Notes on Philosophy, Performance Art and Rock

The Dionysian strain

Performance art is philosophy dramatized. Or ritualized.

Performance artists of the 60s and 70s were as Dionysus obsessed as the rockstars of the period. Hermann Nitsch’s Orgies, Mysteries, Theater literally enacted Dionysian rituals, replete with the blood and organs of freshly slaughtered animals and live orgies. Jim Morrison was occasionally referred to as Dionysus by his bandmates, and he got himself into ecstatic, some might say possessed, states during his concerts. We see the invocation of Dionysus throughout the performance art and rock of the 60s & 70s.

Nietzsche famously declared God dead, but more deeply the poet-philosopher shattered the Platonic foundations of Christianity and Western thought. He cast beloved Socrates as a villain whose rationalism brought about the decline of Greek culture. He reinvigorated his own ailing culture, which had been sapped of its vitality by Christianity, through an exploration of the Pre-Socratics. The Pre-Socratic philosophers were also a very important element in Heidegger’s investigation of being

Performance art was modern shamanism.

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