Tag Archives: Romanticism

To My Artist-Friends

The back cover of the CD case of William Basinski's Disintegration Loops (2002)

The back cover of the CD case of William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops (2002)

Despite the present conditions, you remain important. Experience of the world bounces off of you prismatically, even if you don’t want that.

You are particular, fragile prisms. Even your most melancholic allow light through. You’ve seen the glow illuminating Mark Rothko’s paintings. But sometimes I worry you might break if presented with the wrong world. There is a necessary nostalgia you’ve held for so long. It was with you in the furnace, imbued in you like an alloy—strengthening you in some ways, and weakening you in others. That alloy is the residue of Romanticism.

Nietzsche saw this in you. His admiration found those fragile points:

Of course, the philosophy of an artist does not matter much if it is merely an afterthought and does not harm his art. One cannot be too careful to avoid bearing any artist a grudge for an occasional, perhaps very unfortunate and presumptuous masquerade. We should not forget that, without exception, our dear artists are, and have to be to some extent, actors; and without play-acting they would scarcely endure life for any length of time.1

1 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage Books, 1974 [1887]), 155.