A man who reached out into darkness
I acquired my own Magenta Pomander on Tuesday 28th June. That evening the BBC showed a programme about Nietzsche, the German philosopher who lived from 1844 - 1900. I have often heard of him but never gone too deeply into his work. His work has a dark reputation since his ideas were adopted by Hitler and the Nazis after his death.
As I watched though i realised there are strong magenta themes running through his work, so many that i will make two posts on his work. What is so interesting is that Nietzsche is spiritual at all given his most famous declaration...
"God is Dead"
All of Nietzsche’s work was predicated on this one powerful idea, summed up in his most famous declaration, “God is dead.” Nietzsche foresaw that the by now rapid rise of science and the mind, would ultimately and inevitably displace traditional religious faith. “God is dead” was, in Nietzsche’s view, a declaration of freedom, and yet Nietzsche also understood that this freedom heralded a potential crisis, a vacuum of meaning. Without belief in God, the goal of salvation and the traditional moral framework that supported it, would no longer exert authority. What meaningful purpose and guide on how to live could replace them? This was the central question Nietzsche addressed throughout his life.
A life affirming yes.
Some of Nietzsche’s contemporaries such as Schopenhauer answered this question of how to live in a very depressing way: life was so difficult that the best people could hope for was a minimum of pain. Nietzsche read Schopenhauer’s work and was deeply touched by it but refused to accept this answer. While Nietzsche could no longer believe in a benevolent God (his father’s terrible death ensured this) he still sought a life affirming spirited answer. Was Nietzsche's defiance red - fired by the urge to life from the base chakra? I don't think so. I believe Nietzsche’s determination to affirm life is motivated by the magenta of the 8th chakra, a spiritual passion.We will see how Nietzsche wished to uplift humanity. Notice “uplift” indicates a magenta idea since the magenta 8th chakra sits over the crown above the body.
Heart and Mind
Despite Nietzsche’s declaration “God is dead”, he was not, by nature, an atheist. He grew up in a very religious household and he had a fine emotional / spiritual sensitivity. For example, writing about his experience of hearing Handel’s Messiah for the first time at the age of 9, he said “I felt I had to join in the joyful singing of the angels on whose billows of sound Jesus ascended to heaven.” This feeling sensitivity of his was complimented by a brilliant mind. By 24 years old he had, remarkably, become a Professor at Basel University, one of the youngest Professors ever in history. And, despite the traditional nature of his subject, the civilisations of Ancient Greece and Rome, he was an original and challenging thinker.
In Tree of Life terms we could say that he was strong in both Netsach (feeling) and Hod (thinking). Such a balance is important in order to open to the deeper inspiration from our soul awareness in Tiphareth.
So here was Nietzsche, this strong thinker with a deep sensitivity, convinced that a vacuum of meaning and morality is opening in our society, and his burning concern was to find a new basis for approaching life, a way to cope with the questions of suffering and meaning. What answer would he suggest?
The Power of Art
His first answer was to be stimulated by his meeting with Richard Wagner. Wagner was a musical composer who was taking a revolutionary approach to opera. Wagner wanted to overwhelm audiences with a total experience (Gesamtkunstwerk). His greatest work, the Ring Cycle, on which he was still working when he met Nietzsche, was to be of epic proportions: a mythical story of power, greed, jealousy, heroes, and tragedy. The duration of performance alone, a minimum of 15 hours over 4 nights, would overwhelm people. Wagner's decision to plunge the audience into darkness during the performance was also a brand new innovation. It was designed to make those watching forget themselves and be more fully involved with the drama on stage. Amazing that something that seems so natural now - the lights going down at the start of the show - began here. Isn't it like stepping into B0. Deep Magenta. We forget ourselves as we enter the magic of the show.
B0 is central to Nietzsche's emerging philosophy on what could give value and redemption to the human experience as belief in God and salvation disappeared. His answer was Art. As the lights go down, we enter a world of greater beings enduring unbearable suffering and struggle, we live their greater stories in the company of our fellow human beings in the audience, and through this experience our own stories are somehow redeemed, made bearable. Suffering does not need to be avoided, suffering is part of what it is to be alive. Nietzsche may have declared "God is Dead", but i believe in Art he saw a greater divine-like power of redemption and healing.
I find myself thinking about The Fool in the Tarot. B0 in Aura-Soma's Equilibrium sequence. This represents the stepping into life. The cliff and the fall of consciousness are ahead of him, he will become lost in life, and yet, inevitably, sooner or later, the flow will come to B22 and the Rebirth of the Fool. It is alright to be alive. One can shine. Unless the Fool is willing to take the first step though there can be no journey. Immersion in life is the first step. It reminds me too of the downward painting star symbol associated with my first use of Magenta pomander written about in the previous post. The message is repeated. Come to Earth. Immerse yourself in Life. In the experience itself is the meaning and value of life.
The example of my father
I can relate to Nietzsche's idea here through the example of my own father. He was a man who felt deeply. He also had his own complexes and challenges as we all do. Sometimes he arrive home late after work, somewhat drunk, and he would sit in his favourite chair and begin to listen to music at full volume. Wagner was a regular choice for him on such evenings. He would close his eyes, become totally absorbed in the experience, and. occasionally, he would speak out to me “Dominic you have got to listen to this." In these occasions he was transported into another state.
This is especially fascinating to me today because the chair he used for these occasions was associated in his mind with (refuge from) suffering. He once described this chair as his carrencia. Carrencia is a spanish word used in bull fighting. When a bull is put into the life and death struggle of the bull ring, it creates for itself a place of retreat, somewhere it can gather itself for the next onslaught. This place is the bull’s carrencia. Being absorbed in the emotion of the music my father was engrossed in something greater, an experience of beauty and power in which his own problems were belittled or disappeared. I believe my father’s experience was a living example of Nietzsche’s conviction. In becoming empty like 0 and being filled with something greater, Art, my father was uplifted again.
Magenta Deep and Visible
In this second post on Magenta I have suggested that Nietzsche has a strong magenta theme in his work and life. As he attempted to find a value in life beyond the need for God he drew on magenta both deep and visible. As he looked to Art to transport and redeem our human experience he first required Deep Magenta in which to lose ourself, like the B0, in a greater experience. And then he drew on the visible magenta, the hidden vibrant pink red magenta revealed within the deep Magenta as the divine consciousness within Art, able to stimulate healing and redemption. The new Magenta Pomander resonates with this spirit of Art.
Disillusionment and moving on
Nietzsche attended the opening night of The Ring at Wagner’s newly built Festival Theatre. However he immediately saw that it would be only one more event in the social calendar of the rich and famous. Wagner put celebrity and social success above transformation. Nietzsche left the theatre in disgust. The key to life was to live dangerously he wrote. Soon after he quit his teaching position at Basel University too and began to travel, searching anew for a source of purpose.