Friday, April 05, 2002

There's a great Nietzsche article in the New Yorker today. I was linked to it via the excellent weblog, Art & Letters Daily. It is a book review of a Nietzsche biography by Rüdiger Safranski. I think that I can say with confidence that my own love affair with Nietzsche is long over, having called him "biographically pathetic" in a recent email. But he is still one of the most beautiful and strongest writers of German prose, and it took me years before I could read him without becoming sort of...emotionally possessed by his spirit. Here's a sample of what you might call "the strong stuff".

I have often asked myself whether I am not more heavily obligated to the hardest years of my life than to any others. As my inmost nature teaches me, whatever is necessary as seen from the heights and in the sense of a great economy is also the useful par excellence: one should not only bear it, one should love it. Amor fati: that is my inmost nature. And as for my long sickness, do I not owe it indescribably more than I owe to my health? I owe it a higher health—one which is made stronger by whatever does not kill it. I also owe my philosophy to it. Only great pain is the ultimate liberator of the spirit. Only great pain, that long, slow pain in which we are burned with green wood, as it were—pain which takes its time—only this forces us philosophers to descend into our ultimate depths and to put away all trust, all good-naturedness, all that would veil, all mildness, all that is medium—things in which formerly we may have found our humanity. I doubt that such a pain makes us "better," but I know that it makes us more profound. —From Nietzsche Contra Wagner, "Epilogue"


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