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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

a fiction author's first encounter with Nietzsche

I stumbled upon this fiction author reading 60 of Penguin's Great Ideas series in 60 days. His post today is on Nietzsche's Why I am so Wise. I hate to think of this as a first encounter with Nietzsche. Birth of Tragedy or Untimely Meditations, The Portable Nietzsche (minus Zarathustra) are probably better places to start.
As I continued on into “Why I am So Clever,” “Why I Write Such Good Books,” and “Why I am a Destiny,” though, my ability to fight off feelings of ennui at the author’s approach began to fade. You have to do a lot of work to get to those nuggets, those secret pockets of substance. You have to wade through a lot of self-detail that began to take on a quality similar to encountering someone at a cocktail party who responds to direct statements with long, convoluted anecdotes about their childhood. It’s possible the details are what’s important, that Nietzsche is setting out parables like some kind of five-dimensional Aesop, but the thought occurred to me that perhaps he was just a raving lunatic who had managed by simple force of will to impress his “brilliance” upon the ages. Or that in this instance Penguin had failed in their selection–that there was some essential other text I required to make this verbiage less spittle-tinged. (I fully expect enlightenment upon reading the comments on this post.)

Jeff VanderMeer Reads Nietzsche

2 comments:

Charlie H said...

A compelling argument against reading 60 books in 60 days.

Chris said...

Die fröhliche Wissenschaft. You've got to start with The Gay Science. Interestingly enough "fröhliche" is in my spell checker, while "Wissenschaft" is not. I'm guessing it has to do with umlauts.