Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Two Sides to Nietzsche

Germany will lay claim to Fredrich Nietzsche as one of it's great writers.  If you asked someone to list the ten great German writers or philosophers of all time....Nietzsche easily makes the list.  The fact that he spent a fair amount of his life outside of Germany doesn't faze anyone....they will simply say that the influence of Germany created the gifted mind of Nietzsche.

The curious thing is that there are massive arguments over his works, the public interpretations of those works, and the crowd that attached themselves politically to his way of thinking.

Somewhere in the middle of Nietzsche's work is the working thoughts of 'supermen'....those who lift society to higher levels.  Naturally, he meant in a positive way.....the folks behind Nationalists Socialists (Nazis) felt he meant in their way.

If you toss in poetry and musical kinda note that he had an enormous amount of talent.

So with all this talent and demonstrated'd think Nietzsche has a great path before himself.  Well, no.

Once you take apart the high points.....he's a guy who has severe stress and anxiety issues from the earliest of days.  By his early thirties, he's on a trend of continually looking for some climate or some landscape where his ills would go away.  This means frequently being on the move.

Between migraines and stomach ailments, he cannot rest or be settled.  He is under constant stress and pressure.

By age forty-five, he will suffer what appears to be a mental-breakdown and is finished.  He never recovers, and is more or less unable to function on his own from that point on.  For roughly a decade, he's under the care of some relative and is waiting on death to arrive.

Everything of significance in his life for philosophy or writing purposes....came from his early twenties to his mid-forties.

At some point in his period of productive years, Nietzsche sat down and examined the frustrations of difficulty....where people are tested as they stumble or fall after remarkable success.  He ended up coming to this philosophical moment:

Nietzsche comments: "Examine the lives of the best and most fruitful people and peoples and ask yourselves whether a tree that is supposed to grow to a proud height can dispense with bad weather and storms; whether misfortune and external resistance, some kinds of hatred, jealousy, stubbornness, mistrust, hardness, avarice, and violence do not belong among the favorable conditions without which any great growth even of virtue is scarcely possible."

Without these moments in life where you hit a brick wall, or take a serious economic stumble, or find yourself lost in a maze of decision will not advance.  These are all moments which make some human growth within you develop and build character and mental strength.

In the 1800s, prior to radio and TV.....people read a mammoth amount of books.  You'd read something....have a neighbor or friend come over for coffee and you'd share your latest reading material.  Intellectually, people were striving toward understanding the world around themselves and looking for explanations.  The works of Nietzsche made their way into the homes of the German public and came to be appreciated and shared.

I suspect if they'd known that he was mentally unbalanced from his early thirties on, and the works mostly came from an unstable but gifted gentlemen.....the public might have asked more questions or just laughed when works by Nietzsche were brought up.  But in this period, there is no investigative journalism or someone looking for faults by writers.

Movies on Nietzsche or his philosophy?  This is the most curious part of my essay.  There's only been nine movies (that I can count on Nietzsche or his brief life).  One of the nine was a 1915 silent movie production.....which you might discount.  The most significant piece was a 2007 movie entitled When Nietzsche Wept....which basically tells the last few years of his life and a doctor's efforts to stabilize him.

There are literally dozens of movies which revolve around his philosophy.  Even Groundhog Day with Bill regarded as typical philosophy by Nietzsche.

So, if you are the non-German and come across commentary by some German on Nietzsche....there is a great fondness in German society to quote Nietzsche.  From a gifted mind, there are thousands of quotes and some are worth remembering.

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