Man as Will, Will as Music


Arthur Schopenhauer

“It is the subject of the will, that is, his own will, that fills the singer’s consciousness, often as an unbound and satisfied willing (joy), but even more often as a hampered willing (sorrow), always as emotion, passion, an agitated state of mind. Besides this, however, and simultaneously with it, the singer, through the sight of surrounding nature, becomes aware of himself as the subject of pure, will-less knowing, whose unshakable, blissful peace now appears in contrast to the pressure of willing, always restricted and needy. The feeling of this contrast, this alternate play, is really what is being expressed in the whole of the song, and what constitutes the lyrical state in general. In this state of pure knowing comes to us, as it were, in order to deliver us from willing and its pressure. We follow, but only, for a few moments; willing desire, the recollection of our own personal accomplishments aims, always tears us again from peaceful contemplation; but again and again the next beautiful surroundings, in which pure, will-less knowledge presents itself to us, entices us away from willing. Therefore in the song and you n the lyrical mood, willing (the personal interest of our aims) and pure perception of the surroundings that present themselves are wonderfully blended with each other. Relations between the two are sought and imagined l; the subjective mood, the affection of the will, imparts its colour to the perceived environment, and the environment imparts its own to the mood. The genuine song is the copy or impression of the whole of this mingled and decided state of mind.”

Arthur Schopenhauer: Man as Will and Representation 

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