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The Knight of Art

Jonathan Meese

JONATHAN MEESE WAS INVITED TO ATTEND THE INTERNATIONAL NIETZSCHE CONFERENCE IN AUGUST 2009 – ‘NIETZSCHE – MACHT – GRÖSSE’ – IN NAUMBURG AN DER SAALE. HE SHARED THE PODIUM OF THE NAUMBURGHAUS WITH PHILOSOPHERS VOLKER CAYSA, KONSTANZE SCHWARZWALD, UDO TIETZ AND POET DURS GRÜNBEIN TO ‘DEBATE’ ART.

He advan­ced his the­ses and bare­ly took a moment to brea­the. To some in the audi­ence he may have come across as a preacher for cul­tu­ral cri­ti­cism, alt­hough that isn’t his aim. What he does want, howe­ver, is a revo­lu­ti­on, an about-turn: to give power to art! Meese’s Holy Grail is to achie­ve an Art dic­ta­tor­s­hip. While his sta­ge pre­sence was qui­te impres­si­ve, some guests and mem­bers of the Board of Direc­tors of the Nietz­sche Socie­ty were less than plea­sed. He was met by an enra­ged audi­ence who­se inter­pre­ta­ti­on of Nietz­sche, for some a life-long endea­vour, had been shaken to the core by Meese’s the­ses. Not only was the man an artist, a loo­ny, no, he also had his very own phi­lo­so­phy: meta­bo­lism. Meese’s phi­lo­so­phy con­cei­ves meta­bo­lism as a sov­er­eign metatro­py, i.e. a meta­phy­si­cal meta­bo­lism. Scan­da­lous. Not only was God dead, but appar­ent­ly Nietz­sche was, too. All that was sac­red had been rob­bed of its hol­lo­wed natu­re in the holiest of pla­ces. Thus their other God, Nietz­sche hims­elf, had beco­me dead to the rese­ar­chers. They stood alo­ne in the des­sert, yet again.

Jona­than Meese

Mee­se acts as a medi­um and art reacts accord­in­gly, name­ly in the metatro­pic realm of the meta­bo­lic phi­lo­so­pher of art. 

Should Mee­se be their next pro­phet, then? No, he couldn’t be. Des­pi­te the Nazi salu­te prof­fe­red at the start of the dis­cus­sion, he doesn’t want to estab­lish any new, mili­tant priest cas­te. Nietzsche’s slo­gan, ‘I don’t want to be a saint, and would rather be a buf­foon; for till now the­re has never been anyo­ne more hypo­cri­ti­cal than saints’ is some­thing Mee­se takes very serious­ly. Mee­se announ­ces the dic­ta­tor­s­hip of Art, plays with meta­phors which don’t even pre­tend to be poli­ti­cal­ly cor­rect becau­se based on tra­di­ti­ons and ritu­als used by natio­na­list workerscum sol­di­ers of the past. Howe­ver, he stres­ses that one shouldn’t adhe­re sla­vish­ly to the pre­cepts of the Füh­rer, rather one should endea­vour to ser­ve art. His slo­gan, after all, isn’t that akin to a ‘worker dic­ta­tor­s­hip’ but to an ‘art dic­ta­tor­s­hip’. He is but an ‘ant’ ser­ving art. He doesn’t demand anything from art: his ques­ti­on reflects on what art deman­ds of us. He wants to be art’s ser­vant as an artist. He con­cei­ves art as a hig­her sov­er­eign power which man, even as an artist, can’t ful­ly grasp; so all that’s left for him to do is to ser­ve it. Art is encom­pas­sing. The object its­elf is decisi­ve, not man.

Artists, being men, are meta­bo­lic bein­gs, and thus under­lie the whims of meta­bo­lism. Art, howe­ver, trans­cends indi­vi­du­al meta­bo­lism, and is sov­er­eign over the meta­bo­lic natu­re of man. The ques­ti­on is if there’s actual­ly such a thing as a hig­her power repre­sen­ted by art, which trans­cends the meta­bo­lism of men? Is the­re a quid­di­ty which jus­ti­fies that artist Jona­than Mee­se wants to ser­ve it ‘only’ as a meta­bo­lic being? I belie­ve the­re is.

Art is a demo­nic medi­um, a lim­bo, which media­tes bet­ween the divini­ty of indi­vi­du­al artists as out­ward-facing bein­gs, who have the capa­ci­ty of crea­ting new ide­as plu­cked from their inner­most thoughts, and the artist as a man depen­ding on meta­bo­lism. Howe­ver, it’s also thanks to his inward­loo­king depen­dence from his dai­ly bodi­ly func­tions that he can over­co­me this obsta­cle and deve­lop an out­ward-facing growth, con­tra­ry to what the ‘mas­ses’ can do. Thanks to the oppor­tu­ni­ty pro­vi­ded by this out­ward-facing growth, man can crea­te new rea­li­ties by thrus­ting his pain­tings, his child­ren as it were, out into the world in a moment of Dio­ny­si­an ecsta­sy. He’s now beco­me an out­ward-facing indi­vi­du­al. Accord­in­gly, Jona­than Mee­se crea­tes his works of art with pre­cise and ecsta­tic dis­plays of swift, dizzy­ing eupho­ria. As Mee­se ser­ves art as an out­ward-facing being, we have to inter­pret his request as a form of humi­li­ty in the ser­vice of art. He ser­ves art sla­vish­ly, he ser­ves it becau­se he’s sei­zed by art.

Art to him is an uplif­ting expe­ri­ence, a solemn encoun­ter which is supe­ri­or to the indi­vi­du­al who loses hims­elf in his ine­s­ca­pa­ble meta­bo­lic being. In this artis­tic lim­bo, a realm whe­re metatro­py crea­tes the­se out­ward-facing bein­gs, Mee­se loo­ks for the rea­son and goal of his year­ning: THE DICTATORSHIP OF ART. The Holy Grail of the Knight of Art, Jona­than Mee­se. But this year­ning Rese­arch doesn’t crys­ta­li­se in a shapeless, vague idea, but in a pre­cise inten­ti­on, deman­ding disci­pli­ne and com­ple­te obedience! Art occurs in the place whe­re it gives meta­bo­lism a pre­cise shape. It doesn’t sim­ply dis­si­pa­te into the world: it fills the world. Art trans­cends demo­cra­cy; it ele­va­tes us abo­ve our demo­cra­tised posi­ti­on. It plucks us from our medi­o­c­re life. It turns values on their heads. It’s revo­lu­tio­na­ry. Once, a big radi­cal phi­lo­so­pher announ­ced, ‘All things are not­hing to me’; Jona­than Mee­se app­lies the same thought to art. The hege­mo­ny of art has been estab­lis­hed thanks to metatro­pists who, accord­ing to Mee­se, are the true phi­lo­so­phers of art. The true phi­lo­so­pher of art expe­ri­en­ces the essence of art as an out­ward-facing for­ce as it happens.

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Künstlerphilosophin. Sie promovierte zum Thema: „Sehnsüchtige Körper – Eine Metatropie“. Lehre seit 2006 an verschiedenen Hochschulen und Universitäten. Darunter: Philosophisches Institut der Universität Leipzig, Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst zu Leipzig, Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut der Uni Leipzig, Germanistische Institute der Universitäten Lodz, Piliscisiaba/Budapest und Sydney/Australien. Außerdem hielt sie Vorlesungen und Seminare vom WS 2012/13 – WS 2013/14 als Juniorprofessorin (i.V.) an der Sportwissenschaftlichen Fakultät der Uni Leipzig. Kolumnistin der Leipziger Zeitung seit 2015. Mitglied des kulturwissenschaftlichen Beirates Klinikum Bremen Ost. Von 2002 bis 2010 war sie Vorstandsmitgleid der Nietzsche Gesellschaft e.V.. Wichtigste Publikationen: Volker Caysa/ Konstanze Schwarzwald: Nietzsche – Macht – Größe (De Gruyter), Volker Caysa/ Konstanze Schwarzwald: Experimente des Leibes (Peter-Lang-Verlag 2008), Sehnsüchtige Körper – Eine Metatropie (2011), Askese als Verhaltensrevolte (2015), Denken des Empraktischen (2016). www.empraxis.net. Foto © Hagen Wiel

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