• Ingen resultater fundet


As the first of the three areas of interest, which this thesis has set out to ex-plore, the problematical formation of melancholy that has been the subject of the sections above has a privileged status. This status it owes not exclu-sively to the fact that it is the first and as such constitutes the frame of ref-erence on the background of which the following chapters inevitably will be seen. The real privilege of the formation structured around the black bile in the bodies of the outstanding is that in it the drama of the great tragedies becomes theory. The ‘theoretical man’ of whom Nietzsche wrote that he possesses an ‘infinite satisfaction with what is’ (BT 15) here comes not only to occupy the Greek scene, but also to represent its theoros, its spectator.

The decosmologization described in the sections above not only represents

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a deconstruction, but also the gradual opening of a space for individual self-regulation, the implications of which are still relevant and problematic to-day. Representing what has been developed in this chapter within the con-text of the six dimensions of problems and responses introduced in the be ginning of the thesis are summarized in TABLE 2 and explicated in the fol-lowing.

Firstly, the pathological problem that presents itself in the conceptual formation of melancholy emerges as the gradual transformation of the hy-perbolic emotional response of the tragic hero into a circular antinomy of madness divided between excessive states of exaltation and dejection and associated with self-regulation, thus being MANIC-MELANCHOLIC (see TAB.

TABLE 2 Problematical



Pathological Problem








Delimitative Problem





Performative Response










Chapter Two: The Dietetics of Melancholia 82

2) First found in the Platonic designation in the Phaidros of a divine state of the madness – the exallagé – that had to be strictly differentiated from the morbid states of mania, this antinomy was associated with the inspira-tion of the few and extraordinary, whose disposiinspira-tion made them more sus-ceptible than others to the psychosomatic nosos psyches, the diseases of the soul. When the ēthos perritón of the Aristotelian Problems XXX, 1 was de-scribed as someone struggling with the diseases of the black bile, the prob-lem was also represented within the context of this circular antinomy.

Opening a space for self-regulation structured around the temperature of the black bile as a ‘thing’ in the body, the Aristotelian naturalization of mel-ancholy came to point out a specific character, who would be able to take control of his opportune disposition in order to achieve what it was in his paradoxical nature to achieve. With Ficino’s later appropriation in the Ren-aissance of the Platonic and Aristotelian theories, this antinomy of violent mood swings became more than a disposition, it came to represent the ideal of the genius, who would have to expose himself actively to it in order to turn dejected impotence into glorious achievement and freedom.

This idealization in Ficino’s work of the circular antinomy as something specifically associated with self-regulation among the geniuses that were governed by the combustibility of the black bile is reflected in the second of the dimensions, the dimension of the characterological problem. As indi-cated in this chapter, the problematical formation of melancholy also de-scribes the gradual emergence of a specific character, in which the melan-cholic disposition in its offset is non-pathological and non-morbid. As an

EXTRAORDINARY the negative in this character is presented as a prerequisite for the positive. Already indicated by the association of achievement with great suffering in the characters of tragic heroes like Orestes and Jason, the elevated normality of the non-pathological melancholic emerged as a pre-carious and complex modality, which represented a virtual mode of exis-tence that separated success from failure. This ēthos is reflected in the Pla-tonic distinction between those who like Socrates and his peers possessed erōs and those who did not, like Apollodorus whose quest for knowledge was bound to fail because of his characteristic and irredeemable ignorance.

Constituting a background for the Aristotelian ēthos perriton, who was

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paradoxically abnormal by nature, the anomaly of the inspired was struc-tured around the ability to achieve a higher balance through self-regulation, where most people would fail. Problems XXX, 1 associated this achievement with the extraordinary character whose hyperbolic nature made him more susceptible than others to the pathologies of the black bile, but as illustrated above, it was only with the assumption of man as a pro-tean being in the Renaissance that this disposition became the ideal of the culturally formative genius.

The delimitative problem of the extraordinary melancholic, indicating the designation of the borderline between the individual and the collective, can be seen to reflect this. As anómalos the self-regulating character that emerged out of the gradual decosmologization, which the chapter has pre-sented, always appeared on THE PERIPHERY, not only of the collective in which he took part, but also of his own self, as the pathos he was subjected to pointed him out at the limits of his capabilities. The figure of the heroic, but tragic individuality, which struggled to find and possess its place in cosmos, is emblematic of this defining inequality. When the Homeric hymns left Bellerophon, on whom the Gods had turned on account of his rebellious attitude against the cosmic order, wandering in broken solitude on the barren Alean plain, it was no coincidence. Rather it reflected the fate of the culturally formative, appearing always as a transgression of the al-ready constituted collective order. Culminating in the precarious Aristote-lian designation of the ēthos perriton, whose legislative, philosophical or artistic contributions placed them always at the limit of the collective, the peripheral appearance of the culturally formative in the conceptual forma-tion of classical melancholy was constituted as a state of excepforma-tion which redefined the collective from which it was excepted. Illustrated as a kind of makeshift telos for a teleology that possessed none, the elevated existence of the outstanding melancholic, whose disposition was structured in a psy-chosomatic pattern of suffering around the ‘thing’ in the body, appeared in terms of a transgressive inequality with both the collective, the self and na-ture. It was on the periphery of all three that the delimitation of the melan-cholic took place. The inequality of the extraordinary melanmelan-cholic was found both in terms of his exception from the collective and in terms of the disparity of his natural disposition, which separated him from himself and

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designated in the gradual opening of this rift a space for self-regulation. It was the appropriation of this space in Ficino’s Renaissance theories of sub-limation, with which the chapter concluded, that the fundamental founda-tion for a theory of the genius was laid.

As a conceptual formation representing the emergence of the extraordi-nary character on the periphery of a gradual decosmologization, the prob-lematic dimensions presented above was closely associated with the dimen-sions of response. Thus, the self-regulatory response was dominated by the gradual transformation of the pathos, which subjected the heroic individual to his cosmic fate, into the full-blown DIETETICS OF SUBLIMATION in Ficino’s Renaissance theories. As illustrated in the chapter above there was no prin-cipal difference between the hyperbolic emotional patterns to which the tragic hero was subjected and his achievements, which made him what he was. The opening of a space of self-regulation for the exceptional in charac-ter gradually changed this. Already the Platonic assertion in the Sympo-sium of erōs as an aporectic problem, which contained the resources for its own solution for those few who had it in their character to be possessed by it, indicated how that which had used to be a matter of divine intervention gradually became transposed into a dimension of individual manipulation.

But although the internalization of the heroic virtuosity, represented by Socrates’ theory of divine madness, did open a space for self-regulation, it was not before the Aristotelian naturalization in Problems XXX, 1 of the black bile as a subject of manipulation that the association of melancholy with great achievement came to flourish. As illustrated, the nature of the Aristotelian self-regulation was of prophylactic character, indicating the necessity of the naturally gifted melancholics to manage the combustibility of the black bile towards the ‘higher middle’ for which they were disposed.

Representing the boundless and unending necessity for self-regulation in a teleology without telos, the eucrasia anomalia of the outstanding and cul-turally formative melancholic gave form to a ‘greater health’ of geniality. It was this ‘greater health’, which became the fundament for the active dietetic theories of the Renaissance melancholics. If the dietetic gestures in the Ar-istotelian theories were mainly concerned with maintaining the health of a type who was characterized by his susceptibility to the diseases of the black bile, the active self-regulative response of the Renaissance melancholic

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came to mobilize and manipulate the inverted cosmos of the ‘heavens in man’, emblematically symbolized by the planet Saturn, in order to achieve the greatness of geniality.

Although this axis of self-regulation illustrates the transformation of the heroic virtuosity into the dietetics of the genius, what holds these ends to-gether is the dimension of the self-articulatory response. From the classic gesture of sublimation through the psychosomatic pattern of suffering, which has been illustrated in The Epic of Gilgamesh, to the active self-transformation of the Renaissance genius in Ficino’s dietetic theories, the self-articulation of the melancholic character took the form of SELF

-TRANSGRESSION. As a mode of sublimation, the self-transgression of the ex-traordinary in character indicated the primary trope for performativity.

As a performative response to the problematic dimensions presented above, however, the self-transgression presented in this chapter was closely associated with and took the form of ACHIEVEMENT. The roots of this per-formative response representing achievement through self-transformation was found in the pathos of the tragic hero, whose sublimation of a psycho-somatic pattern of suffering emblematically allowed him to travel between the worlds of man and gods. In a certain sense, this logic of transgression represented the source on which the virtuosity of the heroic individual was based. As the chapter has illustrated it was the consistency of this logic, which gradually came to transform the hero’s virtuosity into the self-techniques of the outstanding in character, whose performative response to his precarious disposition became represented as the extraordinary achievement of cultural formation. Structured as a conceptual formation associated with psychosomatic suffering around the black bile as a ‘thing’ in the body, the dietetics of the Renaissance finally came to represent this per-formative response in terms of the genial.

Chapter Three

Acedia and Virtuous Living