Friedrich Nietzsche, Human All Too Human (Menschliches, Allzumenschliches), subtitled A Book for Free Spirits (Ein Buch für freie Geister).

First published in 1878.   A second part, Assorted Opinions and Maxims (Vermischte Meinungen und Sprüche), was published in 1879, and a third part, The Wanderer and his Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten), followed in 1880.

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THE DESENSUALISATION OF HIGHER ART.  Because the artistic development of modern music has forced the intellect to undergo an extraordinary training, our ears have become increasingly intellectual.  Thus we can now endure much greater volume, much greater "noise," because we are much better trained than our forefathers were to listen for the reason in it.  All our senses have in fact become somewhat dulled because we always inquire after the reason, what "it means" and no longer what "it is".  Such a dullness is betrayed, for example, by the unqualified rule of tempered notes.  For now those ears still able to make the finer distinctions, say, between C-sharp and D-flat are exceptions.  In this regard, our ear has become coarsened.  Furthermore, the ugly side of the world, originally inimical to the senses, has been won over for music.  Its area of power to express the sublime, the frightful, and the mysterious, has thus been astonishingly extended.  Our music makes things speak that before had no tongue.  Similarly, some painters have made the eye more intellectual, and have gone far beyond what was previously called a joy in form and color.  Here, too, that side of the world originally considered ugly has been conquered by artistic understanding.  What is the consequence of all this?  The more the eye and ear are capable of thought, the more they reach that boundary line where they become asensual.  Joy is transferred to the brain; the sense organs themselves become dull and weak.  More and more, the symbolic replaces that which exists—and so, as surely as on any other path, we arrive along this one at barbarism.  For the present, it is still said that the world is uglier than ever, but it means a more beautiful world than ever existed.  But the more the perfumed fragrance of meaning is dispersed and evaporated, the rarer will be those who can still perceive it.  And the rest will stay put at ugliness, seeking to enjoy it directly; such an attempt is bound to fail.  Thus we have in Germany a twofold trend in musical development: on the one side, a group of ten thousand with ever higher, more delicate pretensions, ever more attuned to "what it means"; and on the other side, the vast majority, which each year is becoming ever more incapable of understanding meaning, even in the form of sensual ugliness, and is therefore learning to reach out with increasing pleasure for that which is intrinsically ugly and repulsive, that is, the basely sensual.  
 

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