While the German spirit has striven to maintain a connection to the Greeks, through the work of Goethe, Schiller, and Winkelmann, this connection has grown progressively weaker. We see that opinions concerning the value of Greek contributions to culture have been degenerating rapidly. Thanks to the current understanding of Greek culture’s focus on “beauty,” “harmony,” and “Greek cheerfulness,” the academic establishment has affected a skeptical abandonment of the Hellenic ideal and a perversion of ancient studies. The cultured man of the present has sought to take over Greek antiquity “historically,” and thus is at a loss in the face of the now.
Culture and true-art have never been so estranged as they are at present. The current culture hates and fears true art, for it fears destruction from its hands. But, as this current Socratic culture has now exhausted itself, this destruction is unavoidable. The impending rebirth of tragedy is nothing to be feared, however. It alone promises the renovation and purification of the German spirit through the power of music. The culture is exhausted, and we have nowhere else to turn. We must look now to Dionysus, who will seize everything decrepit, decaying and broken in our culture and tear it away, so that we may be bathed in the golden light of tragic redemption.
The Greeks are the example for what the miraculous awakening of tragedy signifies for the inner fabric of a people’s life. First, we must say that even during the time period when the Greeks were most possessed by the Dionysian, they still maintained their individual principles, and thus maintained strong political and domestic sentiments. The Greeks found the right balance between constant, ecstatic brooding and the empty lust for empire and power. Their culture flourished thanks to their ability to blend Apollonian and Dionysian elements in their lives.
What is interesting to me is what Nietzsche writes in his section on higher education. During his time he writes that higher education has never been lower or feebler than at the present, and he even calls out the professor for not being well versed in areas of culture. When I think of higher education (in the US) I think of a different culture that is independent of mainstream American culture, and mainly because they are two entities that are related yet distant from each other. Mainstream culture depicts Americans as sedentary, obsessed with silly things such as reality television, living mostly off of junk food, and less like the creative innovators that we were in the past. Higher education culture often comes off as over the top bourgeoisie education (not all the times but it does have those moments). I’m not saying that higher education is not important (because I am here at GC after all) yet between the high tuition costs and college student culture there is an air of being better than your peers that I stub my toe on occasionally.
Higher education culture suffers from being detached from the larger community culture that the people and buildings are placed upon. When walking up to front campus you can immediately tell that you are still in Baldwin county, yet the atmosphere is different than other parts of Milledgeville. At home there is a huge bubble effect where UGA starts from the other sections of Athens. The air is more cosmopolitan and definitely more ‘refined’ than the other sections of Athens and Milledgeville. There is definitely a certain elegance in coming to GC to pursue your heart’s goals and to build yourself a better life. You were carefully selected out of many other applications and potential students to serve your time here in the realm of textbooks, lecture halls, and group projects. The bubble effect may not be intentional on anyone’s behalf, yet perhaps part of the failure of our higher education could be that sometimes we can be too exclusive as a college community in relation to the surrounding county around us.