In the German Middle Ages under the same power of Dionysus constantly growing hordes waltzed from place to place, singing and dancing. In that St. John's and St. Vitus's dancing we recognize the Bacchic chorus of the Greeks once again, and its precursors in Asia Minor, right back to Babylon and the orgiastic Sacaea.However, while tracking this down, I found a different translation:
There are men who, from a lack of experience or out of apathy, turn mockingly away from such phenomena as from a "sickness of the people," with a sense of their own health and filled with pity. These poor people naturally do not have any sense of how deathly and ghost-like this very "Health" of theirs sounds, when the glowing life of the Dionysian throng roars past them.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche: The Birth of Tragedy, NuVision ebook, 2004
So also in the German Middle Ages singing and dancing crowds, ever increasing in number, were whirled from place to place under this same Dionysian impulse. In these dancers of St. John and St. Vitus, we rediscover the Bacchic choruses of the Greeks, with their early history in Asia Minor, as far back as Babylon and the orgiastic Sacaea. There are some, who, from obtuseness, or lack of experience, will deprecate such phenomena as "folk-diseases," with contempt or pity born of the consciousness of their own "healthy-mindedness." But, of course, such poor wretches can not imagine how anemic and ghastly their so-called "healthy-mindedness" seems in contrast to the glowing life of the Dionysian revellers rushing past them.And yet another one:
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy. In Albert Hofstadter, Richard Kuhns, Philosophies of Art and Beauty: Selected Readings in Aesthetics from Plato to Heidegger, University of Chicago Press, 1964 (p501) (translation, Clifton P. Fadiman, 1927)
In the German Middle ages, too, ever-growing throngs roamed from place to place, impelled by the same Dionysiac power, singing and dancing as they went; in these St John's and St Vitus' dancers we recognize the Bacchic choruses of the Greeks, with their pre-history in Asia Minor, extending to Babylon and the orgiastic Sacaea. There are those who, whether from lack of experience or from dullness of spirit, turn away in scorn or pity from such phenomena, regarding them as `popular diseases' while believing in their own good health; of course, these poor creatures have not the slightest inkling of how spectral and deathly pale their 'health' seems when the glowing life of Dionysiac enthusiasts storms past them.One thing that struck me was the sheer variety in these translations. Just pulling our a single phrase (let's take one that has something to do with the original search), shows the great variety of translations possible:
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche: The Birth of Tragedy and Other Writings, Cambridge University Press, 1999 (translation, Ronald Spiers), pp17-18
- under the same power of Dionysus constantly growing hordes waltzed from place to place, singing and dancing
- singing and dancing crowds, ever increasing in number, were whirled from place to place under this same Dionysian impulse
- ever-growing throngs roamed from place to place, impelled by the same Dionysiac power, singing and dancing as they went
- when the glowing life of the Dionysian throng roars past them
- the glowing life of the Dionysian revellers rushing past them
- when the glowing life of Dionysiac enthusiasts storms past them
But another thing struck me, which was more relevant to my original quest: although close, none of these passages seem to capture the full spirit of the original search topic: “Those who dance appear insane to those who cannot hear the music”.
A link from that original helpful site took me to a discussion about the source being Henri Bergson. The Bergson quote is given in the original French, and in translation, as
- Il suffit que nous bouchions nos oreilles au son de la musique, dans un salon où l'on danse pour que les danseurs nous paraissent aussitôt ridicules
- “It is enough for us to stop up our ears to the sound of music, in a room where people are dancing, in order for the dancers to at once appear ridiculous.”
Henri Bergson, Le Rire. Essai sur la signification du comique, 1900Note Bergson says “ridicule” (ridiculous), not “fou” (mad, crazy, wild, foolish). Nevertheless, this looks closer to the quote than the Nietzsche passage. So I felt satisfied.
Henri Bergson, “Laughter, an essay on the meaning of the comic”, 1900
However, whilst searching around for an image of "mad dancers" to enliven this large wodge of text, I came across a website containing a copy of Meyer Levin’s The Golden Mountain (1932), which is “a collection of tales of the Eastern European Hassidic Jews”. It includes the tale of “The Mad Dancers”: