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Nietzsche’s Loneliness

2,831 words

Dr. Gary Van Cott, the only true colleague I had in 13 years of graduate school, once said that New York City made me a structuralist.

I used to sit in my 21st floor midtown apartment and watch the ant-like people rush to and fro below; with cars, bikes, and trucks stopping and starting, ebbing and flowing with mechanical precision; no one free to do anything but what the culture programed.

It was a brilliant assessment, and one that contained its own share of critique. Gary, I found out later, was just a brilliant version of everyone else I knew: championing “agency” (as free will is now known) while doing and witnessing nothing that took any more will than living safe and sound in a bourgeois cocoon and raging with contempt (well-concealed in his case) at all the bad people like me who want more than this for our people.

Looking out my window just now, albeit in a much less grand environment, I suddenly realized that in New York the assumption that each of those ants had sacrificed something, most definitely comfort, to be there, had, at that moment, kept me from being filled with pity or an overabundance of contempt; for I too was being moved (and made hard) by the same mechanical forces. Now, however, I live somewhere that exists only for two reasons: for humans to work and to die in as comfortable a manner as possible. Thus, watching them drive by in their dirty pollution spewing cars moves me very close to contempt and I wonder how life can be so devalued that we willingly act this way.

It’s funny that I had this realization as I was looking up from a letter Peter Gast wrote about Friedrich Nietzsche. Maybe less funny than I care to admit, as a quick perusal of any of Nietzsche’s letters will inform the reader how desperately lonely and devoid of brotherhood he was. The only time I have ever written letters of the type Nietzsche exchanged with his unworthy contemporaries was when I became estranged from my dear aforementioned colleague; and every time I read Nietzsche’s letters I cannot help but think of him. This Gast letter, though, is different from those exchanged between Nietzsche and others. It is a general recollection of his first impressions of the great man. The Birth of Tragedy had given Gast these impressions, and as an academic who could rebuild the Coliseum with the amount of ignorance promoted by my betters about Nietzsche, I’d like to share what Mr. Gast said:

No one had ever peered into the depths of the Greek character with such perceptiveness; here was a mind speaking with interpretative force the like of which we had never seen before. The most secret impulses of culture seemed to unveil themselves before us. When Nietzsche had the Apollonian and Dionysian forces finally destroyed by utilitarian rationalism (as expressed by Socrates), we suspected why a sprouting and blossoming of great art is almost impossible under the domination of our culture of knowledge and reason. Joyously we saw, therefore, how Nietzsche turns against this culture:–The Birth of Tragedy is a mighty protest of artistic and heroic man against the will-weakening, instinct-destroying consequences of our current culture. As one sees, already in this book Nietzsche is the great revaluator. From the very first, he saw types of human vital energy, measured by which modern mankind seems very philistine. Our culture destroys nature in man; where culture should intensify human nature by discipline. Only the most highly potentialized man can give highest value to the world, as Goethe and Nietzsche wish it; the debilitated person devalues it.[1]

How many liberal scholars will admit to jumping through hoops and tightening screws with maggots in order to deny this basic fact of Nietzsche’s work and turn him instead into a postmodern democratic feminist multiculturalist? It is certainly without irony that one’s position on Nietzsche is capable of telling all who need to know about one’s position on every aspect of contemporary culture, knowledge, and politics. For nowhere within the American academy will Gast’s learned reading of Nietzsche be taken as true or valuable.

And yet, in the New Right (both European and North American), Gast’s quick summation of Nietzsche’s earliest published work would be so perfectly accepted that it practically forms part of the air we radical non-liberal thinkers breathe. This divide can be easily bridged, however, if people just read Nietzsche instead of what some democratic feminist multiculturalist says about him. For there is absolutely no mistaking Nietzsche’s intentions or great politics; these must instead be completely denied to arrive at the French/American postmodern Nietzsche. Gast continues:

Schopenhauer as Educator’ had won us over completely and became our standard in the highest questions of culture. For while our contemporaries understood culture to mean approximately Bentham’s ideal of a maximum of general comfort (the ideal of Strauss and all socialists since More), Nietzsche suddenly appeared among them like a lawgiver out of thunderclouds teaching that the goal and summit of culture is to produce genius. This was the explicit statement of something that important predecessors surely had suspected but never stated. The entire play of forces of culture would be changed if many people really accepted this doctrine.[2]

 Gast was, by virtue of his extraordinary proximity to most of what Nietzsche published – he was official proofreader and “copier” of every Nietzsche text except the first three Untimely Meditations – perhaps the only person contemporary to Nietzsche that was qualified and worthy to comment on his ideas. When others comment we get largely what we find today, i.e. liberals or Christians so taken aback by Nietzsche’s words that any engagement becomes either an attempt to reconcile Nietzsche with the tenants of weakness and mediocrity that they unthinkingly champion, or ad hominem attacks that supposedly taint the great man by linking him with fascism. But when Gast discusses Nietzsche and his words, we are filled with the same intense raising of the hair and tingling of the spine that we ourselves experience when reading any of his works. Thus, it is no coincidence that Gast mentions “Schopenhauer as Educator,” perhaps the greatest polemic ever pinned against the mediocre humans being produced by modernity. Everything Nietzsche came to say about “the last man” is contained therein.

It is so exhilarating to read that it is exhausting; one reads while pacing the floor glancing to the heavens for help. And, even though the essay, which borrows heavily from Nietzsche’s crushing lectures “On the Future of our Educational Institutions,” addresses the very nature of academia and its role in producing the philistines totally devoid of any and all value beside being slaves to capitalist consumption that now pass even for educated humans, I’ve yet to meet ONE anthropologist that knows of its existence. It could be no other way, unfortunately, because we are the philistines Nietzsche hated the most: bourgeois, civil servant, destroyers of greatness, and champions of degeneration. Reading the endless parade of ethnographies on human failures and highly explicable “inexplicable persistent inequality” in the latest Princeton University Press catalog fills me with such despair that I fear for civilization and myself. Peruse any issue of Anthropology Today and one is nauseated by the extraordinary intolerance of strength and ascending human and civilizational forces therein. Nietzsche understood all too well the consequences of our celebration of weakness, mediocrity, degeneration, and victimization. In an early notebook entry he critiqued History’s role in the destruction of nobility. It is an idea to which I return as often as I can:

“History must speak only of the great and unique, of the model to be emulated.”[3]

Perhaps the thrill and emotional affect that I get from reading Nietzsche is mostly due to my life having been overly ascetic. Reading just shouldn’t be so energizing, at least not according to Nietzsche. Then again, he knew he was up to something monumental and unique, writing in a “physical style” that answered to his days of ill-or-superabundant health.[4] It is this style, as much as his promotion of action over words that makes Nietzsche more clearly understandable while one is being harsh to oneself.

I recently spent a day searching for quotes and contexts for the Nietzschean element of my next paper. What is it about reading Nietzsche that so singularly inspires the pathos (great feeling) of distance he so loved? Maybe it is because no one else demanded that his wisdom so thoroughly separate initiates from the uninitiated. Questions put to me of conversion and “ethical transformation” often go inadequately answered, because for me Nietzsche is really the nec plus ultra: I read Nietzsche and it made such perfect sense that my thinking was unalterably transvalued. If I hadn’t been in Rome, cleaning streets with fascists and writing a dissertation, I would not have finished the Ph.D. Nietzsche made it superfluous.

Needing to explain the relationship between bodily and conceptual vitality I began with The Anti-Christ, Ecce Homo, and Twilight of the Idols, then moved to the mighty Zarathustra, and ended with On the Genealogy of Morality and Christopher Middleton’s Selected Letters of Friedrich Nietzsche.

I moved with great agility through Nietzsche’s published works. It could be that my passion and enthusiasm for Nietzsche is maintained by the fact that my system for using his words does not include a proper cataloging technique, forcing me to rummage for footnotes every few days. I do keep a sort of “best of” list, but even that is not foolproof: I recently searched for two weeks to footnote a quote that is near the top of that list. It was only with the letters that I allowed my curiosity to best my will to write. For the letters, while shedding a sort of subdued candlelight on the content of the published works, are invaluable sources on the context of their publication. More often than not, this context is equal parts elation, frustration, joy, sorrow, vitality, and misery – but consistently mixed with one overriding sensation: utter loneliness. To juxtapose this Nietzsche with the energy and ferocity of his works is more often than not devastating.

The quick perusal of letters from the period of Zarathustra’s creation was, predictably, both elating and crushing. In a humorous letter to Carl von Gersdorff, Nietzsche describes book four of Zarathustra – originally a “private” publication given only to those few whom Nietzsche assumed worthy – as a perfect summation of his published works, in that, as at 40 he had yet to earn a single penny, the “paying public” was thus completely unworthy of his Zarathustra. Giving away something so extraordinary, the most important gift to mankind in its history, he said elsewhere, was for him a source of pride. It was yet another moment of Nietzschean transvaluation of modern values: in this case, the economic valuation of ideas. He concluded the letter by telling von Gersdorff “there are a hundred reasons for being courageous in this life.”[5] The choice of words is telling, as elsewhere Nietzsche tells Georg Brandes “what a man believes to be true or not yet so, seems to me to depend on courage, on the strength of his courage.”[6]

In the same week’s worth of letters, Nietzsche gives Carl Fuchs a magisterial lesson on the relation between poetic meter and morality. The development of modern metrical theory, Nietzsche explains, is based on a fundamental error: the assumption that Greek and modern poetic meter correspond in form and function. These can instead be distinguished by the basis of the rhythmic pattern. While the Greeks used what Nietzsche calls a “quantitative” rhythmic pattern based solely on word accents and syllables, the moderns use an “emotional” rhythmic pattern that collects strong and weak beats. Thus, “the German poets who thought they were imitating classical meters, quite innocently made our kind of rhythmic sense seem to be the only one and the ‘perennial’ one – the rhythmic pattern per se – somewhat as we are likely to regard our humane and sympathetic morality as the morality and to project it into older, fundamentally different moralities”[7] One can safely assume that Nietzsche is touching briefly upon the discontinuity between Classical and Modern that Ted Sallis identifies in Spengler and Yockey; a break based on distinguishing features in mathematics and technology, and “differences in the perception of space and time, exhibited particularly in music.”[8]

It is frightening the depth of Nietzsche’s intellect and pathos of classical sensibility. One has numerous moments a day, walking in his paths, in which there is nothing to do but gaze at the sky, lost in reverence. I call these “Zarathustra moments.”

Then, because one must embrace even the tragedy and filth of life so as to avoid nihilism and decadence, one reads a letter written in despair of having lost another friend to incomprehension. One such letter Nietzsche penned to Erwin Rohde in February 1884, at the moment that Zarathustra’s third book was finished. He brags to Rohde, as he was prone to do, that Zarathustra “brought the German language to a state of perfection,” but only after a greeting that tells us how little praise Nietzsche expected in return:

How is it possible that we have so little in common and live as in different worlds. And yet once –

And that is how it is, friend, with all the people I love: everything is over, it is the past, forbearance; we still meet, we talk, so as not to be silent; we still exchange letters, so as not to be silent. But the look in the eyes tells the truth: and this look tells me (I hear it often enough!) “Friend Nietzsche, you are completely alone now!”[9]

It is incorrect to assume that moments in Nietzsche’s published works precisely reflect these feelings of despair and loneliness, for he consistently maintained that his brightest, most cheerful work was often written in his darkest, most painful periods. For example, Zarathustra’s first book, perhaps the most joyful thing Nietzsche ever wrote, was written in poor health and in the shadow of the Lou Salomé affair. This was the context for the second-most ill-used Nietzsche “quote” by vulgar ignorant moderns: mind-splitting headaches, unending nausea, and blindness, which did not stop Nietzsche from writing. That same quote was better put elsewhere. While I am once again struggling to find the source, I know the words by heart: pain can be a wonderful stimulus to life, assuming one is strong enough for it. In sweat soaked beds Nietzsche was still able to surmise beauty, nobility, and grandeur. The Anti-Christ indeed, but still crucified and betrayed by those who once loved him.

Resentment, anger at one’s position, estrangement from greatness and beauty, and vulgar instincts: these are among the characteristics of modern man to which Zarathustra said NO. Because he saw himself surrounded by these traits of modern man, especially at the most personal level, Nietzsche understood that solitude was “given, not chosen,” and that his loneliness, while giving him “indescribable sadness,” was “transfigured by [his] consciousness that there is greatness in it.”[10] One sees in his letters (and published works), a will to systematically estrange himself from the “good and just tellers of lies” who had so desperately wanted him to be just another Christian philological bookkeeper.[11] One sees the familiar disgust of bourgeois sentimentality put to use against friends who are incapable of understanding a friendship based in honoring greatness and fearlessness.

And yet, he rarely uses rancor to create the necessary distance between himself and this well-read rabble. In essence, he didn’t have to resort to vulgarity because his life and truths were entirely intolerable for all but the most premature of eyes and ears. In the end, he just left his former friends and colleagues alone, no longer desperate to be read or even knowingly critiqued. He felt it was to their benefit (and his credit) that he no longer pestered them to follow his “way out” for, as he quoted Der Bund, “Nietzsche is the first man to find a way out, but it is such a terrifying way that one is really frightened to see him walking the lonely and until now untrodden path.”[12]

Notes

[1] Sander L. Gilman, Conversations with Nietzsche: A Life in the Words of His Contemporaries, trans. David J. Parent (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), pp. 54–55.

[2] Gilman, p. 56.

[3] Friedrich Nietzsche, Writings from the Early Notebooks, ed. Raymond Geuss and Alexander Nehamas. Trans. Ladislaus Löb (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), p. 95.

[4] Friedrich Nietzsche, Selected Letters of Friedrich Nietzsche, ed. and trans. Christopher Middleton (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1996), p. 206.

[5] Nietzsche, p. 236.

[6] Nietzsche, p. 279.

[7] Nietzsche, p. 234.

[8] Ted Sallis, “The Overman High Culture and the Future of the West,” in North American New Right, Volume 1 2012, ed. Greg Johnson (San Francisco: Counter-Currents Publishing, 2012), p. 55.

[9] Nietzsche, p. 220.

[10] Nietzsche, pp. 254–55.

[11] Nietzsche, p. 325.

[12] Nietzsche, p. 257.

 

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13 Comments

  1. Reds Basket
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    We’re all born alone and will die alone.

    99% of men avoid this fact, but its the truth. I don’t think solitude has to necessarily be as lonely as it was for poor Nietzsche. I’m a hermit who suffers from loneliness, but I have a strong conviction that some day I will burn down the bonds of ignorance which cause that level of alienation. Call it enlightenment if you will.

    So there is a way out, in my opinion.

  2. Posted September 14, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    The conclusion of the second essay in Genealogy of Morals, entitled Guilt, Bad Conscience, and Related Matters, seems to rather pointedly conclude that Nietzsche is categorically incapable of pointing the way forward and humbly refuses to speculate carelessly on the way forward.

    It’s been well over a decade, but I did peruse Nietzsche’s body of work and walked away with the conclusion that while he was perhaps the greatest critic of Modernity and Western Christianity the world has ever known, and made immense contributions with his perceptiveness and piercing perspective, his actual prescriptions were apophatic at best and feminine pablum encrypted in poetic riddles at worst.

    If it’s not an initiatic matter, it would be great to review an alternative analysis of Nietzsche, one that includes a coherent roadmap.

    At the very least, I would like to know your thoughts on Nietzsche’s supposed interest in Dostoevsky. I entertain the admittedly romantic notion that perhaps Nietzsche’s episode in Turin was triggered by the parallel scene from Crime and Punishment, and perhaps suggests a dramatic break from his existentialist writings in favor of Dostoevsky’s stark alternative.

    • Posted September 14, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      Matt,

      Nietzsche’s psychotic breakdown on January 3, 1889 at Turin had nothing to do with the Russian novelist.

      I’ve read lots of Stefan Zweig books, but his study of Holderlin, Kleist, and Nietzsche in The Struggle with the Daemon (“Daimon” in the older 1930s Viking editions) is the most insightful of all.

      After Romanticism the genre of confessional autobiography cropped up. Unfortunately, by pretending to approach the subject of the human psyche on the basis of abstract principles, psychoanalysis, academic psychology and psychiatry usurped the study of the inner self and approached the human soul from the impossible viewpoint of objectivism. This category error permeates the academia (to understand concrete people it’s necessary a subjective or an empathetic history of these people). It is a scandal that we still lack what in The Divided Self Laing called a “science of the persons”.

      Holderlin and Nietzsche became mad; Kleist committed suicide. Zweig’s Struggle with the Daemon is a good starting point to understand the tormented souls. According to Walter Kaufmann, Zweig’s chapter on Nietzsche is still unsurpassed. I would agree with him to a certain point. Zweig committed suicide in 1942, forty-six years before Alice Miller finally deciphered with The Untouched Key: Tracing Childhood Trauma in Creativity and Destructiveness why did Nietzsche lost his mind. However, unlike Miller’s slim chapter on Nietzsche, Zweig’s lyrics in his triple biography are a literary treat.

      The Struggle with the Daemon is a fundamental book that must be in all personal libraries of those concerned with intuitive psychology. I am glad that after so many decades an English translation is now again in print.

    • Posted September 15, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      MP,

      I’d love to talk to you about your reading of the end of the Genealogy’s second essay. Section 24 of the 25, wherein Nietzsche explains the distance between moderns and the type of man capable of redeeming us from modern nihilism, is one of my very favorites. Perhaps that says much about me and you, and what we understand of our friends and enemies. (I’m just vain enough to think that I’ve fought beside men like he describes, and I do not say that in jest.) If my son can read that section alone and critically examine himself with a positive conclusion, I will have succeeded where millions of our men have failed.

      In any event, as a whole the second essay of the Genealogy doesn’t seem the most logical place to be looking for a “way forward”. The origins of Christian sin and nihilistic guilt is a great topic; and the essay is perhaps the earliest attempt at an evolution of guilt. Dazzling but difficult, and not really designed to do what you ask of it.

      Might I suggest the earliest and latest of his writings instead – as he began with, and returned to, the Greek ideal. The Untimely Meditations shed some light here, but perhaps less than two entries in his late notebooks. These I have labelled: To what we say NO and To what we say YES. In the Cambridge “Late Notebooks,” (2003) the No is on page 209 and the yes on 242. No need to worry about translation as Cambridge only publishes OUR Nietzsche.

      Finally, I’ve only ever found anecdotal evidence about Nietzsche and Dostoevsky. I know he greatly admired him and his realism (Nietzsche actually praised his “humanism”). Although the breakdown in Turin has been covered extensively, it seems total speculation at every turn; especially now that syphilis has been rejected as primary cause. The psychic weight alone, I feel, could have driven him mad. Again, I’d love to talk to you or anyone about this. My only question to you would be exactly when was Nietzsche’s Existential period?

  3. Sandy
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Not being a philosopher I can only hazard a guess to where I read Nietzsche’s famous words that God is dead and we have killed him but I certainly wasn’t taken aback by Nietzsche’s words for even I noticed while at church supposedly worshipping Him – we have indeed killed God.

    Ann Barnhardt, a onetime commodity broker who gave up the business because she regarded the system as so corrupt she feared for her client’s investments last September 9th went off on a rant on her blog in an most un Nietzschen manner but she has certainly expressed the mood of many

    Well, once again my email box is the ultimate testament to the sickening, nauseating, despicable ignorance and apostasy of the smoldering rubble of what is left of Christendom. In short, you people don’t get it, and don’t get it to such an unfathomable degree that even a miserable, cynical, jaded harpy like me is left gobsmacked by your staggering stupidity

    While little has changed since Nietzsche day I am thankfully that Counter-Currents is there to catch the mood, refine it for us and express it in a palatable manner.

  4. Cagefighter
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    @Matt

    Nietzsche’s “Over-man” on one exalted end compared to his “Last-man” on the other spectrum gives raise to a metaphysical doctrine that points upward away from the present prevailing mass-thinking bourgeois dispensation . That’s one area to move “forward” in — or rather “open” up to in all its various forms.

    He’s proscriptions? He wrote, “the greatest fulfilment in life is to play dice for death” (metaphorically for all you devoid of depth)– that implies a sorta death-defiance of such magnitudes that our comfort seeking, all too human, disposition finds dangerous and threatening. But is it true?…. I think there is a guiding principle, behind the method, despite the madness.

    • Jaego Scorzne
      Posted September 15, 2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      In our hearts we all know the Truth: that in the End, the Overmen, the Last Brigade, must fight the Last Men, the Men Without Chests (hearts). Physically fight them? Yes, even with all their machines and craft. Both sides will probably be wiped out – leaving the survivors free to be human again and rebuild. Balder will be reborn and lead us into a New Aeon.

  5. UFASP
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    “Then again, he knew he was up to something monumental and unique, writing in a “physical style” that answered to his days of ill-or-superabundant health.[4] It is this style, as much as his promotion of action over words that makes Nietzsche more clearly understandable while one is being harsh to oneself.”

    Indeed. I can’t help but think of this passage from the prologue of Zarathustra as I read your article.

    “What is the greatest thing you can experience? It is the hour of your greatest contempt. The hour in which even your happiness becomes loathsome to you, and so also your reason and virtue. The hour when you say: ‘What good is my happiness? It is poverty and filth and miserable self-complacency. But my happiness should justify existence itself!’ The hour when you say: ‘What good is my reason? Does it long for knowledge as the lion for his prey? It is poverty and filth and miserable self-complacency!’ The hour when you say: ‘What good is my virtue? It has not yet driven me mad! How weary I am of my good and my evil! It is all poverty and filth and miserable self-complacency!’ The hour when you say: ‘What good is my justice? I do not see that I am filled with fire and burning coals. But the just are filled with fire and burning coals!’ The hour when you say: ‘What good is my pity? Is not pity the cross on which he is nailed who loves man? But my pity is no crucifixion!”

    He’s not talking about “utility” or “eudaemonia” or “democracy” or “middle class values” or even “the white race” but IT. He’s put his finger on something that words cannot completely conjure in a way that really pins your thoughts to the wall. Contemplating this elusive storm within one’s soul must definitely require more solitude than the average ballgame fan or beer drinker would ever dream of dedicating his life toward. And yet, it’s not hyper-abstract Scholasticism, either.

    “Because he saw himself surrounded by these traits of modern man, especially at the most personal level, Nietzsche understood that solitude was “given, not chosen,” and that his loneliness, while giving him “indescribable sadness,” was “transfigured by [his] consciousness that there is greatness in it.”

    Anyone who takes life just a little bit seriously is going to realize that some level of loneliness is indeed not a “choice” or a function of “agency” but simply the sole honorable end that lies before you. This is the spirit of Agamemnon rather than Hollywood. The profound versus the trite. The beauty of life versus the mundane flow of the ordinary.

    The mantra we have to endure as a result is always the following:

    “Why do you have to be so negative?”

    I’ve been really conscientious of that possible criticism of my behavior (particularly when it comes from family). It’s quite a tightrope to maintain the sort of spirited good will Nietzsche preached in his Zarathustra while being mindful of everything else he had to say about “modern man.” I don’t want to make a vice out of my anti-humanism nor do I want to give into humanism. Thus Spake Zarathustra helped me with that more than any other work by Nietzsche. But, I have to say, I do find myself thirsting for solitude on some level to maintain this equilibrium. And yet, solitude does not always feel like it’s own reward unless you take a macro perspective on life.

    It was nice to see a Nietzsche scholar actually write about his loneliness in way that is not itself a reflection of bourgeois sensibility. (Listening to bourgeois types critiquing Nietzsche is like listening to a Ronald Reagan type critique Karl Marx.) It’s nice to see someone writing about him who doesn’t automatically make his loneliness out to be some pathetic and embarrassing circumstance.

    “Nietzsche couldn’t even get a date to the prom! His anger at ‘the weak’ was really a criticism of his own inability to attract women. That Nietzsche, lemme tell you. No wonder the Nazis liked him.”

    At any rate, usually I cringe at most of the inferences academic types make about the details of his personal life. Even E. Michael Jones– a man who writes great books– totally whiffs when writing on Nietzsche. This article did not make me cringe. It was quite enjoyable. Thank you for writing it, Dr. Dyal. You’re like the Nietzsche scholar I’ve always sought out but have never have been able to find.

    With respect to whether or not Nietzsche does more than just critique, I think Father Matthew Raphael Johnson had it right when he talked about Nietzsche (like Plato) giving man a certain way to APPROACH ideas. Of course, he also says that Nietzsche’s value is that he’s a “battering ram” but very often destruction has implicit creation behind it. The very notion that Nietzsche’s ideas give one a way to approach life is a notion that ITSELF implies more than just a bulldozing of what came prior. Nietzschean metaphysics is very skeptical of prior epistemology but is nonetheless very raw and open to energy and creation and for the possibility of the Superman. I realize that this doesn’t appeal to everyone; but especially for those of us who have a hard time with traditional religious belief, this “rawness” combined with unflinching skepticism is very inspiring and about the most intellectually potent message I can imagine confronting me.

    • Posted September 15, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      I knew, even if my Nietzschean conscience scolded me, that I was not alone.

  6. rhondda
    Posted September 15, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    This is brilliant. Thank you for writing it. Nietzsche is one of my heroes. The energy of his writing and where he takes you just overwhelms me at times, but I return to find out what else this lonely sage can tell me.

  7. Izak
    Posted September 15, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been reading this Dyal guy’s articles in the last couple hours or so.

    What a good writer!

    Keep up the good work!

    I think that one of Nietzsche’s chief virtues was that he based his writings off of a love of classical civilization, and his appreciation was strongly rooted in a deep, profound, thorough knowledge base which one can only acquire through discipline and hard work. We ought to be the same way, all of us. Before deciding what we dislike, and then working to attack that, we all should approach the modern state of affairs from the same starting point as Nietzsche, and that is by immersing ourselves in that which we love and appreciate most before focusing on the deficiencies of the now. Everything else — the appropriate lines of discrimination, the rejection of particular modern values, etc. — comes naturally.

    It is very fashionable to say that Nietzsche failed in life, but if this is true, then his “failure” was far more glorious than the average Joe’s success. My view is that this is because wherever Nietzsche wound up in his thought ultimately, one cannot deny the very firm foundation upon which he stood. His locus of energy was not merely his alone, but all of ours, latent in the shadows or trapped behind a wall of ice, because it is metaphysically real… whether or not he himself would agree.

  8. Fourmyle of Ceres
    Posted September 15, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Mark Dyal for an excellent analysis and commentary on one Aspect of Nietzsche.

    Am I alone in seeing a lot of Nietzsche in Jonathan Bowden? As I listen to Bowden, it almost seems like he is overshadowed by Nietzsche.

    • UFASP
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

      On more than one occasion, I’ve heard Bowden refer to himself as a “Nietzschean” in his speeches.

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    A Handbook of Traditional Living

    The French Revolution in San Domingo

    The Revolt Against Civilization

    Why We Fight

    The Problem of Democracy

    The Path of Cinnabar

    Archeofuturism

    Tyr

    Siege

    On Being a Pagan

    The Lost Philosopher

    The Dispossessed Majority

    Might is Right

    Impeachment of Man

    Gold in the Furnace

    Defiance