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“The World Awaits You as a Garden”: A Political Aesthetic of the Anthropocene?

“The World Awaits You as a Garden”: A Political Aesthetic of the Anthropocene?

Chapter:
(p.134) Chapter 5 “The World Awaits You as a Garden”: A Political Aesthetic of the Anthropocene?
Source:
Nietzsche's Earth
Author(s):
Gary Shapiro
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226394596.003.0005

Given Nietzsche’s loyalty to the earth, his frequent, admiring references to gardens, perhaps forming the core of an aesthetic politics of the earth should be explored. The chapter offers a close reading of Zarathustra’s “The Convalescent,” where the protagonist agrees with his animals that the world “awaits him as a garden.” This recognition occurs after he has come to terms with the most appalling aspects of eternal recurrence. Throughout his writings Nietzsche depicts gardens (actual and metaphorical) as exemplary sites of the human-earth, enabling productive cultivation, wide perspectives, and earthly communion free from regularized and mortgaged time. In effect, Nietzsche returns the garden to the high place it held in the mid-eighteenth century formations of modern aesthetics before its idealist demotion. This art form’s place in aesthetics since Kant is reviewed, typical European garden styles Nietzsche knew are comparatively analyzed, and his thought is juxtaposed with more recent phenomenologies of space and place. Nietzsche’s otherwise sketchy urban aesthetics program and his hope for the earth becoming a “great tree” of humanity can then be amplified and understood as in line with both his promised “physiology of aesthetics” and the call for loyalty to the earth.

Keywords:   Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, garden, aesthetics, garden history, history of aesthetics

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