaphors into confusion and displaces the boundary stones of abstractions, so that, for example, it designates the stream as "the moving path which carries man where he would otherwise walk." The intellect has now thrown the token of bondage from itself.
In Conclusion… In conclusion, Nietzsche’s point is that man is the measure of all things. Truth-claims are arrived at through a process based on the forgetting of the inherent metaphoricity of knowledge. Man lives in repose only by forgetting that he is an artistically creating subject and the production of knowledge a poetic exercise. There is no adequate reflection of the essence of an object in the consciousness of the subject: at most, there is an aesthetic or metaphorical relation. The hardening and congealing of metaphor via repetition guarantees its being taken for granted as the truth. Idealism and subjectivism are often unpopular viewpoints. However, Nietzsche insists, all we can know about the objects or laws of nature are those categories of time and space, relations of succession and extension, as well as those sub- categories (e.g. of cause and effect) which we bring to them. Because we are forced to comprehend all things under these forms, we actually comprehend nothing but these forms. These categories, it should be noted, do not originate in some transcendental self, as Kant claims. Rather, they are derived from the structures of language which we must employ in our cognition of things, language being an entirely material phenomenon.