Collection of ascriptions for the establishment of the tonality of the word Imitation in our leading sentence
Our understanding of our leading sentence, our leading thought, “Seriousness imitates play.”, while it has included some tones or notes worth keeping, remains confused. So far we haven't said much about what “imitates” says. We mentioned that according to the concept of Johan Huizinga, the puppy and the young animal imitates the seriousness of real hostility playfully, in its play. We considered the notion that the seriousness referred, ultimately, to death. This is not wholly clear from what Schmitt’s Concept of the Political brings to us, where in his explicating essay Strauss brings out the polemic with entertainment and diversion, Schmitt does not cite the German General who said “peace is a dream, and not even a beautiful dream", with the explicit sense of bringing sacrifice to the forefront, as that which bestows communal moral sense on the population. One discovers a region of thought, near the "serious", which includes also Nietzsche’s polemic with the “laisse aller”, thus his insistence on the constraining factors in life. When the concept of a sovereign, of sovereignty, speaks to the doctrine of Kings, it speaks not to life and death, but to the final right in the interpretation of the laws. And to the constraining. To the prerogative of ultimacy in the issue of something that reminds us of the Spielraum, the interpretation. The interpretation becomes the ex cathedra from which the "life-giving lie" rules the whole cosmos. The "nomos of earth" with its basic sense of commanding. Likewise we see the thought of Wagner, of the communal work of art, as representative of the first sentence of his essay called The Artwork of the Future “As Man stands to Nature, so stands Art to Man.” This art or Kunst is in the place of sovereignty. As it traveled from the king to the people, now it is induced to move swiftly to the realm of Kunst, and so to soar in the Gesamnstkunst work, the communal gathering. One thusly thinks of the panhellenism which sees the moral, intelectul and bodily compulsion of the civic life of the Greeks where the artwork was a compulsory just as schooling in this age is. But Nietzsche says Wagner doesn't see it but he has no leg to stand on, because the Kunst as seriousness merely imitates the "Will to Power" as a god, less forcible than the Christian God that laid down the proper logos, but died.
It is worth the diversion we right now consider, in rallying all this material, because in doing so we remind ourselves that we too are part of the Spielraum, that there is no exemption for the one who follows the methodos, however well prepared by the experimentum. We too slip into the vulgar vagueness of thought "which is still a fact". Nietzsche says of Wagner's efforts that they played right into what he overtly purposed to escape, the entertainment of the masses. The subtlety of this lies in the fact that Utilitarianism, at its peak, is very difficult to distinguish from sacrifice to the god, conceived of as the “Kunst” in the sentence “As Man stands to Nature, so stands Art to Man.” Because the highest pleasures, the delight in the wondrous, the delight only to the most cultivated and most serious, is conceived according to the Western tradition as what is furthest from sensual life, from animal life, primarily this means eating and less firmly, of sex, for sex and love are merged and bring out a subject fit for poetry, and fitness for the poem is the classical standard for the kalon or the noble, and even above the emotional and the imaginative pleasure, and perhaps above the pleasure in unselfish moral sense.
The seriousness might speak of death, thus of all things as a "natural world" (and not as the world of "Nature's God", as the 18th-century document still thinks), but it could also describe a larger circle of ascriptions, including dedication to the god as “Kunst”. What imitates says in the thought “Seriousness imitates play.” is not a sort of mimicking, as in the example of the puppy and the imitation of hostility, nor is it the kind of thing that is supposed to be perfected in the photograph, when art as copying nature reaches the supposed perfectio of the photographic representation. Let us say something about the well-know beginnings of the problems of "nonobjective art" to make this more clear. Everyone knows that Picasso copied or “stole” the works of his fellow Cubists and of Matisse, &c. But did he imitate them? Certainly not. Because to imitate is to lack the originality of the thing that is copied. To be an imitator means to be an epigone, to backslide into degeneration. When Max Nordau speaks of degeneration, he is already thinking of the cheap existentialist, who when he sets himself up as a personal nation, which has equaled in himself the various manifestation of a people, and answered the question of how to rationalize existence, got their own manifesto raised over the earth so to speak, they actually only achieve a decedent entertainment and a caricature of human life. So degeneration means the same thing as the accusation of Nietzsche against Wagner. The reference to Nordau should make us think of the lecture Why We Remain Jews, by Leo Strauss. It links one also to the questions of Shatov in Dostoevsky's work, called in Russian Besy or Demons. If the God is dead, only a concept in the service of the Utilitarianism, the people looses its raison d'etre, or, better, its soul. It becomes a nomos, a de facto situation of calculating or political necessity, or "programmed survival" as a mere biological evolution which is a kind of buffoonery if taken as the sufficient reason for a people to be a people in the light of human, "all too human", choice.
“Imitation” now sounds out in this tonality: A deficit of Macht, a privative state of the power of the creative. The apple is the perfectio of the apple tree, when it is ripe. The former life of the apple tree has led to the production of the apple, it is the summa of the teleology. But is the photograph, in its attempt to perfect the representation of the object, a summa or highest point? Bergson strangely does not address the photograph as what is historial. The photograph, like all beings, can be looked at, lived with, experience, in the Spielraum of the movement of reason. How is it supposed to stand outside all being? Supposedly it is a slice of the “band time” that is “one movement”. When would that happen? The idea of “clock time” is the technological as the episteme, as a thinking that reflects and juxtaposes this to that. But reflection is not possible unless it would have an object, or better, a being upon which to reflect. Taken from life, one sees the photograph, from this or that angle, in this or that year, under this or that sky, beside a shooting star or under a dark cloud. But in reflection, when we abstract, the photograph is supposed to be a piece of a moment of time, taken according to an abstract notion of a single moment of time which might be universally documented. There is no “moment” (neither as "one" stretch, or as infinitely many) separate from another, except through an abstraction from the Spielraum. So, if Picasso, supposedly seeking greater freedom, moves into the nonobjective, he supposes thereby an objective representation which does not exist. If he prefers the nonobjective to the photograph it is more likely, whether he knew it explicitly is not important, because the photograph was an imitation, in the new tonality, it lacked power or originality. (This was shown to be false, de facto, in the later development of the photographic artfrom. Thus suggesting a fashionable dogmatism, and not only an artistic creativity, in the approach of non-objective art.)
Seriousness imitates play, has now the sense: Seriousness lacks the power or originality of play. A avocation, when it is a mere hobby, is not so serious as the work of someone who pursues something where real learning about the whole is possible. Yet, the ability to rank the “real learning” as “better” than the “hobby” stems itself from the “play”. Something which is everywhere commanding is more powerful than the work of the taxis or classification that tries to establish a ranking of the dignity of activities. Which means that, it is not that arbitrarily, through attribution by human beings, this or that activity rises in rank, but that essentially the ranking is in the Spielraum, and only in weaker form does the rhetoric about it follow, as the expression of a geometrical hierarchy.