Thursday, April 1, 2010

BEDA 1: It begins.

Oh sweet Jesus, day one and I already don't know what to write about.
I feel sort of inclined to write about April Fool's Day in some way or another. Sort of tough though, since I haven't pulled any pranks today and I'm not really interested in the origin of April Fools.
I think instead we're going to talk about Friedrich Nietzsche.
Nietzche is going to shatter you world view and then beat you to death with his mustache.

Nietzsche is one of those guys that you hear about all the time but that you've probably never read. For me he was never required reading in my education or a man to whom I attached any specific ideas. Instead he was a name peppered throughout movies and television to make a character seem smarter by having read him.
"I don't get you Locke. One minute you're killing boars, the next you're quoting Nietzsche." - That guy from LOST who died when he climbed up in the drug-smuggling plane, and then it fell.*
Basically, I wanted to read his stuff for two reasons. One was to see what all the fuss was about. My second reason is this: the most masturbatory thing I do, besides fine-tuning my facebook page to make me as interesting and likable as possible, is to read great and notable authors who I already know I will agree with.
Everything I ever heard about Nietzsche before I read any of his work led me to believe that I would agree with and enjoy him. There is something dark and existential about his reputation. I just recently heard a critic of Chuck Palahniuk's say that he writes like a 16 year old who has just discovered Nietzsche and Nine Inch Nails.
I can think of no greater endorsement.
So, it's the case with Nietzsche as it is with Noam Chomsky and Leo Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. I can sit and read these works and say "Yes! Exactly! This is exactly what I was thinking! I am exactly as smart as Leo Tolstoy OMFG!"

So anyways, I'm reading Nietzsche's The Gay Science right now (the title of which applies to the combination of wisdom and laughter) and I'm really enjoying it. More on Nietzsche later this month as I approach the end of the book, but for now I'm going to leave you with some of the lines and passages that have struck me so far in my reading:

"What is new, however, is always evil being that which wants to conquer and overthrow the old boundary markers and old pieties; and only what is old is good."

"Believing that they possess consciousness, men have not exerted themselves very much to acquire it; and things haven't changed much in this respect."

"Blindly raging industriousness... is represented as the way to wealth and honor and as the poison that best cures boredom and the passions, but one keeps silent about its dangers, its extreme dangerousness. That is how education always proceeds: one tries to condition an individual by various attractions and advantages to adopt a way of thinking and behaving that, once it has become a habit, instinct, and passion, will dominate him to his own ultimate disadvantage but 'for the greater good.'"

"So far at least, culture that rests on military basis still towers above all so-called industrial culture: the latter in its present shape is altogether the most vulgar form of existence that has yet existed."

"What the workers see in the employer is usually only a cunning, bloodsucking dog of a man who speculates on all misery..."

*Sorry LOST fans, this is not the precise quote. But it does express basically what the actual quote was getting at, so get off my back.

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