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  • Rob Will

Medusa´s Omen

Updated: Sep 29, 2023


Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy is an interesting and thought-provoking book, although it is probably my least favorite of all of Nietzsche’s works. I’m in the middle of reading it right now because I recently finished Herman Hesse’s Narcissus and Goldmund and I think Hesse may have worked with some of the ideas Nietzsche presented in The Birth of Tragedy, in his Narcissus and Goldmund.

About six years ago I read The Birth of Tragedy and back then I don’t think I was really ready for it. Or, perhaps I should say that I can understand it better and get much more out of it now.

So, earlier I was reading The Birth of Tragedy, delving into the realm of the dichotomy Nietzsche draws between the Dionysian and Apollonian art impulses — then contemplating the merging of the former and the latter, a synthesis which Nietzsche describes as the pinnacle of aesthetic greatness.

This led me to thinking about the symbolism of Dionysian and Apollonian themes — or the fusion thereafter — in post-Hellenic art. Time for a trip to the art museum! Sometimes, when I’ll feel inclined to do so, I’ll take a little journey over to the Rob Will Museum of Art. Earlier, I visited the Visual Art branch, which means I kicked back and flipped through various books I have with pictures of Art in them and looked at net printouts of Art that I have.

I was strolling through the collection, pausing at engaging pieces and offering art criticism and symbolic interpretations, and having little dialectical debates with myself, pretending to smoke a very long, very thin cigarette while wearing a French beret. (I am joking about the beret and cigarette!)

Mail-call comes around. I get a “Notice of Extension” on the grievance I filled on 7-24 concerning property officer Smith. I wonder if they’re actually going to address this complaint in a decent manner since the grievance office sent me an extension form stating they need more time to answer the grievance? Really, I can’t believe that woman is still working here. She’s absolutely sociopathic. Mean, cruel and vindictive. Such a sad, sad person. Ms. Smith sure does need some Love in her Life. Let me get back to this Jung…

Right before the officer knocked on my door for mail-call I was going through Man And His Symbols by Carl Jung et al — which is a brilliant book by the way — and looking at some of the Art contained within and reading passages discussing the symbolism of the works. After I read the grievance extension form I pulled the Jung back out.

Since I’m on this Nietzsche — Birth of Tragedy — Hesse’s Narcissus and Goldmund — Dionysian- Apollonian-Aesthetic vibe, let me see if I can find something on that level in this book. Surely I can. I mean this is Jung and his diviners after all! Flip. Flip.

Ahhhhhhhh! Eeeeeeeek! — I flipped to page 218 to find a picture of Michelangelo da Caravaggio’s 17th century painting of… Medusa. And Caravaggio’s Medusa looks just like Ms. Smith! Straight up! I know a lot of officers that work up here read what I write. Look at the painting! (I’m assuming my most resourceful collaborator who will post this can easily find a copy of the painting to post here).

The eyebrows framing the menacing eyes. The nose and flaring jowls. All property officer Smith! Even the look of Medusa’s mouth reminds one of the Ms. Smith in the midst of the throes of one of her tantrums. The resemblance between Ms. Smith and Caravaggio’s Medusa is very eerily uncanny.

Property Officer Smith has been off of work for several weeks, supposedly because she had some type of surgery. I’m quite the empiricist and I’m very skeptical of any metaphysical assertions. However, having Caravaggio’s Medusa leap out at me after I got the grievance extension form made me cringe and think, “Could this be an omen? Has Ms. Smith’s evil essence manifested this as a sign that she will be back?”…

Rob Will

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