Thus Spoke Zarathustra (book review) Friedrich Nietzsche

R.J. Hollingdale (Translator),

Walter Kaufmann (translator)


250118 later later addition: rereading a book comparing nietzsche and buddhism [book:Nietzsche and Buddhist Philosophy|22619704] which suggests he begins, follows, similar conception of general culture (of nihilist attitudes) that are prejudiced in favour of being (concept/illusion) over becoming (as evident reality/not illusion), a reflection of weakness, impotence, exhaustion, but nz and bd come to somewhat opposed resolutions: nz decrying bd's 'decadent' negation of life versus his own 'affirmation' of life... well i have to read on to understand how this is worked out...


260917 later addition: maybe i am being unfair, maybe i am denigrating nz because of certain followers, always less than the man himself. yes much of my distrust is down to style, yes i must claim nz is a young man's philosophy- even if it did not appeal to me when young, yes nz is a valid, determined, resonant shout against stupid social conventions in thought as much as acts... after all, i am a fascinated reader of many continental thinkers who are inspired by his work. but then i also find heidegger fascinating. so maybe i will read nz again, up the rating, but as much i dislike the attitude of intelligent privilege, of narcissistic values, of an adversarial concept of our shared world... this is not too likely. there are many books i want to read, some to reread, before trying this one again...


240714 first review: rarely am i moved to review extensively anything less than four or five, but this is necessary. this is a difficult review- i have read nz and understood him as kind of a proto-existentialist, so through the lens of say sartre or heidegger. i do not know whether his work should rather be classified as poetry or philosophy or a sort of extreme self-help subgenre. i read this in four big gulps each of one book, perhaps not ruminating on his ideas as much as could but pleased to sometimes make a connection, see an influence, find a quote...


perhaps this should be read and thought of for some weeks or months, however i do not really want to think too much about nz's thoughts, less here in this direct speech. some problems are down to stylistics, as were common in his era (12, 14, 17 exclamation points per randomly noted pages), a lot of questions, a lot of assertions, a lot of exhortations... this is very exhausting to read. this is like endless (philosophical) talk radio. rare that ideas or questions or answers can be so forceful, so dramatic, but after some pages, there is an urge to get nz a glass of warm milk, a resting couch, covering blanket, and say 'calm down, frieddy, calm down'... this is probably not the intent of his voice. reading nz, i thought of desmond tutu's suggestion to improve your arguments rather than increase your volume...


this is read in english. as any poetry, it probably works better in native tongue. the ideas? well, from nz's bio, in what he writes, in what is written on him, it is clear this realm is christian european. as far as z? depends on how you appreciate or avoid prophets. is the sincerity, the conviction, the volume, of an argument or faith, indicative of how seriously to take it? there is only so much 'crying', 'laughing', 'grasping', 'shouting', 'weeping', so much exclamation (!), so much questions (?), so much (italics), so much dramatic pauses (-), before i bail. yet i found it must be at least a three? because- it does communicate! if i just mentally remove the exclamations (!), if i think of questions (?) as essentially rhetorical and thus the punctuation not quite so fevered, not quite so hectoring- it has some ideas. however much i might disagree (a lot) with nz's claims, his attempted inversion of christian morality, of how we need replace 'good' and 'evil' with 'healthy' and 'unhealthy', his assertion that our values are now slave-centric, that there is greatness in master-centric thinking in sensual pleasure, will to power, selfishness... i do not think power ever needs philosophy to justify itself...


ok, so this is the core problem i have with nietzsche, that ensures, to me, i will never buy into his other ethical/political thoughts: the idea that humans are slave or master, that slaves are the source of all human failings, are guilty in imposing life-denying, will-punishing, self-limiting- morality! because?-'ressentiment' (psychological aggregate that leads to anger, pathological vulnerability... desire for revenge') and further- 'ressentiment'! (vengeful, self defensive aggressiveness as accompanies illness, impotence, exhaustion) this suggests what should be a radically limited fanboy demographic for his work: in our world and era, mostly those humans who are fortunate to be young, male, white, straight, healthy etc... (and live believing they have hit a home run, when they are born on third base... i do not recall where i heard this quote) not that his work has not been twisted, selectively quoted, made anti-semitic for example, but if anyone wonders whether nietzsche was truly misogynist? send them to pages 91 to 93, on old and young women. yes, nz never succeeded with women, never married. rare that a philosophy text makes me laugh out loud...


there is much here that evades nz's reductive view of human nature, human being, human possibilities- even if this is buried in many! argued in ? after ? asserted after suitable pauses- and in some ways this is easier than reading nietzsche's aphorisms. do not expect logical or semantic arguments, do not query assertions, do not be bothered by punctuation... well there is some good stuff here: eternal recurrence, amor fati, man as only a tightrope between ape and overman, sublimated will to power, live dangerously, great noontide... yes it may seem parochial in christian thought-universe... that god is dead, not really exciting/tragic, when you do not have a god to begin with eg. buddhism, atheism...


i think i will go read 'what the buddha taught' by Rahula Walpola, [book:What the Buddha Taught|390562] just to get nietzsche out of my system...

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