Reattaching Shadows: Dancing with Schopenhauer

PhaenEx 9 (1):1 (2014)
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The structure of my investigation is as follows. I will begin with Schopenhauer’s very brief explicit mention of dance, and then try to understand the exclusion of dance from his extended discussion of the individual arts. Toward this latter end I will then turn to Francis Sparshott essay, which situates Schopenhauer’s thought in terms of Plato’s privileging of dance (in the Laws) as the consummate participatory art, and which observes that Schopenhauer’s dance is that of Shiva, lord of death. In light of these two moments, I will then offer a brief examination of the Laws’ account of dance, and two essays by Avanthi Meduri’s on classical Indian dance. Next, to help explain Schopenhauer’s negative position vis-à-vis Plato and Vedantic thought, I will invoke Schopenhauer’s own conception of madness qua disconnection. Finally, I will attempt to cure this “madness” in Schopenhauer—as Wendy did for Peter Pan when he lost his shadow and could not reattach it himself—by sewing together Schopenhauer’s conceptions of embodiment and music, and in effect reattaching the shadow to the body of Schopenhauer’s position on dance using the thread of his own philosophy. In short, I will show how even a thought as life-denying as Schopenhauer’s can—with the help of dance—overcome itself into life-affirmation.
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Archival date: 2019-09-19
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