Sunday, April 25, 2010

Reverend Nietzsche

""""Crime belongs to the concept "revolt against the social order." One does not "punish" a rebel; one suppresses him. A rebel can be a miserable and contemptible man; but there is nothing contemptible in a revolt as such--and to be a rebel in view of contemporary society does not in itself lower the value of a man. There are even cases in which one might have to honor a rebel, because he finds something in our society against which war ought to be waged--he awakens us from our slumber.""""

from infidels

Nietzsche's writings pose peculiar difficulties. NietzscheSpeak tends to appeal to frat boys and college-town party animals as much as he does to philosophical or literary types. The American frat boy, at least the one who can read Kaufmann's hack translations of FN's aphorisms, learns to crave Nietzsche's message of power, of the glorification of the will--that message also jibes with Darwinism, and the default naturalism taught in college town (explicitly, or not). Who needs all those boring pedants of the Aufklaurung, says Nietzsche?? Jr thus learns to detest reason and the slave morality of traditional religion.

There's also a sort of heroic romance to Nietzsche, with a slightly nihilist edge--he's taken to represent the code of Johnny Depp, more or less. Heroics of any type please Consumerland--really Sarah Palin might be termed Nietzschean in a sense (tho' Nietzsche was not one for patriotism--he might honor Caesar, not George washington). Unfortunately the heroic-gonzo reading is mostly mistaken, if not bullshit. Nietzsche's not a Hunter S. Thompson, tho' he's usually taken as such-- Nietzsche gonzo hints at tragedy for one; he's responding to Wagner, not to the stones; he often sounds nearly... muslim, a bavarian Turk, if you will. That "Gott ist Tot" (or, as Richie Dawkins says, never existed atall) should not be cause for celebration, but profound reflection--angst. Judeo-christianity--the farce of history! The flag-waving Baptist-goon has little to do with the shadowy christ of the beatitudes, anyway.

Nietzsche while capable of snooty pretentious verbiage (like the rather tedious chat of the ancient greeks in The Birth of Tragedy...), doesn't ever quite abandon his soldier's perspective--also revealed in his few comments which acknowledge the criminal as a sort of precursor to his Uebermensch. As his remarks on the criminal-rebel indicate, Nietzsche's not down with democratic proceduralism (that's not to say he's necessarily correct in that regard....perhaps his anti-democracy was not sufficiently thought out, as is the case with most frat-boy hedonists, or Randians, libertarian anti-statist types...) . He was no fan of English liberals and reformers, whether JS Mill or the temperance union. He was not particularly enamored with actors, or actresses, either: ""If we consider the whole history of women, are they not obliged first of all, and above all to be actresses?"" Entertainment itself functions as herd mentality, whether in quaint victorian potboilers, or the latest snatch-fest featuring more pointless pratfalls from Jenny Aniston and her galpals or that loud Kissinger-wannabe, Aram Sandler.


jmcgill said...

perhaps you'd find something in yves simon to interest you
or jacques maritain
or ralph mcinerny
"a handbook for peeping thomists"

good post
i sometimes like your quick synthesis thinking


J said...

Hey jh...this is another of your sites/s-names? interesting.

I've decided on... contra-Nietzsche-ism. This post may not have brought that out real effectively, but...that's the way I feel.

Nietzsche may at times have uttered a few profound things but he's usually misinterpreted. He's sort of an Ayn Rand for party- boys and pop-nihilists--perdido

Maritain I have read a bit of. I may read more. Two writers I admire are Walker Percy and Flannery O'Connor--Miss O'Connor's world flames.

Luigi Speranza said...

What an excellent post, J.

I loved your "Gott is tot". We were covering the death of ..., er, A. G. N. Flew, elsewhere, and it fits in nicely for a presuppositional analysis alla Strawson (uncompleat with truth-value gaps):

"God is not dead: he was never alive"!

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