An aesthetics of sacredness : a Nietzschean reading of James Joyce and T. S. Eliot
Instead of exploring explicit textual or ideological influences of the philosophy of F.W. Nietzsche on Modernist literary writers, this thesis analyses the points at which works such as James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets bear an implicit relationship to an aesthetic theory for which the notion of representation (artistic or philosophical) and that of sacredness must be thought together. Such a theory is to be found most explicitly in Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy, although some of his earlier and later writings engage with it too. Thus, from the points of convergence of the sacred and the aesthetic that appear in The Birth of Tragedy, I extract the keys for a theory of representation at large, of Nietzschean import, in order to contrast the notion of philosophical representation (Vorstellung) with the activities and discourses which philosophy has traditionally tried to avoid: rituals and myths. Out of this contrast, the conclusion emerges that there is a genealogical progression from ritual (specifically sacrifice) to myth, and from this to philosophical and artistic representation; that is to say, that only after a myth (whose root was a ritual) has lost its religious value, can philosophy and art (and literature in particular) enjoy a fully separate existence, as the secularised discourses that characterise our Modernity: (here modern science is included as a development and continuation of the philosophical discourse). What makes Modernist writers play an essential role in this respect is their tacit awareness of this genealogy, which is manifested in their aesthetic practice. Two instances of this practice are analysed here, in their mythopoeic character (mainly derived from the mythic possibilities of Christianity), and their questioning of modern notions (selfhood, identity, individuality). They re-enact the original sacred speech previous to our secularised modern aesthetics.