Nietzsche

The featured image is “Portrait of Friedrich Nietzsche” (1906) by Edvard Munch (1863-1944), courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The weak man who championed Strength.  The sick man who extolled Health and Vigor.  The boy who went about quoting Scripture and giving sermons to caterpillars.  The misogynist who advocated carrying a whip when going to see a woman — and who was photographed along with his friend Paul Rees pulling a dogcart that carried their friend  Lou Salome — who was holding the whip.

All this is well known.

The grown man who rejected religion because it distorted the teachings of Christ and turned humans from beings on the cusp of theosis into groveling worms.  Now, that is debatable, but possible.  No matter, it is only an interpretation and the man has been dead, his legacy and teaching fiercely distorted even before he died, thanks to his Aryan supremacist sister, Elizabeth.  Among those distortions are those of the Nazi propaganda, and those of Ayn Rand, who promulgated, not Aristotle but a poor-man’s misunderstood Nietzscheanism.

The apocryphal tale of his demise is again illustrative.  The champion of “ruthlessness” is supposed to have been so moved by the abuse of a horse in the street that he ran to it and embraced it in an effort to protect the animal from a beating. He collapsed and spent his remaining years in a vegetative state.

Even those who compulsively read FWN sometimes seem ashamed of his magnetism, and declare a desire to shower after perusing his writings. Yet they admit his power, even in translations, and cannot stay away from reading him

Until his last years, the diseases which consumed him did not prevent his ability to see, only colored his vision with the pain that  never left him.  “Demon”?  Or, considering his training as a philologist, mayhap “daemon”.  From beginning to end, as Nietzsche developed and as he declined, his core notions remained remarkably consistent.  And, for all the evident anti-Christian words he processed, I could easily imaging him sitting at a small café in Turin sipping a small glass of wine, Christ suddenly appearing to him, and Nietzsche falling down in worship crying, “My God, My God, why did you forsake me for so long.”

YMMV