Culture War: Apollo Against Dionysus

In the Orphic tradition, a saying was supposedly given by an oracle of Apollo that stated “Zeus, Hades, [and] Helios-Dionysus” were “three gods in one godhead.”

Hades and Dionysus are one and the same, for whom they rage and celebrate their Lenaea

Heraclitus

As you may know, I have a hard time taking Jordan Peterson (or Steven Pinker for that matter) at all seriously. Both seemingly completely misconstrue Nietzsche, what Nietzsche means by “the death of God” and the meaning of Dionysus and the god’s entourage (which includes Pan). The god that died to Nietzsche was Jehovah (who is also Blake’s “Urizen”), but who died and rose as Dionysus.

The Orphic tradition of the triune godhead of Zeus, Hades, Helios-Dionysus not only seems to presage the Christian Trinity, but also to reflect the Hindu Trimurti (Trinity) of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. This helps account for why some early Greek Christians apparently associated Christ with Dionysus, and not just the equivalent association of Christ with the grapes, wine, and the vine. It’s another one of those many ironies of Nietzsche. He could not have been unaware that Hades and Dionysus were the same, as something too that informed his notion of living “beyond good and evil” and describing himself as the disciple of Dionysus.

For Nietzsche, a tension and conflict existed between Apollo and Dionysus (which seems to have developed only later in the mythic cycle). This Dionysian — Apollonian conflict runs parallel to the Master-Emissary conflict – the two modes of perception of Iain McGilchrist’s “divided brain”. Nietzsche associates the “intuitive man” with the Dionysian and the intellectual man with the Apollonian consciousness, which also runs parallel to the tension between the wild and the tame.

Peterson seems not to understand at all this tension (which shows in his apparent misconstrual, too, of McGilchrist’s meaning about the two modes of perception of the divided brain). Nietzsche, too, saw that with his “death of God” (Jehovah, that is) there would occur also a return of the repressed (the Dionysian) that had been forced by the moral god (or Blake’s “Urizen”) into Hades. Dionysus is the life force. But life is paradoxical as Dionysus is paradoxical.

It seems clear to me that both Peterson and Pinker have chosen the side of Apollo against Dionysus, and the tame against the wild and in consequence, therefore, would have no understanding either of William Blake or his “four Zoas” of “Albion divided fourfold”. The name “Zoa” means both “beast” and “life” (Greek Zoe). Peterson and Pinker both hate post-modernism (McGilchrist has a more generous view of this matter), although a good deal of this “post-modernism” is the Dionysian irruption and the antagonistic response of the Apollonian intellect.

Nietzsche did hope for an eventual reconciliation of Dionysus and Apollo, showing that he as already thinking about what we would call “integral consciousness”. But, of course, the path of reconciliation must pass first pass through that of conflict. This conflict between Apollo and Dionysus also resembles the conflict between Blake’s Zoas named “Los” and “Urizen”.

These conflicts resemble what McGichrist discovered about the different modes of perception of the divided brain — the Master and the Emissary modes. (And if you have a couple of bucks to spare, I recommend you invest them in watching the online documentary called “The Divided Brain” at http://thedividedbrain.com/ . It will give you, I think, a very good grasp of what is going on in the world today)

The Dionysian entourage seems wild and chaotic, although it has a logic of its own. Dionysus himself is androgynous befitting also his double-nature as also Hades and Dionysus, or the complementarity of thanatos and eros — the death-pole and life-pole of psychic energy. Pan himself is a member of Dionysus’ entourage, and, of course, Pan became the very image of the Devil in later Christianity. Today, we’re actually seeing manifested some of that same entourage in various kinds of strange parades and carnivals.

Dionysus also represents embodiedness, earthiness, vitality as distinct from Apollo who is a sky-god as befits his association with the mental-nature. There is that connection, then, between Dionysus and Nietzsche’s “Be true to the Earth!”.

This is another way of looking at what we presently call “culture war”.

9 responses to “Culture War: Apollo Against Dionysus”

  1. Yeffen Ray says :

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15325008

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    Ancient Elam Origins of Civilization Documentary – Secrets of the Apadana

    https://www.ancient-origins.net/news-evolution-human-origins/evolution-human-birth-incredible-story-million-years-making-007976

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    23:01
    33:44
    Object/Subject imperatives, WITH in the objectives, quantum measure to measure cannot be refuted except by and through the unknown, which is where knowledge will emanate for form’s permeation, all structure and substance… mathematical algorithms all they constitute by which physical (condensed) matter is measured equipollent as e=mc2.

    What is duality?

    E=mc2 equipollent in measure is matter condensed physically, which by it constitutes all algorithms of structure and substance, permeating forms to emanate knowledge, where is which the unknown is refuted. THE EQuaTION
    IS DIVIDED.

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  2. InfiniteWarrior says :

    Still kind of dualistic, don’t you think?

    Nietzsche did hope for an eventual reconciliation of Dionysus and Apollo, showing that he was already thinking about what we would call “integral consciousness”.

    Reconciliation? M’kay.

    But, of course, the path of reconciliation must pass first pass through that of conflict.

    Really? Necessarily? Why is that?

    If these two “modes of perception” weren’t serving their respective purposes, I somehow doubt our brains would have evolved as they have. The fact that one or the other “mode of perception” apparently insists upon dominating is, indeed, a problem, but a problem that needn’t exist. Otherwise, how would “the aperspectival” fit into all of this?

    “Awareness is already integral.” Consciousness is not? Weird, huh? Or is just human consciousness that is not?

  3. InfiniteWarrior says :

    Anyone interested in engaging dialogue concerning McGilchrist’s thesis might find a good start here: The Divided Brain: Can we agree about where we differ?

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