The Neo-Rubble Film?: The Significance of ‘Lore’ (2012)

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Reif with ideas about the German past, all clearly enunciated while wedged between storylines, Cate Shortland’s Lore (2012) is a coming-of-age fiction based on the novel The Dark Ship by Rachel Seiffert and set in the social, psychological and physical rubble of the Second World War. Hannelore, her pre-pubescent sister Liesel and their two younger brothers, Gunter und Jürgen, begin a journey from their family’s summer home in Bavaria up to Omi’s house in Hamburg. Directed by their Nazi mother in fairytale fashion to take the trains, go through the mud and find Omi’s house at the end, all while she is packing her Ehrenkreuz der Deutschen Mutter before her arrest, the children are left alone to face Germany at Stunde Null. On their way between survivor camps, trying to find a singular running train, Hannelore (Lore) meets Thomas, a Jewish boy going on 18. Between the developmental sexual tensions and starvation frustrations, Lore is an a-typical rubble film, but belongs in the category because of its dealing with the immediate post-war German psyche and environment. Using the framework of Professor Robert Shandley’s ‘Seven Rs of Rubble Film’ (Redemption, Reconciliation, Redefinition, Restabilization, Reintegration, Reconstruction, Reprivatization), this paper will position Lore within the genre, while complicating and delineating the genre paradigm with its inclusion; directed by an Austrailian of German heritage, produced with documentarian attention to realism and historical detail, set primarily in the American zone and Schwarzwald, Lore represents a neo-rubble hyperrealistic depiction of womanhood during occupation from the perspective of an adolescent’s journey through the rubble.

Thematic Placement of ‘Lore’ and Other Rubble Films

Essential to the rubble film is being among the rubble. Though this is the constant, the original genre of rubble film finds its departure into “The Lost Years” from 1949-1963, the post-Oberhausen Manifesto (OM) generation (Franklin, 1983) and finally, the neo-rubble generation (Moeller, 2014). Why are there only four years of original rubble, when it took 30 years to rebuild the Frankfurt Altstadt? Suggested by MUBI to occupy the postwar period of 1946-1949, “original” rubble films have a character deeper than authenticity of the rubble. Of course, this four-year time span does not represent the remaining rubble in both Germanys. It discounts the authenticity of the rubble used as the set for The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979). By virtue of ending in 1949, what the postwar period suggests about original rubble films is that they are pre-Konrad Adenauer and pre-68er student movements. Ideologically, “original” rubble films stand for a time when those producing the rubble films were the same people who had staffed the Nazi Dream Factory (Shandley: 181), those filmmakers who were “employed to deceive, distract and mold the German public” during the Third Reich (10). This generation of film has been criticized for not giving an honest depiction of the past. Shandley suggests that the second generation of rubble films “used this alleged failure on the part of their predecessors and parents as a rhetorical foil against which they posited their own cinematic project,” (181) alluding to the signatories of the Oberhausen Manifesto. This paper advances the genre towards a neo-rubble turn, meaning that the original rubble film is being revived after many years of its existence within a “cinema of confrontation” (181). Lore is notably absent of significant political ideological preoccupations, and rather sticks to a realistic depiction of rubble life.

Perhaps because director Cate Shortland is an Australian documentarian, but Lore doesn’t quite pass within the nostalgic lineage of post-OM generation rubble films like Deutschland Bleiche Mutter (1980) and Das Wunder von Bern (1994). Even though Lore “revisualizes and revises the past” (Frey, 2013) like any historical film, it doesn’t fall decisively within the heritage genre and stands out as an art-house film without post-OM qualities – a neo-rubble film. Lore does not satirize original rubble film like the fake bombings in Maria or the melodrama in Bleiche Mutter, but it still belongs alongside these films in the rubble category. In the book Postwall German Cinema, Matthias Frey cites Shandley’s 7Rs to contend that Das Wunder is indeed in the rubble category because it includes a restabilization of society and a restoration of “moral security” (27), and suggests that Das Wunder, like Maria, has a reconciliation at the end. Claiming that Das Wunder and other post-OM films used “tropes” (28) of postwar films, Frey might entice a Deleuzian reading of Das Wunder as a “monopoly of reproductions,” a “utilisation of the residue of conventions,” (Cinema 1: 26). Such artificiality is avoided in Lore by virtue of its unique placement outside the city rubble, in the Schwarzwald, its complication of art-house genre’s melodramatic nature, and its collective protagonist-viewer consciousness. Frey discusses how the reconciliation is actually a reaction of Das Wunder against original rubble films. Original rubble films often hinted towards reconciliation with the (former) enemy but never fully achieved it (Shandley: 184). What brings Lore forward as a neo-rubble film is its engagement with original rubble film metanarratives without a critical reaction to them.  Lore does not have a reconciliation with the enemy, though the opportunity arises during her journey with Thomas. Nothing between the Jew and the Hitler Mädel becomes resolved.

Considering Lore within the genre of “neo-rubble”, it is necessary to look into what makes a genre “neo”. Neo-noir is an applicable comparison by virtue of its cultural and historical proximity with rubble films. In The Philosophy of Neo-Noir, author Mark Conard implies the “neo” turn as a self-reflective genre that itself “functions as a kind of philosophy of noir”. If philosophy, particularly existentialist philosophy, defines the noir genre, Shandley would say that Vergangenheitsbewältigung defines the rubble genre (182). Lore stands out from the post-OM generation because it doesn’t mock original rubble films. Instead, I argue that Lore takes a reflexive turn, functioning itself as Vergangenheitsbewältigung – an ongoing process of coming to terms with the past. It does this through its unclosed endings and hyperrealistic aesthetic choices. In Theodor Adorno’s lecture “Was bedeutet: Aufarbeitung der Vergangenheit?” (1959), the continued process of reconciliation is positioned against the idea of guilt, much like Lore’s engagement with lived reality is positioned against post-OM critical realities. Adorno says:

Bei alldem jedoch hat die Rede vom Schuldkomplex etwas Unwahrhaftiges… Das zöge die Moral aus jenem >>Und ist so gut, als wär’ es nicht gewesen<<, das von Goethe stammt, aber an entscheidener Stelle des Faust, vom Teufel gesprochen wird, um dessen innerstes Prinzip zu enthüllen, die Zerstörung von Erinnerung.
In Sonja Boos’ introduction to Adorno’s lecture, she reminds us that the preoccupation with guilt is seen by Adorno as an “objective constellation… it is the destiny of political entanglements that constitutes the nexus of guilt.” This objective and political construal of society is notable in post-OM films; in both Das Wunder and Maria Braun, the camera views them from the outside. In Lore, the camera becomes one with Lore’s and with Thomas’s emotions, and, apart from the longshot cross-cuts of landscapes, occupies itself with nothing else – nature is the backdrop, instead of a berubbled Berlin. Adorno’s commentary about subjectivity engages the feelings the viewer has alongside Lore’s journey through a callous world:

“Nach der subjektiven Seite, in der Psyche der Menschen, steigerte der Nationalsozialismus den kollektiven Narzißmus, schlicht gesagt: die nationale Eitelkeit ins Ungemessene. Die narzißtischen Triebregungen der Einzelnen, denen die verhärtete Welt immer weniger Befriedigung verspricht und die doch ungemindert fortbestehen, solange die Zivilisation ihnen sonst so viel versagt, finden Ersatzbefriedigung in der Identifikation mit dem Ganzen.”
Lore’s dependence on her National Socialist identity, the world she was born into, carries her throughout the film. Her continued ideological battle with Thomas and her steadfast, in Ordnung character confirms this internal battle that has little to do with guilt or politics. It is in this sense that Lore is a reflexive and therefore neo-rubble film, because it doesn’t work on the project of Vergangenheitsbewältigung through objective criticisms like guilt, but rather, she experiences the process of coming to terms with the past.

In the singular other article classifying a film as “neo-rubble”, Maria Moeller suggests that The Good German, directed by Steven Soderbergh in 2006, is “a film not made in the aftermath of WWII, but which revives and further develops some of the most distinctive narrative and visual patterns of the rubble films, with the technical possibilities of a modern Hollywood studio,” (98). We can immediately see a generational relationship between Soderbergh and Shortland’s films, though I find Moeller’s positioning of The Good German as a neo-rubble film to be as superficial as its Hollywood interpretation of Stunde Null. On a most basic level, the plot doesn’t enter German life – the film is about Americans visiting Berlin on a mission – it is inherently objective and political. Her commentary on neo-rubble echoes Conard’s cinematic evidence for neo-noir as an uptake of modern technology to depict themes enigmatic of film noir. She also cites Shandley’s thematic umbrella for rubble films as “‘good Germans’ during ‘bad times’” (87), which she claims is enigmatic of the “escapist attitude in dealing with the past and present period in the aftermath of the war and Nazism,” (ibid.). Moeller focuses on Shandley’s R for redefinition of the Germans as the guilt of The Good German’s leading characters, who actively try to “endanger their lives to serve justice” (92), which implies their reconciliation with the past. Unlike Das Wunder and The Good German, Lore maintains the original rubble film tendency to not have a full reconciliation, rather, it presents a new scope to the greater problem; in the end, Lore rebels against the conventions of her lineage and destroys the final porcelain figure of her mother’s. Unlike Das Wunder and The Good German, Lore maintains the original rubble film tendency to avoid a full reconciliation. Rather, Lore presents a new scope to the greater problem; in the end, Lore rebels against the conventions of her lineage and destroys the final porcelain figure of her mother’s.

NPR movie critic Ella Taylor suggests that the porcelain figure is a “sentimental symbol of her shattered harmony”. Lore’s rebellion against Omi and her mother reflects the generational conversation of Deutschland Bleiche Mutter as well. Unlike the observational standpoint in Lore, by which the audience is meant to know as little as Lore and yet know more from a historically omniscient perspective, Bleiche Mutter quite clearly depicts the Nazi as the rapist aggressors and makes use of more dramatic acting to convey trauma. Perhaps in reaction to this type of stereotypical realism of Maria and Bleiche Mutter, Shortland’s style relies heavily on ambiguity. Tight close-ups and shallow focus narrow viewer attention to the journey of Lore amidst the political tension, rather than actively involved in it. As well, the sexual tension between Lore and Thomas drives this rubble film forward towards reconciliation, not unlike Die Mörder Sind Unter Uns (1946), while romances in Maria, Bleiche Mutter, and Das Wunder were supplementary to this process.

Though Shortland maintained a strict historical hyperrealism which guides the viewer alongside the postwar rationality of a Hitler Youth, she thinks that Lore can address current ideological occupations by virtue of unsettling the audience (Filmmaker Magazine). Phoenix, directed in the same year as Lore by Christian Petzold, also takes this unsettling approach to retrospective. Instead of disturbing the viewer with graphic imagery, Phoenix maintains a constant psychological unease also on the basis of a romantic relationship between a Jew and a German. In both films, rubble was created for a set rather than in reality (Women and Hollywood). In the Evan Calder Williams tradition of salvage punk, this could be considered salvage rubble because it “returns to the repressed idiosyncrasy of outmoded things” (Socialism/Barbarism). Lore does not depict the landscapes of winding spires of rubble as in Murderers, but the rubble among the wider landscape of Germany. In an interview with Collider, Shortland says that the houses they used in the Black Forest were in fact remaining relics:

“The two houses we shot early in the film were Jewish houses that had been taken off the families in the 1930s.  When we found those houses, they were all boarded up.  They had been completely gutted and their fireplaces had been taken out and the windows were shattered.” (2012)

Shortland also emphasised that Lore was shot at a remaining armaments factory in Görlitz which had been a concentration camp. The importance of the factory to rubble film is echoed in Bleiche Mutter, as they journey through factory ruins. Phoenix, on the other hand, used artificial set design for all of its rubble scenes (Variety, 2015). Whether rubble restored from its current state to that of its past, or non-rubble with precise resemblance, they transform “rubble into representation” (von Moltke, 2010) giving them the genre description of ‘rubble film’. To ‘salvage’ the rubble, in Williams’ terms, would be to expose Walter Benjamin’s “residues of a dream world… the underground currents that actually expose the loops and fuses of repression and its expectations,” (ibid.) rather than abide by a “falseness… the wrong dream image, ideological blind that is the dream image proper to the liberal escape plan,” (ibid.). This differentiation recalls the suggested political/ideological departure from the post-Oberhausen Manifesto generation into the more personal neo-rubble film.

In the Senses of Cinema Petzold dossier, Jaimey Fisher also notes a Benjaminian turn in the rubble film Phoenix, he writes: “Phoenix marshals remnants and fragments of a particular historical moment,” using Denkbilder (thought-images) that “collide with the present moment to conjure moments of insight” (ibid.) in their filmic bricolage. He says that Petzold, like Benjamin, “investigates the very fantasy that private life of love and/or family can provide a hermetic space of resistance sealed off from public events,” (ibid.). Like Lore, Phoenix’s character Nelly (Nina Hoss) exists in a constellation of life forces that are always interacting with the postwar reconciliation. The personal life does not stop when the political life exerts itself into it. Like Lore, Phoenix deals with themes only implicated in original rubble films, such as the Jewish question, the female’s perspective in a world suddenly devoid of healthy male figures other than the occupying forces, and, perhaps most thanks to film technology and the possibility for historical research, an increasingly realistic retrospective about life in the rubble. Lore’s neo-rubble departure from Phoenix also has to do with the difference in resonance of these Denkbilder. In the sense of Rainier Maria Rilke’s interpretation of thought images, “The work of the eyes is done, tue nun Herzwerk an den Bildern in dir,” Lore’s aesthetic makeup focuses mostly on her journey rather than on stereotypical images from the post-war period. That is not to say that seeable, physical post-war images are absent, but rather, in the words of Shandley, “the rubble film project is the attempt to separate film discourse from political discourse by reprivatizing the narrative itself,” (187).

Other visual ‘fragments’ of rubble films which cue us to Lore’s postwar residue include trains, tonal relationships and a few direct references between Lore and Maria. Shortland uses fragments of historical research, authentic physical objects and intertextual reference to build a salvaged rubble film, a neo-rubble film. Though Shortland, Petzold and Fassbinder share striking tonal relationships, Shortland’s film stands out for its contrastive aesthetic and the commentary on children’s lives and the situation of rubble-life outside the cities. It balances out other films in the neo-rubble category like the soldier-focused A Good German (2004) and Phoenix. Trains are an element shared between Maria, Phoenix and Lore which spans across the original rubble films, too. In Lore, trains serve the elemental purpose of pushing her journey of redefinition forward. Maria uses trains to contrast her waiting for Hermann. In Phoenix,

she uses the train to imitate her recent return from Auschwitz and her reintegration to society. It is safe to say that trains are the first part of a reconstructed society and are as essential to the rubble film as the U-Bahn is to Berlin. Another rather significant visual callback exists between Lore

and Stunde Null film Der Untergang (2004). Both depict the shooting of


a German Shepard and the burning of Ordner in a pile during the onset of occupation.  According to Fisher in his comparison of rubble films with the Deleuzian idea of neo-realist films, another essential part is the

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instance and effect of occupation (1997). Maria merely makes fun of the occupying forces by depicting them diving for cigarettes and being duped by a German woman. This metaphor certainly doesn’t seem to apply in Lore and Phoenix, which both depict the perverse constraints of occupation upon German women.In both films, the subjection to soldiers is made clear, but this political tension doesn’t drive the plot. Lore reconciles the past with attention to the inward coming-of-age story as a “complex study of moral relativism” (Indiewire, 2012). Shandley would position Lore next to original rubble films, “including The Murderers Are Among Us and Love ’47 [which] dwell on personal rather than materialrehabilitation,” (187), Screen Shot 2018-02-10 at 10.08.18.png

which also make the case for Lore’s neo-rubble classification. Compared to post-OM films, Lore comes aesthetically and thematically closer to original rubble films without making a satire of them. To that end, the is not fully reconciled and Lore’s redefinition remains still in process.
The (De)Nazification of Lore 

“The opening montage of Lore suggests a more complex image of childhood than that of pure innocence… images of Lore bathing, Liesel playing hopscotch, and a brief but sharply focused image of a swastika on a piece of her clothing… suggest a mutli-faceted construction of childhood as traditionally innocent and playful, but also eroticized and politicized” Debbie Pinfold, “The Sins of the Fathers” (2015)

From the outset, Lore represents childhood innocence of the Hitler Youth and the aggressive anti-Semitism they were indoctrinated into during upbringing. Reminding us immediately of Lars Von Treier’s Europa (1991), Lore’s beginning scenes use both montage and a non-diegetic countdown until Stunde Null and Lore’s transition from childhood. Pinfold’s analysis of this scene is that the sister’s “slap of the rope on the barn floor; the chink of the pebble on the hopscotch court,” emphasize that the sister is “standing on solid ground,” while Lore’s Nazism is about to be in question. Marked ‘Himmel’ and ‘Hölle’ at either end of the hopscotch track, the cross-cut to Lore exposing herself out of the window and the arrival of ‘Vati’ foreshadows the lightness and darkness of their family unit. Lit red internally by an outside bonfire of what seem to be Konzentrationslager Inhaftierungsunterlagen belonging to Vati, the feeling is that house, the Heim, of the family is burning into a rubble just like the documents they are trying to hide.

In preparation for their arrests, Mama and Vati tend to different affairs: he, burning the files and shooting the dog, and she, the packing. Shortland directed this scene “by asking all the actors to hurry” (Indiewire, 2013),but also with sight to the events as they would’ve happened. Shortland states that they did workshops with elderly Germans who were part of Bund Deutscher Mädel, watched a lot of documentaries, and “tried to build [the actors] up gradually from the skin instead of starting with the text, so that they already had an organic understanding of the world,” (Collider, 2012) before shooting. As the little boys are pulling their fathers’ files down the stairs to burn, you can see that the files are nearly as big as them. This is reminiscent of a Benjaminian perception in Berlin Childhood 1900, as he experiences the unheimlich world of adults. The sister, Liesel, is as well imbued in a shielded childhood perspective, as she stares at the designs on the china rather than packing it. All the while, Lore is helping her mother pack the silverware and learning commands she would use with her siblings in the coming journey. Mama instructs her to pull a dangling red thread out of her dress bosom, a notation to the viewer that her Ordnung is tied into feminine aspects.

Lore experiences the breakdown leading to the rubble of her mother’s female dignity. Notable early on that the mother’s smoking has become more fervent, Mama’s character seems no less ambivalent to the children than SS-Officer Vati. She emulates the strong Nazi woman, even quoting a soldier’s expression in Untergang  “Wir müssen Politik machen” when demanding that Vati turn himself in. Berating the father for being a Screen Shot 2018-02-10 at 10.13.29.pngcoward, one of the most arresting traits of rubble film arises: the problematizing of the Nazi masculinity in the twilight of the regime. Not only does Lore witness Mama passively kick Vati in the shins when he forces them to move house, Lore also witnesses Mama’s denial of Vati as a sexual object. Montage cuts from Lore’s perception of Vati’s hand in Mama’s garter, to Mama’s hand meeting Papa’s cheek bring the viewer into the perception of Lore. The camera tends Mama specifically only through Lore’s perception; encounters with the mother are also always encounters with Lore.

In the rubble of Mama’s Nazism, Lore takes on the task of mothering herself (Pinfold, 52-52), while Mama takes on the role of a father. Once Vati is arrested, Mama fixes her hair (in the fashion of Maria Braun, “this is how Americans like it”) and leaves to sell china. Lore discovers Mama with ripped tights and bloodied thighs upon her return, crying hysterically, saying “Er ist tot, Lore! Tot!” Lore looks up from the blood to ask “Vati?!”, and is readily slapped by Mama’s cigarette hand and the response “Unser Führer!” Mama takes on the nationalistic obedience of Vati’s military character and is soon after arrested by American soldiers. The depiction of American soldiers is always brief, as Lore and the viewer only sees them in passing, but Lore’s fear of them is clear when she demands that her siblings obey or the Americans will put them in camps. Though we never see violence committed by the soldiers, Americans are the face of adversity. Pinfold notes the re-use of her mother’s statements when demanding that her siblings obey and suggests that Lore “uses her Nazism to stand tall in the face of adversity”. When the going gets tough, the reversion to recommended Nazi ideals is easy. Shandley’s R for Redefinition applies to Lore taking on the mother role. Her seemingly unwavering anti-semitism is challenged, but there is no reconciliation. Her denazification and coming-of-age constellations are indeed surrounded by political tensions and the possibility to reconcile with the enemy of the semite, but nothing is definite and it is always in process.

Exemplified by the scene of Lore wincing as her father shoots the dog and then learning that he had committed atrocities, Lore’s journey is an informal reeducation. The audience is educated alongside Lore, but with a better historical understanding of the likelihoods and context. Among the ‘educational’ images pasted on the wall by the American soldiers, Lore finds a man with Vati’s uniform and build. She touches the sticky wall, trying to clear away excess glue from the photo, only to cover her fingers in it.  While she lies down at night, playing with the glue’s residue between her fingers, she overhears two women discussing how Hitler would have never allowed them to endure the condition of hunger, and how they had to wait for bread in a line with Jews. They are a residue as well, still clinging to old ideas. The motion of her fingers pulling apart suggests the departure from the past. The children’s journey is the emblematic process of reconciling the reality of their parents’ crimes and their personal moral scope, but it is never resolved and never directly addressed. Rather, their journey is addressed under the scope of a non-political nature.
The Hyperrealism of Neo-Rubble

One thing separating Lore from other rubble films is its relationship with and location in nature. In an interview with Filmmaker Magazine, Shortland mentioned sticking close to depicting realistic detail from the time, the use of nature was also a conscious choice, as revealed in an interview with Collider:

“We were influenced by two things: documentary filmmaking, because we wanted the film to be fresh and immediate, and the whole aesthetics of National Socialism with nature. Nature became a character in the same was as it was mythologized within the Nazi party… then, as the film continues, all the color is leeched out of their clothes. The landscape becomes more and more desolate until they are standing on the mud and there’s almost nothing left.” (2012)

Shortland continues to discuss nature by citing the discussion of a survivor in Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah, in which the interviewee says, “Look, Claude, look at the birds. Look at these beautiful trees. See the sun shining. This is what is was like when they were murdering us.” “Post-war films are made,” says Shortland, “really dark and they have this kind of sepia. I thought, that’s actually not the reality in a lot of cases.” Picking up on the southern German aesthetic choice by using feeble, misty fades, overly-saturated color forest tones, and bright reds and blues well known from propaganda material, Shortland establishes a layered visual field that challenges the sensibilities of previous rubble-films (Cook and Stone, 2014:26).

Cook and Stone comment on Lore’s aesthetic hyperrealism in their 2014 book “Screening European Heritage” by saying that the camera’s “self-conscious use of restraint and authenticity foreground a sense of performativity that invites us to distance ourselves from, and thus reflect upon, the world we are watching,” (xxiv). Screen Shot 2018-02-10 at 10.16.43.pngThis is notable in the forest-play scene when the camera is handheld and shaky, so while the subjects are joyfully running and dancing through the forests, the viewer is given a voyeuristic foreshadowing that doesn’t allow one to forget the larger context. As it follows the boys running, and advances from outside the girls’ dance circle and down to their feet, the camera distances the viewer from the play. It is creepy not only because of the suddenly cheery Volksmusik and lighter, almost neon colors amid a sickness of Endkrieg worry, but also because of the notably märchenhaft ambience, which transports the viewer to an omniscient position of knowing that something more negative is on the horizon.

While director of The Good German treated filming as if it were on the black and white level of 1945 but with more CGI, Lore made use of its technical advantages to represent reality. The forest becomes an operable element of realism for Shortland. Using a 25mm and 35mm lens because they are “the closest to human eyes in the world,” lead camera operator Arkapaw had a sense for the reality he depicted. He told the American Cinematographer: “Amongst all the human angst and tragedy, nature has an enduring quality. Its lushness, beauty and survival instincts are a way of [suggesting] the future… using tungsten balanced negatives, it takes the warmth out of the skin tones, giving flesh a kind of purity.”

The forest is not part of the rubble, but contrasts it. Sensually depicted with long shots, non-diegetic bird chirping and still shots of changing tree colors, the psychological rubble is conflicting in comparison. Screen Shot 2018-02-10 at 10.18.05.pngNature’s redemptive quality ties together aesthetic concerns with ideological assertions, moving beyond Shandley’s 2001 assertion that “rubble films are, on the whole, long on ideological assertions and short on aesthetic ingenuity,” (189) and supports the neo-rubble focus on a revival of reality.
Thomas’ Masculine and Jewish Character

Citing Lutx Koepnick and von Moltke, Fisher suggests that “tales of private friendship and even love between German gentiles and Jews foreground a Germany at stark odds with the Nazi regime and its racist, biopolitical, ultimately genocidal agenda.” (Senses of Cinema, 2017). Not only does Thomas provide ‘Lore’ with an extra layer of personal experience, which creates a sacred space of sexual satisfaction and friendship despite the rubble, but he also occupies a space of the ethnographic ‘Other’ in opposition to the family’s typically Aryan biology and disposition. Thomas’s ‘Otherness’ is established sooner than when we (and Lore) initially see his Judenstern – his ‘performative’ masculinity sets him apart: the first encounter with Thomas, he is judging Lore for her request of the Jewish woman to clean herself before feeding Lore’s baby brother. Thomas’s disapproving gaze makes her lower her eyes and forget the request. Their second encounter, in which he attacks her with the attempt of figuring out what she tore off the wall of pictures, symbolizes the aggressive blame and education of Germans. On their third and final encounter, before Thomas joins the family, he and Lore negotiate their perceived meanings of each other as “Nazi” and “Jew” by humming the same tune. Framed almost like a standoff, the two fixate on the other as both a threat and the problem. Lore is worried that he is a rapist and her humming while holding the baby is motherly, nurturing and based in values of decency and respect. She is holding on to meaning in a world where she has no control. His whistling is sinister because we are not yet aware of his intent, and it is at first non-diegetic, much like the whistling in Fritz Lang’s M (1931). She hums back at him and approaches him almost as a surrender to death in order to hold on to her old values, i.e. her mother telling her to “remember who she is” on a forested path not unlike this one. In this third meeting, the negotiation of meaning comes through the symbolic content of a shared song, and he becomes the redeemer of her Nazi habits. Thomas is integral in Lore’s educational process.

Thomas is notable because he occupies a masculine role – a role more masculine than Lore’s “coward” of a father. According to Fisher’s 2007 article, “On the Ruins of Masculinity”, rubble films emasculate the German man as a reaction to a world where the “Führer ist tot, Lore!”. They do so in such a way that “masculinity was implicated in the devastating destruction” (Hester, 2009). Lore’s Vati is emasculated by his unhealthy appearance, poor relationship with his family, passionate outbursts and also bluntly by his wife, which fulfils this rubble film’s attention to the downfall of the hegemonic Nazi male figure. The acne-faced soldier crying in the truck while the family is escaping to their summer home depicts the boyish image given to German men of a rubble film (Fisher, 2007).

The depiction of Thomas, on the other hand, as both a survivor and the masculine figure, is also the depiction of hope for a future Germany. Like Susan Jeffords portrays in her book The “Remasculization” of Germany in the 1950s, masculinity is not absent from Germany after the war, but rather occupied by outside males who assume the roles of protectors (164). Portraying this point is the scene when Lore decides to proposition a German man to use his boat and yet Thomas ends up rowing her and the family to safety. Lore stumbles upon this Kerl and his boat while he is listening to the radio, and with a heavy accent he implies that he is untergebildet. Next to him, the camera focuses in on a bucket of eels using the sharpness and precision of hyperrealism that Shortland and her production team are known for. Slithering and shiny, they look like a bunch of slimy dicks, which a bucket of fish or crabs wouldn’t have. This makes the scene eckliger, but Thomas killing the Kerl neutralizes the eels – the eels return to their symbolism as the nasty patriarchy of the past, less focused upon by the camera and castrated by the moral righteousness of the present. Despite the foreboding music, nobody is bitten once they take the boat and cross the water. This was a false foreshadowing, which keeps the viewer as naïve as Thomas about the upcoming scene after they are safely across. After Lore offers herself to the Kerl, which causes Thomas to strike him dead, she tries to kill herself, but instead is bathed of her sins in the river and carries on to another survivor camp.

Following Sigmund Freud’s coming-of-age theory known as the ‘Elektra Complex’, this scene can be interpreted as a transition from adolescence, loving the father(land), to adulthood, loving another. Lore’s act of offering herself could be seen as progeny – enacting the traditions of the mother, and perhaps her perceived-values of German women getting raped – and then transferring her trust of the father to a non-kin male in the same milieu – the Kerl. But the scene of Thomas killing the Kerl and her rebirth in the water is also about Lore giving up her ‘father figure’ Nazi ideals and realizing that her parents had been schuldig, and so was she, for doing something immoral to solve a perceived problem. Indignantly, Thomas saves her from suicide and the viewer is confronted by the reality of guilt that Germans were experiencing. He gains empathy for her, despite her continued anti-Semitism; this is enigmatic of a Nachkrieg reconciliation in Germany and throughout Europe. The racism was not gone, it was simply recognized. Complicating the image of Thomas is his habit of stealing and his false papers; though we have seen the tattoo on his arm, we and Lore both consider that he was just using the image of being Jewish to get past the Americans. It is possible that Thomas is a dangerous Kapo. His departure from the movie upon losing his stolen papers switches the role of ‘redeemer’ back to Lore. Her exposure to Thomas helped her reflect on Nazi ideology of good and bad and transition into womanhood, but there was no reconciliation of her sexual demands or her denazification.

Reception of Lore 

The reception of Lore confirms its belonging to a neo-rubble genre. As nem baj says on, “Lore is both ‘wartime’ and ‘post-war’, that’s a paradox the movie never solves.” Existing within a paradox of unfinished metanarrative Rs (reconciliation, restabilization, redefinition) and finished cinematic Rs (reprivatization), Lore fulfills “The tendency of all [rubble] films to bring the story to the point where the characters can return to ideally constructed private, apolitical lives,” (Shandley, 188). The neo-rubble character exists within its stylization; while post-OM films use politically critical tropes as aesthetic and “shut down discussion about the Nazi past” (ibid.), Lore continues the project of Vergangenheitsbewältigung through the hyperrealistic stylization and extending its storyline into the future. “Lore is an anti-Heimat film that explores the breakdown of such links and experiences of young characters brought up with a Nazi family,” says Roy Stafford of Global Film Studies, “Lore is kind of a modern version of a rural Trümmerfilme. The film narrative is not ‘resolved’ as such,” (2014). When Lore disobeys Omi and proceeds to smash the porcelain figures important to Mama, “The telling of this history is not a one-time project to be completed and left behind,” (ibid.) – cue German punk scene. One must imagine Lore protesting with the 68ers, rather than knowing that her character has been influenced by them via cinematic criticism of the post-OM generation. Shortland’s Lore sets the stage for the neo-rubble genre.



Written Narrative Discourse in Second Language Acquisition Studies


  1. Introduction

The purpose of this literary review is to learn as much as possible about written narrative student discourse (WND) in the second language (L2) classroom. In Winter of 2018, I will conduct my first student-based study on non-native (NNS) and heritage German language learners (HL) by asking them to engage in L2 WND. The impetus for this project is to research the development of possibilities for self-hood via discourse as inspired by Heidegger’s 1924 lecture on rhetoric as the hermeneutic of Being, and Foucault’s attention to discourse as epistemological (1972). I choose to look through the lens of subjective development during second language acquisition (SLA) (Kramsch, 2003; Pavlenko & Latolf, 2000). Unlike Pavlenko’s rich narratological study of texts (2001), I will investigate subjectivity through student WND because written narration has a “tangible contribution to the ‘reflexive project of the self’,” (Ivanic, 1998) and students exist at a particular conduit of identity development. This literary review investigates existing approaches to SLA WND and commences with a discussion of how the findings inform my project.


  1. Pragmatics of WND

Discourse Theory, much like the Latin term ‘discurs’, is interpreted as a complex linguistic phenomenon. Narrative is a mode of discourse while the student classroom narrative defines a domain of discourse. Narrative discourse is historically interpreted through Speech Act Theory in communication studies as a socio-pragmatic praxis of phronesis, or use of practical wisdom (Bühler, 1934; Fisher, 1985; Jakobson, 1960). In current SLA narrative discourse research, communicative wisdom is investigated as a variable linguistic skill, techne, which must be re-conceptualized in each new language. For example, If the student doesn’t know how to write a narrative following a Bildungsroman structure, how can she achieve native accuracy in German WND production? Approaching SLA WND as both a linguistic task and a genre task makes the classroom domain linguistically and contextually critical to SLA.

An analysis of WND’s development in SLA studies shows early attempts at correlation of grammar with functions of discourse (Halliday, 1978; Sinclair & Coulthard, 1975) and more recent attention to interpersonal meanings beyond lexicogrammatical analysis (Martin and White, 2005). Current methodology trends towards a corporeal discourse analysis of teacher contextualization, task assignment and perception, and finally, student response; “What kind of interaction may bring about what kind of affordances for language learning?” (Huth, 2011) My findings for WND in SLA address the roles of artefacts (multimodality, metaphor), code-switching, and cooperative learning (scripting, repair and feedback).


  • Cohesion and Coherence as Properties of WND

In this literature review, I outline theories and methods that play a part in analyses of WND in SLA. The majority of research done on narrative in SLA follows the development of speech acts “taking an extended turn to tell a story (narration)” (Burns, Champion, de Villies & Pearson, 2012). Throughout this review, some SLA oral narrative discourse studies will be used to delineate ideas about WND analysis, but no textual or naturalistic studies are included. Historical approaches to discursive narrative analysis include the advent of microstructures, the cohesive links between sentences, and macrostructures at the level of thematic coherence and organization (Halliday & Hasan, 1976). ‘Thematic coherence’ takes a more functional approach to meaning. ‘Cohesion’ implies a formal linguistic distinction of appropriate negotiation of meaning, it is a Generative Grammar that “provides texture” (Wang & Guo, 2014). For example, because German language lacks a continuous tense, an English learner of German might lack cohesion in their narrative if they have not acquired the use of German adverbs to assign the aspect of an event as ongoing. (Berman & Slobin, 1994).  Halliday and Hasan (1976) suggest different cohesive devices for analysis of ND which resemble SLA stages of acquisition.[i] In their model, interlanguage variability of aspectual items create breakdowns in cohesion.

Systemic-Functional Linguistics (SFL) takes into account the cohesion of lexical and aspectual functions of discourse (Simon-Vandenbergen, 2014, as cited in Martin, 2016). The difference between the lexical grammatical aspect and the aspectual grammatical distinction mark two different but complementary frameworks in SLA studies – the Aspect Hypothesis (Anderson, 1986 as cited in López-Ortega, 2000) and the Discourse Hypothesis (Bardovi-Harlig, 1994). Discourse systems of foregrounding and backgrounding are functional systems that don’t rely on grammar alone (Bardovi-Harlig, 1995; Hopper, 1982; López-Ortega, 2000). The relationship of discourse and aspect recurs back on Vendler’s ranking of aspectual classes as the red thread between language and philosophy through discourse (1957, 1967, as cited in Vendler, 1980).

Halliday uses Vendler in his 2004 study about “the linguistic system as a whole” (3) during spoken narrative discourse. Halliday cites his 1970 study about systems of transitivity and ergativity, explaining that speaker involvement in a narrative as either the “Affected” or the “Causer” shifts the tense and the aspect, particularly in relationship to verbal morphology. I will reflect on narrator subject position in section VI, but am using Halliday’s study to contend that cohesion is determined both formally and functionally. Vendler’s ranking suggests that the aspectual category of ‘telicity’ has the highest level of complexity in discourse – the notion of experienced time as a determinus for morphology. Anderson (1991) also determines that acquisition of telic morphology follows acquisition of lexical time phrases, which he called the “Lexical Aspect Hypothesis”. Researchers Bardovi-Harlig and Reynolds (1995, 1998), López-Ortega (2000), Potowski (2005), Ramsey (1990) Salaberry (1999) and Wulston-Christianson (2015) look at aspect in foreground and background clauses to determine that lexical cohesion increases with SLA, following the order of the Lexical Aspect Hypothesis.

Studies that have disproven the Lexical Aspect Hypothesis, most notably the European Science Foundation’s longitudinal corpus, are often function-based rather than form-based (Bardovi-Harlig, 2000: 269). Looking at lexical aspect and verb morphology in WND against a backdrop of functional concerns like foreground and background, Flashner (1989), Ellis (1986) Givón (1983), and Verónique (1987) have mixed results about whether foreground or background verbs typically carry morphology. Likewise, in Hatch, Shirai and Fantuzzi’s 1990 study of interlanguage variability in narrative discourse, the grounding aspects are weighed against the time distinctions, but they conclude: “Tense cannot be described without reference to narrative structure and the goal of the storyteller” (Cohen, Gass & Tarone, 2013). Grounding principles (the background and the foreground information), lexical aspect and subject position are interdependent properties of cohesion in SLA WND.

Breakdowns in cohesion do not completely undermine coherence of the WND, meaning that there is a way to analyse WND beyond cohesion. Privileging a thematic discourse analysis, Widdowson’s 1978 Illocutionary Act Theory states: “In the case of cohesion, we can infer the illocutionary acts from the prepositional connections which are overtly indicated: in the case of coherence, we infer the covert prepositional connections from an interpretation of the illocutionary acts,” (Wang & Guo, 2014). “Coherence” emerges as a metalinguistic analysis of meaning which looks at “underlying functional connectedness” (ibid.) of written or spoken language. WND can be coherent without cohesion, which represents the success of universal grammar communication within a basic variety of morphology (Klein & Perdue, 1997). Underlying structural relationships of narrative story telling can be contributed to our pragmatic communicative capability as humans.

Evaluating coherence in SLA is both a socio-pragmatic and pragmalinguistic concern because linguistic actors are negotiating conversational goals (Mitchell, Mylers and Marsden, 2013 (henceforth ‘MMM’: 210). MMM note that one main goal of L2 pragmatics research is determining how far L1 pragmatic knowledge transfers over: is politeness register the same between languages? A challenge to investigating L2 pragmatics is the attainability of L2 pragmatic data, in which learners react to different social situations. One method here is the Discourse Completion Task, which is a written task requiring learners to appropriately respond to a given situation. This method is criticized because it does not take place in real-time – it is inauthentic (ibid.) To this end, significant attention has been paid to conversation within L2 pragmatics studies (ibid.).

Coherence in WND is understudied in SLA outside of its relationship with tense and aspect because of a contention about the validity of delayed response communication (ibid.). Written narratives created outside of the classroom (and read in the classroom) can be seen as a text, while SLA WND remains a discourse by virtue of its statements made in conversation with the task (Foucault, 1969). Because classroom L2 WND requires a negotiation of meaning, the SLA written narrative remains in a discoursal form. The narrative line functions around the specific goals of the author, and in the context of SLA, the reader, too.

Leppänen and Kalaia (2002) assign this process of “story grammar” to linguistic autobiographies, examining them in the coherence schema of Propp’s Story Grammar Analysis (1968, as cited in Pavlenko, 2007): setting, initiating event, character’s internal response and plan, character’s attempts to solve the problem, consequences. Following this narratological line, Labov’s High Point Analysis is applied to SLA NWD by Rintell (1990): presence and non-presence (abstraction), orientation, complicating action, evaluation, and a resolution. Mann and Thompson (1987) also take a functional approach with Rhetorical Structure Theory, suggesting that narrative discourse can be simply divided into nuclei and statellite statements. Maeno (1995) uses stanza analysis on L2 narrative prose. These coherency studies account for the dialogical processes of positioning the self in an L2, though other frameworks of analysis also claim to do so.

Considering learners’ own positionality as a property of SLA NWD has inspired analysis of discourse to the extent of Subject Positionality, Life Reality Positionality and Text Reality Positionality (Pavlenko, 2007). In each of these three endeavours, emphasis is directed to either the subjective sphere, the socio-political sphere and the narrative value sphere. By thematically coding SLA narrative discourse, themes from each category are highlighted. Advantageous to this method is the thematization of SLA experiences and therefore themes that are important to learners. For example, Menard-Warwick (2009) points out the life reality and subjective experience of gender norms within SLA. These resources create visibility for key issues in learner experience. A textual reality example of this is Francheschini’s 2003 study of Turkish immigrants in Germany: their textual nuance and subtleties increased significantly when narrating about her adulthood in Germany, as opposed to the more basic textual form her narration of childhood took on.

SLA NWD has formative and functional aspects that are interwoven. Analytic approaches to SLA NWD take cohesive and coherence approaches, which are bound together by rhetorical, linguistic and contextual L2 knowledge. Purely formal considerations of SLA NWD are not enough to analyse discourse, while purely functional analyses are not enough to measure SLA. SLA NWD is special because it represents a crossroads of subjective and linguistic development into another system of expression.


  1. Genre and Critical Language Awareness in WND

In her 1992 study of SLA and narrative writing, Hatch agrees with Halliday (1976) that narrative coherence is transferred from the L1 and must be learned again for the L2. For example, the American positions their narrative orientation at the front of the discourse (in the form of a thesis) while the German positions their orientation at the end (the analysis). Trained in school to write in these specific academic styles, German learners of English struggle with narrative formation due to conflicting communicative competence (Bagarić, 2007).

For one or two days per semester, “English Academic Writing (C1)” students at the University of Münster would demand a discussion about how thesis-based “inductive” reasoning became prevalent in American academic writing. I would explain to them that the American thesis-based writing is a relic of oral, political argumentative tradition, while the German purpose-based introduction is a relic of the philosophical, written tradition (Dahl, 2004; Mauranen, 1993). While reading American narratives in the following lessons, students would complain that American authors “auspacken” (“to give it up” in a manner similarly annoying to conveying too much personal information to an acquaintance) too quickly, and they lose interest. This cultural variation between “inductive” and “deductive” discursive style was so strong, that some of my students refused to write thesis-based argumentative papers in their bilingual subject courses. Hinds’ 1987 contrastive rhetoric approach would suggest that English is a “writer-responsible” language while German (and most others) are “reader-responsible” because the purpose-based model requires readers to reach the end before making conclusions. Mauranen (1993) suggests that discourse acts performed in oral and written narrative are culturally informed.

SLA NWD is a learned genre. Features that differentiate it between languages require the L1 narrative style to be considered during analysis in order to find, particularly, the coda. Coda is the meaning statement, the moral statement, approached by Hatch as universal to all narrative stories (1992), but this universality is debated by researchers of Hopi and Japanese narratives (cited in Hatch, 1992: Shaul et al., 1987; Matsuyama, 1983). Would educating learners about rhetorical function of L2 narrative heighten their discursive potential, or would it distract students from freely expressing their lived realities by imposing a structure?

Critical Language Awareness (CLA) of writing as a complex social act shapes writer identity, granting the writer social control over their expression (Ivanic, 1998). For example, the students in Münster noticed the use of thesis statements in “personal history” narratives of American university applications, and questioned whether this is a requirement for admission. Developed by Hawkins in 1984 and further by Fairclough in 2003, this CLA hypothesis suggests that students should “discover language for themselves” (Bolitho et al, 2003) before producing language. In the case of WND, teacher input includes the designing, presentation of and potential involvement in the student writing task. CLA in SLA “empowers learners by providing them with a critical analytical framework to help them reflect on their own language experiences and practices,” (Ivanic, 1997), essentially placing narrative at the heart of WND.

Janks discusses the implication of CLA on encouraging transformative action through student journals (1999). In her 2014 book Doing Critical Literacy Janks concludes that WND provides a platform for evaluating student awareness of socio-cultural orientation. Creating cultural contextual awareness proves to elevate the critical level of L2 narrative in English African American Vernacular (Dyson & Smitherman, 2009; Sweetland, 2006), heritage Spanish learners (Valdés, 2005; Leeman & Serafini, 2016; Parra, 2016; Reznicek-Parrado, 2014) and L2 learners (De Cock & Suñer, forthcoming; Campbell, 1990; Kramsch, 2009). During a seminar held between the UC Davis Department of German and Catholic University Louvain, Professor Suñer showed data suggesting that historical context facilitated the comprehension of metaphoric taboo expressions and increased depth of SLA NWD. Using contextual awareness to improve the level of ND is also accomplished by Professor Claire Kramsch.

Kramsch’s The Multilingual Subject (2009) uses studies of university student SLA narrative to discuss language learning and the development of subjectivity. At the end, there is a disclaimer that her students had been informed by a four-month term of multilingualism studies. Kramsch’s students’ awareness of potential SLA narrative depth and direction was culturally au courant, giving them a critical awareness of linguistic subjectivity. Even discourse analysts who have focused on subjectivity within SLA narrative (cited in Pavlenko, 2007: Granger 2004; Pavlenko 2003; Treichel, 2004; Yelenevskaya and Fialkova, 2003) had not exposed their classes to multilingual theory beforehand. My research group will, like Kramsch’s, come from a multilingual theory course, but my course will be taught in a common L2. I hope that their instruction in multilingual theory will allow them to narrow down, clarify and interpret linguistic experiences like in the case of Kramsch and Lam’s 1999 SLA diary narrators.

CLA provides a framework for implicit learning, which supports an input-based, emergentist cognitive model of SLA (MMM, 2013: 99). This contrasts conscious, elicit learning known in the Skill Acquisition Theory (ibid.: 139). CLA is particularly relevant to SLA NWD because it approaches language teaching as discourse teaching, rather than explicit grammar instruction. Kramsch and Suñer contribute NWD coherence and cohesion to conceptual systems previously engaged with during in-classroom context building. CLA underlines lexical, aspectual and discursive crossroads of WND to the extent that writing narrative is viable system for CLA (Svalberg, 2007). Svalberg cites that in preparation for L2 narrative writing, Jones (2001) exposed his Spanish learners to authentic and inauthentic oral narratives and asked them to notice differences. Likewise, this passive approach to teaching critical discourse was undertaken as an educational program in South African highschools, “in order to not agitate the already inflamed national psyche,” after the democratic revolution (Janks, 1996). Using Fairclough’s model of Dimensions of Discourse Analysis, CLA becomes a reciprocal process of ideological and social analysis unto narrative production that includes critical ideological and social discourse (Fairclough, 2003: 206). Task development in the framework of CLA uses and produces informed SLA WND.


  1. Code-switching and Conducting L2 WND

Targeted instruction towards narrative writing is one way to scaffold learners’ understanding of the task, but it does not represent the learner’s interpretation of the NWD task itself. This section looks to social-constructivist theories of SLA to understand the subjective experience of a NWD task; engaging the “reader-writer relationship rather than directly with the text” (Mauranen, 1993) Writers establish their identity by taking on a “stance” which is not encoded in language (Ochs, 1993). Negotiation of a social stance is particularly difficult for SLA NWD because they are presenting themselves in a context that is not their own. They may also lack awareness about how to position themselves in their desired manner. Addressing interlanguage phenomenon, like avoiding using a thesis statement, Hinkel (1997) shows that learners may choose to not accept the L2 culture because it threatens their reputation in the L1 culture. Rampton’s 2002 study of British learners of German suggests that ritualizing the contentious threat to face, in this case, the use of the imperative in casual speech, “bonds the class into a rite-like initiation,” (Kramsch, 2009). This transition between primary habitus and secondary habitus of a new language is applicable across educational settings. The question at the fore is: how can SLA NWD maintain personal integrity while abiding by new habitus?

Kramsch’s The Multilingual Subject draws on Kristevean notions of personal resignification in the L2. One could say that the Münster students who refused the thesis-based construction lacked the symbolic tactics to resignify, and were instead “hostage to an idealized cognitive model of the self” (ibid.: 117) based on the German language. Kramsch suggests that researchers have approached symbolic orientation in many different ways: attitude (Carroll, 1962; Spolsky, 2000), appraisal (Schumann, 1997), investment (Norton, 2000), enagagement (van Lier, 1996; Pennycook, 2001) and motivation (Dörnyei, 2001). The question of resymbolization and SLA NWD is posed most clearly by Kramsch: “How do they use the semiotic resources offered by their various symbolic systems? What intertextualities do they establish with their prioir discourses and how do they resignify or reaccentuate them?” (ibid.: 127)

The narrative is a conceptual map of our experience. In an SLA context, the SLA is inherently bilingual, with a chance and likelihood of multilinguality in a classroom. Because of this, there are various narrational positions available to the narrator, a circulation of cohabitating awarenesses. So, what happens to the learner when they are asked to narrate something in their L2 when they have experienced and remembered it in another language? This highlights the possibility of code-switching during NWD tasks as beneficial to the cohesion and coherence of NWD (Kramsch, 2009; Pavlenko, 2007).

Code-switching is an important linguistic resource with semantic and affective functions. Following the positive reasoning for task-based code-switching set out by Macaro’s 2001 article, using the L1 during complicated writing tasks accelerates their output process (Anton and DiCamilla, 1998; Kobayashi and Rinert, 1992; Friedlander, 1990), reduces memory constraints (Kern, 1994; Skinner, 1985), allows for contrastive analysis as a nuance within narrative recall (Butzkamm, 1998; Campbell, 1997), and contributes to the development of conceptual abilities and “encourages autonomy of expression” (Ministrè de L’Education Nationale, 1996). Codeswitching is a fundamental language skill (Hagen, 1992) that has been proven to benefit coherence and cohesion of SLA NWD.

The aforementioned studies record teacher’s intentional use of L1 with the learners, and also learners’ allowance of use of L1 with the teacher. A principle idea for L2 exclusivity, that is, that learners would have less exposure to target language (cited in Macaro, 2001: Cook, 1991; Harbord, 1992), is overcome by the idea that the L1 would trigger a deeper understanding of the task. The problem with looking at classrooms as divided into L1 and L2 is noted by Gramling as a “myth of monolingualism” (2016). If a teacher were to use the majority L1, this would still be imposing a framework of power on students’ whose L1 was not represented, while still depriving students of a lexical and syntactic framework for answering. In this heteroglossic context, the multilingual learner encounters the need to cohesively and coherently comprehend and create the NWD task.

As Odlin (1989) suggests, L1 forms used in L2 production may not meet the normative cohesion or coherence of narrative discourse. Odlin is cited in Kubota’s (1998) study of the transfer of L1 to L2 during writing tasks, finding that participants’ L1 and L2 morphological patterns were shared between languages. Using the L1 to scaffold production of L2 is investigated by Uzawa and Cumming (1982), also cited in Kubota, who claim that the L1 nuances were simply simplified to meet requirements of the L2 task. Beare (2000) and Carrington (2007) gave their students the allowance to use L1 in their narrative building, and then tracked student strategies. In both cases, students relied heavily on L1 during conceptual and rhetorical planning, but rearranged their rhetorical structures to create target-like L2 texts. Kobayashi and Rinnert (1992) and Cohen and Brooks-Carson (2001) discovered that early SLA made better use of direct translation, while more advanced students preferred ‘direct composition’ in the L2.

As concluded in Nassaji and Karim (2013), students’ success in L2 writing depends on their awareness of L2 rhetorical features, and the possibility to draft in L1 when they feel it is necessary because “learners need to be trained to discover strategies that work best for them.” Kramsch also suggests that “second language acquisition research strives to find ever better strategies for language learners to gain their own, autonomous space in the foreign language,” (119) and promotes students’ reflection on their own SLA NWD process.


  1. Corpus Linguistics, CMC and Potential of WND

Unlike the study of narrative as a text, SLA studies of WND see narrative writing by language learners as a discourse. Because the student is in constant communication with the teacher, NWD is a teacher-student discourse unlike spoken narrative discourse between students. Though significant research has been done on SLA oral narratives and SLA narratives as text, the contributions to SLA NWD are relatively slim. This is possibly due to more simplistic methods of testing rhetorical and linguistic accuracy, like with the Discourse Information Gap (DIG) and other shorter activities. Though oral narrative satiates the SLA desire to understand subjective experience of learners and allows conveyance of multimodal meaning, it is a less complex form of rhetorical and linguistic transfer than the written narrative. Attributes of NWD include greater deliberation and sophistication in nuance. NWD is, essentially, a greater body of knowledge about the language learner.

Coding narratives according to themes, rhetorical and linguistic trends, patterns and conceptual changes (Strauss & Corbin, 1990) allows the development of a functional corpus of SLA NWD. Corpus Linguistics as an analytical tool marks the arrival of competence-based performance data (MMM, 8). Jaworski and Coupland (1999) underline that a large corpus of WND qualitative, thematic research complements the quantitative corpus. Lee (2008), McEnery, Xiao and Tono (2006) call for corpus linguistics to augment their annotation systems to mark pragmatic features, which would allow function-based rather than form-based searches possible (Barron & Schneider, 2014). Function-based searches in NWD corpora would allow thematic subcategorization. This feature is used by corpora of spoken narratives, like in the USC Shoah Foundation’s tagging of themes within Holocaust (and other genocide) survivor narratives. Known as the “Visual History Archive”, the Shoah Foundation’s systematic classifications of multimodal discourse make it a significant project for oral narratives. NWD is included in the Narrative Corpus developed by the Heidelberg Corpus (Hendriks, 2005), the British National Corpus and the ICE-GB (cited in Rühlemann, 2015: Nelson, 2001; Rühlemann & O’Donnell, 2012). None of these include functional or thematic subcategories, but provide a database of research for further studies.

Likewise, CMC is a potential realm for gathering SLA NWD. This post-modern addition to the possibility of narrative discourse provides ample opportunity for collecting student-student samples. Garton (2012) suggests that teacher-fronted elicitation of NWD produces reactions of agency among learners, that they will purposefully reinterpret the project to match their own linguistic aspirations. Likewise, Hellermann and Doehler (2010) note the individual adaptation of tasks in student-student discourse pairs, suggesting that this type of co-construction produced more discourse than teacher-student interaction. Toth (2011) contends that student-student narrative discourse is better at solidifying known structures, while teacher-student discourse encourages students to grammaticalise. CMC also distorts the possibility of teacher-student NWD, because, in the case of blogs or Canvas chats, students are asked to engage in a public space, rather than personally. Kramsch (2009) suggests: “The displacement creates a physical space of disjunction that throws off his interlocuters.” (165)

Teacher-fronted SLA NWD exists in a unique realm of academic interaction with a focus on context, accuracy and reflection. By analysing SLA NWD, the context of a learner as a learner is forefronted in the narrative reflection, while the lexical-grammatical aspects are deemed important beyond merely the comprehension in student-student interaction. There is space in the SLA studies discourse for a corpus of NWD to be collected and marked according to cohesion and coherence, in order to balance attention between the subjective, socio-political and textual research being done.


  • Discussion of Findings

When taken together, this paper has provided an extended review of understanding how SLA narrative discourse works in the L2 classroom. These findings suggest that narratives represent a discursive practice between the learner, the target language, the target culture, their teacher and themselves. More specifically, the grammatical, lexical and other critical features of communicative competence have taken shape in the context of NWD. This paper has noted that teachers are an integral part to SLA NWD, but more important is student interpretation of the task. Thus, the structure of interaction between teachers and students via the task has been investigated. However, although a great deal of information has been learned about the nature of WND in the SLA context, more empirical research is needed. What follows are potential future research paths in this area as well as some sample research questions.

First, most of the research on SLA NWD has been carried out in L2 classrooms that focus on linguistic content. More research is needed to understand the nature of discourse patterns in content-based courses. Focusing on SLA NWD of advanced bi- and multilinguals could shed light on their process. Some research questions to be explored here include: How do high-proficiency learners participate in discourse with their teacher through narrative? What are the features of NWD in content-based courses as opposed to linguistic-based courses? Is this an argument in favour of CLIL?

Second, virtually none of the studies reported here have dealt with the question of how students’ ethnic backgrounds play in to their formation of foreground and background in NWD. Though alluded to by studies of Hopi and Japanese differences in narrative genre, the treatment of narrative as a universal reality seems problematic. The paucity of research regarding linguistic socialization into genre begs the question: How does the learner’s L1 factor in to narrative genre?

Third, there is a distinct poverty of discourse data for German learners. The PoLL and ESF longitudinal projects shed some light onto narrative progression in German, but these studies are not thematised for coherence. The abundance of literature on French, Spanish and English exists within the realm of romance languages, while other Latin-based languages with more complex casual forms are ignored. Given the relative difficulty of learning native-like German modality and mood, at what point in SLA does NWD become ‘advanced’? What marks an advanced German learner in NWD? Are there culturally specific writing conventions that should be taken into account?

Fourth, though CLA studies account for empirical investigation into in-class work and learner production of critically aware NWD, there is no work done about the contribution of whole-class discussions. Reserved primarily for smaller, seminar-style, content-based settings, CLA as a classroom discourse has room for exploration. A main question here is: do students gain more implicit information in whole-class or peer settings? How is multimodality advantageous to CLA? What is the best potential scaffolding for their abstract/symbolic competence?

Many studies engage how students perform narrative discourse in oral settings and

focus on specific patterns of interaction between discourse partners. They investigate the student’s positionality and acquisition level from a retrospective point of view. In my SLA NWD study, I want to focus on students as active reshapers/ resignifiers of their own language. I would like to use in-class experiences (in the L2) to facilitate NWD. To the end of CLA multimodality, I will look towards L2 cinematic expression as an authentic and affective way to deliver meaning.














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Ethical Aesthetics in Nietzsche and Schiller: Connected Duplicities


Revisiting the ethical aesthetic seems like a time-worn lecture- even the jokes have to be cited! The historical relevancy, increasingly less intriguing as society parts from old doctrines, falls on the ears of students as if they are suffering a nun through Confirmation. What then, is a teacher to do?

Friedrich Schiller and Friedrich Nietzsche employ the method of idolizing their subjects in Greek history, making them relevant again as the ideal destination of society. Just as they, compiling subjects of Grecian antiquity, provide you with a picture of them, I will compile Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man (1795) and The Birth of Tragedy (1872) as subjects of early modern ethical aesthetic philosophy, in order to paint a picture of it as common sets of duplicities concerned with freedom. It is ironic that both these authors were idolized by the fascist regime, which, in my opinion, is due to a misreading. I posit that their historicization of Grecian culture, their similar understanding of the ‘idyll’ and their ideas about harmony and unity are intended to restore their milieus’ understanding of specific topics: for Schiller, education; for Nietzsche, decadence. Both authors search for the free will in human nature at the crescendo of beauty, an inherently ethical treatment of aesthetics. As do their intended topics, Nietzsche and Schiller’s ethical meditations diverge concerning the ‘idyll’.

Literature Review

Rather surprisingly, considering the innumerable amount of secondary literature concerning Schiller and Nietzsche individually, studies highlighting their connections and divergences are sparse. Research published in the early 20th century tends to deny Nietzsche’s claims at originality by comparing his philosophical reasoning with Schiller’s[1], a trait characteristic to the emergence of critical writing, with a polemic treatment of Nietzsche in line with the “canonization of Schiller as a national saint”[2]. Contemporary publications on Nietzsche’s “productive engagement”[3] with Schiller provide a more holistic approach, by investigating the entire Nietzsche criterion in order to summate a Nietzschean depiction of Schiller (Schillerbild). Nicholas Martin’s two-fold account, Nietzsche’s Schillerbild: A Re-evalutation (1995) and Untimely Aesthetics (1996) takes issue with the tendency to indebt Nietzschean philosophies to Schiller, claiming:

“To talk of influences on Nietzsche is profoundly to misunderstand his eclectic and experimental method of thinking and writing… Accordingly, Nietzsche uses Schiller, as he does so many other historical figures, as both a sounding-board and a whipping-boy.” (Schillerbild, 23)


Martin’s contribution is clearly indebted to scholars Charles Andler and Herbert Cysarz, to whom he attributes his argument that Nietzsche’s aesthetic treatment in The Birth of Tragedy articulates Schiller’s Letters through the “reinvention of the Greeks”[4], the “creative” appropriations of history[5] and the aesthetic process. Martin, a Nietzschean[6], uses mostly Nietzsche’s direct evaluation of Schiller to connect the two as “inadequate for the needs of their times,”[7] but provides important insights to Tragedy, which I will address in this paper.

Author Martin Prange also investigates common philosophical underpinnings in his work Valuation and Revaluation of the Idyll: Schillerian Traces in Nietzsche’s Early Musical Aesthetics (2006). Prange’s essay addresses the influence of Schiller’s Naïve and Sentimental Poetry, while Martin’s focus remains on Nietzsche’s idea of Schiller. As I will also insist, Prange labels Schiller’s essay “On Naïve and Sentimental Poetry” as having a decisive influence on his Letters and Nietzsche’s Tragedy, as mediated by Immanuel Kant’s moral philosophy. Both Prange and Martin’s books forego a conversation on the ethical aesthetic, which seems to me Nietzsche and Schiller’s common point of departure and the pinnacle of divergence after significant parallel in terms and processes. To this end, I endeavour to follow the Apollonian-Dionysian depiction in Tragedy, while highlighting the ethical aesthetic of the Graecization of German culture, the creation of aesthetic duplicities using Schiller’s Poetry and finally, Nietzsche’s shift from Schiller’s concept of harmony and unity.


Kant’s assertion that experiencing beauty necessitates disinterested contemplation and, therefore, the separation of aesthetics from ethics[8], laid the theoretical framework for the replacement of aristocratic morality during the shift from oligarchic rule in early-modern Europe. Though, the red thread of the aesthetic problematic can be traced all the way back to Plato’s consideration about poetic art as essentially imitative in the Republic, when Plato suggests that, “all imitative poetry would seem to maim the reasoning of those hearers who do not possess an antidote in the knowledge of its real nature,” (Aesthetics, 24). This projection of reasoning is banished by the divinity of beauty in Plato’s Symposium: “Beauty, however, is in harmony with the divine.” (Aesthetics, 37d) Aristotle continues the project of researching the intuitive absolute totality in the face of beauty by allowing artful imitation a more privileged meaning. Poetry, he argues, allows a window to the “probable impossibilities,” tragedies that are not directly experienced, but still allow you to ratchet up pity and fear: “If you see a lion, you run; poetry lets you think.”[9] Kant returns to the emotional transport[10] of art, removing it from the logical, deductive, political processes, allowing beauty to fall under the category of ethical freedom: “To deem something good, I must always know what sort of a thing the object is intended to be, i.e. I must have a concept of it. That is not necessary to enable me to see beauty in a thing.” (Aesthetics, 45) Throughout the analysis of Tragedy in Schillerian terms, these ideas of poetry and tragedy as the vehicles for transport to other times, beauty as harmony of human with the divine, and the element of ethical freedom achieved in this state are the main tenants of my attention.

Schiller’s Letters respond to Kant’s antinomies of beauty as a matter of “arbitrary taste”[11] by looking at the purpose of beauty to the nature of man. Schiller suggests that in art and in play, we live in the imagination, a world of our own composition that is not bound to the limited possibilities of reality. Here, we maintain the “active” psyche, not passively reacting to stimuli, not “determined” by social externalities. We do not use our energy as utility requires, nor do we lack opportunities to use it as we desire.

“By means of aesthetic culture, therefore, the personal worth of a man, or his dignity, inasmuch as this can depend solely on himself remains completely indeterminate; and nothing is achieved by it than that he is henceforth enabled by the grace of Nature to make himself what he will.” (Letters, §21)

Disturbed by the lack of freedom in human condition, Schiller wrote his Letters On the Aesthetic Education of Man (1795) in response to his surprise at the self-serving ideals of civilized circles during the Enlightenment and after observing the regression to violence among lower classes[12]. Schiller suggested that “aesthetic education” would better mature the consciousness of mankind. Grounded in three drives, play, form and sense, Schiller suggested systems of experience that, when poorly balanced, caused a regression in humanity. His Letters are useful as a distinguishing framework for Friedrich Nietzsche’s aesthetic considerations in The Birth of Tragedy (1897) thanks to the common perceptual lens of the ‘idyll’ of aesthetic balance; Schiller and Nietzsche require the arts at their climax, before the realization of the moment of beauty, to reveal the most primal delight – not as individuals in a world of judgement and pity, but as pure beings. This would be authenticated by a singular, homogenizing past. Both authors employ Greek classicism to disembark from the lopsided coordination of 18th and 19th century public values, realizing that only through the cultivation, dynamic contradiction and synthesis of two opposing aesthetic drives, for Schiller form and sense, and for Nietzsche Apollonian and Dionysian, can we achieve a dialectic between the modes of feeling and thinking, which Kant treats as an unresolvable paradox: “the essential point, to which the question of beauty finally leads.” (Letters, §2) Schiller seeks to expose the benefits of aesthetic education in the face of rationalism and Nietzsche seeks to reveal rationalism’s product – the aesthetic “plague” of decadence[13].

Author Charles Bernheimer reacts to Nietzsche’s relationship to decadence as an “agent provocateur”, that is, he localizes Nietzsche as a decadent himself; Bernheimer highlights Nietzsche’s use of the French word decadence[14], which “would then imply a connection between his philosophy, which he calls “filigree art” full of “nuances”, (EH 223)…, an avant-garde French aestheticism.” I interpret this chosen French aesthetic theory to be indicative of his attention to primarily his milieu, the fin-de-siecle[15], but also to a societal ‘idyll’ for the world’s advancement beyond the Enlightenment, much like Schiller. Though Nietzsche is not responding to the upheaval and “barbarism” that Schiller depicted in Letters, he is still taking issue with a society in ruins.

Because Nietzsche published an excess of literature focusing on the ethical dimensions of Wagner[16] in a time of decadence, he has been promoted as a “heretic” of the ethical aesthetic. Decadence proves to be a-temporal and fragmented by meaning and by its dialectic as a ‘necessary sickness’[17] to society. To the western ear, decadence serves a hyperbolic purpose, often heard in relation to dessert; with a ‘sinful’ amount of hot fudge, you may experience ‘death by chocolate’. But outside the sphere of contemporary advertisements, the indulgent perception of decadence remains closer with its Latin roots, “to decay” and “to fall”, allowing the concept to maintain a privileged appropriation as an essential discontinuity with the past. Decadence then becomes a direct product of development, and holds meaning as a pejorative qualifier for individual actions and lifestyles within a socialized civilization. Reflecting on “decay” of individual actions, decadence as a social critique emerges throughout history, but distinctively at the Fin-de-siecle; a literary trope of decadence manifests as an ostentatious, self-serving male aesthete – the “Dandy” – an avatar of post-Enlightenment class-consciousness, whose delight in elegance is meant as a symbol of the “aristocratic superiority of mind.”[18] The feigned refinement of decadence is the point of departure for Nietzsche’s considerations of aesthetic judgement. His purpose was not to advance a new definition of decadence, more general or more precise, but to review the positive and negative cultivations of aestheticism. Like I am not discussing Dandyism, Nietzsche did not dwell on decadence in The Birth of Tragedy, but illuminated it as an outcropping of madness and a “symptom of the failing power” of morality in the “developing hegemony of reasonableness, practical and theoretical utilitarianism, as well as democracy itself.” (§4) Nietzsche’s response to the Zeitgeist of decadence is cast as a bodily illness in The Case of Wagner (1888), but is grounded in the universal subjectivity expressed by the aesthetic notion of human nature in Tragedy.    

According to Nietzsche and Schiller, the aesthetic fulfilment of human nature transcends the Zeitgeist[19]. Though the authors focus attention on criticisms of their respective milieus, Schiller gives up the “alluring temptation” to comprise his freedom from, “the political theatre of action,” and he aims to, “place himself in the center of the whole, and to raise his individuality to that of the species.” (Letters, §2) According to Denker und Dichter scholar Nicholas Boyle, Schiller’s state of dignity is separate from the (non-polar) binary of regulative normalcy and “wild ochlocracy”[20], and frees human nature from the “depravity of character” tolerated by barbaric bourgeois and aristocracy, and the “brutal, lawless drives” (Letters, §4) of those proletariat[21], who fought savagely during the French Revolution. In his book Goethe: Revolution and Renunciation[22], Boyle suggests a Schillerian “duality in which sense rules reason,” which, “may harmonize in the production of behaviour which is both morally free and physically attractive- beautiful movement” (Goethe, 63).  Though I agree that Schiller was indeed searching for the outward manifestation of humanity’s “beautiful soul”, I think the use of the word “duplicity” (Duplicität) would better serve the relationship of form and sensuous drives in society. Unlike a duality, they are never completely separate from each other. I believe that Boyle is not to blame for this mistake, because he continues on to understand form and sense in correlation with the “duality of the sexes” (Zweiheit der Geschlechter) (Tragedy, §1), which is wrongly translated by Walter Kaufmann, the translator of Boyle’s edition of Tragedy. Here, the word Zweiheit actually means a “two-ness”. If Nietzsche had intended a duality, he would have written Dualität. Boyle compares these duplicities because of their relationship together; they are woven in to each other[23]. Though the two drives are never completely separate, Nietzsche denotes that they are still in constant tension with one another except in moments of unity, with periodic reconciliation (Versöhnung). As Schiller brings forward Plato’s Philebus, “things are a mixture of one and many” (Letters, §6), form and sense have an inexorable nature, giving them a character not unlike Nietzsche’s discussion of Apollonian and Dionysian drives as irreconcilably connected windows to human nature[24]. In the following, I will consider Schiller’s conception of drives of aesthetic freedom as duplicities, then organize them in conversation in Tragedy under the Apollonian and Dionysian drives, tracing the duplicity of these drives and posing questions that can be answered by Schiller’s discussion of form and sensuous drives.

Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man/ Greacization

In finding a solution to the Kantian paradox of the subjective universal, Schiller categorizes aesthetic production as, “[to] appear determined through the nature of the thing, which one could call the voluntary assent of the thing to its technique” (Letters, §1).  Boyle suggests that although Schiller does not accept Kant’s negative view of man’s natural being[25], he does not return to an “illusory primitive state” (68), that is, Schiller doesn’t seek to overcome the duplicity of form and sense, nor establish a unity from them. According to Schiller, man cannot be reduced to a unity, but are always existing in duplicities: “Person and Condition… are in the finite being eternally two” (Letters, §4) Disagreeing with Kant’s assumption that the subject (man) is noumenon, Schiller’s Letters show man as an understanding of phenomenon:

“To say that man has first to become, is no objection; for man is not just Person pure and simple, but Person situated in a particular Condition. Every Condition, however, every determinate existence, has its origin in time; and so man, as a phenomenal being, must also have a beginning, although the pure intelligence within him is eternal. Without time, that is to say, without becoming, he would never be a determinate being; his Personality would indeed exist potentially, but not in fact.” (Letters, §11)
Schiller’s change of perspective from Kant’s categorical imperative allows the consideration of alternative routes to the nature of man, of which he is primarily concerned with the moral destination as an answer for happiness- namely the socio-political problems exaggerated by Robespierre’s Reign of Terror (the French Revolution) (Letters, §3) and the consequences of sciences and industry in the modern era (Letters, §1). His conception of what man is supposed to become show that beauty is necessary in the destination of man, that is, “beauty is a necessary condition of Human Being,” (Letters, §10) which is situated between formal and sensuous drives, that is, the barbaric and the savage.

Schiller claims that these two fundamental drives in man are reductionist, and they, “exhaust our concept of humanity, [we must] make a third fundamental drive which might possibly reconcile the two, a completely unthinkable concept.” (Letters, §13) In disavowing the “radical opposition” of the two drives, Schiller develops a drive out of them – the play drive – which does not unify the other two, because then it would negate its necessity to exist[26]. Nurtured by an aesthetic education, the play drive allows man to overcome the duplicity between personal (savage, sensuous) and social (barbaric, form) freedom through the framework of the mind, instigating a long revolution of political change instead of a creative destruction[27] of societal order. Author Emiliano Acosta suggests that Schiller’s “parallel reality [the play drive]… does not lead to an effective real overcoming of the real situation, but to the idea of an emancipating praxis of man in the element of the art and the semblance.” (“Schiller’s Concept of Recognition”, 127) This brings Schiller’s aesthetic idea to the realm of the ‘idyll’, which he recognizes as the institution of moral law on earth (§25)

By establishing Schiller’s concept of recognition in society as one of utopian aspirations, Acosta anticipated Martin’s conversation on the “untimeliness” of Schiller and Nietzsche’s work. Martin says,

“Any attempt to construct a state according to moral principles will be untimely (unzeitig), and any hopes for it chimerical “until the separation of the inner man is again abolished, and his nature is fully developed enough to be the artist herself, and to assert her reality to the political creation of reason. (AE VII)…

It is not least this need to break the vicious cycle which leads him [Schiller] to the Greeks. The Greek example is removed in time and space.” (Untimely Aesthetics, 69)
What Martin is exposing is Schiller’s use of the Attic world, in its “unconscious harmony” (ibid., 70) as a contrast to the disjointed junctures of the Enlightenment. Schiller draws a positive historical lineage from the Greeks, whose poetics should be studied by the individual in hopes of restoring mankind.

Tragedy benefits from Schiller’s appropriation of the Greek model as the base example for the ‘idyll’, even the divine (Letters, §6), as a quintessential looking glass to view the shortcomings of Germany’s decadence. Unlike Martin, I am not suggesting this Graecization of aesthetic theory as an intertextual relationship belonging to Schiller and Nietzsche alone. According to Boyle, creating a bond between Greek and German cultures can be seen as a wider trend of poets and thinkers in Germany’s Culture Struggle (Kulturkampf[28]) to employ a singular, homogenizing past (Goethe, 19). On the other hand, Martin considers the “re-evaluation of the Greeks” to be a central aim in the project of “rebirthing” aesthetic culture: “This very tactic, though, of employing models and exemplars from the past, because he feels his own are is too corrupt to regenerate itself from within, is one Nietzsche shares with Schiller.” (Untimely Aesthetics, 28) I tend to agree more with Byron’s holistic conception of the Greacization of Germany because of the authoritarian personality of the era[29]. Though Martin points out that Nietzsche adapted the ‘tragic’ Greece, whereas Schiller used the Golden Age, I would like to emphasize this as a divergence in their treatment of the ethical aesthetic.

Both Schiller and Nietzsche take issue with the Greek divergence towards political societies – for Nietzsche much earlier, with Socrates, and for Schiller the ironic “Building of Political Freedom” (Letters, §2). For Schiller, the problem of political freedom is that it is experienced under the charge of truth. The French Revolution marks a failure of the political, while the ending of the Golden Age marks a stagnation the project of politics. He projects this turn Nietzsche understands the Socratic era as ushering in a mission to consider existence apprehensible, as “the turning point and vortex of the so-called world history” (Tragedy, §14) which transcended the tragic era.

I believe that an ethical aesthetic difference highlights the gap between Nietzsche and Schiller’s appropriation of the Greeks, that is, Schiller is concerned with the loss of political truth while Nietzsche focuses on a loss of “tragic insight”. These aims diverge at the subject; Schiller is concerned with the project of development, while Nietzsche is concerned about decay. Their appropriations of Greek culture both insist that a once-‘idyll’ society, gifted with arts that bettered mankind, had turned toward a deluded denial of progress. Though Martin chooses not to historicize these ethical parameters of Hellenization, he hints beyond his Schillerbild, and momentarily considers The Birth of Tragedy’s celebration in Hellenic culture under a Schillerian categorical authority, “for his [Nietzsche’s] radical reformations of the creative process, the function of the tragic chorus, and the traditional aesthetic antithesis” (30). That is, Nietzsche held a ternary purpose of Grecian culture, not unlike Schiller’s consideration of play, form and sense.

Mapping Duplicities

Nietzsche describes the Apollonian: “In the dream, the great sculptor saw the delightful structure of a superhuman” (Tragedy, §1) He uses the noun “superhuman” (Übermensch) in association with the structure of Apollo[30], but does not discuss “superhuman” – the best possible person – as the balance between both Dionysian and Apollonian. This constant division echoes Schiller’s realization that unity cannot be attained from form and sense, made only more clear through the application of aesthetics later on. Apollo is the god of light, and Nietzsche explains that the god’s connection to appearance also links him to the concept of the prophecy of a higher truth. It is through this higher truth, moreover, that “life is made possible and worth living” (Tragedy, §1). It is paradoxical, then, that Nietzsche refers continuously to the Dionysian as “life affirming” when here he is ascribing this same thing to the Apollonian. However, the Apollonian is an appearance, and thus we are examining the beautiful appearance, or semblance, of the dream worlds. By recalling Schiller’s appropriation of ‘form’ to the world of thought and dreams, we can begin already in the first section to draw a parallel between Schiller’s ‘beautiful semblance’ (der schöne Schein) of the play drive and Nietzsche’s higher truth from the Apollonian Schein. This also brings to mind Schiller’s idea that the form drive leads to the “greatest enlargement of being” (§13), meaning that form drive moves us out of the individual realm to that of something greater- like the Apollonian higher truth.

When one finally doubts the dreamy illusion of Apollo, the Dionysian is quick to emerge:

“If we add to this awe the ecstatic rapture, which rises up out of the same collapse of the principium individuationis from the innermost depths of a human being, indeed, from the innermost depths of nature, then we have a glimpse into the essence of the Dionysian, which is presented to us most closely through the analogy to intoxication” (Tragedy, §1).
By designating the Apollonian to the principium individuationis, Nietzsche further parallels Apollonian drive to Schiller’s ‘form’; sculpture, he declares, is the most Apollonian of arts, which relies entirely on its form. For Schiller, when sense drive rules over form, it reduces man’s ability to unify his nature: “As long as he merely feels, merely desires and acts upon desire, he is as yet nothing but the world, if by this term we understand nothing but the formless content of time.” (§6) Could not “intoxication” correlate to the “formless content of time?” Nietzsche declares that when the Apollonian Veil of Maja is ripped asunder “man feels like God” (Tragedy, §1). One sees here a problem with the Dionysian, because a man is engaged in a wrongful representation of God. Man finds himself in the Dionysian state, no longer as an “artist” but, “has become a work of art: the artistic power of all nature, to the highest rhapsodic satisfaction of primordial unity, which reveals itself for Nietzsche in the transports of “intoxication” (Tragedy, §1). This necessarily reflects on Schiller’s assertion that sense drive seeks “absolute reality” (Letters, §1) attempting to “destroy” anything that is “mere world” (ibid., §5) For Nietzsche, Nature rejoices in its celebration (ihr Versöhnungsfest) with mankind, her lost sons. This occurs in the magic (Unter dem Zauber) of the Dionysian, as it determines actions in the physical realm and points to a broader understanding of life. A problematic begins to emerge for Nietzsche and Schiller, when one recognizes that intoxication can be dreamlike, and that a dream is in fact a sort of intoxicating phenomenon. This notion embodies the idea that the two drives exist in one another, but for Nietzsche the problem is that the Dionysian emerges as favourable over the Apollonian. Where is Apollo in this exalted satisfaction of primal unity?[31]

Nietzsche then describes Dionysus as a mystical feeling of collective unity[32] (Tragedy, §2). Greek tragedy, however, is an especially beautiful art form because it is made up simultaneously of intoxication and dreams[33]. Nietzsche separates the Dionysian Greeks from the Dionysian barbarians, who drink more than their fill of the witch’s brew (Hexentrank). In the Greek festivals, such excess will not be found. Nietzsche writes of Dionysian music,

“In the Dionysian dithyramb man is aroused to the highest intensity of all his symbolic capabilities: something never felt forces itself into expression, the destruction of the veil of Maja, the sense of oneness as the presiding genius of form, in fact, of nature itself.” (Tragedy, §2)


How is it here, that the veil of Apollo is destroyed? Is Apollo not always at play with the Dionysian?

Nietzsche writes that the dithyrambic servant of Dionysus will only be understood by someone like Dionysus himself. The Apollonian Greek senses with terror that his consciousness was, “like a veil, merely covering the Dionysian world in front of him” (Tragedy, §2). It is not the other way around – the Dionysian Greek has no room for “realization” that his consciousness is withholding the Apollonian existence from him. He likens this naivety to a “complete victory of the Apolline illusion” (Tragedy, §3), but suggests that Apollonian and Dionysian share in the common presence of naivety as the hidden ground of suffering (Tragedy, §3). Nietzsche points directly to Schiller’s understanding of naivety, “that unity of man with Nature, for which Schiller coined the term.” (Tragedy, §3)

Mapping Duplicities: The Tragic Chorus

The Apollonian and Dionysian binary owes greatly to Schiller’s On Naïve and Sentimental Poetry. Published two months earlier than Letters in 1795, Schiller set the stage for his dissection of form and sensuous drives. By departing from Kant’s “intractable oppositions” through a symbolic resolution of poetic form as a duplicity, Schiller organizes poetry by subject-relationship[34]; in naïve poetry, the poet will describe directly what is going on, while in sentimental poetry, the author reflects on himself. Though transporting us back to the Grecian poetics as those of direct description (in the naïve mode), we see a parallel with Niethzsche’s “Mythos”, which Martin describes as a “naïve harmony of the ancients” (Schillerbild, 36). Schiller shapes the aesthetic theory used by Nietzsche to explain his term ‘Apollonian’[35]. Martin claims that this connection is “identical”, and quotes Nietzsche’s acknowledgement of Schiller as the “originator of the term”:

“Wherever we encounter “naïve” in art, we have to recognize the highest effect of Apollonian culture, something which must always come into existence to overthrow the kingdom of the Titans, to kill monsters, and through powerfully deluding images and joyful illusions so emerge victorious over the horrific depths of what we observe in the world and the most sensitive capacity for suffering… Homeric “naiveté” is only to be understood as the complete victory of the Apollonian illusion. It is the sort of illusion which nature uses so frequently in order to attain her objectives.” (Tragedy, §3)


Though Nietzsche idealizes naivety within the Homeric, pre-Socratic era, he defines like Schiller defines the difference between “naïve” and “sentimental” forms of poetry. Instead of poetry, Nietzsche is discussing tragedy in these terms and focusing on the “naïve”, which for Nietzsche existed in the Homeric Era. He elicits Richard Wagner’s “The Ring of the Niebelung” in describing the achievement of the naïve, which helps us realise the departure from Schiller’s ‘idyll’ of aesthetic education. Though Nietzsche considers naivety “purely Apollonian” (Wagner, §3) and interprets the sentimental as emerging alongside it, both born in tragedy, Nietzsche does not consider Dionysian as “sentimental”. Though Apollo was created with regard to Schiller’s naivety, I think that Nietzsche’s use of Schiller’s form-sense duplicity in Letters is more relevant to the function of Apollonian and Dionysian together, and better depicts the red thread of the ethical aesthetic.

Era notwithstanding[36], consideration of form and sense as a balanced depiction of Apollonian and Dionysian drives sheds light on the common idea that through beauty, the ethical will emerge. Nietzsche quotes Schiller: “With me, feeling first lacks a defined and clear object; the latter develops for the first time later on. A certain musical emotional state comes first, and from this, with me, the poetic idea then follows.” (Tragedy, §5) Nietzsche’s attention to Schiller’s de-temporalizing of the technique of poetry leads him to discuss that the basis for tragedy, poetry, is a combination of “the lyricist and the musician, in fact, their common identity” (§5). Likening the lyrical poet to a Dionysian artist, Nietzsche constructs a duplicity with Apollonian as the goal of primordial oneness[37]. But, Nietzsche exclaims, he could not live without Dionysus[38]. Contradictorily, Nietzsche writes that they mutually intensify each other (sich gegenseitig steigernd) (Tragedy, §4). This duplicity can be cleared up by reflecting on Schiller’s conception of form and sense drives as “a reciprocal action of such a kind that the activity of one both gives rise to and sets limits to the activity of the other, and in which each itself achieves its highest manifestation precisely by reason of the other being active.” (Letters, §14)   and how they react when in perfect balance to create the play drive.

In the Attic Tragedy and the dramatic dithyramb, the two are in a more or less equal unity because they combine the Apollonian elements of dialogue, character and action with the darker, Dionysian essence of being (Urgrund), projected by the chorus and fall of the tragic hero. Nietzsche writes on how our view here is directed to these two drives who share a common goal, a secretive marital connection, and a child that is both at once: “whose secret marriage partnership, after a long antecedent struggle, glorified itself with such a child—at once Antigone and Cassandra.” (Tragedy, §4) Though untouched by Martin, this mention of Antigone’s Cassandra resonates with claim of being able to see the future, but killing herself when she is unheard. It emphasises the “untimeliness” of Nietzsche’s idyll, much like Schiller’s, but also marks the decay of society in a post-Socratic world. The truth was available, but it did not progress.

For Nietzsche as well, this Apollonian-Dionysian unity is that of mystery (Einheitsmysterium), however, the lyric poet is Dionysian who is “completed” by the primordial unity, “To understand the tragic myth we must see it as Dionysian wisdom made concrete through Apollonian artifice” (Tragedy, §6). The sublime Dionysian is a merging of the self and the other as a universal and passionate art, and it must react with the sober Apollonian, which represents the imperatives of “knowing thyself” and “nothing to excess!” (Tragedy, §6) Together they create an ethical evolution of the self, which is Nietzsche’s point of departure for the ethical aesthetic. Most importantly here is the difference in understanding of the ethical aesthetic between Nietzsche and Schiller. Both propose movement by an aesthetic piece of Grecian history in order to reach the “primordial oneness”, but Nietzsche’s path to this aesthetic takes a modern turn.

Though Schiller reflects on poetics as the bridge to play, Nietzsche regards Dionysian tragedy as the vehicle. His concern with tragedy holds an ethical aesthetic concern for Nietzsche’s own time, that is, his concern with the Wagnerian opera. The folk song can also be woven between the two as the “perpetuum vestigum [the eternal mark] of a union between the Apollonian and Dionysian… a magical mirror of the world, as the primordial melody… [which] gives birth to poetry from itself.” (Tragedy, §6) Nietzsche concludes that lyrical poetry can’t have the same impact as music because it consists of language, which is an illusion. This primordial melody, the child, the Mythos that Nietzsche intends to restore, is at once apparent as the play drive, where form and sense are intertwined but the imposed truth drops away, giving way to man’s freest will. Schiller says that words are acceptable for common speech, but man is “only fully a human being when he plays,” (Letters, §8) because this has lifted him out of the necessity to communicate, quite like Nietzsche’s conception of lyrics as limiting for the tragic chorus[39].

In Schiller’s twenty-fourth letter, he outlines the three-stage cycle to achieve a full potential both individually and societally. He bolsters his argument by suggesting that truth may be achieved through attaching value to semblance (Schein), in this case, allowing aesthetic value to supersede logical value. Here we approach Nietzsche’s idea that through tragedy, value is illuminated, but it must proceed also through three stages, which end in the acceptance of an aesthetic education (Bildung) (Tragedy, §15-22) .These stages are different, because Nietzsche focuses on a whole-cultural reversal or upheaval, where a new wisdom (Weisheit) would readily replace the Darwinean and Comtean trajectory of scientific determinism (Tragedy, §25) and Schiller considers the stages to represent a passage from individual understanding towards the whole-cultural. (Letters, §25). The ethical aesthetic in both works focuses on aesthetic education as an antithesis to the perceived barbaric and savage culture of the times.

Aesthetic Antitheses to Rationalism

Though the resolution of the play drive seems the Schillerean answer to Nietzsche’s “primordial oneness”, and they use a similar appropriation of Grecian history, the point of Nietzsche’s Tragedy is to inform us about tragedy, while Schiller wants to inform us about education. Schiller seeks to expose the benefits of aesthetic education in the face of rationalism and Nietzsche seeks to reveal rationalism’s product – the aesthetic “plague” of decadence. They are both aesthetic responses to free will, but diverge at the site of the ‘idyll’; Schiller prescribes that man develop as if he were not burdened by modern “truth”, while Nietzsche intends for man to be enlightened by aesthetics forms of the past. This is reflected by their differing intentions about what the reader should learn. Both teachers, Schiller and Nietzsche substantiate their conversations about education and tragedy by suggesting society use them to move toward an aesthetical antithesis to rationalism. They use the ethical aesthetic as a means to achieve the primacy of their arguments.



Works Cited

Bernheimer, Charles, T. Jefferson Kline, and Naomi Schor. Decadent Subjects: The Idea of Decadence in Art, Literature, Philosophy, and Culture of the Fin De Siecle in Europe. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins UP, 2002. Print.

Boyle, Nicholas. Revolution and Renunciation: (1790-1803). Oxford: Clarendon, 2000. Print.

Burnham, Douglas, and Martin Jesinghausen. “Nietzsche’s “The Birth of Tragedy”: A Reader’s Guide” Hunter College, CUNY. WorldCat. 1995. Web.

Cahn, Steven M., and Aaron Meskin. Aesthetics: A Comprehensive Anthology. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., 2008. Print.

La-Rouche, Helga. “A Reader’s Guide to “Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man”” Schiller Institute. Fidelio, Volume 14., June 2005. Web.

Martin, Nicholas. “Nietzsche’s Schillerbild: A Re-Evaluation.” German Life and Letters 48.4 (1995): 516-39. Web.

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. The Birth of Tragedy, Ecce Homo, The Case of Wagner and Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Trans. Walter Kaufmann. New York: Vintage, 1967. Print.

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. The Case of Wagner. Place of Publication Not Identified: Allen & Unwin, 1924. Print.

Nordau, Max Simon. Degeneration. New York: H. Fertig, 1968. Print.

Prange, Martine. “Valuation and Revaluation of the Idyll.” Nietzscheforschung 13.JG (2006): Web.

[1] Martin, Nicholas. Nietzsche and Schiller: Untimely Aesthetics. 1996. (17)

[2] ibid. (19)

[3] Martin, Nicholas. “Nietzsche’s Schillerbild: A Re-evaluation”. German Life and Letters. 48:4. October, 1995.

[4] Ibid. (2)

[5] Martin, Nicholas. Nietzsche and Schiller: Untimely Aesthetics. 1996. (97)

[6] Over half of Nicholas Martin’s publications have Nietzsche in the title.

[7] Ibid. (202)

[8] Kant, Immanuel. “The Critique of Judgement”. (1790)

[9] Watkins, Evan. CRI 200C. UC Davis, Fall 2016.

[10] Referring here to Longinus, On Sublimity: “The effect of elevated language upon an audience is not persuasion but transport.” (§1)

[11] Wertz, William F. Jr. “A Reader’s Guide to Letters on the Aesthetic” Fidelio. Volume 14, Number 1-2. Spring-Summer, 2005.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Nietzsche, Friedrich. “The Case of Wagner”. 1888. (2)

[14] Rather than the German Dekadenz. Bernheimer also finds Walter Kaufmann’s translation to disrespect this usage of the French word.

[15] The fin-de-siecle is framed by Max Nordau in his book Degeneration (1892) as a time when society was in danger of reverting back to a pre-Enlightenment civilization.

[16] Nietzsche’s works both slant and promote Wagnerian opera.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid. (15)

[19] The spirit of the times.

[20] Schiller intends to express a state of violence in which the leadership is overthrown.

[21] Using proletariat in the same sense as Karl Marx in The Communist Manifesto.

[22]Schiller on freedom in appearance’ is in the chapter ‘Post-Kantian Germany to 1793’ (61)

[23] Rather than Kaufmann’s translation that they are woven together, or zusammen, they are woven ineinander (Tragedy, §12), which also eclipses his translation’s use of “duality”.

[24] Nietzsche acknowledges the irreconcilable connectivity of the two drives at the beginning of The Birth of Tragedy. Throughout the text, Nietzsche seems to either forget or ignore this assertion.

[25] In The Critique of Judgement, Kant asserts a negative view of experiencing beauty by suggesting that we feel the sublime purposefully, but without any ulterior purposes. This is ‘purposeless purposiveness’.

[26] The tradition of substantiating philosophy in its inexplicability is exactly the thread that Nietzsche follows by leaving phenomenon up to art and philosophy, but is most frankly described by Heidegger in Being and Time (1927): “Making itself intelligible is suicide for philosophy.”

[27] Using ‘creative destruction’ in the sense of Joseph Schumpeter

[28] Though the Kulturkampf would typically represent Otto von Bismark’s attempt to gain Catholic authority in a Protestant Germany, I think Boyle is alluding to Nietzsche and Schiller’s injections of myth into the otherwise scientific ethos at the turn-of-the-century.

[29] Here I am referring to Erich Fromm’s “The Authoritarian Personality” (1957) which depicts a German society that birthed fascism due to strict normatization of institutions such as education, literary circles and the church.

[30] In his later texts including Ecce Homo, he describes those who are “superhuman”, including Zarathustra, as purely Dionysian.

[31] I am staging these questions to answer later.

[32] This spurs the same question: how is Dionysus a feeling of unity without an equal presence of the Apollonian?

[33] The art is beautiful precisely because it is a harmonious combination of Apollo and Dionysus.

[34] It seems important to note here that Friedrich Schlegel, the ‘father’ of the German Romantic movement, wrote one of his earliest pieces Vom äesthetischen Werte der griechischen Komödie (1794) in response to Schiller’s assumption that poetry can be categorized by subject. Schlegel promoted a more materialistic, secular understanding of poetry as defined by era.

[35] Martin, Nicholas. Untimely Aesthetics. (150)

[36] The implication of this distinction from Schiller is discussed in the previous section, Graecization.

[37] In section 38 of The Anti-Christ Nietzsche writes about what “miscarriages of duplicity” modern people are.

[38] In Ecce Homo, page 78, Nietzsche writes that he has never taken sides against himself, but has he not taken sides against the Apollonian half of the unity?

New Media as a Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge


New Media as a Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge

Erin T. Altman

21 March 2013



Conceptualization of the nation-state has a geopolitical history in territorial definition. Defined by political borders, the nation-state is comprised of citizens and non-citizens. Regulated by national policy, national education systems, economy and (other state regulation), citizens and non-citizens have specific experiential boundaries within the nation-state. Fast-forward to the 21st-century, introduction of the Internet increased rapid global communication. Uniting experiential differences with cross-border commonalities, the institution of “New Media” allowed life spheres once bounded by the nation-state to thrive in a global community. In this vein of rapid and broadened communication, does New Media undermine political hegemony?

An epoch of globalized knowledge has intrigued geographers and political philosophers alike. The Internet’s spectrum of information is mediated by the formalized interest in communication studies, and reaches a point of practical convergence in the field of Communication Geography. Beginning through the discourse of globalization under the Association of American Geographers’ ‘Geography of the Global Information Society’ in the late 1990s, Communication Geography now represents phenomenal points of geographic and political intrigue. Dissemination of knowledge over a non-physical space indicates a differentiation in geopolitical power from that of the post-modern age of print media. The epoch of New Media signals a revision in philosophies of communication, geography and power.

New Media’s relationship with the Internet is a viral one; increased access to the Internet and subsequent Internet enlargement are aspects of New Media’s definition of being ‘new, unregulated content’ (Lister, 2003). Inexorability of New Media has gained the attention of geographers and political philosophers, situating the Internet as an entity ‘without boundaries, without limitations, except through state regulation of media.’ (Lister, ibid). New Media is a broad representation of this exponential production of knowledge, unto a platform which is controllable only through governmental intervention with citizens’ freedoms to information. Content that faces scrutiny and regulation includes pornography, intellectual property, and anti-social movements. New Media’s ethical dimension calls in to question the moral biases, societal pressures and most importantly- political agendas in the globalized community.

The globalized community is defined in this case as those who have infrastructural ability to allow Internet access. Establishment of this ‘core’ and ‘peripheral’ relationship echoes the economic mapping of modern nation states, and substantiates the discussion about New Media geopolitical philosophy by outlining the actors. For the sake of giving primacy to New Media politics, rather than global inequities, the ‘Core’ represents those countries whose annual income per capita is higher than the annual cost of an Internet-capable device. Because of the significant difference in income distribution, it is unnecessary to determine the cost of this computer, rather the ‘peripheral’ countries can be outlined by those misfortuned by civil war, populations with 1/3 prevalence of HIV/AIDS, infant death above 50% and other development indicators outlined by the United Nations (2000). Geopolitical inactivity of ‘peripheral’ countries allows ‘core’ countries to enable the discourse surrounding New Media’s information society.

Positioning New Media as an ‘information society’ clarifies its internal discourse separate from that mediated by state-civil society relations. Bringing to light the state-civil society relationship as different from the global-New Media relationship requires the understanding of nation-states as maintaining hegemonic power. Given that the modern livelihood of any societal actor is defined by citizenship through state legibility (O’Tuathail, 1998), New Media represents a differing societal discourse in its allowance for society to remain anonymous from a hegemony. Signifying again the global, a-political aspect of New Media discourse, anonymity of expression is adverse to the legibility of print media. New Media’s exponential increase in communication, coupled with the significant transcendence of non-economic geographic borders, lends to an institution of power that is not the nation-state.

In defining the nation-state against New Media, there is a blatant primacy in their different situations of power (Hanafi, 2005). Reflecting on the resource struggle that established colonial relations, leading to modern-day borders of nation-states (Murphy, 2013), power is expressed over a given territory and over a given population. These two elements of capital, human and territory, suggest a physical embodiment to the nation-state. New Media, on another level, has no physical embodiment. Speculation by the Osmo Project (2008) about mapping New Media, so as to physically represent the ‘Geography of Internet Infrastructure’ proved to be a spatial model of network expansions. So to say, the map of New Media is impossible to represent cartographically, but does maintain a certain taxonomy of expansion. Using the Barbasi-Albert model of evolving networks, which was originally designed for the purpose of tracking military communications in the Second World War, Osmo Project represents the expansionary possibilities of the Internet as limitless. The geographies of nation-states remain steady until a phenomenon of upheaval, as opposed to New Media, which expands without physical boundaries. In the discourse of geopolitics, expansion is akin to power gains, because of the increase in territorial and human resources. Unlike geopolitics, New Media assumes no hegemonic desire for power. Given that geopolitics is etymologically relational- given the root of ‘politics’ in the Grecian division of men based on political affiliation- New Media is merely one actor against no others. Why, then, is New Media involved in the discourse of geopolitics, if it is not an inherently power-seeking institution, with no geographical territory, and with anonymity of societal involvement?

Describing the “constellations” of New Media as representative of globalizing forces, senior geopolitical philosopher Jürgen Habermas suggests that the communicative and geographic scope of New Media leads to political fragmentation. Habermas’s conversation about evolving identities and cultures within the nation-state are significant, due to their representation throughout the discovery of the Internet. Habermas recognizes the global forces of New Media as being overwhelmingly powerful of the nation-state; New Media’s transcendence of borders- omnipresence if you will- acts as a “cultural substrate of civil solidarity.” (Habermas, 2001.) Solidarity is used in Habermas’s conversations about changing geopolitical structures, to power lying increasingly in the hands of civil society, rather than with the state. Phenomenal separatisms highlight the increasing volatility of civil society’s solidarity, and are in a direct rebellion to the increased power of the state (Foucault, 1977). From the beginning of nation-state creation, the consolidation of internal power through citizenship and representation within a hegemonic vacuum has likewise increased the state-civil society bond. Foucault’s notion of rebellion in the face of increased power proves that civil society, although identifiable within the nation-state’s borders, begins to fraction. By centralizing the state hegemony, nation-states are disregarding the smaller substrates of civil society. New Media’s representation of these ‘cultural substrates’ encompasses the ability for members of global civil societies to communicate their alterity from the confines of state legibility- citizenship. This formalized understanding of New Media’s pressure on hegemony can be summed as a platform, which allows civil societies to communicate towards solidarity, which effectively fragments the consolidation of state power.

Defining the discourse of geopolitical theory in to the formal (theoretical), practical (implemented) and popular (societal) expertise, historian Paul Routledge has outlined the three analyses of New Media: the formal being the outside speculation, like this essay. The practical, being the regulated state policy regarding New Media. And finally, the popular, being civil society’s use of New Media. It is important to note here, that the popular is not a reaction to the regulation, but is a discourse within itself. Civil society is divided from hegemony of the state through the anonymity of New Media, which allows for the solidarity among actors. Expanding on solidarity as a popular discourse, the predictions of Habermas have become significant in the recent Arab Spring uprisings.

New Media gained an entirely greater geopolitical significance after the popular uprisings of the Arab Spring. University of Washington study, “The Project on Information Technology and Political Islam” (2011) quantifies the New Media traffic of popular democratic expressions leading up to the Tunisian revolution and subsequent Egyptian overthrow of President Mubarak. The study shows that conversations about liberty, democracy and freedom gained almost 80% of total viewership, and the taxonomy of expansion was proven through the civil society’s rebellion going viral between network clusters in just the week before any given Arab Spring uprising. University of Washington’s study is intriguing, because although touted as the ‘Arab Spring’, the uprisings had very little to do with each other. Egyptian feelings of tax oppression and Tunisian desire for furthered reputation did not exist within the same network clusters, yet the New Media usage patterns were parallel.  Leading the study was Professor Phillip Howard, who claimed that it was not a regional movement, but ‘circumstantial evidence of New Media’s ability to insight solidarity.’

More intrinsically, the solidarity of the New Media movement in the Arab Spring was through the creation of online communities and use of forums. Enabling civil society debate to occur outside the sphere of physical interaction within the state, New Media gave rise to less-geographical, more-ideological communities. In an interview with Egyptian friend and colleague, Omar Hagrass, who took part in both the ‘freedom-blogging’ and Egyptian uprisings, the interconnection between separatist groups through New Media was shocking; not only had Egyptian Computer Scientists created network clusters to divert state attention, but the networks created communities among separatists from the Zapatista movement in Chiapas, Mexico, and the Ulster Nationalist movement in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. Described by renowned author Benedict Andersen as an ‘imagined community’, the New Media networking done by Egyptian, Mexican and Irish separatists had nothing to do with personal relationships, but instead an imagined kinship in their cause. (1991) Andersen’s prediction of globalized communication as a means to develop a certain consciousness away from that of the traditional nation-state oriented map is congruent with Habermas’s understanding of solidarity between civil society actors as a weakening of the state. New Media becomes a vehicle for shared experience, despite the geopolitical setting.

The anti-geopolitical use of New Media is concurrent to the post-Soviet evolution of geographic theory. Known formally as ‘critical’ or ‘feminist’ geopolitics, the movement for recognition of the intricacies of civil society dominate discourse and shed light on the access to shared experiences. Assuming that the state creation of citizenship creates an empirical definition between one group and another- effectively ‘othering’ them- shows the consolidation of state power in the territorializing of its’ citizens.  This power dynamic is known as the ‘Logic of Alterity,’ which suggests that unified identities are inevitably the hierarchical power. (Isin, 2007. Arendt, 1958.) The Logic of Alterity maintains that subdivision in civil society is seen as ‘wrong’ because of its implied danger to the normative power. The bond between state and civil society consolidations of power are approached monolithically from a macro- to micro-scale. As suggested by New Media’s increased capacity for communication, the state-civil society power is weakened in its normatively unbound allowance for subdivision.

Practically speaking, subdivision in society is increasingly unavoidable with ever-increasing flows of immigration, ideas and innovation. Subdivisions could be ignored, like in the extreme case of fascism, or subdivisions could be embraced under greater state regulation. In the case of the Arab Spring, subdivisions were stifled; New Media was blocked on Internet servers, or Internet itself would be entirely cut off from an area. When this occurred during the Palestinian riots for statehood from Israel in early 2012, the international reaction became an official UN movement towards the ‘Right to Internet Access’. Beginning in 2003, upon the introduction of a knowledge-based economy in Great Britain, the Internet became institutionalized by UN members as a significant expression of freedom. Pressure towards sanctions by the German and French governments (and later acting as leaders in the 2012 vote for Palestinian statehood) depicted a civil society subdivision that was actually favoured by the Social Democratic party leaders. German and French states had seen 8-15% more Palestinian refugees since the upswing in Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the mid-1990s (Human Rights Index, 2005), and despite their non-citizen status of asylum, their voices were clearly present in the decision of French and German ministers to the UN. Despite Palestine having the infrastructural and income capabilities for Internet access, Palestinian refugees were unable to connect to their families in a time of crisis, creating a heightened solidarity around immigrants and New Media discourse.

This hegemonic representation of a non-state civil society is based in the power of New Media itself. As a tool not only for the civil society actors, the state uses New Media to analyze changes in society, which could lead to possible separatism or other fractions of state power. Using New Media as a regulatory mechanism, the German and French governments issued an official Eurobarometer forum on the UN’s ‘Right to Internet Access’ (2011). The Eurobarometer, as the official European Union mediation of member states’ citizens’ feelings towards policy and livelihood, is a vehicle for the maintenance of relations between the state and civil society. The European Union (EU) is a supranational regional power, with a doctrine of supremacy over specific member state policy and is exactly the type of burgeoning power that Foucault described as piquing rebellion (1977). Foucault’s description of heightened power leading to heightened rebellion was a founding anti-geopolitical argument; the European Union stifles rebellion through institutions facilitating power-civil society discourse, such as the Eurobarometer. In fact, in an effort to reduce waste, the EU cut all publically distributed paper materials from its budget- leaving only one vehicle of representative democracy (outside of the national legislatures)- New Media.

Presence of the EU in New Media supersedes any other governmental body, because of it’s expansive “The EU and You” section for forum, information and response. Provided in all 27 recognized European languages, as well as Norwegian, Mandarin, Arabic and Japanese, “The EU and You” is a vehicle of power consolidation through civil society connection (Lister, 2003). This use of New Media by a regional economic hegemony is telling of New Media’s coalescence of communities that that never existed before. If we assume that interest in the EU’s New Media campaign comes from the representative desire from these member states, can we also assume that the representation is being fulfilled?

In the case of Palestinian representation to the UN, Germany and France had already written the ‘Internet as a Human Right’ proposals before the Israeli stripping of Palestine’s Internet access. To this extent, the leading question in the Eurobarometer poll read, “Does freedom to access and contribute to the online community part of your rights to expression?” (personal translation,, 2012). Charged with the vernacular of ‘freedom’, ‘contribution’, ‘community’ and ‘your rights’, the Eurobarometer poll had a suggestive slant towards the affirmative. Upon solicitation of the UN for Internet rights, the EU’s New Media campaign expanded to include open access to textbooks, learning tools for production, and other knowledge-based constructions of European hegemony. Recognizing New Media’s potential for a vehicle of neoliberalism, the EU uses the Internet to distribute ‘Western’ ‘knowledges’ under the guise of open access to information towards a emboldened economy (Cooke, 2004). Nuancing the core-periphery status of nations within and outside of the western ideological constraints, the EU is using New Media to create an ideological hegemony.

New Media’s ability to expand communication across multiple geographical confines is seen as both a tool and threat to state-civil society relationships. Established so far, New Media is a supragovernmental concept, which causes state-civil society distress because of the anonymity of its exponentially increasing character. New Media is also seen as a community-building tool, which can provide democratic reflection on society, amongst a wider group of people. This democracy, though, has established a new ‘core’ and ‘peripheral’ structure- beyond that of economic difference, although beginning with it. New Media’s discourse is essentially a Western phenomenon (Cooke, 2004). The Internet, begun by economic forces like any other modern capitalist endeavour, is also perpetuated by economic forces through payment for its access (on a device) and use. The specifics of the Internet’s existence through the capitalist market, and with the largest servers (Cisco Systems) and largest domain providers (Google, Apple, Yahoo!, and others) being traded publically, does New Media exist within a predominant power structure of the economy?

The impact of economic distribution of New Media access, through either personal access or promotional capabilities, creates a symbiosis between civil societies, the state and the outlying force within them- capitalism. New Media presents an epoch to this relationship, though, in its force of mediation between geopolitical economic disputes. In this vein, New Media is a disruptive force to the history of trade war and commoditization of political relations, because of the anonymity of online economic actors. The financial industry, comprising over 85% of the British Gross Domestic Product, is almost entirely mediated by New Media forecasting and broadcasting (Rowe, 2013). Global Stock Exchanges use the medium of New Media to freely express geopolitically important resource abundance and exchange value. Intrinsic relations of the very essential definition of power- resource security (Murphy, 2013) and the power of New Media access have made those who hold it increasingly more powerful than before.

In a World Systems Theory analysis of the access to New Media, author Mark Graham suggests that the ‘core’ and ‘peripheral’ economies will no longer be defined by income per capita, but rather by their participation in “democratic, capitalist endeavours” (2011). With a strong New Media bias in favour of the democratic system, which promotes and perpetuates a capitalist society, the ‘core’ expands and the ‘periphery’ becomes now a ‘gap’ (et al.). New Media’s perpetuation of dominant capitalist and Westernized communication has created a perilous ‘gap’ between participating countries- and those who do not subscribe to capitalist or democratic idealism- such as Russia, North Korea and greater Africa. Taken on as a practical policy by the United States’ New Rule Association (2005), the ‘gap’ was described as former President George W. Bush Jr. as a, “threat to democracy”. Could it be, that actually New Media is a threat to states that do not so well mediate their civil societies? Or, is New Media just neoliberalization mechanism that is addressed as transnationally important?

The epoch of New Media symbolizes a change in the discourse about communication, geography and power. As a tool for consolidation of both state and civil society power, and as a mechanism of mediation between the two, New Media allows greater flows of knowledge and communication. New Media does not stand without a greater influence, though. Creating a symbiosis between the geopolitical economic sphere and the civil society representative sphere, New Media allows relations to form beyond the control of hegemonic power, but within the influence of it. As seen by the undertakings of both civil society actors and governments, the influence of New Media is strong upon society, and society’s participation in it gives access to the Western powers of knowledge and capital.


Anderesen, B. 1991. Imagined Communities.

Arendt, H. 1958.

Bourges, J. 1940. Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge.

Cooke, K. 2004.

Frost, C. 2006. Internet Galaxy Meets Post-colonial Constellation: Prospects for Political Solidarity After the Internet.

Foucault, M. 1977. Power/Politics.

Eurobarometer. 2011. Right to Internet Access

Graham, M. 2011. Time Machines and Virtual Portals: The Spacialities of the Digital Divide.

Habermas, J. 2001. Old Europe, New Europe, Core Europe.

Hagrass, O. 2012. Interview: Egyptian Uprisings.

Hanafi, S. 2005. Reshaping Geography: Palestinian Community Networks in Europe and the New Media.

Howard, P. 2011. The Project on Information Technology and Political Islam.

Isin, E. 2007. Logics of Alterity.

Koopman, S. 2010. Alter-geopolitics: Other securities are happening.

Leszczynski, A. 2012. Situating the geoweb in political economy; The Osmo Project.

Lister, M. 2003. Networks, Users and Economics.

Murphy, A. 2013. University of Oregon Colloquium Series: Historical Geopolitics.

Rowe, J. 2013. Interview: New Media Basics.

United Nations. 2005. Human Rights Index Promotions.

United Nations. 2000. Millennium Development Report.

United States’ New Rule Association. 2005. The Pentagon’s New Map.


Form follows Function


This is my English Abstract to aid in the organization of my thoughts and citations for the art theory paper I am writing for professor Martin Klebes. There is very little secondary source information for ANY of these three texts: “Das Ding” [The Thing] Martin Heidegger, “Zür Ästhetik: Der Henkle” [About Aesthetics: The Handle] Georg Simmel, and “Ein Alter Krug” [An old Jug] Ernst Bloch, let alone much interpretation of them in English. I hope that this gives further academic accessibility to the philosophical angle of the art theory of these texts.

Outpouring of purposeful action from the mind of the mortal to the earth, like watering seeds in the interest of growing food, is a continuous process of survival. Mortals have a definite will to live, which is exemplified through creating physical objects, using the materials of the given earth to mold useful tools for the service of themselves. Post-modern philosophy sought ontological explanations through examining the examinable; physical objects, which are purposed by man, give insight to man’s nature and therefore, purpose. Conceptualizing the use of a jug, through bringing forth an awareness of it’s very essential meaning as a tool of man, Martin Heidegger, Georg Simmel, and Ernst Bloch present the aesthetic and functional concepts of the jug, such as it’s origination, use and understanding, to rationally articulate the theoretical force, which objects in general have on the metaphysical analysis of mortals.

Along the same investigative ideology as Martin Heidegger, as a principally structural ontologist, the division of the theoretical force of the jug in to the framework of origination, use and understanding is necessary to rationally articulate the phenomenon between man and his tools, and thereby, man and his worldly development. Worldly development, in which man establishes a physical infrastructure, is presupposed by man’s will to live, and is supplemented by the Nietschien “Will to Power,” encouraging man towards development due to innate interests, as well as psychologically orienting desires to improve their status socially. The desire towards social development is fundamental to the posited ideologies, based in form and function. The will to live and the Will to Power are a priori to the origination of objects in general, and represent a metaphysical analysis of man, which is supplemented by a deeper interrogation of the objects, with which man lives.

Interrogation of objects is an ontological endeavor, seeding from the metaphysical analysis of human life overall. Citing mortals themselves as the greatest link between man and the understanding of himself in relation to the greater, metaphysical world, Heidegger posits that the path to discovering the self is structurally integrated, through the analysis of what the self is, and which elements are entangled with it. His most famous work, “Being and Time” (1927) substantiates his position, through delineating that man lives in the world with both other mortals, and creates and uses objects in the world. Because of being created by man, rather than from a metaphysical phenomenon, objects are interrogated objectively, to achieve a greater understanding of the origin of man’s knowledge.

Heidegger’s essay, “Das Ding” (1950) oriented the awareness of an object, the jug, towards its usefulness by the mortal. Heidegger problematizes the nearness (Nähe) of objects, as being undescriptive of what the object is. In a Heideggarian structuralist way, the ontic perspective of what an object is, is exemplified by the analysis of the jug, having sides, and functioning as a container. Immediately following the jug’s conceptualization as a container, Heidegger states, “Der Krug ist nicht Gefaß, weil er hergestellt wurde, sondern der Krug mußte hergestellt werden, weil er dieses Gefaß ist.” (160) This initiates the structural analysis of an object, the jug, through it’s origination. Heidegger splits origination in to a twofold standing (ein zweifaches Her-Standes); Firstly, the object has been made, and secondly, “das Her-Stehen im Sinne des Hereinstehens des Hervorgebrachten in die Unverborgenheit des schon Anwesenden.” (160) This is to be interpreted as, the standing-forth of an object in light of what already existed. Through ein zweifaches Her-Standes, the jug is conceptualized as a vessel which is originated from an already existing necessity for a vessel, and the physical making of the jug in to a vessel. Heidegger states that the potter, who makes the jug, is actually making a vessel, confirming the presumption that, for Heidegger, an object’s understanding is found initially in it’s origination.

Heidegger then approaches the use of the jug, calling this the thingliness of an object (Dinghafte des Dings). “Die Leere faßt in zweifacher Weise: nehmend und behaltend.” (164) The taking and keeping of the jug is another zweifaches Her-Standes, which relates to the use of the jug as both something to collect water (or wine, or any other liquid) and something to pour water for mortals. This outpouring is known by Heidegger as a gift (das Geschenk), which he explains as a simple connection between the Gods, mortals, earth and sky, “Im Geschenk des Gusses weilt die Einfalt der Vier.” (166) It is through the jugs use, its outpouring, its gift to the mortals, from the earth and from the gods, that the fourfold (das Geviert) is simultaneously involved. Answering the question of how the theoretical force of an object is rationally articulated, Heidegger ends his essay with the statement, “Nur was aus Welt gering, wird einmal Ding.” (175) In this, Heidegger posits that the Dinghafte des Dings exists only because of the simultaneous involvement of das Geviert.

Diverging from Heidegger’s ontological inquiry of a thing’s structural understanding, Georg Simmel’s essay, “Der Henkel” (1919), posits that understanding can be found through the aesthetic value of the jug, focusing on the understanding of the jug’s handle (der Henkel), in relation to the jug, through discussion about origination and use, and the theoretical force of the jug is rationally articulated through this transitive understanding. Simmel states, “Diese Doppelstellung der Vase nun ist es, die sich in ihrem Henkel am entschiedensten ausspricht.” (127) The dual nature (die Doppelstellung) of the handle is what gives the vase its realistic purpose, separating it from being merely aesthetically purposed (like a painting) and having both form and function. Positing that, “…wie für die Seele die Hand ein Werkzeug ist, so ist ihr auch das Werkzeug eine Hand,” (128) Simmel integrates the origination of the jug, to the work of the hand, as expressing the will of the mortal’s soul. It is from the hands, that aesthetic objects are created, with a presupposed unity of purpose and aesthetic value. This organic origination from the soul is expressed by Simmel, when he says, “…als benutzte der Mensch hier die Kanäle des natürlichen Säfteflusses zwischen Stiel und Blatt, um seinen eigenen Impuls in das Außending einzuströmen und ed damit seiner eignen Lebensreihe einzugliedern.” (129) It is as natural, as a leaf growing from a tree, as it is for man to incorporate a handle to a bowl, to make it a useful jug.

Taking issue with the purpose of the handle’s use, Simmel articulates that when a handle is only aesthetic, and not useful, it is no longer part of the organic unity from purpose of the soul, to origination by the hand. Using the example of a Greek jug, with three handles, Simmel argues, “Er geht vielmehr, wie mir scheint, darauf zurück, daß die in diesem System angelegten Bewegungen nur nacheinander stattfinden können, während die Henkel sich gleichzeitig darbeiten,” (130) by this, he is stating that it is impossible for all three handles to be useful at the same time, as they are aesthetically unified at the same time. Simmel situates the use of the jug, like Heidegger, to be necessarily practical, despite it’s also aesthetic origination.

Simmel moves even deeper in to the organic understanding of the jug’s use, by discussing the spout of the jug, “Es ist wie das Verhältnis des Menschen als Seele zu dem ihm äußeren Sein… durch die willensmäßigen Innervationen reicht die Seele in die Körperwelt hinaus,” (132) Simmel’s presupposition of the unity of soul and object is comparable to the das Geviert of Heidegger’s “Das Ding,” in that the origination of the jug is from a metaphysical power (like the Gods, but in this case, the soul) and  the organic origination (like the connection to the earth) of the elements, which make the jug useful.

Usefulness, as preconditioned by the soul’s interaction with man’s actions, brings about an understanding by Simmel, that, “Dies fällt nicht etwa unter das wunderliche Dogma, daß die Nützlichkeit über die Schönheit entschiede.” (132) This bold statement about form following function represents the breadth of unity between mortals and organic phenomenon, such as, “…viele Kreise- politische, beruflische, soziale, familiäre- in denen wir stehen, werden von weiteren so umgeben, wie das praktische Milieu das Gefäß umgibt,” (133) Just as the handle must not destroy the unity of form and function, the mortal must exist in his organic body, and function in his organic life spheres. It is on this platform, that Simmel rationally articulates the understanding of the jug, as, “ein Element die Selbstgenugsamkeit eines organischen Zusammenhanges mitlebt… über die ein ganz anderes Leben in jenes erste einfließt.” (134). Through Simmel’s understanding of the unity of objects with the soul, and the totality of their comportment to mortals, Simmel posits that the theoretical force of an object yields to it’s entanglement with the world (die Harmonie). Like Heidegger, Simmel rationally articulates the theoretical force of an object as being accessible through it’s involvement in the physical and metaphysical worlds.

Following Simmel’s metaphorical use of the life-spheres, which represent organic unity of all things in the world (Heideggerian in-der-Welt-sein), Ernst Bloch focuses his analysis of the jug, to the particular Bartmannkrug of sixteenth century origination. “Ein Alter Krug” is an essay from Bloch’s book, “Geist der Utopie” (1918), which uses historically based ontologial analysis of a jug, to rationally articulate the origination, use and understanding of the jug. Articulating the ability for the jug to have originated anywhere, but remain aesthetically unique to each area, Bloch says, “Auch klingt eine italienische Form in ihnen an, wenn auch noch so kräftig, zuerst soldatenhaft und dann nordisch, vergröbert.” (18) Positioning the origination of the jug as a universal phenomenon, Bloch relates the love for the jug to all types of people, both wealthy and poor, but positions usefulness to hold priority over the aesthetic value of the jug, “Doch wer ihn liebt, der erkennt, wie oberflächlich die kostbaren Krüge sehen worden sein sollen und haben das Alte bäuerisch, burchstäblich bewahrt.” (17/18) Bloch epitomizes this useful, yet culturally integrated jug, in the Bartmannkrug of the lower German areas, because of it’s aesthetic representation of the mortals it serves, “Was an ihnen am meisten auffällt, ist der Mann, der wilde Bartmann auf dem Bauch des soliden nordischen Gebildes. Damit spinnt sich ein seltsames Garn zu uns herüber.” (18)

Diverging from both Simmel and Heidegger, Bloch temporalizes the jug, by noting that it’s origination has changed over time. The thread (das Garn), is the historical knowledge of the jug, which aids in modern origination. Through stating, “Aber drüben verwahren wilde Männer neue Krüge… noch heute heißen, verrufenerweise… Norbiskrug,” (18) Bloch implies that the same type of people still make jugs, which are of a new type, NobiskrugNobiskrug is an important element in this essay from Bloch, as it signifies a temporal element, based in German mythology, implying the passing from one world to the next. For Bloch, use of the jug in the given time remains both unchanged and universal, which is represented by the aesthetic quality of the Bartmannkrug’s depiction of the originator. The farmers who both use and originate the jug are preserved, “buchstäblich bewahrt.” (19)

Temporal deduction of the jug’s use is depicted, by the “…feinen Duft von längst vergessenen Getränken,” (19) which exemplifies the use of the jug as a container, which can hold multiple things over time. The jug’s purpose is transcendent, throughout the physical and ideological history of the jug. The ability for the jug’s use to change, is exemplified by, “Ich werde nicht mit jeder Pfütze grau und nicht von jeder Scheine mitgebogen, um die Ecke gebogen.” (19)

Bloch’s relation of himself, as unchanged by the jug’s many ways to be filled, then resinates in his relation of mortals to the jug, “gegenwärtiger werde weiter zu mir erzogen an diesem mir teilhaftigen Gebilde.” (19) Through this, Bloch emphasizes the integration of the temporal jug with the development of mortals, such as Simmel’s ideology of das Harmonie between objects and life spheres. Differently than Simmel, Bloch disconnects the jug, as a useful object, with the changing humanity, but focuses on the origination of the jug as important to the theoretical understanding of the jug. By stating, “Auch hier, fühlt man, sich in einen langen sonnenbeschienenen Gang mit einer Tür am Ende hineinzusehen, wie bei einem Kunstwerk,” (19) Bloch rationally articulates the temporal, transitive origination of the jug, as leading to a door, which leads to another understanding of the jug. Bloch’s understanding of the jug is not aesthetic, but reflective and always temporally progressing, with the use always the same, just as the Bartmannkrug maintains the same depiction of its originator.

Bloch’s reflection about the Bartmannkrug is especially significant, in light of Heidegger’s and Simmel’s essays about a jug, because of it’s focus in a historical ontological inquiry. Bloch’s analysis of the jug diverges structurally, through a development-oriented dialectic framework. Instead of reaching in to deeper elements of the jug, like it’s connection with das Geviert or the meaning of it’s handle, temporal development presupposes understanding through analysis of origin, rather than analysis through interaction with it in the world. The Bartmannkrug emphasizes, ontically, the involvement of a mortal with the object, but exemplifies the development of society since the origination of the jug. The theoretical force of an object, to both Simmel and Heidegger, yields to the purpose of the jug in the present, but for Bloch, the theoretical force of the jug yields to the continuously developing jug itself.

Man’s leap to faith; A summary of Søren Kierkegaard’s “Concept of Anxiety” (1844)

Image <– Modern day Søren.

Fathering Existential philosophy, Søren Kierkegaard’s emphatic dogmatism, coupled with his graceful plunge into the abyss of ontological inquiry, brought about the issue of orienting one’s psychological state with the infinite abyss of possibilities that constitutes life. “The Concept of Anxiety” (1844) elucidates the psychological issue of anxiety, which man experiences while living in a state of uncontrollable possibility. Kierkegaard interplays the dogmatism of original sin with the concept of anxiety, as outlined by the work’s subtitle, “A simple psychologically orienting deliberation on the dogmatic issue of hereditary sin.” According to Kierkegaard, hereditary sin stabilizes the psychological state of anxiety through man’s concern to live righteously (that is, without sin) which then necessitates faith, as a sort of map on how to navigate through the abyss appropriately.

Kierkegaard posits that anxiety preempted the original sin, insofar as God told Adam to not pick the apple from the tree, which manifested the existence of either “good” or “evil” in the abyss of possibility. Dogmatic assumption of original sin manifests as both an issue of metaphysical nature, and as psychological experience of anxiety,

“If sin is dealt with in psychology, the mood becomes that of persistent observation…. Sin does not properly belong in any science, but it is the subject of a sermon, in which the single individual speaks as the single individual to the single individual.” (14)

Kierkegaard couples dogmatism and psychology, as he wishes to describe the psychological effects of dogmatism, beginning with Adam’s original sin. Adam’s predicament of freedom of choice yielded anxiety, surrounding the possibility of sin, for the eternity of humanity. Picking the apple represented the plunge into an abyss of sinfulness, which Kierkegaard represents as ‘the fall’, whereby sin, and the subsequent guilt, permeated the eternity of humanity with hereditary sin.

‘The fall’, being the moment of the plunge into the abyss of sin, is realized by Kierkegaard as the ‘qualitative leap’ (into sin). This leap happens at the moment when freedom from guilt is abandoned, and sinfulness is introduced. Kierkegaard recognizes the specific statement of Genisis that sin was deposited into the world at that very moment. Emphasis on the moment as a piece of time is emphasized by this, and also by Kierkegaard,

“Thus sin comes into the world as the sudden, i. e., by a leap; but this leap also posits the quality and is presupposed by the quality and the quality by the leap.” (31)

Exposition of this leap as ‘qualitative’ is directly in opposition to Kierkegaard’s quantitative understanding of sin, wherein sin is realized in it’s eternity, as it has compounded hereditarily since the original sin. Compounded sin also substantiates the exponential growth of guilt, which culminates as objective anxiety. Kierkegaard represents the growth of objective anxiety through the sin of lustfulness during the process of reproduction. How can man not be guilty, when conceived through sin? Kierkegaard further conceptualizes “good” and “evil” as presupposed and inescapable,

“When sin is posited in the particular individual by the qualitative leap, the difference between good and evil is also posited… We have said what we again repeat, that sin presupposes itself.” (112)

Despite the inability to control one’s own conception, and therefore the inability to be born in freedom from sin, Kierkegaard asserts that freedom to choose further sinfulness is not arbitrary. Hence, Kierkegaard says, “To speak of good and evil as the objects of freedom finitizes both freedom and the concepts of good and evil.” (124) In this, he means that freedom is multifaceted; Choice between “good” and “evil” differentiate freedom of choice from free will. Because of man’s objective anxiety about sin, due to it’s presupposition, man is willed towards finding the path towards righteousness. Limitation of free will uncovers the daunting actuality of man’s finitude in the face of infinite abyss of possibility. Kierkegaard describes the “anxiety in creation,” as the “Entrapment in the infinitude of possibility” (80).

As man stands, facing the plunge into the abyss of possible sin, the overwhelming sensation of finitude is described by Kierkegaard as “dizziness” (61). Kierkegaard frames the individual’s ‘dizziness’ (apropos the infinity of possibilities of existence) as a “gathering of possibilities of self” (78). Generation of ‘self’ is the process, beginning with a transition from speculation of possibilities, to anxiety about those possibilities, to the actuality of decision and the plunge in to the abyss. Kierkegaard delineates the transition as the momentary acquisition of earnestness to one’s self.  Kierkegaard claims that the present, as thought about in the conventional sense, does not really exist. If time is a passing by of events, then the present is simply a dividing line between the past and future that cannot be rigidly defined to encompass a definite amount of time. It is the reference point that time progresses past. This demonstrates the notion that the present is a period in which transition may occur. Kierkegaard writes about the perspective of self in transition,

“inwardness is precisely the fountain that springs up unto eternal life, and what issues from this fountain is precisely earnestness.” (142)

This tells us that to grasp the possibility of the abyss, we must seek inwardness, and to reach inwardness we must develop earnestness. Earnestness is a special connection between self-consciousness and feeling. Being earnest requires an honest awareness of our true selves. There is a type of self-reflection involved, but it is strictly in a spiritual sense, and it concerns action, not contemplation. Earnestness allows original thought and feeling to precede actions undertaken in the temporal world; this connects one’s actions to spiritual possibility and prevents finite concerns from overwhelming one’s spiritual growth.

Inwardness plus the earnestness that it entails set the stage for a transition into faith. Kierkegaard does not describe that leap, but he provides an understanding of how anxiety can be dealt with in a positive manner that will allow that next leap. Inwardness permits one to accept the natural and inextricable place that anxiety occupies in human life and then use it to spiritual advantage.

Kierkegaard’s conception of earnestness as the individual’s path towards righteousness, in opposition to the alternative “evil”, presupposes the necessity for man to have faith in prevailing over evil. Faith is posited by the individual’s ability to overcome the psychological state of anxiety, and live righteously both because of and in spite of hereditary sin. Without faith in the ability to be righteous, man would be stuck in an anxiety limbo. Man’s leap to faith is necessitated by man’s need to supplement the psychological concept of anxiety and the dogmatic issue of hereditary sin.

Reading Guide for Martin Heidegger’s “Being and Time” (1927). Chapter 4. §25-27


CHAPTER IV: Being-in-the-World as Being-with and Being a Self: The “They”

Page 111: Heidegger refers to two structures of Dasein, which are equiprimordial with being-in-the-world. Which are they?

Being-with (Mitsein) and Dasein-with (Mitdasein) are the two structures of Dasein, which exist equiprimordially with being-in-the-world.

§25. The Approach to the Existential Question of the ‘Who’ of Dasein

Pg. 112 “The who is answered in terms of the I itself, the ‘subject’, the ‘self’.” What do these determinations presuppose? What is problematic about these presuppositions?

The ‘self’ presupposes the objectivity of the person, however, not all things with objective presence are the ‘who’ of Dasein.

Pg. 113: What does Heidegger allude to when he says, “Dasein is, initially and for the most part, not itself”?

Heidegger uses this questioning of Dasein to establish that Dasein is the uncovering of itself within the phenomenal context of being. Dasein is itself existing.

Pg. 113: Why does “the positive interpretation of Dasein that has been given up to now” already forbid a point of departure from the formal givenness of the “I” in answering the question who Dasein is?

The “I”, as the ‘who’ of Dasein, is a mere subject, whereby not interacting with others, which is essential to Dasein’s uncovering of itself as being-in-the-world. “I” must be revealed in a phenomenal context to be the ‘who’ of Dasein.

Pg. 114: What “clues” does Heidegger indicate for answering the question of the ‘who’ of Dasein?

Because the ‘who’ is the essence of Dasein, and Dasein is grounded in existence, the first clue is to interpret the ‘who’ existentially. Because Dasein is itself existing, an existential-ontological questioning is appropriate.

§26 The Dasein-With of Others and Everyday Being-With

Pg. 114: How did the description of the surrounding world include others?

In the world, we exist with both objects and other Daseins. Heidegger explains that, “Others are ‘also encountered’ for whom the ‘work’ is to be done.” Wherein, others and objects are equirepresentational of each other, because they always exist within the context of the other.

Pg. 115: What distinguishes others from innerworldly things?

Others are not distinguished from oneself, rather, others are ‘among whom one also is.’ Others co-exist in the world, as where objects are merely present-at or ready-to-hand

Pg. 115: How is Dasein with others in average everydayness?

Dasein, as being-in-the-world, interacts with others as they are “being-there-too”. Innerwordly beings-in-themselves is Dasein-with.

Pg. 116: Explain the terms “with-world”, “being-with”, and “Dasein-with”.

“With-world”: “The world of Dasein is a with-world [Mitwelt].” “World” is the stage, in which Dasein is characterized through it’s existence “with” innerworldly others and objects. Whereby “being-with” is Dasein’s Being-in. Others then constitute the “Dasein-with”, because of their innerworldly existence.

Pg. 116: How does Dasein initially find “itself” and “others”?

Dasein finds itself through a phenomenal context of what is done, needed, expected and objectified in the “with-world”. Others are found because they are “being-with”, rather than being-for.

Pg. 117: What does Heidegger mean when he says that others become thematic in their Dasein, “they are not encountered as objectively present thing-persons”?

Heidegger means that the others are encountered while being-in-the-world, therefore encountered as a “Dasein-with”.

Pg. 117: What happens to Dasein’s relation to others while Dasein is factically alone?

Dasein is itself alone, but it’s existence is determinate on the being-in-the-world in which others exist, despite if they are physically present. Being alone and being-with are equiprimordial, meaning that Dasein’s relation to others doesn’t change, but it’s uncovering of itself is expanded.

Pg. 118: How does Heidegger characterize being-with in relation to care?

Care [Sorge] is what occurs because of Dasein’s contextual relationship with things in the world. Because Dasein doesn’t have this contextual relationship with other Dasein, others are a matter of concern [Fürsorge]. Concern is what is to be taken care of, for another. “Concern” expresses the relationship between one’s own Dasein, others and innerworldly things.

Pg. 118: Which modes of concern characterize the everyday being-with-one-another?

Being for-, against-, without-one-another, passing-another-by and not-mattering-to-one-another are all deficient and indifferent modes of concern which characterize everyday being-with-one-another.

Pg. 118: How do these modes of concern influence the way we commonly understand ourselves in relation to others?

Aforementioned modes of concern can mislead ontological interpretation of others are being merely objectively present, but can also highlight the “essential difference” between objects and “Dasein-with”.

Pg. 119: Explain the two positive modes of concern.

Concern can take the other Dasein’s care away from him. The other is then “dependent and dominated”. Concern can also constitute the taking care of things, which the other Dasein has yet to encounter. This mode of “authentic care” helps the other Dasein focus on momentary care [Sachlichkeit]

Pg. 119: How do “considerateness” and “tolerance” relate to “circumspection”? (Und die deutschen Wörter erhalten das Wort ‘sicht’.)

Circumspection [Umsicht] implies the looking-over of things in the world, which is what taking care of things also implies. Considerateness [Rücksicht] implies to watch out for someone’s best interests (to literally watch their back) and can relate to the first positive mode of concern, because it upholds the other (by their best interests/ by their back). Tolerance [Nachsicht] implies to watch out for what may transpire (to literally watch afterwards) and can then translates in to Authentic Care and Sachlichkeit.

Pg. 120: Heidegger points out how worldliness (the referential totality of significance) is rooted in the for-sake-of which, namely Dasein. How does this relate to being “for-the-sake-of-others”?

Being for-the-sake-of-others occurs because as being-with, Dasein is itself for the sake of others.

Pg. 120: How does this relate to understanding others?

Described as the ‘taking care of concern’, Heidegger explains that Dasein is an understanding of what is taken care of, whereby understanding one’s own Dasein as being-with is then an understanding of others.

Pg. 121: How does “closing oneself off” or “opening oneself up” to an other relate to being-with?

Both deficient modes of concern are rooted in being-with, which constitutes empathie, as an understanding of an other through oneself.

§27. Everyday Being a Self and They

Pg. 122: What does Heidegger mean when he says, “being-with-one-another has the character of distantiality“?

Distantiality emphasizes the necessity of Dasein to understand itself before understanding an other, distancing the self from the other.

Pg. 122: According to Heidegger, in everydayness, “Dasein stands in subservience to others.” What does this mean?

It means that Dasein is dependent on the innerworldly Dasein-with.

Pg. 123: How does the “they” (Man) unfold “it’s true dictatorship”?

Living in the same way as the “they”, Dasein loses the ability to ascertain the “they”, making [the they’s] “true dictatorship” unfold due to it’s necessity and inconspicuousness.

Pg. 123: What does Heidegger mean by ‘averageness’?

Dasein’s being-with relationship to the ‘they’ “prescribes the kind of being of everydayness”. In this everydayness, averageness exists because nothing is particularly spectacular, but is always a reflection of something else, which levels-it-down.

Pg. 123: How does “publicness” relate to the other ways of being of the “they”?

‘Publicness’ is constituted by distantiality (distancing our own Dasein from others), ‘averageness’ (reflection of all things upon the innerworldly things and others, with which we exist) and ‘leveling down’ (‘averageness’ demoting all concern). Publicness makes Dasein less genuine through the necessary being-with of Dasein, and yet exposes Dasein as familiar and accessible.

Pg. 124: What consequence does it have that the “they” disburdens Dasein in its everydayness?

The ‘they’ disburdens Dasein by relieving the necessity for Dasein to understand itself, as it is familiar and accessible through ‘publicness’. The consequence of this is that Dasein’s ‘who’ becomes the ‘they’, referring to everybody, and becoming inauthentic and inaccessible.

Pg. 124: In the manner of dependency and inauthenticity, Dasein is nevertheless “most real” [ens realissimum]. What does this mean?

The ‘most real’ subject of everydayness is the “I”, which, despite ‘publicness’ and the disburdening of Dasein by the ‘they’, there is not a lessening of facticity of Dasein.

Pg. 125: Why is the “they” not a universal subject?

It does not “hover over a plurality of subjects”.

Pg. 125: How is the discovery of the world different when Dasein is in the mode of the “they-self” in distinction to when Dasein is in the mode of the authentic self?

The authentic self has “explicity grasped itself” rather than the ‘they-self’, in which Dasein is “dispersed in the they”. Discovery of the world in the mode of the ‘they-self’ is merely a referential context, as where discovery of the world in the mode of the authentic self is that which uncovers and “clears away obscurities”.

Pg. 126: “By showing the positive phenomenon of closest everyday being-in-the-world, we have made possible an insight into the basic reason why the ontological interpretation of this constitution of being is lacking.” What is the reason?

Positive phenomenon, in which beings are understood in terms of the world, is lacking because being then becomes objectively present. Being cannot be objective, as it is busy being-in-the-world.

Pg. 126: What final indications does Heidegger give about the authentic self?

The authentic self has a gap between the “I” and it’s dependency on other innerworldly beings.