That secret society of the Renaissance, the School of the Night, a philosophical and literary society made up of poets, writers, philosophers, and scientists dedicated to esoteric learning, lives on! (Revived in the 19th-century concept of a separate reality from the daylight world of ego-consciousness and its values: "The Romantic Nightworld.") For the School of the Night, "night" was the symbol of divine and hidden knowledge.
For a short essay on what the "Romantic Nightworld" means to freeform radio, click here
Dreaming in the "Romantic Nightworld"
"The Evolution of Dreams: First the brain started dreaming, then dreams took over the brain and became the mind, which could be viewed as a continuous dream of the universe."
My friend, it is the poet's task To mark his dreams, their meaning ask. Trust me, the truest phantom man doth know Hath meaning only dreams may show: The arts of verse and poetry Tell nought but dreaming's prophecy. —Hans Sachs, 'Meistersinger'
Dream of the Midnight Sun
"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 wants to say 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)
“And your stairway / reaches up to the moon / and it comes right back / comes right back to you” —Van Morrison
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 here
"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."
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 Nightworld" perspective for Nietzsche. This essay is, then, a wonderful affirmation of what the GS has always maintained about doing Radio; namely, there's a great difference between day-time and night-time 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,” “mystic spell”—perfectly resonate with the GS’s “Romantic Nightworld” conception of the Tower of Song radio.) This is actually all contained the GS's theme song: "River of Dreams," which opens every radio program (“In the middle of the night / I go walking in my sleep …”). This radio-program leitmotif is also returned to every time the GS plays Van Morrison songs, such as 'In the Midnight,' 'Daring Night,' 'Moondance,' 'Hymns ti 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 / Sing my hymns to the silence / Hymns to the silence, hymns to the silence /My hymns to the silence.”), and 'Take Me Back' ("And the music on the radio, and the music on the radio / Has so much soul, has so much soul / And you listen, in the night time / While we're still and quiet / And you look out on the water / And the big ships, and the big boats / Came on sailing by, by, by, by / And you felt so good, and I felt so good …” All the better hearing the song from a radio station near the Santa Cruz harbor and overlooking the Monterey Bay!)
For Nietzsche, the "Nightwanderer" is a visionary kind of "insomniac" (as in the Van Morrison song: "“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..."), whose state of mind is a "wakefulness beyond waking." The Nightwanderer—as mystic insomniac—"speaks of a marvellous yet unendurable joy" and is 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."
"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."
For the full text of the essay, "Lunar rapture: Nietzsche's religion of the night sun,"click here
The Romantic Nightworld & Reclaiming the Darkness
To read the Romantic poet-philosopher's, Novalis', entire "Hymns To The Night," click here
"In the words of Zarathustra:'the hour has come: let us walk into the night!'"
"Night ‘is sacred to those astray’, a mythic world of dream and derangement, peopled by dark and vagrant souls… But strange are the night-time pathways travelled by Zarathustra who from the outset identifies himself with the gratuitous self-expenditure of the sun... In Ecce Homo Nietzsche quotes the entirety of ‘The Night Song’, a Dionysian dithyramb of deepest melancholy … Indeed, Nietzsche's extraordinary text the ‘The Nightwanderer’s Song’ is set against the backdrop of an immense full moon and explicitly recalls the earlier epiphanies of moonlight … At this point in the narrative, a band of Higher Men [in Zarathustra’s cave] go out to ‘greet the night’ …. Unlike the prisoners in Plato's cave, they do not emerge from darkness into light but enter what Zarathustra calls his ‘nocturnal world’—a deep mystic night of unknowing…" ('Lunar rapture: Nietzsche's religion of the night sun')
To go to the subpage dedicated to Nietzsche, the "Musical Philosopher," click here
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night. --Galileo Galilei
"There's an angel that's watching right over you. All your trials have not been in vain. Won't you lift your head up to the starry night, Finding strength in the things that remain." —Van Morrison
Moon Goddesses of the Night
"Moonboat to Dreamland" (Williams)
"Moonbeams Dipping into the Sea" (De Morgan)
"Ishtar Queen of Heaven" (Boulet)
For the full text of Nietzsche's "The Nightwanderer's Song,"click here
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 Spoke Zarathustra)
"'Night Song', a Dionysian dithyramb of deepest melancholy"
For the full text of Nietzsche's "The Night Song," click here
For some poetry and prose on music and the night,click here
click image to return to the "School of the Night" page