Thursday, July 22, 2010

Oh, Nietzsche...

I’d like to Übermenschen a few problems I have with Nietzsche. So, in our age of the mob, only some will become higher men, and of those, maybe none will manage to make it to over-man status (except Zarathustra). It’s critically important for higher men to reject good and embrace evil, and to laugh, and to dance, and generally to swan about without a regard to the petty mob of Üntermenschen (and yes, that term is a Nazi invention, but it works as an antonym).

Except that higher men are failures, to a man. Even the ugliest of them, the most conscientious of them, the most pious of them, all succumb to superstition, even as they seem to be rising above it, and in the end, they are afraid.

Only the Übermensch can be the Übermensch, because the Übermensch is such a singularly poorly defined category that unless you’re there already, you have no clue how to get there.

Zarathustra must go on with his work. What is his work? Couldn’t say.

His face is brass, set away from the higher men, towards his work and the animals who love him. For what purpose? Couldn’t say.

He overcomes always all things, never being bound by ideas, faith, hope, fear, or any emotion. But what is he? Couldn’t say.

He is the ultimate alien, refusing to dwell with man, because he is over-man. He refuses all claims on himself, except the claims of solitude: to reject all that is not as detached and as Über as he himself. But he rejects absurdity! Not all of his claims can be true.

Consider, his last and most dangerous sin is pity, and his companions are beasts. He wrestles with the shadow of God, because for all his hate and denial, he must still wrestle with something. If he were not overcoming, he could not be. That’s why the book has to end when he overcomes his pity. There is nothing left to overcome, so he must disappear from the stage quickly, lest he be found fulfilled. Nothing so repulses the Übermensch as fulfillment. It is a petty virtue, and the seeking of it is a petty vice.

The conclusion of Also Spracht Zarathustra strikes me as an inversion of the end of Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Zarathustra the alien strides off into the dawn, alone forever. Gregor Samsa, cancer of his family, is finally gone, and the family can relax. Nietzsche wants the alien to overcome. Kafka knows he can’t. Both of them hate the mob, as evidenced by the disappearance of the higher men, and the bitterly cynical tone of the Samsa family outing. Yet, Nietzsche thought the mob could be banished, if one overcame it, but the grand scheme of history seems to prove Kafka right.

You can cut yourself off from all others, shrivel up, ruin the lives of those you love, but in the end you have poisoned yourself, and you will be neither mourned nor missed. Such is the fate of the nihilist, and who is he to complain?

No comments: