I've tried to take Nietzsche seriously. Really, I have. I even have a gorgeous 4-volume hardbound set I inherited from my father, a Sonderausgabe. I don't give it prime bookcase real estate, but I do hold onto it--you know, just in case I'm ever overcome with a desire to read Human, All Too Human in German.
Basically, the problem is that Nietzsche makes me cringe or giggle--or both.
It's true that the rejection of metaphysics should make his thought attractive to me. And, OK, I get it that he wrote some sensible things, like "All credibility, all good conscience, all evidence of truth come only from the senses" (Beyond Good and Evil).
But what do we do about the misogyny?
"Ah, women. They make the highs higher and the lows more frequent."
Or the misanthropy?
"A subject for a great poet would be God's boredom after the seventh day of creation."
My first exposure to Nietzsche was in an undergraduate existentialism class in which the reading assignment included excerpts from a number of his works. I came into class with the thought that just about everything I had read was a fancy-schmancy way of saying "Let's get high." I didn't detect a great deal of seriousness in it, much less mental stability or even genius. How shocked I was to see the reverence with which these passages were treated! Somehow ironic, given that I had interpreted parts of the assignment as a send-up of hero-worship and a goad to independent thinking and critique.
And then, there is Ecce Homo. Wikipedia:
According to one of Nietzsche's most prominent English translators, Walter Kaufmann, the book offers "Nietzsche's own interpretation of his development, his works, and his significance" (Kaufmann 1967: 201). The book contains several chapters with self-laudatory titles, such as "Why I Am So Wise", "Why I Am So Clever", "Why I Write Such Good Books" and "Why I Am a Destiny".
I've decided that when it comes to Nietzschean scholarship, one can do no better than to turn to the Village People:
Every man wants to be a macho macho man
to have the kind of body, always in demandYou can best believe that, he's a macho man
ready to get down with, anyone he canFunky with his body, he's a king
call him Mister Eagle, dig his chains
You can best believe that, he's a macho man
likes to be the leader, he never dresses grandEvery man ought to be a macho macho man,
To live a life of freedom, machos make a stand,
Have their own life style and ideals,
Possess the strength and confidence, life's a steal,
You can best believe that he's a macho man
He's a special person in anybody's land.Dig my big thick mustache!Macho, macho man
I've got to be a macho! HEY!
Village People - Macho Man (version longue)
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