Friday, November 11, 2011

A dialectic

This is what I found in the used copy of Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy: a page torn from Bon Appetit with the recipes for two fruit smoothies. What can these simple instructions (Combine fruits; blend; serve) tell us about the dialectic of the Apollonian and the Dionysian? One smoothie combines berries (Black & blue) best grown in northern and temperate regions, while the other is a medley of tropical fruits: mango, pineapple and banana. Was the former reader/owner of this book thinking that, like the perfect Attic drama, the best smoothie would involve a flavored counterpoint between the warmth of the tropics and the chilly nights of the north? Or did the reader think that a diet with more fresh fruit might have kept poor Nietzsche from going mad on a street in Turin? (as far as I know he had tertiary syphilis, not scurvy, but fresh fruit can cure a myriad of ills.)

Yesterday was 11.11.11. Twice yesterday the time read 11.11. That is all I can tell you about that.
But I can tell you that it was the feast of St Theodore the Studite,a 9th century abbot who was significantly saner than many of his monastic confreres. He told his hermits: "Don't cultivate a self-satisfied austerity. Eat bread, drink wine occasionally, wear shoes, especially in winter, and take meat when you need it." Excellent advice in any century. Yet this admirable man had many run-ins with authority, both secular and religious. His iconoclastic bishop sent an officer to cut off Theodore's head, or at least cut out his tongue. But Theodore got a reprieve when Michael the Stammerer took over as Emperor. Theodore then wrote him a thank-you letter.

No comments: