Nietzsche is one of the individuals who have impacted my life and thought, through reading them, most intensely. The first philosophy book I ever bought for myself was a volume of several of his works in one book. His anti-systematic iconoclastic thinking has harmonised with my desire for rebellious thinking, that embraces its own absurdity.
Appreciating Nietzsche poses a risk within the discourses where he is most relevant, due to his philosophy having been usurped by Nazis, despite his revulsion towards anti-semitism, nationalism and big-state ideologies. This is intensely disappointing, as it takes very little exploration into Nietzsche’s life and the growth of his thought to find how Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche distorted his thought towards her disgusting world-view. But despite this, shallow thinking continues and Nietzsche gets branded as a Nazi philosopher.
I do not consider The Will To Power to be a book by Nietzsche, given his how his sister manipulated his writing so intensely through decoupage. As such, I have not read it and will not. I do not shy away from the term will-to-power, as I have interpreted it, through reading other works by Nietzsche, not to mean will-to-authority/dominate/control, but to mean will-to-intensify-energy-to-affect – this can be the will to affect through care, or through strength (basically however I find egoistically desirable).
A friend who is a Marxist scholar once put to me, when I stated that I am disgusted by Marx for his philosophy being used to justify the acts of tyrants and genocide, that this could be put to Nietzsche as well. I did not and do not agree, given how Marx’s writings did not undergo the same processes of distortion. Rather, despite what insights Marx might bring, through Das Kapital, on the development of industrial-capitalism, within his situated context, I largely consider Marx to be not deserving serious consideration, as his ideology directly served as justification for mass-abuse through rampant collectivism, with no distortions.
Moving away from the image of collectivism, what beauty I find in Nietzsche’s anti-systemic life-embracing individualism is the quality of becoming-animal I find in his Dionysian pessimism. That this energy is largely lost in environmentalist discourse is deeply disappointing (and something I have sought to bring). However, it is unsurprising that this highly anti-social thought is not found within the masses of Green-ideologues, given their being largely comprised of urbanites who never walk through woods and are solely interested in sustaining this (dialectical-)system of life-negating abuse.
I am glad that, despite many bad-faith readers, Nietzsche has been included within anarchist discourse. My initial love of Emma Goldman’s thought was due to her highly individualistic-anarcho-communist thought, inspired by Nietzsche (and Stirner). Shahin’s work on Nietzsche’s relevance to anarchist thought is also a wonderful read – click here for pdf of the book.
The works by Nietzsche that I appreciate most intensely are Birth of Tragedy, Twilight of the Idols, Beyond Good and Evil, Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Aphorisms on Love and Hate (the last of which is not in this photo as it is currently being borrowed by a friend).
Don’t take this to be a purist romanticism – as I have a massive disagreement with Nietzsche, which I will go into in the next paragraph. My meeting of Nietzsche is somewhat like the Buddhist phrase “if you meet the Buddha on the road you kill him”, but with a cannibalistic feeling of “there is decent meat here to eat, full of nutrition and very tasty”. Destroy Nietzsche and devour him, rather than idolise (in the way his sister’s followers idolise a distorted image of him).
Regarding my disagreement with Nietzsche, it is with regards to his conception of the Übermensch as a Historical figure of salvation, who transcends. Rather, I see the this-worldiness of intensely-powerful individuality as a subscendental ecologically de-Historical force. Nietzsche’s desire for salvation is something I can empathise with, given how he also experienced significant ill-health through his life – it would be dishonest to deny that it is sometime appealing the idea of being saved from challenging circumstances. However, experience has taught me that there is no salvation, as existentially everything dies and becomes something else – nothing is ever really saved. So, for me, an Übermensch is more an individual who embraces the existential-responsibility of there being no salvation, now or in any imaginal future.
I do not expect this thought to do much to encourage those who consider Nietzsche in bad-faith – I also expect to have 1 or 2 accusations thrown my way. Regardless, I (perhaps naively) hope that this will perhaps spark interest in those who would reject his works.
Like Nietzsche, I am becoming-tree, as someone who is seeking to dance in the suns light with my branches, while exploring the dark depths of the earth through my roots – not as a dualism, but as sensually immediate monist return-to-the-flesh(/woods – i.e. Feral Consciousness).
“I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses.”