Modernity, Ego, Earth: Notes on Robert Gooding-Williams's Zarathustra's Dionysian Modernism




Zarathustra's Dionysian Modernism. This is indeed a title that raises questions, a fragwürdig title, as Heidegger would say. For how can modernism be inflected by these two ancient, not to say archaic, figures of myth and legend, Zarathustra and Dionysus? And how can Nietzsche, cited so often as a paradigmatic postmodern thinker, aim at a new variety of modernism in the book he thought of as his central contribution? Robert Gooding-Williams's book is a dazzling achievement, because it forces us to rethink a host of issues and questions that lie behind these questions. After some prefatory thoughts about reading and deconstruction, I will focus on: (1) some questions concerning Nietzsche and modernity that frame Gooding-Williams's book; (2) reading the drama of Zarathustra, with special reference to the question of the self and the need to transcend the limits of the individuated ego; and (3) the status of body and earth in Gooding-Williams's account of Zarathustra's Dionysianism.

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Copyright © 2004 Philosophy Documentation Center. This article first appeared in International Studies in Philosophy 36, no. 3 (2004): 99-115. doi:10.5840/intstudphil2004363154.

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