Sometime ago Gorm asked me if i had ever read Nietzsche, and i never really answered. So. What do i think of him?
Well, let’s face the facts. That moustache could not have been real. Something like that would require a steel frame. The inertia would hamper him turning his face, not to mention air resistance. It must have been poetic license from the painter. It must have.
But besides this, simply no one has thought deeper and mightier ideas than him. I believe his oeuvre will remain the most significant thing in philosophy for the next 500, 1000 years.
Nietzsche is actually an old friend. He’s my medicine for when i am down. I am writing this on the aftermath of a big depressive crisis, which only receded after a reread of the fifth chapter of Menschliches, Allzumenschliches.
He is also one of the few authors i’ve cared enough to read more than 2 or 3 books from. Tough i never bothered too much with the young Nietzsche. Like this Apollo vs. Dyonisius thing, so popular amongst my fellow art students. Or the stuff about science.
My first memory of Nietzsche is from an older guy at technical school (around my 15 years) who used to say that reading Nietzsche is useless before you’ve got yourself a PhD on philosophy. And i guess i’ve already told this story in the blog, but anyways, someday i stumbled upon “Twilight of the Idols, or How One Philosophizes with a Hammer” (Götzen-Dämmerung), whose subtitle was so fun that i couldn’t resist to open it from time to time to read through the first chapter of the book, called Maxims and Arrows, a section with brief aphorisms. And those were lovely — always catchy and evil and precise.
I also guess this happened at the same time that my best ideas were taking shape, when i was making the first Doxa zine and getting all politic and opening my eyes to the vast world all around me.
For anyone out there that really thinks that Kant and Plato are the real big guys, i have to say: Nietzsche does not create systems, he does not waste his time with big overarching explanations for the world, and he does not force a top-down understanding upon the world. And it is easy to think that philosophy is this, this form of thinking, this structure building. I even guess this kind of thing is important.
But Nietzsche’s thought is even more important than that. It reaches out. It conquers new ground. It goes beyond limits that we didn’t know were there before him. His philosophy creates strenght from within.
Virtually anything that’s interesting in philosophy today has a touch of him. Even when it disagrees with him. The disagreements themselves sometimes are unthinkable without Nietzsche.
I would even venture that the one cool Bush guy was a Nietzsche reader!
Either way, the full scope of his ideas is certainly not understood clearly, and it will take much more than just hard work to get there. The 500 years i was predicting before is what i think will get for people to rethink things equivalent to Nietzsche’s thought in terms that will allow them to be understood by more than 1% of the population (just imagine a world where, let’s be greedy, some 6 or 7% of the population actually understand the moustache guy! Uau! Just imagine…) And this is not “translating”, it is actually rethinking, in a very important and precise meaning.
[Don’t take by the above that i pretend to have understood Nietzsche, i’ve got my own particular and not guaranteed rereading of his ideas, and this is all, but even this goes a long way. Also, i recommend Nietzsche even if you do not believe to be understanding anything. Take comfort on my own position…]
Finally, if you still can’t spell his name easily, use this trick: the Z-S-C-H are in the order they appear on a QWERTY keyboard, from left to right.