Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Talking Alive

Nietzsche and the Affirmation of Life

I have developed a certain passion for the thinking of Nietzsche in recent years. He appears to me as a thinker who searches for ways to put aside the influences of those structures, institutions, and ideas which impose upon life, remove us from the nuances of movement which life brings. Yet, at the same time, he creates -- he finds ways to join with life in the very act of making, creating -- specifically he creates ways of living and thinking (becoming) which enable life to be met close to its own terms.

Nietzsche repeatedly exceeds the reputation many ascribe to him. For example, he said much more than "God is dead!" Ironically, in spite of his defiance against religion, against all those influences which impose upon life, he spoke most highly of the thoughts in the gospels. He loved the Christ of the gospels. And, he certainly considered himself continuing a line of thinking, a way of engaging with the world which he saw within the words and actions of the New Testament Christ.

A couple of Nietzsche's aphorisms here... simple thoughts about life and relationships which reveal a very different side of Nietzsche to the idol-tossing, table-turning, God-is-dead thinker for which he seems to be most known.

First he speaks of love.

Love and Honour -- Love desires, fear avoids. That is why one cannot be loved and honoured by the same person, at least not at the same time. For he who honours recognises power -- that is to say, he fears it, he is in a state of reverential fear. But love recognises no power, nothing that divides, detaches, superordinates, or subordinates. Because it does not honour them, ambitious people secretly or openly resent being loved.

And Nietzsche talks of the-many, of things akin to abundance...

Philosophically Minded -- We usually endeavour to acquire one attitude of mind, one set of opinions for all situations and events of life -- it is mostly called being philosophically minded. But for the acquisition of knowledge it may be of greater importance not to make ourselves thus uniform, but to hearken to the low voice of the different situations in life; these bring their own opinions with them. We thus take an intelligent interest in the life and nature of many persons by not treating ourselves as rigid, persistent single individuals.

Life lived with love, outside of those things which separate, which make higher or lower, and life lived amidst the multiple -- this was, at least in part, the way life was seen and encountered by Nietzsche. In the nineteenth century, an awakening to the Alive was occurring, what Deleuze more recently called a "radical empiricism," and Nietzsche was a part of this awakening, along with the likes of William Blake, Walt Whitman, George Eliot, Lewis Caroll, Henri Bergson, and of course, many, many others.

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