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Thus Spake Zarathustra (1 Viewer)

Not to get all Freudian but it seems that, at least in this book, Nietzsche's philosophy can be summerized as unreconciled, latent homosexuality and unrequited love for Wagner. Take for example this excerpt from chapter 33, The Grave-song:

And once did I want to dance as I had never yet danced; beyond all heavens did I want to dance. Then did ye seduce my favourite minstel.

This and other passages seem to obliquely reference Wagner and to some degree insult him--as you might expect from a jilted lover. Did Nietzsche fall out of love with Wagner because he realized Wagner was anti-Semitic, or did he realize Wagner's flaws when his love was unreturned? It seems the latter is more in keeping with human nature.

Nietzsche is of course best known for declaring "God is dead", and his attacks on Christianity--or more accuratly the institutionalization of Christianity. He also had great love for the 'freedom' of the Greek lifestyle, and as is common knowledge homosexuality was a vital part of Greek (and later Roman) life.

In a way, what Nietzsche has done in Zarathustra and other works is turn the guilt of Judeo-Christian theocracy--which has always been its strongest weapon--against itself. Christianity, particularly the right-wing or conservative half to put it in a more modern context, has always used guilt as a manipulative tool--Christ-on-the-cross has been transformed into the ultimate symbol of guilt. And most of this guilt is aimed at sexuality, which not coincidentally is the strongest human drive not biologically necessary to live your daily life.

Since outlawing sex entirely would be as futile as prohibition was in the 20's, the Christian theocracy had to aim at particular aspects of sexuality, such as sodomy and polygomy--both practised regularly in pagan societies and both a very integral part of Greek and Roman culture. Sexuality defines not only individuals but societies, and I believe both the Christian papacy of the dark ages and the modern day neo-cons are fully aware of this. Nietzsche certainly was:

The degree and kind of a man's sexuality reach up into the ultimate pinnacle of his spirit. (from Beyond Good & Evil)
 
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sardpete

Member
Not to get all Freudian? Nietzsche wrote a great number of works. You have to see him in the context of the Enlightenment, Darwinism, Romanticism, Victorian puritanism, and many other contemporary and earlier movements. It's dangerous to take quotes out of context and to oversimplify the many factors involved in a writer's works. In the end the "why?" of a piece of work is unknowable, even to the writer himself.
 

kenewbie

Senior Member
Not to get all Freudian but it seems that, at least in this book, Nietzsche's philosophy can be summerized as unreconciled, latent homosexuality and unrequited love for Wagner.

Quite the sensationalist approach. It would be no more appropriate than to summarizing the philosophy of Socrates by stating that he slept with men, or to sum up the politics of Bill Clinton by saying that he inserted a cigar in Lewinsky's vagina. You see, sexual conduct is not equal to philosophy or politics or anything else, it is it's own separate thing.

Nietzsche's friendship with Wagner is not a secret to anyone, nor is their falling out. Nietzsche was a strong supporter of the arts, especially German romanticism. His criticism of Wagner (in Der fall Wagner most prominently) is this: Wagner allowed himself to be seduced by the nihilistic movements that (in Nietzsche's eyes) swept across Europe at the time.

If you read your Zarathustra quote with the last paragraph in mind, it becomes something quite different:

And once did I want to dance as I had never yet danced; beyond all heavens did I want to dance. Then did ye seduce my favourite minstel.

This and other passages seem to obliquely reference Wagner and to some degree insult him--as you might expect from a jilted lover.

While there is no doubt that he is talking about Wagner, I don't think it is much of an insult. It is akin to saying "I like the prose you wrote before you got influenced by Palahniuk better, be yourself." He did say much worse to Wagner than this exact quote though, I'll give you that. But that they were lovers is quite a leap.

You are of course free to speculate. It is his most personal work, so if there are things waiting to be found, it is the best place to look.

He also had great love for the 'freedom' of the Greek lifestyle, and as is common knowledge homosexuality was a vital part of Greek (and later Roman) life.

All great philosophers have love for ancient Greece. It is the cradle of philosophy itself, the birthplace of democracy (or freedom) and the home of Thales, who started it all. I'd challenge you to find any philosopher that has ever expressed anything but love for the ideas of ancient Greece, only I know what the result of that would be.

k
 
Sardpete: I think to say the 'why' is unknowable is the very anti-thesis of philosophy, no? Also, based on the aphorism I quoted from Beyond Good & Evil, I think even Nietzsche would disagree with your statement. Exactly what was taken 'out of context'? And what do you think he meant by 'dance as I have never danced'? To put the quote 'in context' take the opening line from the chapter The Grave-song:

'Yonder is the grave-island, the silent isle; yonder also are the graves of my youth. Thither will I carry an evergreen wreath of life.'

The graves of my youth? The lost loves of his past?

"From you, my dearest dead ones, cometh unto me a sweet savour, heart-opening and melting. Verily, it convulseth and openeth the heart of the lone seafarer.

Still am I the richest and most to be envied--I, the lonesomest one! For I have possessed you, an ye possess me still."

Note the emphasis Nietzsche places on 'I have possessed you', and to possess another is often used as a euphemism in both poetry and prose. And this passage certainly reads at times like a sonnet.



kenewbie: My intent is not to sensationalise but to in fact desensationalise.

Just to be clear, I think it is Nietzsche's desire for freedom more than his desire for men that influences his work: living in a society where homosexuality was taboo could only serve to drive a 'free spirit' like Nietzsche toward that which society deemed most inappropriate--much like DiCaprio's character in 'Catch Me If You Can', so long as society is chasing him, Nietzsche has a reason to run.

Nietzsche's philosophy is, first and foremost, a declaration of freedom--in all respects. Sexuality is just one of many things I believe Nietzsche wished to free from the 'slave morality' of 'decadent Christianity'.

I see where you're both coming from, though. You may believe that it is shallow to simplify Nietzsche's work through the context of sexuality, but I think it is somewhat naive to ignore the author's sexuality completely, or even to reduce it to an afterthought, when examining his work. I don't wish to marginalize Nietzsche, more I wish to humanize him. I agree that to say this work could be 'summerized' is perhaps a bit of an oversimplification, but when a detective wishes to solve a complex mystery he starts by simplifing it as much as possible, to make it comprehensive and to give the deductive process a solid foundation on which to begin. And many crimes would go unsolved if detectives chose to ignore sex, or passion, as part of the motive.
 
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sardpete

Member
I am sorry as this is WF I thought we were discussing writing not philosophy. The point that I was making is that appreciation of a text is a complex interreaction between reader and writer and writer and language.
As for out of context.. well single sentences which form part of a long and complex evolution of a discourse, are out of context if quoted alone.
 
[quote/]As for out of context.. well single sentences which form part of a long and complex evolution of a discourse, are out of context if quoted alone.[/quote]

It is true that you can't evalute a single sentence without looking at the whole of the work which it is a part of, but you can't evaluate the whole of the work without dissecting the parts that make it up, either--it's like trying to understand how an engine works without taking it apart and examing all its seperate components. For example, you can't entirely explain an individual without examining the society which that individual is a part of, but you can't understand a society without first understanding the motivations and nuances of the individuals which make it up. Nor, for that matter, could one understand an individual without examing the history, family, etc. that have gone into making that individual what he/she is. Honestly, this is so basic that I don't even know why I'm responding...oh wait, yes I do. Bump.
 
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