Adonis Diaries

Nietzsche: The Philosopher of Life

Posted on: March 30, 2009

Nietzsche: The Philosopher of Life (March 28, 2009)

Note:  I published four articles on Nietzsche and decided to combine them in one essay.

A biography   

Frederick Nietzsche was born in 1844 in Rocken (Germany) on the birthday of the King Friedrich Wilhelm.  His father Karl was a Presbyterian minister, from a long line of ministers in the family, and died when Nietzsche was five of age.  His mother was then 18 and devout. His little brother died after a day of high fever; Frederick had a dream the night before his brother’s death “The church organ is playing. My father step out of his tomb wearing the shroud; then, he returns carrying a little baby in his arms and they enter the tomb”.  Nietzsche regards his childhood as a succession of bereavements; he wrote “I know of nothing the least desirable than childhood and youth.  I was born as plant by the cemetery.  I grew up in the cemetery church” (I recall a book by Amelie Nothomb that I reviewed and titled “Metaphysics of plant”)

            Nietzsche is brilliant in his studies, and at the age of 9 he learns to play the piano and to compose music (at least 50 lieder) “when I cannot listen to music everything seems dead to me”.  He joins the university of theology in Bonn and discover that he” had lost the faith” and pursue philology or the study of the Greco-Latin civilizations through the religious texts.

            In 1868 Nietzsche meets the composer Wagner (aged 52) in Leipzig and spent his happiest moments in the company of Cosima (Wagner’s wife); he had a secret love for Cosima and she was represented as Ariane in his works. In the Greek mythology Ariane saved her husband Theses out of the labyrinth; then she married Dionysus the God of the eternal return.   Frederick hoped to become the tutor of Wagner’s son Siegfried; soon Nietzsche realizes that he is considered as “another piece of furniture in the house and that Wagner amused his invitees at his expense”.  Wagner became Nietzsche’s preferred target of diatribes and more so after Wagner’s death.

            Nietzsche’s mentor, Friedrich Ritschl, managed in 1869 to appoint Nietzsche (aged 25) professor of philology (science of logic?) in Bale Switzerland where he spent most of his teaching life. After reading Schopenhauer, Nietzsche decided to become a philosopher.

            Nietzsche served as nurse during the Franco-German war in 1870.  He suffers from nausea, terrible headaches, and used to losing his sight for many days (these were the symptoms of syphilis contracted maybe around 1866) which developed into a generalized paralysis and coma.  Nietzsche has to take frequent sabbaticals because of ill health and after 18 years of teaching in Bale he had to renounce teaching and retired with a small pension.

For ten years Nietzsche is moving around trying to locate a place that suits his ill health.  In summer time he rents a room (transformed into museum) in Sils-Maria in Switzerland, 6,000 feet above sea level, where his book “Thus spoke Zarathustra” germinated.  In winter time he stays around Nice, Genoa, and finally in Turin (Italy) where he somber into coma in January 1889 and is transferred to Weimar where his little sister Elizabeth (Lama) and his mother cared for him for 11 years.  Nietzsche is practically a dead person, he is silent, and plays piano until he dies in August 1900.

Lama established a museum for her brother in Weimar and published his works.  She became a Nazi member in 1930 and Hitler visited her and the museum and he participated to Lama’s funeral in 1935.

“God is dead”

I take the position that Nietzsche is an honest writer and truthful to his ideals and that is much more than anyone can expect from most authors. He wrote once in Ecce Homo “How do we become what we are?”  (This sentence reminded me of a piece of my own auto-biography “Why I am how I am?”)  Nietzsche replied “As to the long sickness that is wearing me down, don’t I owe it infinitely more than to my good health? I owe it my philosophy to life. Only great suffering liberate the spirit” (I might say “after suffering greatly” because physical pain in no way liberates any kinds of minds)

He publishes “The birth of tragedies” after the Franco-German war in 1870 where he pleaded to the return of the Greek genre of tragedies but his positions are not well received and he was kind of discredited as a philologer. In “Non current considerations” Nietzsche claims that culture is threatened internally by the learned men who are totally cut off from life’s realities and are sick in their historicism (the philistine culture).  He receives no recognition; his health is starting to deteriorate.

 

Nietzsche is in campaign to tell the world a set of truths that he is not yet ready to listen to.  He tries to win a few victories on his personal deficiencies and then writes in 1878 in “Human, much human” that he has gotten rid of “what is not compatible with his nature”.  Nietzsche wants to believe that he is “a free spirit” and declare war on idealism, on the influence of Schopenhauer and the mythology of Wagner.

 

The year 1880 is “a black hole” for Nietzsche but “what does not kill me is bound to strengthen me”.  He has a renewed passion to targeting convictions that are “the enemies to truth”, and thus he proclaimed in “The happy knowledge” that “God is dead”. It seems that many authors have the temerity of killing major concepts for the sake recognition.  For example, they proclaim “The end of history”, “the end of Religions”, “The end of Metaphysics”, “The end of Earth”, and “The end of Philosophy”, and that the real life is but a virtual existence.  Nietzsche is one of a succession of authors that love to go on a rampage of assassination and thus he proclaimed “The end of God”

The reasoning is that if the systems of beliefs have managed to cater to the needs of those who instituted those systems, then after a while those systems turned against life and the moral values have lost their initial power. The values persist on the impulse of inertia and habit.  This inertia has generated the negative movement of “nihilism”, a sickness among younger generations that devalue all kinds of moral values as “superimposed” on societies.

When Nietzsche proclaimed “God is dead” he didn’t intend a simple atheist position but a rallying cry to “positive nihilism” for the instauration of newer set of values with purpose of disseminating a spirit of happiness and of higher power to the spirit. The actual negative nihilism is but an intermediary stage for launching new future and new moral values that are consistent with life and its glory.

 

By 1883, Nietzsche feels that “everything is boring, painful, and disgusting. I cannot fathom why I should resume living for even six more months”  By 1888 he has lambasted the concepts of nationalism and anti-Semitism as sickness attached to symptoms of mental and emotional weaknesses and he signs his works by “The Anti-Christ”, “Dionysus”, “The Crucified”, and “Nietzsche Caesar”

 

“Christianity is a carbon copy of Judaism”

           

            Nietzsche said about his rational style: “The honest things, as honest men, do not exhibit their reasons by argumentation. What needs to be demonstrated is not worth the effort” He could not feign cold and impersonal objectivity. He regarded the Socratic method of rational argumentation as “symbol of degeneracy”, a powerful poison that altered “the Greeks’ taste”  Since thoughts are required to generate ideas, and thus act on the one who said them,  then Nietzsche demands from his readers to stimulate the value of patience in reading his works. “Philology, in a period when we read a lot, is the art of learning and teaching how to read.  We need to meditate half an hour on a paragraph; this habit has all the merit for interpreting aphorism”.  Nietzsche does write in order to be listened to and not to be discussed.

 

Nietzsche displaces the question of truth to the value of truth; and thus, “moral intentions, or the systems of value judgments in relation to the conditions of existence, form the germ from which the entire plant grew” Consequently, the method of Nietzsche is to uncover the origin and the true genesis of the values disseminated by the philosophers, the preachers, and the prophets. The free spirit should analyze the genealogy of values since “Truth is this type of error without which a certain type of living species would not know how to live. From life perspective, it is how we perceive values that all depend in the final analyzes”  Amoral Nietzsche is a kind of a hyper-moralist since he intends to free mankind of the poisons that he himself secrete; poisons such as the value systems diffused in symbols, masks, sickness, hypocrisy, misunderstanding, cause, remedy, stimulant, and poison.”

For Nietzsche, Christianity, and in general, religions and their sacerdotal caste systems are characterized by stifling and oppressing societies. In order to criticize Judaism and then Christianism Nietzsche had first to laud the origins of Judaism. Nietzsche considered the Old Testament as a work of art “where we find men, things, and words in a style so grandiose that the Latin and Greek literatures have nothing to lay upon it”  He went as far as writing that the Jews “are the most remarkable people in the universal history to whom we owe the most influential moral law in the world” before the Jewish sacerdotal hierarchies transformed the religion into an instrument of interpreting happiness as a recompense, and misfortune as sin punishable for the disobedience toward God.  Thus, Christianity emulated the worst kind of religious philosophy that the Jewish sacerdotal caste ended practicing and enforcing upon society, a carbon copy of the seriously altered Judaism. Nietzsche considers that Christianism was conceived as the art of lying piously and has been perfected through many centuries of serious training techniques. Nietzsche claims that “Sin as is felt, wherever Christianity dominated, is a Jewish invention, a moral for slaves, and thus, Christianity endeavored to spread Judaism around the world”. 

(I do not know what Nietzsche read in the Old Testament but what I have read did not sound right, at least not a work of art.  The psalms of David and Salomon are carbon copies of the psalms of the Land, from Babylon, to Canaan, to Assyria, and the religion of the Middle East, written over 2,000 years before the first Jewish scribe wrote the first chapters.)

I think that Christianity in Byzantium and Medieval Christianity in Europe tried to distance itself from Judaism on political ground by adopting pagan ceremonies, pomp, and symbols. The reformists of Luther, Protestants, and Calvinists steered Christianity back to the fold of Judaism.

I have read and published many book reviews and articles on early Christian sects. I have to concur that the early Christian sects were fundamental in disseminating Jewish customs, traditions, and laws.  They opened the way for Judaism to penetrate many “gentile” countries.  A Jewish Kingdom was established in the Caucasus by converted Jews (Ashkenazi) that had no origin with Near Eastern Jews (Sephardim); these Ashkenazi expanded to Central Europe, Russia, and Germany after their Kingdom was ransacked around the year 950 AC and now they established the Zionist State called Israel.  The latest Moslem religion emulated the early Christian sects’ customs and dogmas and aided in the spread of Judaism even further toward East Asia.

 

“Thus spoken Zarathustra”

Zarathoustra “The one who owns old camels” (a tradition in antiquity to tone down the status of famous personalities in order to avoid jealousy and the cursed eyes) is considered the reformist Prophet (7th century BC) of the Ahura Mazda religion in antique Persian Empires; an Empire that extended from Turkey to the Indus River (Pakistan). Nietzsche wrongly adopted the meaning of the Greek name of Zoroaster “The Star of Gold”.  The God Ahura Mazda (The Lord or the Wise Spirit) re-organized the Universe in order to lock in his arch enemy Angra Manyu (The agent of evil thinking) in a time capsule. Thus, people in the universe have to deal with the “Devil of lies, confusion, errors, and death” before they are freed out of the time constraint. 

In the antiquity, Ahura Mazda represented the day and the Sun was the symbol of divinity and fire was the medium through which Ahura Mazda listened to prayers and spoke.  There were countless sub-divinity representing values of Ahura Mazda and many personalized divinities like Mithra (God of justice represented by the Sun) and Anahita (Goddess of the water), and the God of wind, destiny, and so on.  The forces of life and good will ultimately vanquish the forces of evil and death.

So far, there are no historic proofs, archeological or epigraphic discoveries for indices that Zarathustra, Abraham, Moses, or Lao Tseu did exist except in oral traditions.  It appears that the concepts of angels, the Judgment of the dead, the Holy Ghost are interpreted from the Zoroastrian religious tradition.  The history of humanity is enclosed in three time periods of 3,000 years each; the first period witnesses the encapsulation of Angra Manyu; the second period witnesses the awakening of Angra Manyu and the terrible confusion and instauration of death; the third and last period experiences the last struggles between the forces of evil and good.  The number 3 in all religions of the antiquity is a divine number and corpses were laid by three in the tombs.  The number thousand should not be taken literally because it refers to a huge number.  Thus, when Zarathustra was born he knew that he is living in the last period and that he will not die and would return to Ahura Mazda.  The disciples of Zarathustra claim that their Prophet learned to be in communication with Ahura Mazda.

The Greek philosophers were fascinated with the teachings of Zarathustra and they emulated many concepts of the Ahura Mazda religion for the good life, beauty, the rejection of ascetic life and celibacy, and devotion to heavy drinking. Soldiers would go to combat wearing all their jewelries. The Persian King would revisit his decisions taken when fasting and would verify his previous decision after he is literally drunk.

Many Mazdi followers fled persecutions in south east Iran in the provinces of Yazd and Kerman in the 10th century and immigrated to India and Bombay. The French explorer Anquetil-Duperron traveled to India in 1755 and learned Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, and Farsi in order to investigate the religion and traditions of the Mazdi followers who were established in the region of Surat (northern region of Pakistan and bordering Afghanistan).  Anquetil-Duperron published three vast volumes titled “Zend Avesta, the work of Zoroaster”.  There are large communities of Mazdi in California and India. The Bahai followers adopt the Mazdi beliefs in addition to Islam and variant of Judaism. Even current Iran, the Islamist Republic, celebrates the Mazdi festivities of New Year (Nawrouz) and the Red Wednesday, a festival of fire and pleasure.

In the summer of 1881, Nietzsche was sitting by the lake of Sils-Maria in Switzerland; it is located 6,000 feet above sea level and “far from things human”.  He said: “I was waiting for nothing.  Beyond the good or evil, I was enjoying of light, shadows, the lake, the noontime, and of no purpose. Then, friend, suddenly one became two and Zarathustra walked by”  That is when the decision to write “Thus spoken Zarathustra” had taken flesh and for over two years, Nietzsche would resume his manuscript where ever he is located.

 Since the Zoroastrian religion professed the duality between good and evil and thus, according to Nietzsche, Zoroaster preached an “extra-morale” doctrine beyond the good and evil and proselytized the eternal return of man, a sort of an extension to the doctrine represented by Dionysus.  The Greek God Dionysus had the power to change and to be transformed into another player; this power is mainly of lightness, perpetual movement, and erotic. Nietzsche would sign a few of his articles Dionysus. Thus, Nietzsche wrote: “Only the one who can change is related to me.  This life, as you are living it now and had so far lived, you will have to re-live it many other times. You will have to learn to be kind to yourself and toward life. You have got to mark the future of the being with the highest will for power”.

While the German philologists claimed that Zoroaster invented morality, Nietzsche would argue that Zoroaster preached the contrary to morality and that he was the representative of thinker on life.  Thus, Nietzsche contrasted Zoroaster to Socrates whom he judged to cling to a moral set.  (I think Socrates is being evaluated according to what Plato said about Socrates’ teaching.  It is Plato that ascribed to set of moral standards and of eugenics practices for a new Republic.  Socrates wanted to dialogue with people in power to discriminate those who are free thinkers and reflect on prevalent moral standards from those who abide by religious dogmas and current paradigms)

How many people have the potential to live lightly, to surmount life’s difficulties and tragedies by transforming their attitudes and resume catching up with the joy and pleasure of living?  The “over-man” should reach the wisdom of surpassing the standards of morality, of the religious doctrines of Heaven and Hell, and learn the joys of the present life because there is no eternal return of the same man.

 

Note 1: As Anti-Semitism was understood in the early 20th century Nietzsche was not anti-Semite.  He lambasted this wave in Europe as “a muddle and stupidity in the spirit and conscience of Germany and the press that are leading the Jews to the slaughterhouse as a scapegoat in order to absolve all the public and private malaise”.  Nietzsche also blamed vigorously the wedding of his sister to an anti-Semitic leader “it fills me with melancholy and bitterness.  It is a question of honor for me to have a clear and neat stand against anti-Semitic attitudes and activities.  I fear and have great repulsion that this party might use of my reputation and my name for their own cause”  Nietzsche position is consistent with his quest to return to the original values that glorify life before the sacerdotal castes high jacked the religious institutions and altered the moral values to enslave man.

 

Note 2: The Zionist State has been pressuring the world community to adopting a ridiculous definition of anti-Semitism; any State or individual that criticizes the Zionist genocide and apartheid policies against the Palestinian people should be labeled anti-Semite.  The USA and Italy’s Berlusconi are slipping toward that dangerous path and trying hard resist a vigorous denouncement of the recent Israeli’s genocide war in Gaza.

1 Response to "Nietzsche: The Philosopher of Life"

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