Human, All-Too-Human: A Book for Free Spirits, Part 1 Complete Works, Volume Six

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 104

intellect only in
an age which had conquered for musical symbolism the entire range of
inner life. It was the intellect itself that first _gave_ this meaning
to sound, just as it also gave meaning to the relation between lines
and masses in architecture, but which in itself is quite foreign to
mechanical laws.


GESTURE AND SPEECH.--Older than speech is the imitation of gestures,
which is carried on unconsciously and which, in the general repression
of the language of gesture and trained control of the muscles, is
still so great that we cannot look at a face moved by emotion without
feeling an agitation of our own face (it may be remarked that feigned
yawning excites real yawning in any one who sees it). The imitated
gesture leads the one who imitates back to the sensation it expressed
in the face or body of the one imitated. Thus men learned to understand
one another, thus the child still learns to understand the mother.
Generally speaking, painful sensations may also have been expressed
by gestures, and the pain which caused them (for instance, tearing
the hair, beating the breast, forcible distortion and straining of
the muscles of the face). On the other hand, gestures of joy were
themselves joyful and lent themselves easily to the communication of
the understanding; (laughter, as the expression of the feeling when
being tickled, serves also for the expression of other pleasurable
sensations). As soon as men understood each other by gestures,
there could be established a _symbolism_ of gestures; I mean, an
understanding could be arrived at respecting the language of accents,
so that first _accent_ and gesture (to which it was symbolically added)
were produced, and later on the accent alone. In former times there
happened very frequently that which now happens in the development of
music, especially of dramatic music,--while music, without explanatory
dance and pantomime (language of gesture), is at first only empty
sound, but by long familiarity with that combination of music and
movement the ear becomes schooled into instant interpretation of the
figures of sound, and finally attains a height of quick understanding,
where it has no longer any need of visible movement and _understands_
the sound-poet without it. It is then called absolute music, that
is music in which, without further help, everything is symbolically


THE SPIRITUALISING OF HIGHER ART.--By virtue of extraordinary
intellectual exercise through the art-development of the new music, our
ears have been growing more intellectual. For this reason we can now
endure a much greater volume of sound, much more "noise," because we
are far better practised in listening for the _sense_ in it than

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