Internet and The Birth of Tragedy
Let’s talk philosophy today. I am feeling inspired.
Nietzsche’s take on the dichotomy of Apollonian and Dionysian forces in his book The Birth of Tragedy – 1872 is a fascinating concept in classical philosophy. While Stephan King – 1981 described it as “academic bullshit”, he did use it in a certain context in his novels explaining that apollonian forces suggest reason and the power of the mind, while dionysian forces refer to emotion, sensuality, and chaotic action.
I am not a philosopher by any means but I think we should try to apply this concept to the Internet in order to gain a larger perspective.
I believe that Dionysian forces started exploiting the powers of Internet right from the very beginning. Although, human-computer interfaces do not offer a real sense of emotion, intimacy or anything like that, but the content and communication patterns can create a false sense of emotional involvement. That falsehood in itself is Dionysian in nature. The obvious example is pornography and whatever else people do before clearing their browser history.
On the other hand, Apollonian forces are not behind either. The spread of knowledge and entitlement to information that helps humanity organize and fight against its exploitation by the bigger forces, is a great example. It is the idea of democratization and aggregation of opinion. You can’t lie anymore. You can’t hide anything. You can’t misguide anyone. That’s a big deal. Also, mingling of the cultures and evolution of the global village is arguably an Apollonian byproduct of the Internet.
Think about it. Internet runs on computers. Computing is logic and logic is very much Apollonian. You see? Dionysian stuff is just introduced by the humans. On that note, let me just say that I don’t think machines will ever become evil and destroy humanity to takeover the world. That’s just Hollywood trying to make a quick buck… Let’s hope I am right.
Anyway, in summary, the fragility of balance of between dionysian and apollonian forces is eternal and it continues to escalate over the Internet. This theater allows spectators to experience the full spectrum of the human condition, now online just a click away.