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THE ROMANTIC 
WONDER-WORLD OF THE NIGHT

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The Romantic Night-World

 

The late 18th- and early 19th-century Romantics (especially the German Romantics) created the concept of a separate reality the the night-world from the daylight world of ego-consciousness and its values as a reaction to the Enlightenment’s preoccupation with light as a defining metaphor. The Night is here the metaphysical counterpoint to the day, to light. Thus, night and day became primary philosophical symbols for the Romantics, and the night/day duality became a favorite theme of the Romantic revolution.

As the Romantic poet Novalis observed in 1799: “Light became [the philosophers’] favourite subject on account of its mathematical obedience and freedom of movement.” He complained  that the poetic imagination could not flourish in the Enlightenment's brightly lit but sterile environment, which he compared to a hospital ward, and declared: “I know how like dream all imagination is, how it loves night and solitude.” 

In contrast to the Enlightenment, the Romantic Movement reevaluated the power of rational thinking, preferring instead more intuitive modes of thought such as dreams—the “night side” as opposed to the “day side” of reality. This concept of the “night side” of reality (and the “night side of science”) became a topos in German Romanticism and eventually a “cult of the night.” Characteristic Romantic motifs such as night, moonlight, dreams, hallucinations, inchoate longings, and a melancholic sense of lack or loss are direct reflections of this interest in the mythopoetic “night-world.”

 

The Gypsy Scholar, a radio“ Nightwanderer,” revives this mythopoetic night-world for medium late-night radio, calling it the “Romantic Night-World”—the domain where the Tower of Song is located. (The  GS actually chose the late-night radio time-slot in spite of the fact that it's a notoriously low listener time—deliberately chosen because of the significance of the archetype of the "Romantic Night-World.") 

For more information on the Romantics and the Night-World, click on PDF

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Nietzsche seems to know the perfect hours for the Gypsy Scholar's Tower of Song program.

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Nietzsche also seems to be asking on behalf of the Gypsy Scholar (a radio "Nightwanderer") 

                        "What does deep midnight's voice contend?" 

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Romantic Night-World Motifs of Night, Moonlight, & Dream

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The night, the moon, and dreams were a major romantic trope.

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Moonstruck, Dreaming, & "Nightwandering" in the Midnight Hours of Radio


"In the middle of the night / I go walking in my sleep / From the mountains of faith / To a river so deep …" ~ Billy Joel, 'River of Dreams' (Tower of Song theme-song)

"There is one part of the night about which I say, 'Here time ceases!' After all these moments of nocturnal wakefulness, especially on journeys for walks, one has a marvelous feeling with regard to this stretch of time: it was always much to brief or far too long, our sense of time suffers some anomaly. It may be that in our waking hours we pay recompense for the fact that we usually spend this time lost in the chaotic tides of dreamlife! Enough of that! At night between 1 and 3, we no longer have the clock in our heads. It seems to me that this is what the ancients expressed in the words intepestiva nocte … 'in the night, where there is no time'…"

~ Nietzsche, Nachlass

Thus, "in the middle of the night" the Gypsy Scholar would have Nietzsche whisper something in your ears:

"You Higher Men, it is going on midnight; I want to whisper something in your ears, like that old bell whispers it into my ear—as secretly, as terribly, as cordially as that midnight bell, which has experienced more than any one man, says it to me. It has already counted the painful heartbeats of your fathers. Ah! Ah! how it sighs! how in dreams it laughs! The ancient, deep, deep midnight!" ~ Nietzsche, 'The Nightwanderer's Song' (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)

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For the context of this verse—quoted in Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music—, which concerns the subject of poetry and dreaming, click on PDF

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That's the advantage of insomnia. People who go to be early always complain that the night is too short, but for those of us who stay up all night, it can feel as long as a lifetime. You get a lot done.

 

         ~ B. Yoshimoto

Tonight with wine being poured
and instruments singing among themselves, one thing is forbidden, one thing: Sleep.

           ~ Rumi

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"Nocturnal  Wakefullness" & the Midnight-Radio Insomniac:

"The Nightwanderer's  Lunar Rapture" 

The Gypsy Scholar (the "midnight-souled" insomniac as radio host), who is dedicated to discovering what "deep midnight's voice contends," presents this marvelous academic essay on Friedrich Nietzsche, the Dionysian Philosopher and Orphic Scholar (who composed and played music): "Lunar rapture: Nietzsche's religion of the night sun" by Jill Marsden.


This essay is presented here because it’s based upon the radical difference between night and day (for the poet, the writer, the artist, the mystic), and thus it emphasizes the "profundity of night" in a mystical sense—truly a "Romantic Night-World" perspective for Nietzsche. This essay is, then, a wonderful affirmation of what the GS has always maintained about doing freeform radio; namely, there's a great difference between daytime and nighttime when it comes to radio programming—a significantly different vibe, one which is conducive to the magic of late-night radio.

 

The GS also finds that his entire philosophical conceit about radio ("midnight," "dreams," "sleepwalking" and "insomnia”) are taken up in this essay—the "woeful insomniac" indeed! Furthermore, the essay's words and phrases concerning the mythopoetic night-world and Nietzsche’s relation to it ("heart of ancient, deep, deep midnight," "nocturnal world," "nocturnal incantations," "moon-crazed ravings," "lunar intoxication," "epiphanies of moonlight," and "mystic spell") resonate perfectly with the GS’s "Romantic Night-World" conception of  Tower of Song radio. 

For Nietzsche, the "Nightwanderer" is a visionary kind of "insomniac." This resonates through the GS's program theme song by Billy Joel,  "River of Dreams"  ("In the middle of the night / I go walking in my sleep") and through one of the GS's program promo songs by Van Morrison, "Hymns To the Silence" ("Yeah in the midnight, in the midnight, I burn the candle / Burn the candle at both ends, burn the candle at both ends / Burn the candle at both ends, burn the candle at both ends / And I keep on, 'cause I can't sleep at night / Until the daylight comes through / And I just, and I just, have to sing..."). The Nightwanderer's state of mind is a "wakefulness beyond waking, and, as mystic insomniac, he "speaks of a marvellous yet unendurable joy;" one possessed by an alien god.

 

"Nietzsche suggests that the continuation of all affective force within the compass of a single life is experienced within a waking dream—as if liberated from the sanity of the day, the self becomes a vessel for alien inhabitation."

"As the evening sun gently bleeds into the horizon and healthy human beings slide into the snore of oblivion, an alien species stirs into life, enraptured by a universe that rivets it to its gaze. Only the insomniac knows the profundity of night. To remain awake when others sleep is to observe a vigil quite foreign to the waking hours of the day. Night is the unlived world, indifferent to the working hours of calm, productive thought and for Nietzsche these restless hours are strangely exalted times. In the Nachlass one encounters the following fragment:

"There is one part of the night about which I say, 'Here time ceases!' After all these moments of nocturnal wakefulness, especially on journeys or walks, one has a marvellous feeling with regard to this stretch of time: it was always much too brief or far too long, our sense of time suffers some anomaly. It may be that in our waking hours we pay recompense for the fact that we usually spend this time lost in the chaotic tides of dreamlife! Enough of that! At night between 1 and 3, we no longer have the clock in our heads. It seems to me that this is what the ancients expressed in the words intepestiva nocte... 'in the night, where there is no time' ... "

"Never the woeful insomniac, wretchedly nailed to eternity, Nietzsche enthuses about the tremendous feeling to which only the night-wanderer is privy. In nocturnal wakefulness time loses its steady ordinal flow and dissolves into the anomalies of excess beyond measure—always too much or not enough. For the wakefulness of the night is not of the same order as the lethargic flickerings of consciousness, nor simply inverse to the wild flights of dreamlife. More than mere attentiveness, its light survives within you: 'one does not see in the dark with impunity'. An alien voyager from an uninhabited realm, the nightwanderer infiltrates the sun-lit world, entrancing it with its mystic spell and rendering the familiar strange at every turn."

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I want to ask what it would mean to be moon-struck and God-struck … — to be literally addicted to the lunar and the divine — and why it is the wakeful dreamer who has access to this experience. It seems that it is enough to throb with love, hate, desire, simply passion in order to become enraptured by the spirit and power of that which leaves the natural order behind. Liberated from the torpid values of a senescent humanism, the nightwanderer attains a different quality of sentience — a vibrant second nature. As every insomniac knows, in sleeplessness it is the body that is disturbed and encountered anew, as if in the default of dogmatic slumber the inner forces beat to a fundamentally different rhythm."

"A fundamentally different rhythm"—this is exactly what the GS believes to be the difference between daytime and nighttime radio! 

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For the full text of the essay, "Lunar rapture: Nietzsche's religion of the night sun," click on PDF

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The Romantic Night-World: Reclaiming The Night & Darkness

The Gypsy Scholar participates in the Neopagan project of "Reclaiming The Darkness" from its demonization by Christian metaphysics. Thus, one could think of this metaphysical "reclaiming" as a metaphorical version of the civic campaign to "Take Back The Night." 

Carpe Noctem (Seize the Night). In nocte consilium (Night is the mother of counsel).

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In Praise of Night & Darkness

English poet Edward Young's Night-Thoughts and German Romantic poet Novalis' Hymns to the Night  are works that were probably most responsible for  inspiring the

Romantic "Cult of the Night."

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The moon, the Light of gnosis, of direct ecstatic vision, descended at dawn like a hawk, seized Rumi, and flew with him into the highest reaches of consciousness. Their Rumi became one with the soul and was initiated into its ultimate secret, for when he traveled in soul, beyond all concepts, beyond time in space, he saw nothing but moon, the Divine Light itself. Everything— he, Shams, the entire creation, the soul—were all one. And so Rumi experienced, as he tells us, the mystery which can never be expressed but which can be lived, the mystery of the eternal theophany, the endless Fire-dance of God in and as creation.

(Andrew Harvey's commentary on Rumi poem 

"Suddenly, in the sky at dawn,  a moon appeared."

Quoted from book, The Way of Passion: a Celebration of Rumi)

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In Praise of Night & Darkness in Music

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"'Night Song', a Dionysian dithyramb of deepest melancholy"

The Night Song

’Tis night: now do all gushing fountains speak louder. And my soul also is a gushing fountain.
'Tis night: now only do all songs of the loving ones awake. And my soul also is the song of a loving one.
Something unappeased, unappeasable, is within me; it longeth to find expression. A craving for love is within me, which speaketh itself the language of love.
Light am I: ah, that I were night! But it is my lonesomeness to be begirt with light!
Ah, that I were dark and nightly! How would I suck at the breasts of light! …

'Tis night: alas, that I have to be light! And thirst for the nightly! And lonesomeness!
'Tis night: now doth my longing break forth in me as a fountain,- for speech do I long.
'Tis night: now do all gushing fountains speak louder. And my soul also is a gushing fountain.
'Tis night: now do all songs of loving ones awake. And my soul also is the song of a loving one.—

Thus sang Zarathustra.


(from Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra)

For the full text of Nietzsche's "The Night Song," click on PDF

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In Praise of Night & Romance

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