The Disenchantment and Rebirth of Western Society According to Nietzsche and Kandinsky

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From 1870 to 1920 several intellectuals came into prominence and formed critiques on the ways western society was conducting itself. Leading this group of intellectuals was Friedrich Nietzsche. In Nietzsche’s views he felt society had become degenerate and insipid. With the lack of modern myth there was nothing for society to live for and would soon collapse on itself. Thus, Nietzsche felt western culture was disenchanted. However, Nietzsche saw a glimmer of hope with German music that was being created at the time. Through German music, western society would become re-enchanted and bring the tragic myth back into western culture. Another important thinker of the time was Wassily Kandinsky. Kandinsky had similar views to Nietzsche…show more content…
The hero takes the suffering of the world on his shoulders and relieves us of the burdens while preparing himself for higher existence.3 At the same time, Nietzsche believed music imparted a metaphysical significance that could never be achieved with words. Music “is but a supreme instrument for bringing to life the plastic world of myth”.4 Nietzsche represented re-enchantment by German music. Music was able to access the Dionysian and thus give birth to the tragic myth. Nietzsche thought “music incites us to a symbolic intuition of the Dionysiac universality...[and] endows that symbolic image with supreme significance...[thus] music is capable of giving birth to myth...”.5 Thus, Nietzsche saw music as the only hope of moving out of disenchantment brought by the death of tragedy. Like Nietzsche, Kandinsky's views also had elements of disenchantment of modern western society and the possibility of re-enchantment. For Kandinsky, materialism represented disenchantment of western culture. In Concerning the Spiritual in Art Kandinsky, “Our minds...are infected with the despair of unbelief, of lack of purpose and ideal” because of materialism.6 With materialism we have nothing to live for because we have everything already. Kandinsky also had views on re-enchantment represented by abstract art and the abstract artist. The abstract artist uses forms and colors that evoke vibrations of the soul and awaken emotions many have

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