A Sense of Beauty and Passion

A Sense of Beauty and Passion

There was a perspective shift in Greek culture; idealized Platonic forms became separate from our experience and our oral-mythic culture. This marked a shift towards imbalance and madness. As Nietzsche wrote in The Birth of Tragedy, “Without myth every culture loses the healthy natural power of its creativity: only a horizon defined by myths completes and unifies a whole cultural movement. Myth alone saves all the powers of the imagination and of the Apollinian dream from their aimless wanderings.“1  Myth, to Nietzsche, is a powerful force which binds society together. By discarding it, the Greeks lost an essential part of their sense of selves. They lost a deep connection to beauty and passion, and embraced a form of imbalance. 

This sense of beauty and passion is still available, still present, but it requires some self-reified form of internal reflection and reprocessing. Valery waxes poetically on this subject: “Days can be gloomy; there are men and women who are very much alone ... these men and women, reduced to boredom and gloom, can now fill their sad and useless hours with beauty or passion.”2 

Without myth and beauty and passion, we become adrift and imbalanced. So where is it, where can we find it? Is it a void that can be filled with art or music or community? Or it it something that needs to happen internally? 

While our power to alter our environment rises, our ability to affect the internal shifts and reflections that may be required to remain balanced in this hyper-modern world are ever-more confused. As Boorstein notes, “never has a people felt more deceived and disappointed. For never has a people expected so much more than the world could offer.”3  

As we process these internal reflections, society moves ahead ever faster. Toffler writes that today change is so swift and relentless in the techno-societies that yesterday's truths suddenly become today's fictions, and the most highly skilled and intelligent members of society admit difficulty in keeping up with the deluge of new knowledge—even in extremely narrow fields.”4  

Keeping up may be impossible, but perhaps that’s the point. Keeping up with a society beset by illusion and fixated on external, ever-shifting Platonic forms is a form of madness. Boorstein says that “we demand that everyone who talks to us, or writes for us, or takes pictures for us, or makes merchandise for us, should live in our world of extravagant expectations.”5 When focused on external reflections, we become fixated on external validation and expectations.  

But what are these extravagant expectations? What are they based on? Boosrtein believes it’s a form of illusion and that "we must first awake before we can walk in the right direction. We must discover our illusions before we can even realize that we have been sleepwalking.”6 What does awakening look like? What does the world have to offer in terms of meaning and joy, how can it provide meaning? Not in the context of Platonic forms and idealized versions of life. 

And also not in the form of ever-increasing hierarchies of control. As Lyotard says, “We are finally in a position to understand ... the computerization of society ... it could become the "dream" instrument for controlling and regulating the market system, extended to include knowledge itself and governed exclusively by the performativity principle.”7 This performative principle and focus on external validation could also be the path to madness and imbalance, if we continue chasing down this rabbit hole. 

What would a society look like that was in a form of balance? A society that used technology as a tool to improve happiness and joy and meaning while also providing us with better tools – what would that society look like? 


  1. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy. (New York: Dover Publications, 1995), 135.
  2. Paul Valéry, “The Conquest of Ubiquity,” in Aesthetics, trans. Ralph Manheim (New York: Pantheon Books, 1964), 228.
  3. Daniel J. Boorstin, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America (New York: Vintage, 1962), 4.
  4. Alvin Toffler, Future Shock (New York: Bantam, 1970), 157.
  5. Boorstin, The Image, 5.
  6. Boorstin, The Image, 261.
  7. Jean-François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), 67.


Written by Erik Schimek

Erik is an entrepreneur and self-improvement expert. You can learn more about Meliora Meditation at Infinite Chorus.

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