Again, What’s in Neitzsche for Me?

God is dead.
–Neitzsche.

Neitzsche is dead.
–God.

I am certain that I first saw that scrawled on some men’s room wall above the urinals at least 40 years ago. It is clever, giving God the last word like that.

I am reading many authors for whom I have not had the time nor the inclination in the past. Yes, one of those authors is Neitzsche, as is apparent from that earlier entry. I can now save you some time if you are ever similarly inclined.

Kant is perfectly unreadable. There are words and what appear to be sentences in his work, but that is as far as it goes.

Schopenhauer is very readable. Very clear. However, you are in for a long haul with him. Just take a look at his masterpiece, The World as Will and Idea, on the library shelf sometime. If I were to check that out of the library, I would have to strap those three volumes onto a pallet and use a forklift in order to load it onto the bed of the truck. I read only excerpts from Schopenhauer.

Neitzsche is something else altogether though. Many of his most important works are very short, little more than pamphlets really. Furthermore and much to my amazement, I find that he can be downright lyrical at times—many times. Which brings me to my point.

We all agree on the proposition that context is important. Public figures are constantly complaining that one of their remarks was quoted out of context. Many times those complaints are legitimate. Neitzsche, too, would have that legitimate complaint, if he were still around to complain, regarding his oft quoted remark, “God is dead.” Here is the whole paragraph from The Gay Science:

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?

 

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