Just Above Sunset
October 9, 2005 - Nihilism Means "Nothing" To Me

Home | Question Time | Something Is Up | Connecting Dots | Stay Away | Overload | Our Man in Paris | WLJ Weekly | Book Wrangler | Cobras | The Edge of the Pacific | The Surreal Beach | On Location | Botanicals | Quotes

Book Wrangler

October 10, 2005

By Bob Patterson


Recently a beloved editor and publisher of our acquaintance inquired about our credentials for claiming to be well informed about Nihilism.


While we were cataloguing that part of our reading list, we decided that the results could help us by being the basis for an installment of this weekly column in Just Above Sunset online magazine.


We'll mention many books and skip the usual JAS style of listing the title, author, price and publisher and just use the author and titles for much of this week's column.  We'll also quote some of our favorite passages to show just how thoroughly we skimmed those books.


Walter Kaufmann has translated many of Nietzsche's works and we have used his for most of our readings of Nietzsche because our reading comprehension level for using the texts in German is kaput.


Beyond Good And Evil: Prelude To A Philosophy Of The Future - The Vintage paperback edition was used for the quotes and citations. 


"Under peaceful conditions a warlike man sets upon himself."  Yeah, but the cops beat up more peaceniks during a war than during a time of peace.


"The great epochs of our life come when we gain the courage to rechristen our evil as what is best in us."  Let's extol the torture of folks in Abu Ghraib prison! 


Long before Joe Cool (AKA Snoopy) made dark glasses a part of his identity, Nietzsche wrote:  " … also the dark glasses; for there are cases when nobody may look into our eyes, … " Page 226


The Gay Science With A Prelude In Rhymes And An Appendix Of Songs - Vintage paperback edition


"Verhaast ist mir das Folgen und das Führen." Page 52  "I have to follow and I have to lead."  Page 53


"What do they want when they want knowledge?  Nothing more than this: Something strange is to be reduced to something familiar."  Page 302


"Then the Wahhabis know only two mortal sins: have a god other than the Wahhabi god, and smoking (which they call "the infamous way of drinking").  Page 109 - So we've managed to deal ourselves into a conflict that is very old.


On The Genealogy Of Morals and Ecce Homo - Vintage paperback edition


"Without cruelty there is no festival: thus the longest and most ancient part of human history teaches – and in punishment there is so much that is festive!"  Page 67 -  Surely, Nietzsche would have found endorsing the conduct at Abu Ghraib as a patriotic necessity.


"I am brief: my readers themselves must be come long and comprehensive in order to bring up and together all that I have thought, and thought deep down."  (Page 340) -  Sounds to me like the Book Wrangler has found a new motto!


The Birth Of Tragedy and The Case of Wagner - Vintage paperback edition - It took Mark Twain to say "Wagner's music is better than it sounds."


Twilight Of The Idols and The Anti-Christ - Penguin Classics, translation by R. J. Hollingdale


In the haste to produce this week's installment of the Book Wrangler, the columnist never did find his copy of The Will To Power, or Thus Spoke Zarathustra, but that's okay, because somewhere in all of Nietzsche's writings there's an aphorism saying something about people who have a neat system lack willpower.  Whatever!


Nietzsche In 90 Minutes by Paul Strathern -This book is one of a series that does for students of philosophy what Cliffs Notes does for students of literature.  "Almost a century later the French existentialist began expressing such thoughts – in rather less boisterous terms – and were hailed as the vanguard of modern thought."  Page 35.


Naked Is The Best Disguise by Samuel Rosenberg.  Ah-hah!  You probably think that the Book Wrangler is going to hint that the folks who prefer wearing no clothes are nihilists, but that's not so.  Nietzsche was critical of nudism.  "A naked human being is generally a shameful sight.  (TGS Book 5 no. 352, page 295)  This book is of interest because it posits the proposition that Professor Moriarty was a fictionalization of Friedrich Nietzsche. 


Other books of interest to the budding nihilist might be:


Nietzsche: A Critical Life by Ronald Hayman.


Nietzsche by Crane Brinton


The Life of Nietzsche by Elizabeth Föster-Nietzsche


Fathers And Sons by Ivan Turgenev - If you really are getting into the subject, you could read this novel just because it is reportedly the first one to contain the world "nihilism." 


Since the student of Nietzsche will find continual references to his influence on existentialism, it might be fruitful to skim through (or perhaps read every word if you have to) The Rebel by Albert Camus.  This book will provide good background information about the type of person who refuses to conform.  "Then a sort of aristocratic morality is created where a little group of men and women entrench themselves above a cast of slaves because they withhold the secret of a strange knowledge."  (Page 37)  Could that "strange knowledge" have been how to hire a lobbyist with extensive influence with the Republicans?


Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre - Never did get around to reading this one.  Isn't buying a book and then not reading it very nihilistic?


Saint Genet by Jean-Paul Sartre - This book isn't of highest relevance for the white-belt in nihilism but it does yield such Nietzsche like passages as: "Beauty is first of all the dirty trick that a hoodlum plays on virtue."


The fact finder this week found many things of interest at Amazon.  Here are some:


How to Read Nietzsche by Keith Ansell Pearson, Simon Critchley (Series Editor) ($11.95 paperback W. W. Norton)


Nietzsche for Beginners by Marc Sautet, illustrated by Patrick Boussignac ($11.95 paperback Writers and Readers Publishing)


"Sometimes nothing is a real cool hand."  Dragline (George Kennedy) in the movie Cool Hand Luke.


Now, if the disk jockey will dig out his soundtrack album for the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, and play the Thus Spoke Zarathustra theme (composed by Richard Strauss), we'll have HAL open the pod door and drift on out of here.  Maybe next week, we'll look at books written by Major Tom.  Until then have a "whole lodda nada" type week. 



Copyright © 2005 – Robert Patterson

Email the author at worldslaziestjournalist@yahoo.com




Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

This issue updated and published on...

Paris readers add nine hours....