Figuring Nietzsche Out

As I have already stated several blogs earlier, books are luxuries in these hard, trying times.  Along with the school opening however, NB bargained off some Oxford World Classics, all for P99 each.   Never to miss this kind of opportunity, I grabbed copies of two Friedrich Nietzsche editions [translations naturally]: “Beyond Good and Evil and “The Birth of Tragedy”.  They weren’t easy reads  so I was having a flowing “nose-bleed” even before I hit the last chapters of each.

“The Birth of Tragedy”, as the title indicates, is a study of Greek Theater.  But this is not your ordinary Aristotle-inspired discourse on the aesthetics of this particular brand of drama for it juxtaposes classical tragedy, specifically Aeschylean and Sophoclean, with Wagnerian opera and, as one critic says, is some kind of philosophical foundation for the latter’s art, Nietzsche being under heavy influence of the 19th century musician.  At the heart of this great book is the conviction that  art (read: humans) must mirror the two opposing realities of reason and emotion, and that one is useless without the other.  In a way, this puts to rest the debate on whether the mind should rule the heart or vice versa; neither does it advocate rationalism nor romanticism and therefore offers an objective perspective to art and life.

Notwithstanding his abhorrence for women [ I do have wild theories about it], “Beyond Good and Evil”, published fourteen years after “The Birth of Tragedy” when Nietzsche has found a new voice outside of Wagner’s “shallow” German nationalism, espouses the “extra-moral” dimension instead of the two-way tension between these two age-old struggle–that beyond the moral/immoral dilemma lies the will, the free spirit that compels us; that true freedom can be found in self-examination, in challenging our very own assumptions , in being “violent” toward the self by sublimating one’s inclination to hurt others, by winning the “inner struggle” and thereby mastering the will; that the greater victory is in successfully disengaging oneself from the bounds of prejudice, arrogance and rigid, moralist views.   Ironically, Nietzsche  blames Christianity’s edict to live “tame and meek” lives as the cause of mankind’s spiritual deterioration and the suppression of man’s joyful, creative and spontaneous self.

Though much tempted to climb that mountain where Nietzsche is waiting, I will have to content myself with ciphering his works [that is, if my luck holds out and I will stumble upon more of his books on sale], ambitious  and herculean the chore may be. For there is much truth among these pages to last me till old age [if I get there] and they come cheap, cheaper than the usual material, passing things that preoccupy most of us.


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