Man is not intellect only - the Dionysian vs the Apollonian in Lymond

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Abgeschickt von Birgit am 17 Maerz, 2005 um 12:06:49:

Apollo stands for the intellect, all that is rational and logic. He represents order, harmony and civilization, the cultivated arts, poetry and music. The Apollonian archetype, the analytical mind, is drawn to master a skill, has an inherent ability to focus on a task. He favours thinking over feeling, distance over closeness, objective assessment over subjective intuition.

Apollo is also the Archer-god, master of the silver bow, Apollo the Far-Shooter, who can rain down death with his deadly arrows, one who with great skill can hit a target from afar. He has a terrifying temper, is feared for his wrath. He brings sudden death, he exacts instant, merciless revenge upon those who have aroused his wrath.

In his incarnation as Phoibos Apollo, the Sun god, he stands for light and clarity, illumination and radiance. But not warmth. There is no emotion (other than his wrath and terrifying temper), no warmth associated with Apollo at all. Apollonian influence results in a predispositon to emotional distance and a focus on rationality, intellectual detachment.

Lymond is, of course, at his most Apollonian in RC. All intellect and icy detachment. The harsh and icy climate of Russia serves as a perfect foil for his state of mind. But DD doesn't stop there. The defining traits of Apollo are evoked more than once. Take Richard Chancellor's visit to Vorobievo:

"Cool and assured, each wholly in command of all the civilized arts of giving pleasure, they wove and interwove their attentions, controlling the evening between them; guiding the talk; leading the laughter...

That kind of mind was not Güzel's creation. And that explosive combination of physical skill and intelligence, so dangerous in the world of affairs. Brains, hardihood, and looks.

Brains and hardihood were here in this man. And looks he had not observed before. Good hands, and a body agreeably marshalled. Hair strongly springing which was not yellow, but stranded with all the live colours between citrine and amber. An overbred face, with bone fitted to bone like the hild to the tang of a blade; a gaze, wide and blue, and hard as the gaze of an idol. And the long, linear design of the mouth, with its hairline engraving of temper...

Diccon Chancellor could not imagine himself or anyone else adressing the Voevoda as a fellow human being."

Then there's this passage:

"Lymond shot his eagle as she swept down: a high, perfect shot with the little birch bow and the short, Turkish fork-headed arrow. He nocked again as she fell. Before she lodged on the ground he killed Baida's first henchman; he aimed and released the third arrow in the same sequence of deliberate movements and the other henchman dropped, also shot through the heart. Then,...Lymond turned the fourth, cold shining arrow on Baida.

'How dare you?' said Lymond softly to Prince Vishnevetsky. 'How dare you teach my hunting fowl to turn rogue?...'

...Clear and savage and cold, the voice cut through all the confusion.

For a moment they stood face to face in the torchlight; the tall tousled man..., and the repressed and motionless foreigner, skin, clothes and hair bright and groomed and deadly as sharplings."

The Dionysian aspect, however, encompasses emotion and passion. Only when taken to the extreme does it result in madness and frenzy. Just as the Apollonian aspect, taken to the utmost extreme, can end up as cold, clinical detachment and imperviousness, even become a merciless, vengeful, destructive force.

The two deities and the attitudes labelled Dionysian and Apollonian are *both* deeply connected to music, both find their expression in music and artistic images. Nietzsche attributes the emotive power of music to Dionysos. He sees the primacy of music as the original expression of the Dionysian, which was later given form by the Apollonian aspect of art. Both were necessary and for example found their perfect synthesis in Greek Tragedy, where the primal, raw, emotive power of music was expressed through the visual forms of the stage. The opposing forces of the calm, restraining, form giving power of Apollo, the wild, passionate, energetic excess of Dionysos, are both necessary in art as well as in life.

Lymond's Apollonian persona is predominant in the LC, finding its most extreme form in RC, of course, but it is interesting to see how often the Dionysian side shines through, no matter how hard he tries to suppress it. I believe he is happiest whenever he allows himself to give in to the part of his being that encompasses the positive Dionysian aspects. There are only a few moments in the LC when Lymond experiences something like happiness, but each one of them is Dionysian in setting and in nature. Quite tellingly they are all connected with masks and masquerades, with revelry, with wine, and they are always full of creative joy and exitement.

Think of the fleeting moment of happiness immediately after the battle of Calais, when, for a short while he lets go, "breaks free of the prison he has made for himself", and joins his men in a joyous victory celebration.

There is of course the scene at the Hall of Revels, where the Attic detachment soon crumbles and gives way to Dionysian joy and a celebration of creativity. And it is this moment of happiness, of course, which ultimately allows more profound emotions and passionate feelings to surface.

Or the Banquet and Masque at the Hotel de Ville, with its hilarity and laughter. The revelry following it. The fun both, Lymond and Philippa, are havingin re-enacting it all, wholly occupied with each other, wholly focussed on each other, aware of nothing else, all rational thought has given way to Dionysian delight. Jerott recognizes it: "that unguessed-at well of delight under the bitter intelligence".

And then there is the pivotal passage at the beginning of CM: the flight through the fog at Lyon. Once again, Lymond lets run loose all those qualities, gives in to that moment of carefree delight and pleasure. Sweeping Philippa along with him in this moment of exhilaration "as a madman obeys a madman, and a drunkard a drunkard". It is of course "a heady experience, for an only child accustomed to single-thread happiness, and not to the moment of creation that occurs when the warp is interlocked with the weft. When the singer is matched with the sounding-board; the dream with the poet..."
It is by recognizing those qualities for what they are: the essence of Lymond, and by becoming fully aware how much they strike a chord within her own being, that Philippa realizes the full depth of her feelings for him:

"But he was not a figment of daydream or fantasy. He was the quick-witted man who had raced with her; the man whose strong wrists had pulled her from trouble; whose laughter recognized, more than his own, her buffoonery; whose voice had whispered, sung, exclaimed or cursed, with equal felicity, carefree as a birdsong on top of their striving. Whose essence, stripped by necessity was, it now seemed, warm and joyous and of great generosity. ....Whooping, Lymond sprang to his feet; triumph and mischief and a ridiculous, thoughtless delight that made her seize his hands and fling them apart and say, 'Francis! Francis, you fool! *This* is what you should be!"

And so Philippa, the sensible one, the practical one, finds that: "The wine had been to strong for her" and she "had stepped from the safe shores of friendship..."



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