Friday, December 21, 2012

Ecce Homo

Friedrich Nietzsche was batshit insane.

I make this statement not in relation to his last years, in which he was a certifiable lunatic, but well before that.  If you don't believe me, you too should read Ecce Homo.

I should also note that I make this assertion with all due affection.  Nietzsche was a genius, but he was also isolated and liked to believe all kinds of crazy shit.  The problem was always that he was a product of his times and he didn't realize it.

Still don't believe me?  How about his neandertal views on women?  Surely in keeping with the times.  or his purely reactionary beliefs, especially concerning Christianity, that he tries in vain to argue are driven from within rather than without.  Or that he spent a great deal of energy reading, and then argues that reading is inherently bad?

He was a philosophical, intellectual nightmare.  And yet he had some pretty interesting ideas.  He contends in Ecce Homo that he was simply ahead of his time.  He laments that he was not accepted by his own countrymen.  These are assertions any genius can make.  But they're also more convincing when you don't spend all your time compounding your breakthroughs by simultaneously believing things that were easily refuted in his own life, if only he'd admitted it.

Granted, this is a failing we all share.  But it's distressing coming from someone whom many have come to admire, at least in theory.  I suspect most of them have not actually read Friedrich Nietzsche, or perhaps are simply fanatical disciples (which, by the way, is another concept he refutes) who are incapable of approaching him critically.

Ecce Homo is the second book I've attempted to read from Nietzsche.  The first was Thus Spake Zarathustra, earlier this year (the kind of year I've had, I mistakenly asserted before that I read it last year), which was patently his attempt at defining a new religion by rejecting a very similar religion (Christianity).  If he'd ever actually written, or presented his refutes, concerning the reasons for rejecting Christianity, perhaps I might understand why he basically invented the modern schism and certainly atheist movement.  Instead he did everything but.  And that's the crucial missing piece of the puzzle.

Clearly Ecce Homo was an attempt at self-justification, and yet if it truly expresses anything, it's that Nietzsche's madness sprang from his inability to self-analyze.  I suspect that he may best be categorized as a mind that was free to explore its own ends, and discovered that they led, appropriately enough, to the abyss...

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