Sunday, August 2, 2015

Interlude #1, Reading Nietzsche

[I'm taking a brief break from racism to mull over some conjectures and hypotheses. I will return to it shortly.]

Reading Nietzsche is tricky (an understatement if there ever was one). Any understanding of Nietzsche’s writings is limited by what the reader believes to be possible. Any reading of Nietzsche is a Rorschach test: the result is as much about the reader as it is the contents of the shapeless mass of Nietzsche’s writings. This not an uncommon understanding of his philosophy of nature or his treatment of metaphysicians or really his approach(? treatment?) to pretty much any topic found in his writings. I don’t recall coming across such an approach to his writings, but I haven’t been following the literature for years now.

Because of the ambiguities, the ironies and overall prankishness in his writings, it is impossible to “prove” that any interpretation of anything found in them is either “correct.” or “incorrect.” There are better and worse interpretations (how does the aphorism go? “There are no facts --- only interpretations.”). Here better and worse means more encompassing/organizing or less encompassing/organizing. How much is included? How much is left out? How much can a conception of self assimilate and organize? How much must go unseen and unacknowledged because of a limited capacity to assimilate and organize perceptions, feelings and sensations? Doesn’t this sound like an allusion to the Will to Power?

Truth with the big scary uppercase “T” Truth and the less imposing lowercase “t” truth both come to be shades of gray. A belief is no longer naively either true or false. Binary oppositions are strong evidence of a fundamental misunderstanding.

Reading Nietzsche? Always remember that he was a philologist who wrote well.

* * *

My interpretation of Nietzsche’s grand project? He said of the Eternal Recurrence of The Same that it meant the greatest possible affirmation of life. He had only ironic use for belief in God and Christianity. There was no hell or heaven or afterlife. The death of God meant that possibilities hitherto closed off to us open up. I remember in one of his early writings, I think it was Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense, he speculated that a mayfly living only one day would buzz around thinking he was the pinnacle of existence. In Ecce Homo he said that he was the greatest embodiment of the Will to Power that the world had ever seen. His philosophy putting as much meaning and significance into the life of an impoverished, sickly, lonely, syphilitic (probably) retired philologist with questionable mental health, poor eyesight and no settled home living in the second half of the 19th Century mostly in southern Europe.

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