After Nietzsche: Notes towards a Philosophy of Ecstasy

After Nietzsche: Notes towards a Philosophy of Ecstasy

After Nietzsche: Notes towards a Philosophy of Ecstasy

After Nietzsche: Notes towards a Philosophy of Ecstasy

Synopsis

This book explores the imaginative possibilities for philosophy created by Nietzsche's sustained reflection on the phenomenon of ecstasy. From The Birth of Tragedy to his experimental "physiology of art," Nietzsche examines the aesthetic, erotic, and sacred dimensions of rapture, hinting at how an ecstatic philosophy is realized in his elusive doctrine of Eternal Return. Jill Marsden pursues the implications of this legacy for contemporary Continental thought via analyses of such voyages in ecstasy as Kant, Schopenhauer, Schreber, and Bataille.

Excerpt

That Nietzsche marks a decisive event in the history of philosophy is a statement often made. Rarely however is it given the type of exploration that enables the location of the impact of Nietzsche in relation to subsequent philosophy. If philosophy in the wake of Nietzsche is given new tasks and goals then the nature of them must require a register of a profoundly new kind. That this new kind of exploration rarely breaks through the writings of Nietzsche scholarship can hardly be disputed.

With the work of Jill Marsden we finally have a voice that can locate the register that is required to begin addressing the kind of breakthrough that Nietzsche represents. Here we find a language that is driven, that tests its own sensible possibilities in its own statements, which can elaborate a response to Nietzsche that does not pre-judge the stakes of argumentation against him. Begging the question against Nietzsche is the most common activity in writing on his achievement. The writing here, by contrast, is carried on the wave of joy that Nietzsche would inaugurate. The type of inquiry that is called for in being able to describe sensations cannot be of the same kind as is appropriate to discourse eloquently on the logical properties of statements. Therefore it requires a particular type of voice to make clear what it would be for the body itself to be engaged in writing.

If Jill Marsden in producing a writing of the kind that fits the intervention of Nietzsche into philosophy has done something rare, it is rare in the sense of the exquisite. To write well about the sensible basis of thought should itself invoke qualities of beauty and grace. To fail at this is to risk failing at everything. It is a true delight and pleasure to return from the experience of this text with the feeling that this failure has here been averted.

If there is philosophy that emerges after and because of Nietzsche then this philosophy will have to be located in relation to his legacy. This is also part of the work that Jill Marsden has here performed: setting out this legacy in relation to a set of writers whose possibility emerges through an engagement with the spiritual . . .

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